Checking Out of Facebook and Liking It


It’s been over six months and I don’t miss it. For me it was fun in the beginning, reconnecting with old friends and adding new friends. But after a while, the fun left, leaving me feeling empty with the likes and comments from people who would never contact me outside of the social media bubble. I didn’t like feeling manipulated by a social construct. My day was overwhelmed by moments when I felt the need to see other people’s statuses. I was thinking about things to post instead of just enjoying the day for the sake of enjoying it. Is a moment 10 times better when you get thumbs up from 10 Facebook friends? For me the answer was no. I started to realize that I was spending a lot of time on something that wasn’t contributing to my happiness.

Over time, I realized that my life would be better without Facebook. I’m the sort to write a card, send an personal email, get together for dinner or an outing, or call a friend once a month who moved so far away that I don’t get to see her often. After doing those things, I get a sense of satisfaction that I connected with someone and I know they saw or heard me.

I know I miss the day-to-day happenings of those I was connected to on Facebook, but I figured if someone really wanted me to know something, he/she knows how to get in touch with me. Besides, catching up in face-to-face conversation or on a phone call is so much more enriching. You can actually hear the anger or excitement in someone’s voice than have to rely on emoticons. For me spending a few precious moments of quality time with a friend than spending hundreds of hours chatting on Facebook.

One thing I definitely don’t miss are the constant changes in profile pics. How many hours did someone waste on trying to take the perfect selfie? (I still think that the selfie stick could possibly be the worst invention ever…. I haven’t heard of anyone dying while letting someone else take a picture of him/herself while on vacation. Maybe some things should be left unchanged?

How about trying this? The next time you have a good time, whatever it may be — going to a concert, finishing reading a great book, baking the most delicious cake and take a photo and don’t tell a soul….

Learning How to Forgive and to Ask for Forgiveness: My Personal Experience


, , , , , , , , , , ,

forgiveness Do you spend hours thinking of how to exact revenge on someone that hurt you? Are you a person that has a tendency to hold grudges? Are you one of those people that will do anything to avoid relationship drama — even letting go of good relationships over a small slight? Are you reliving the hurt or pain every time you think about the person who hurt or wronged you. Maybe the time has come to re-evaluate how to handle the people that have hurt you. Have you contemplated forgiving?

My understanding of forgiveness was very limited. For many years I was under the impression that forgiveness could only be possible if the person who had wronged you, gave a sincere apology to you, and said they wouldn’t do it again and meant it. Most times, this scenario never came to fruition. So no forgiveness was given. I also believed that forgiving someone meant giving up my own standards or principles. At the same time, I also held grudges. When I felt wronged by someone, I didn’t want to forget what the person did and would relive how that person wronged me, hurt me. Because I couldn’t see past the negative incident(s), oftentimes relationships were lost. I would stop contact with the person and did not respond if the person contacted me. I didn’t give people second chances because I was afraid that person would hurt or let me down again. I believed once trust was lost, it couldn’t be re-instilled again.

Recently, through the encouragement of a dear friend, I became more open to the idea of forgiveness. Not only forgiving someone, but in asking forgiveness.

Last Friday, I woke up unusually early. Not wanting to disturb my husband who was fast-asleep next to me, I decided to watch YouTube videos through my headphones in bed. One of the videos I watched was on the topic of forgiveness put out by Prager University. I immediately took to the video because it didn’t try to appeal to my emotions, nor did it persist in the view that I had to forgive to make life better. No pressure. It was merely educational (I thought at first).

UCLA psychiatrist, Dr. Stephen Marmer broke the big, complex word, “FORGIVENESS” down into 3 categories:




The following is a partial transcript of what Dr. Stephen Marmer says and some of my own commentary. I didn’t want to paraphrase or change the wording because I think the words he chose were precise and the language he used was so powerful.

Exoneration means wiping the slate clean. Restoring a relationship to the full state of innocence it had before the harmful actions took place. There are 3 common situations in which exoneration applies:

1. When you realize the harmful situation was a genuine accident for which no fault can be applied.

2. When the offender is a child or someone who didn’t understand the hurt they were inflicting and toward whom you have loving feelings.

3. When the person who hurt you is truly sorry, takes full responsibility (without excuses), asks for forgiveness ad gives you confidence that they will not knowingly repeat their bad actions in the future.

Somehow, assigning these different levels of forgiveness was a great relief for me. I could in essence “forgive” someone without waiting for them to ask me for their forgiveness! And I wasn’t compromising my own principles of how I want to live my life. Also forgiving someone doesn’t mean you accept what someone did, but rather you’re simply willing to let it go.

It is essential to offer forgiveness in all these circumstances. Not to offer forgiveness in these circumstances would be more harmful to your own well-being. It might even suggest that there is something more wrong with you than the person who caused you pain.

The second type of forgiveness is what Dr. Marmer refers to as FORBEARANCE. Forbearance applies when the offender makes a partial apology, mingles their expression of sorrow with blame that you somehow caused them to behave badly. An apology is offered, but it is not what you had hoped for and may not be authentic. Even when you bear no responsibility, you should exercise forbearance if the relationship matters to you.

Dr Marmer advises that we:

* Cease dwelling on the particular offense.

* Do away with grudges and fantasies of revenge

* But retain a degree of watchfulness. This is similar to forgive and not forget or trust, but verify.

By using forbearance, you are able to maintain ties to people who while far from perfect, are still important to you. Furthermore, after a sufficient period of good behavior, forbearance can rise to the level of exoneration and full forgiveness.

But what do you do when the person who hurt you doesn’t even acknowledge that they did anything wrong? Or gives an obviously insincere apology or makes no reparation whatsoever? These are the cases of forgiveness that are the most challenging. In my practice, I’ve found this in adult survivors of child abuse, business people who’ve been cheated by their partners, or friends or relatives who have betrayed one another. But even here, there is a solution, I call it RELEASE, the third type of solution. Release does not exonerate the offender, nor does it require forbearance. It doesn’t even demand that you continue the relationship. But it does ask that instead of continuing to define your life in terms of the hurt done, you release the bad feelings and preoccupation with the negative things that happened to you.

It is difficult to fathom how much of a burden it is to a person that continually relives a bad experience. This last level of forgiveness was something that never entered my mind.

Decades ago when I attended college, I had a part-time union job. After some time on the job, the union went on strike. There wasn’t any doubt in my mind that I would support the strike. I had a fellow co-worker who didn’t join the strike and I simply couldn’t see beyond this decision that she had made. Eventually the strike ended with positive results for the workers. Both the fellow co-worker and I returned to our union jobs. But I wanted to have nothing to do with her after the strike and I only spoke to her when my job required it. I thought I was abiding by a principle. In retrospect, I should have exercised release. Not because I liked the person or wanted to continue the casual office relationship. I think for my own sake, it just would have been better. I didn’t know this woman’s situation. Who knows? Maybe she needed this job desperately to support a family. There could have been any number of reasons why she didn’t strike. She was someone very peripheral in my life decades ago. Why is it that I still remember her now? I’m thinking there was a burden in my heart all these years because I relived the wrong. She didn’t necessarily wrong me as I wasn’t directly hurt by her not supporting the strike, but I thought I couldn’t associate myself with someone who didn’t have the same principles I did. I admit it was slightly immature.

I could think of many other instances where one bad incident led to a relationship “breakup”. I was able to rationalize in my mind that these relationships were not worth the drama. I never realistically evaluated whether the relationships were worth maintaining after a negative incident. How much richer my life could have been if these relationships have been maintained? Although to be honest, maybe I dismissed some people that might have been absolutely poisonous to me. I will never know.

I also had the mistaken view that I would be a weak person to forgive people and let them back into my life. But forgiving someone does not necessarily connote a weakness in character. I am not suggesting that anyone keeps forgiving someone who is toxic, continually hurts you over and over again after apologizing and promising he/she wouldn’t do it again. Each case needs to be evaluated on individual basis, but I’m learning it’s okay to give people second chances. Just keep a watchful eye. As Ronald Reagan said, “Trust, but verify”.

Recently, I asked for forgiveness from a friend that I hurt after losing my temper. Up till now, I made excuses in my mind why that behavior was acceptable. I eventually came to the realization that I overreacted in that situation. I admitted my words and actions were hurtful and said I was sorry about how I acted and hurt her in that way, and I then asked that friend for forgiveness. She forgave me. Unfortunately, our friendship is now a repaired dish that had once been broken. The marks are still there in the places where the pieces broke. It is possible that our friendship may never completely heal because of the trauma I caused to the relationship.

After reflection, I’m grateful to God for enabling me to see grays in an area of my life that I only viewed as black and white. I honestly didn’t think the lesson of forgiveness was pertainent me, but thankfully the time was ripe and I was open to understanding that I needed to take a second look on how I handled problems in relationships — whether they be little problems or big ones.

Life is short, why not make it sweeter and happier by taking away the hurt and anger? It’s okay to forgive and ask for forgiveness. Easier said than done you say, but just think about it for now. Let that thought stew. And I encourage you to find some quiet time to watch that above Prager University video when you are ready. I hope that you find it to be as powerful and enlightening as I did.

If you have a thought or comment, please leave a note. If you have your own story about forgiveness, whether you forgave or sought forgiveness, please share below in the comments or link to your own blog!

My Week Away from Facebook


For the past two months, I had used up 1 gigabyte of my data plan before the new cycle began.  I’m not completely sure how I did it.  But because of the undisciplined way I was constantly checking into Facebook, I had a feeling if I could minimize using Facebook, maybe I could make it through this month’s cycle without running out of data on my smartphone.

I just decided I needed to check out of Facebook totally for a week to break my addiction. My first day away was the most difficult because at this point, my fingers were like those of a smoker.  Instead of reaching for a cigarette, every free moment I had, my fingers checked in on Facebook.  Because I had installed the app on my smartphone, it made it that much easier to check it.   In reality, I’m really not a nosy parker.  I don’t feel the need to know what my friends and acquaintances are doing every moment of their day-to-day life via a status update.  In fact, I prefer the old-fashioned means of communication: face-to-face conversations and phone calls.

After making the promise to myself to not to be on Facebook for a week, I felt proud of myself, then was irritated whenever I felt the urge to check and realized the vow.  But then I started to notice an inner calm.  My attention span began to improve and I was becoming more productive.  The time I had not spent on checking on friends’ status updates and reading all the articles in my news feed was used to organize my bedroom, clean up and organize my kitchen cabinets, try new recipes, have longer conversations with family members, read Phyllis Chesler’s Death of Feminism, and even meet a friend for lunch.  During this time I discovered that I really liked Stanley Tucci as an actor, and have been on a quest to watch some of his older films: one gem is Montana filmed in 1998.  I also did a better job tackling my constantly growing to-do list.  Overall, I had better control over my day-to-day activities knowing I couldn’t use my free moments to check on Facebook.

The times I sat down on the computer to check my email and look up stuff on the internet was so hard.  It would have been so easy to go on Facebook again.  But then I would have been disappointed in myself.  I eventually deleted the app on the smartphone so I wouldn’t be tempted to check on the phone.

There’s plenty of Facebook users that can check it once or twice a day and be satisfied with that limit.  Why can’t I be that way?  But I realized, to me Facebook was like shopping, the more I did it, the more I wanted to do it.  Best way was to go cold turkey for a while.

It’s amazing how Facebook had so deeply affected my thinking process.  And I didn’t notice it until I was off it for a week.  I was constantly thinking of posting things on Facebook instead of just enjoying the moment.  Does a wonderful day need to be shared on social media to make it that more enjoyable?  Not necessarily.

After being away from Facebook for a week, I came to the conclusion that I could totally live without Facebook.  The people that I truly want to stay connected to can be contacted by other means outside of Facebook.  There are some friends that aren’t even on Facebook and we’ve still managed to stay in contact and maintain our friendship.

So what do I take away with me from this past week’s self-imposed ban from Facebook?

1) I had indeed spent too much time on Facebook.

2) That I can live without Facebook.

3) True friends stay connected with you outside of Facebook.

4) I can concentrate better, the less I am on Facebook.

5) I am more productive when I’m not on Facebook.

Is my life better without Facebook?  I’m not ready to draw that conclusion yet. 🙂

I’ll write more about my experiences with Facebook if I think it’s interesting.

Let me know what you think by leaving a comment below.  Has anyone left Facebook for good?  How do you stay in touch with your friends and acquaintances?  Is anyone else thinking of leaving Facebook?

Writing Cards and Letters — a Quietly Dying Art


, , , , ,

20140502_075558I started noticing a few years ago that I was getting less and less cards — for my birthday, for the holidays, for any occasion for that matter. Being a sensitive sort, this bothered me a great deal. I started to wonder if I should stop sending out cards and letters since I wasn’t receiving them. People don’t want to be bothered with buying cards, writing them out, stamping them (yup, the price of a postage is nearly 50 cents now *sigh*), and eventually having to go to the post office or a mail box to have them mailed. Yes, why bother when an email or a posting to a Facebook wall — usually a one step process can accomplish the same thing? Or does it?

In one sense, I see the beauty in the efficiency of email and social media. This is coming from someone who tried to live without a smartphone until the end of last year. So I’m making a pretty big admission here. And it doesn’t cost much unless you already don’t have internet service in the home. I put a lot of stock in adding a personal touch to almost anything. I’d rather bring a homemade dish to someone’s potluck dinner than bring a store-bought dish. I’d rather buy a handpicked gift than to give a gift card. Writing cards and letters is just an extension of my personality.

There’s beauty in the process of selecting and buying that special stationary or card. And there’s beauty in cursive that is transferred to that special paper. I used to remember making extra efforts in the 6th grade to improve my cursive, by copying the cursive that was in my penmanship book. Mrs L, my 6th grade teacher had gorgeous handwriting that was most probably acquired with hours of practice. I loved the smooth sometimes squeaking sound that was made when she took the white chalk and pressed it against the blackboard to form the luscious curves and loops that resulted from her cursive. I aspired to duplicate her work of art. I remember tossing out a lot of loose leaf paper because I didn’t like my cursive work. It was repetitive, but there was something quite zen about writing by hand.

Getting cards and letters in the mail is the equivalent to seeing tulips and roses. They’re usually unexpected, and very delightful (Yes, I like using words like delightful.) And I love the fact that they’re not immediate. It takes a few days by mail usually, and you have to open the envelope to see what’s inside. Not as quick as clicking open a email.

I just thought I had to jot this down after writing a thank you note today. I could go into a whole other blog about the cognitive benefits of learning and using cursive, but I’ll save that for another day. Who knows? Maybe somebody will make it cool to write by hand again and this dying art will be revived. In the meantime, I’ll keep writing cards and letters as the numbers I receive will continue to diminish. Happy letter writing to those who still love this way of communicating….

Landlord Nightmare in New York City


, , , ,

I hate injustice. I had it when the good guy gets hurt and the bad guy gets away with murder. Recent events of the last eight months had me on the verge of tears, tested the limits of my patience, brought out more hate for the welfare system, and even sky-rocketed my blood pressure so high that I may probably have to go on medication to control it.

I got involved in my parents’ landlord nightmare on the evening of Thanksgiving. After stuffing our stomachs to our hearts’ content with oven-roasted brined turkey, candied pecan yams, and bacon-wrapped asparagus, my parents told the family that they had tenants that have refused to pay rent.

Being novices at dealing with bad tenants, the family suggested that they look for new tenants and to put an ad on Craigslist. My parents got responses right away and made arrangements to show the apartment to new prospective tenants. When people came to look at the apartment, the illegal tenants had the chutzpah to call the police! They were occupying my parents’ apartment illegally (since their names were not on the lease) without paying rent and with absolutely no intentions of paying, and they had the gall to call the police. If it hadn’t been for the fact that the situation was downright infuriating, I would have held my stomach and laughed so hard, my cheeks would have been burning for weeks.

The police came and said that my parents were in the wrong since the illegal tenants were still living there and did not give them permission to show the apartment. Could you believe that?!?! As illegal tenants, they had the same rights as legal tenants.

The problem began when the legal tenant, “Rachel” allowed her younger sister, “Kelly” and Kelly’s young son to move in with her. A short time thereafter, Kelly’s boyfriend, sperm donor to her son, moved in as well. At no time did Rachel discuss this arrangement with my parents. Rachel had continued to pay her rent promptly so my parents didn’t think these extra people moving in was an issue. Until the day the two sisters had a fight, and then Rachel left the apartment in a huff. Rachel’s name was on the lease. Kelly and her boyfriend were not. They wouldn’t leave and they wouldn’t pay rent. At one time, both of them had been working for UPS, but now the both of them were living off of welfare payments.

Meanwhile, my parents’ bills and fees related to the apartment were mounting. These were callous people who didn’t mind living off of someone else’s dime. In fact, Kelly made great use of the free daycare service that are provided to welfare recipients. She promptly dropped off her toddler every day so that she could come home and watch the TV in peace. How ingenious.

I hated my parents being ripped off this way. I did some research and discovered that regulations governing landlord/tenant issues were very tricky in New York. We hired a lawyer because any mistakes we made with filing papers or not meeting deadlines would mean starting the whole legal process from the beginning.

The lawyer filed papers to have the illegal tenants evicted. Since the tenants refused to leave, we had a court date of March 15. We waited for them to appear. I had never met them, but as soon as I saw them, I knew they were the ones causing my parents pain and suffering. The lawyer said that the best and fastest way to make them leave was to come to some kind of agreement with the illegal tenants.

The lawyer who approached the illegal tenants and asked them when they could leave. They said they had offered money to my parents, but they had refused. The lawyer told them that my parents didn’t want their money and that they didn’t want to rent out to them. They said they could move out by June. The lawyer said that that was unreasonable and asked them to give a date that would be more reasonable. Finally they said they could move out by the end of April. That would give them more than 3 months to move out. They only agreed to the April date because the lawyer said that they could ask for an extension.

We left the court thinking that soon the illegal tenants would be out of the apartment and out of our lives.

When it got close to the date when the illegal tenants were to leave, I got a call from the lawyer telling me they had filed for an extension. I had anticipated this, but for my parents it was another blow.

When we were at court, the lawyer didn’t think that they would get another extension. And to our complete and utter disbelief, they were given another extension because they said they haven’t found a place. We were numb, and felt cheated by a system that only seemed concerned about the interests of people who knew how to use the system. This must have been the time when I started having problems with my blood pressure. Not being able to do anything, made my blood boil and I jokingly wondered what Tony Soprano would do in this situation.

June 18, I found out that the illegal tenants filed a “Show of Cause.” This is a fancy term for asking for an extension. Eviction date was approaching, so the low lives did it again. July 26th, we all appeared in court. They said they needed until July 12th because the apartment they were to move into was not ready yet. They promised to pay my parents $200 to my parents for the privilege of staying till July 12th.

My parents never saw the $200. This didn’t surprise me since the illegal tenants only said things to get things their way. Their word never meant anything.

By mid-July, the illegal tenants finally moved out. They moved out the night before the marshal was to come. My parents had previously asked them for the keys so to avoid the cost of the marshal having to come. But they couldn’t even do that. That would have made us think that they at least had a heart…. And we later found out that they had changed one of the locks without even telling my parents. I cringe thinking what kind of trouble they would bring to their new landlord.

I know not all people on welfare exhibit the kind of attitude that they have everything coming to them and owe nothing to anybody, but I truly believe that there is a unhealthy mentality that is born when something is given without any requirements. These people were not grateful for welfare and their indifference to the pain they invoked upon my parents makes me believe that a system that gives out welfare so readily needs to be rethought and restructured.

Oh and another thing that horrified me was how as law-abiding tax paying citizens, my parents had to pay for their lawyer, but any advice that the illegal tenants received was completely gratis. I understand how the system works, but it seems horribly wrong that it allowed evil to win.

Forever changed mentally and possibly physically by this whole experience. My doctor tells me my blood pressure is still high.

Counting 5 Blessings of Homeschooling on the 4th of July


, , , , , , ,

I actually enjoy thinking back to that day… getting my first shipment of K12 homeschool curricula boxes for our daughter, 9 years ago. It almost felt like Christmas because we didn’t know what we would find inside. The children went through the boxes with delight in their eyes. Emotions of excitement and anxiety simultaneously ran through my body like a sudden chill from a draft. OK… there were plenty of mixed feelings that day because, like any new adventure, I knew it was going to be a challenge, and as the parent I was going to be at the helm of our homeschool voyage — a responsibility that seemed as mysterious as it was filled with anticipation!

Those moments seem so distant; and now, my beautiful intellectually curious daughter has finished 8th grade. I’m really not one for reflection. I rarely rest on my laurels because I’m too busy thinking about my next step. But I thought that the occasion deserved a meditation, and a celebration because we all worked so hard to come to this point. And I just wanted to step back and count out all our blessings due to homeschooling:

At a homeschool seining trip in Brooklyn

At a homeschool seining trip in Brooklyn

1) Family Closeness
I never anticipated the family getting as close as it has and I owe it, largely, to homeschooling. Yes, spending a lot of hours together helped, but I think having a shared mission for so many years naturally brings people together. I have two children, a rising 9th grader and a rising 6th grader, and I can tell you with no hesitation that I never saw two siblings that were closer. Many times when I check on them at night, I see that they’re still awake, up in each other’s rooms, talking. Oftentimes I wonder how they could not have run out of things to talk about since they’re practically with each the other whole day? Oh they have their moments of sibling rivalry, personality conflicts, and scuffles over who should get to watch what on the the TV, but their fondness for each other is never extinguished even during the worst of times. Sort of.

2) Instilling Our Values
In the age of the internet, social media, celebrity and fame worship, children are inundated with all kinds of images and ideas that run counter to our own family’s beliefs. Entertainment and celebrities have their place in society, but do you question, as I do, the maturity of a society in which Kim Kardhashian has over a million followers, while 2 in 3 Americans can’t name one Supreme Court justice? There aren’t a lot of TV shows espousing the importance of integrity, and it’s tough to live up to certain character standards when the rest of the world is saying that there are no eternal truths, or values. But I think we’re doing a pretty good job thus far because they know already that it’s better to stand alone for something you believe in than to be accepted by a peer group with no standards at all.

3) Socialization for the Real World
I’m going to bring up the “S” word. Yes, that word. Socialization. One of the reasons why we chose homeschooling for the family was because we saw the handwriting on the wall. Children in school were being socialized to mimic in not only dress, but also the attitude of their peers or risk being alienated, ostracized, or even bullied. Strangely in a country where individual rights are supposedly protected, a child’s uniqueness is viewed by other children as a detriment and a weakness often swooped down upon by a pack of preying children. If that was the kind of socialization that our children would be subjected to, then we had to pass. Being able to socialize in a school doesn’t necessarily mean that they would be able to socialize in the real world as adults. We decided that their parents would be the best model for the children. And our belief systems wouldn’t change over the years as those of their peers would.

4) Love of Learning
Still hard to determine yet if the love of learning has been instilled in my younger one, but I can see already that my daughter has a thirst for knowledge. Children are naturally curious, but having a desire and the ability to pursue a subject that is of interest is something we’ve learned had to be continually cultivated. We’ve been able to afford them opportunities to “try out” different experiences. Whether that be in the form of travel, visiting museums, taking workshops, etc. We’ve all heard by now how limited children are by the schedule of school, and also by the unprecedented amounts of homework. How lucky my children have been to learn how to integrate both work and opportunity.

5) Taking Control of One’s Life
That’s what we did. Complaining was not an option when I was growing up. Blaming and complaining hence never became my style. We assessed the situation, and saw that that homeschooling would be the best option for our family.

Even if you’ve never taught, or don’t have a college degree, you can teach your own children. You can teach them it’s important to learn despite what other children may say. You don’t need to let other people teach your children. After all, who would know the children best than their own parents?

I wanted to work outside the home and it was a huge adjustment once I decided to stay home, raise my children, and homeschool. But because I found homeschooling so meaningful, seeing my little rosebuds starting to blossom into beautiful little citizens, I realize no paid position outside the house could have been as rewarding.

And another blessing I must not leave out is that the children already know that they are so lucky to be homeschooled. Given the choice, my daughter chose to be homeschooled for her high school years too!

I don’t know who really has been blessed more by the experience, we, the parents, or the children.

Never Be Late!


, , , , , , ,

“Never be late!”

Mom didn’t just say those words, she said them often and with the urgency of a drill sergeant — leaving me almost no choice, but to comply. It was one of the earliest life lessons that my mother taught me, and one of the most important. She didn’t feel it necessary to explain why I shouldn’t be late, just, “Never be late,” (and I’m translating from Korean because to this date she refuses to speak to me in English even though she can fully comprehend it and speak it). That word, “never,” which is transliterated as “jul ddah” weighed on my head like a roomful of dining room furniture.

Mom’s rules were carved in stone like the Ten Commandments. She ran a tight ship. In elementary grades, the night before school, she had both my sister and I pack our school bags and lay them right by the front door so to ensure that there would be no last minute scramble in the morning. We had no time for that on a school day morning. Looking back, I’m surprised that she didn’t have strobe light flashing above them.

Mom made it clear to me at an early age that it was discourteous to make someone wait for me especially an adult or someone of authority. On one occasion the bus that was to take me to my piano lessons was running late. When it got to my stop, I jumped out, and sprinted to my piano teacher’s house in mortal fear. I huffed and puffed as I forced myself to take the staircase up to the apartment where he lived with his mother. There would not be any actual consequence for being late. He was the most mild-tempered teacher I ever had — a kinder, gentler version of the comedian, Jerry Seinfeld. He never even raised his voice in annoyance when I came without having practiced. When he asked me why I was out of breath, I just smiled.

With the “sword of punctuality” hanging over me, I would automatically calculate how much time I needed to prepare, find the right pair of shoes, drive to a particular location, etc. Little did mom know that she was doing a great service to my future husband. I don’t think I ever made my husband late because I took too long getting ready. Mom has yet to be personally thanked for instilling this trait in me, by my husband, but Mother’s Day is coming….

I’ve come across a shockingly-large number of individuals who either never learned that being prompt was serious business, or who had the congenital inability to be on time, or just plain oblivious to the whole issue of time. I had one friend in high school who without fail always ran late. Whenever I used to go over to pick her up, it was at that exact moment she was getting started to get ready — whether it was styling her hair or jumping into the shower. And she never apologized for keeping me waiting or making me late. Of course, now I realize that I was the fool for waiting for her.

And that brings me to today’s lesson: society as a whole has become more self-absorbed, less polite and the following incident highlights just that! I saw this email from a NYU Stern School of Business student, complaining to a professor, after he had been asked to leave for being an hour late to class. Check it out… and the response from the professor.


Sent: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 7:15:11 PM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: Brand Strategy Feedback

Prof. Galloway,

I would like to discuss a matter with you that bothered me. Yesterday evening I entered your 6pm Brand Strategy class approximately 1 hour late. As I entered the room, you quickly dismissed me, saying that I would need to leave and come back to the next class. After speaking with several students who are taking your class, they explained that you have a policy stating that students who arrive more than 15 minutes late will not be admitted to class.

As of yesterday evening, I was interested in three different Monday night classes that all occurred simultaneously. In order to decide which class to select, my plan for the evening was to sample all three and see which one I like most. Since I had never taken your class, I was unaware of your class policy. I was disappointed that you dismissed me from class considering (1) there is no way I could have been aware of your policy and (2) considering that it was the first day of evening classes and I arrived 1 hour late (not a few minutes), it was more probable that my tardiness was due to my desire to sample different classes rather than sheer complacency.

I have already registered for another class but I just wanted to be open and provide my opinion on the matter.


MBA 2010 Candidate
NYU Stern School of Business

The Reply:

—— Forwarded Message ——-
To: “xxxx”
Sent: Tuesday, February 9, 2010 9:34:02 PM GMT -08:00 US/Canada Pacific
Subject: Re: Brand Strategy Feedback


Thanks for the feedback. I, too, would like to offer some feedback.

Just so I’ve got this straight…you started in one class, left 15-20 minutes into it (stood up, walked out mid-lecture), went to another class (walked in 20 minutes late), left that class (again, presumably, in the middle of the lecture), and then came to my class. At that point (walking in an hour late) I asked you to come to the next class which “bothered” you.


You state that, having not taken my class, it would be impossible to know our policy of not allowing people to walk in an hour late. Most risk analysis offers that in the face of substantial uncertainty, you opt for the more conservative path or hedge your bet (e.g., do not show up an hour late until you know the professor has an explicit policy for tolerating disrespectful behavior, check with the TA before class, etc.). I hope the lottery winner that is your recently crowned Monday evening Professor is teaching Judgement and Decision Making or Critical Thinking.

In addition, your logic effectively means you cannot be held accountable for any code of conduct before taking a class. For the record, we also have no stated policy against bursting into show tunes in the middle of class, urinating on desks or taking that revolutionary hair removal system for a spin. However, xxxx, there is a baseline level of decorum (i.e., manners) that we expect of grown men and women who the admissions department have deemed tomorrow’s business leaders.

xxxx, let me be more serious for a moment. I do not know you, will not know you and have no real affinity or animosity for you. You are an anonymous student who is now regretting the send button on his laptop. It’s with this context I hope you register pause…REAL pause xxxx and take to heart what I am about to tell you:

xxxx, get your shit together.

Getting a good job, working long hours, keeping your skills relevant, navigating the politics of an organization, finding a live/work balance…these are all really hard, xxxx. In contrast, respecting institutions, having manners, demonstrating a level of humility…these are all (relatively) easy. Get the easy stuff right xxxx. In and of themselves they will not make you successful. However, not possessing them will hold you back and you will not achieve your potential which, by virtue of you being admitted to Stern, you must have in spades. It’s not too late xxxx…

Again, thanks for the feedback.

Professor Galloway

No doubt Professor Galloway would have bought a drink for my political economy professor at Columbia. That class started at 9 am and it was tough getting up to Morningside Heights at that time of the morning from Brooklyn. The 1 train that used to bring us to the 116th Street stop was notorious for being unreliable. Lots of students used to be late. But, you know me: I wasn’t one of them; luckily. The professor finally got so fed up with the students walking in late, he later decided to lock the classroom door promptly at 9:10 am!

Anyway, I personally would like to shake Professor Galloway’s hand because in the real world lateness is rarely acceptable, and it’s just plain rude.

Thanks to the Deadspin for reporting this. Go there to get more information on the background of Professor Scott Galloway.

And… “Never be late!” Don’t make me get mom to speak to you about this.

Is Homeschooling a Fundamental Right?


, , , , , , , , , , ,


My own children have never stepped foot in a brick and mortar classroom. My husband and I decided that we were going to home school when our first child was born. That was 13 years ago and we’ve never looked back. I have always taken it for granted that our right to home school was something that could be never taken away, but today my belief that this is a right has definitely been shaken.

Today, I found out that the Obama Administration is trying to deport the German Christian home schooling family that is seeking political asylum in the United States. U.S. Homeland Security and the Attorney General Eric Holder are challenging the political asylum granted by Immigration Judge Lawrence O. Burman to Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their children in January 2010.

Give me your tired, your poor … but not your homeschooled.

The government of the United States – land of the free, home of the brave, the world’s melting pot – is attempting to deport a German family that fled to America to homeschool their children. statute of liberty crying

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike’s children were persecuted at their German public school because of their fervent Christian beliefs. That, coupled with the fact that the Romeikes found material they deemed inappropriate in the school’s textbooks, drove them to homeschool their children.

Homeschooling – a freedom that many in the United States take for granted – is illegal in Germany. In a 1938 ruling that conjures up chilling reminders of the Nazi regime, the Supreme Court of Germany stated that the homeschooling ban was put in place to “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.” Though Hitler’s reign is long over, this law remains in effect.

Despite the risks, which included fines, jail time and losing custody of their six children, the Romeikes took it upon themselves to educate their youngsters. When the government discovered this in 2008, it forcibly removed the Romeike children from their home and fined their parents thousands of euros. Uwe and Hannelore decided their only remaining option was to seek political asylum in the United States.

Initially, things went well for the Romeikes. They were granted political asylum by Immigration Judge Lawrence O. Burman in January 2010 and relocated to Tennessee. In his ruling, Judge Burman states, “This is not traditional German doctrine, this is Nazi doctrine, and it is in this Court’s mind, utterly repellant to everything that we believe in as Americans.”

But the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Attorney General Eric Holder view the situation differently. The government challenged Judge Burman’s ruling and asked the court to rescind the family’s political asylum and deport the Romeikes to Germany. If that occurred, the parents could face astronomical fines, jail time and even the loss of their children.

The U.S. Immigration Board of Appeals sided with the government and reversed Judge Burman’s decision in May 2012.

“[The government] didn’t have to appeal it in the first place,’ says Michael Donnelly, director for international affairs at the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which is representing the Romeikes. ‘They could have just left it alone when we won at the trial court level, but they decided to appeal it.”

Read the full article here at

I am further at a loss based on the following Supreme Court Decision:

Pierce v. Society of Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, 268 U.S. 510 (1925), was an early 20th century United States Supreme Court decision which significantly expanded coverage of the Due Process Clause in the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. The Compulsory Education Act, prior to amendment, had required all Oregon children between eight and sixteen years of age to attend public school. There were several exceptions incorporated in this Act:
1. Children who were mentally or physically unable to attend school
2. Children who had graduated from eighth grade
3. Children living more than a specified distance by road from the nearest school
4. Children being home-schooled or tutored (subject to monitoring by the local school district)
5. Children attending a state-recognized private school

The Act was amended by the 1922 initiative,[2] which would have taken effect on September 1, 1926, eliminated the exception for attendees of private schools. Private schools viewed this as an attack on their right to enroll students and do business in the state of Oregon.
Associate Justice James Clark McReynolds wrote the opinion of the Court. He stated that children were not “the mere creature[s] of the state” (268 U.S. 510, 535), and that, by its very nature, the traditional American understanding of the term liberty prevented the state from forcing students to accept instruction only from public schools. He stated that this responsibility belonged to the child’s parents or guardians, and that the ability to make such a choice was a “liberty” protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. Ibid.

“The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments of this Union rest excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only.” P. 268 U. S. 535.

More reasons why home schooling should not only be allowed, but promoted:

There is no convincing evidence that certified teachers are more effective in the classroom or that ed-school-based training helps.
See Dartmouth study for evidence that certification has very little effect on student achievement.

“…private schools appear to do fine- perhaps better-without being compelled to hire state certified teachers.”
Chester Finn, Troublemaker, p. 283.

And in today’s educational news — “Nearly 80 percent of New York City high school graduates need to relearn basic skills before they can enter the City University’s community college system.”

Homeschooling or even education is not once mentioned in the Constitution. Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution enumerates the powers of the federal government. See if you can find education in there?

Golden Rice is Not a Hoax and Greenpeace May Have Committed a Crime Against Humanity


, , , , , , , , , ,


At the heart of the modern environmentalist movement is a contempt, a repugnance toward humanity. Attempts to ban DDT are responsible for the deaths of millions of Africans, but merely collateral damage to the greenists who consider imaginary damage to the environment of a higher value than human lives.

Genetically modified foods will be the next battlefront…and it is already littered with maimed and dead children and women.

After a delay of 12 years caused by opponents of genetically modified foods, so-called “Golden Rice” with vitamin A will be grown in the Philippines. During the 12-year delay, 8 million children have died due to vitamin A deficiency. “Are anti-GM advocates not partly responsible?” asks Bjørn Lomborg, adjunct professor at the Copenhagen Business School, and the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It.

Patrick Moore characterizes Greenpeace’s vehement campaign against Golden Rice as a “crime against humanity.” Moore is a co-founder of Greenpeace who broke with the NGO (non-governmental agencies) over its GM policy and now serves as Chair and Chief Scientist with Greenspirit Strategies in Vancouver, Canada.

Three billion people depend upon rice as their main source of food of which 10 percent are at risk for vitamin A deficiency. Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) weakens the immune system, increasing the risk of infections such as measles and malaria. Severe deficiencies lead to corneal ulcers or blindness. According to the World Health Organization, VAD is the cause of 250,000 to 500,000 children going blind each year. Half of these children die within a year. Additionally in Asia and Africa, almost 600,000 vitamin A-deficient women die from childbirth-related causes.

Golden Rice was created in the 1990’s by Peter Beyer, professor for cell biology at Freiburg University in Germany, and Ingo Potrykus of the Institute of Plant Sciences in Switzerland. This new variety was produced by splicing two genes into white rice so that it produces beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A. One gene comes from the daffodil, lending it’s golden color to the rice. The other gene comes from a bacterium that helps the rice produce beta carotene. The body produces vitamin A from beta carotene.

This scientific discovery was hailed by some as the cure to vitamin A deficiency but derided by anti-GM campaigners such as Greenpeace and Naomi Klein. Such vehement protests and activism have thwarted efforts for 12 years to bring this genetically engineered rice into the parts of the world that so desperately need it.

Indian environmental activist and advisor to the government, Vandana Shiva, has called golden rice “a hoax.” He states, “The problem is that vitamin A rice will not remove vitamin A deficiency (VAD). It will seriously aggravate it. It is a technology that fails in its promise.”

Vandana Shiva would rather have her people in India starve than eat bioengineered food,” says C.S. Prakash, a professor of plant molecular genetics at Tuskegee University in Alabama.

Even after two studies in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that just 50 grams (approximately two ounces) of Golden Rice can provide 60% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, opponents continue to maintain that there are better ways to deal with VAD. Greenpeace recently released a statement saying that Golden Rice is “neither needed nor necessary,” and believes supplementation and fortification is the “cost-effective” solution to VAD.

According to Bjørn Lomborg, supplementation programs costs $4,300 for every life saved in India and fortification programs cost about $2,600 for every life saved. Golden Rice would cost just $100 for every life saved from VAD.

Such information was dismissed. Even a successful four year old study conducted in China that was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in August didn’t dampen Greenpeace’s campaign against Golden Rice. In fact, it put “Greepeace’s disinformation campaign into overdrive.” The Asian office of Greenpeace issued a disturbing press release headlined, “24 children used as guinea pigs in genetically engineered ‘Golden Rice’ trial.”

Greenpeace is also vigorously campaigning to block Golden Rice trials in Southeast Asia. Greenpeace’s solution to VAD are vitamin pills, organic gardening, and political empowerment over using readily available food.

Mark Lynas an environmental campaigner and one of the founders of the anti-GM crop movement has publicly apologized for his opposition to planting of GM crops in Britain. He now says that Greenpeace’s actions are “immoral and inhumane” because it deprives “the needy of something that would help them and their children because of the aesthetic preferences of rich people far away.

Greenpeace and many others claim that the proliferation of GM foods will merely give big companies like Monsanto monopoly-like power. Lomborg responds that that this is putting the cart before the horse. What Greenpeace and anti-GM activists have inadvertently done is essentially allow only big companies to compete in the GM market. The approval process has become so long and costly only rich companies can afford to see it through.


These types of photos have been floating around Facebook, building anti-GM sentiment. People were becoming anti-Monsanto and anti-GM just due to these photos. To date there has been no documented human health effects from GM foods. A story that has been repeated by others including Shiva is that GM corn with Bt toxin kills Monarch butterflies. Receiving little press are the several peer-reviewed studies that have established that “the impact of Bt corn pollen from current commercial hybrids on monarch butterfly populations is negligible.”

In 2010, the European Commission, after considering 25 years of GMO research, concluded that “there is as of today, no scientific evidence associating GMOs with higher risks for the environment or for food and feed safety than conventional plants and organisms.

While Golden Rice was developed over ten years at the miniscule total cost of $2.6 million, in an extraordinary public-private partnership using funds donated by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Swiss Federation, the National Science Foundation, and the European Union, Greenpeace International alone annually spends $270 million annually, and upwards of $7 million each year specifically dedicated to burying Golden Rice and and many other food or crop developed using biotechnology.

~ Jon Entine, senior fellow at the Center for health and Risk Communication and executive director of the Genetic Literacy Project

And not coming as any surprise, Greenpeace is already protesting that “the next ‘Golden Rice’ guinea pigs might be Filipino children.” Lomborg thinks that the 4.4 million Filipino children with vitamin A deficiency might not mind so much.

This is the question that was posed by Ismail Serageldin, the director of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research at the annual meeting for the American Association for the Advancement of Science last February:

I ask opponents of biotechnology, do you want 2 to 3 million children a year to go blind and 1 million to die of vitamin A deficiency, just because you object to the way golden rice was created?

And I find myself asking the same question.

What Price Beauty?


, ,


She was simply gorgeous. Yup…movie star quality.

I knew right away her eyelashes were false, but they gave her a dreamy glamorous look. And her flawless face was enveloped in luscious black curls that could have only been obtained with a dozen hot curlers. She was sitting on a couch feeding her baby a bottle. This was ten years ago at a holiday party at a friend’s house and that was the first time I met Emily [name changed to protect identity]. A Korean woman married to a white guy who was also a mother to two children.

No surprise, we bonded instantly, what with having a shared heritage, going through motherhood at the same time and all — the connections were palpable. Emily had attended The Fashion Institute of Technology, and opened a bridal design business. She was au fait with respect to beauty and design. She knew the secrets of make up, and as I am a beauty culture addict, she became my guru

One day when my daughter and I went over to her house for a play date with her older son, I brought over a WSJ article which revealed that calf-shaping was fast becoming a popular plastic surgery option in South Korea. I thought the procedure sounded grotesque and a bit extreme. I’ve heard of fat being sucked out, but muscles being removed to form more shapely calves seemed over the top. She didn’t seem surprised at all. Over Korean seafood pancakes, she confided in me that she herself went through excruciating pain to obtain her own double eyelids. She said her older sister held her hand during recovery.

Double eyelid surgery is quite common in South Korea. Double eyelid surgery is a plastic surgery procedure which involves cutting the outer end of the eye to make them wider and rounder while creating an extra fold on the eyes to mimic those of Westerners.

Before and After Double Eyelid Surgery [and Rhinoplasty as Well?]

Before and After Double Eyelid Surgery [and Rhinoplasty as Well?]

I remember my relatives pushing me to get one when I was there on my last visit. They were very open in telling me that they thought my eyes were too small and that I would look prettier with bigger eyes. They would have had no problems telling me to lose weight too if I had been overweight. I was shocked that they had such a narrow standard of beauty. Basically these were the facial features Koreans sought in women: white, pale skin untouched by sun, large round eyes, a high bridged nose, and a narrow jaw line. At that time I was only twenty, but I was quite used to my face. Conformity was not high on my list. This probably has a great deal to do with my American upbringing.

But I never judged Emily for her double eyelid surgery. Or even for her nose job which she never fessed up to, but which I guessed a while ago. And I suspect she had gotten a nip and tuck after her second child because she came over for a Fourth of July pool party wearing a skimpy brown bikini, nearly putting the models of Sports Illustrated to shame. Women put on make up to look prettier so why can’t they have plastic surgery for the same reason? As long as it doesn’t become a lifelong obsession as in the case of poor Michael Jackson.

While it’s possible to take advantage of the scientific, technological, and medical advances, it’s still a bit sad that so many young women in South Korea feel the pressure to look perfect. A lot of South Korean girls are given double eyelid surgeries as graduation presents. Other popular procedures include rhinoplasty and jawlines being narrowed.

Jawline Before and After Surgery

Jawline Before and After Surgery

To them, no biggie. It’s as ordinary as buying a new outfit. But they sure do seem to put a high price on physical attractiveness in that little peninsula. So proud, in fact, it is even common practice for people to attach a photo of themselves on applications if they’re seeking a job or applying to a university. That would be almost unheard of here in the United States unless you were looking for a job as a model or an actor.

One in 77 Koreans have had a tuck, peel, jab or lift. In the capital city of Seoul, 20 per cent of women aged 19 to 49 admitted to enhancing their looks with surgery. Even Miss Korea 2012, Kim Yu-Mi, openly admitted that her good looks aren’t all natural.

~ The Sun

Miss Korea 2012

Miss Korea 2012

These figures makes South Korea the plastic surgery capital of world if you take into account population, beating out countries like Greece, Italy and even the United States. If you discount the population, the U.S. still has the highest number of plastic surgery procedures at 3.11 million.

While in one Asian country, South Korea, women seek balanced perfection. In another, they look to create imperfection to “enhance” their charm. In Japan, forever on the cutting edge, teenage girls are flocking to their dentists for a procedure called ‘yaeba’ — get this — to temporarily or permanently elongate their canine teeth. Make ‘em less perfect. Less! Japanese men seen to think it makes a woman appear cuter, younger and adds sex appeal. Why couldn’t this trend pop up in the States so parents could save thousands of dollars in orthodontic bills???

Before yaeba

Before Yaeba

After Yaeba

After Yaeba

So interesting what people will do for beauty around the world. I wonder what the Elephant Man would say.

“Curiouser and curiouser,” said Alice.