Aesthetics of Everywhere

The urban scene, its people and processes. Based in southern California.

Archive for the ‘decade list’ Category

Everyday Lessons Learned: January 2011

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It’s true: You learn something new every day. I’m starting a running list of one or two things I learn each day in 2011. Here’s the summary of what I learned each day in January. It’s a long list… click on to see the rest after the first week.

1: Learned what a body roll is (in dance, not automobiles). Also, all real bellydancers should have a belly.

2: I wrote 60 new posts in 2010 and my top ten most popular blog posts of last year were:

Thanks, WordPress stats!

3: Galaxy Hut is a sweet spot in Arlington with a cool (non-bro) crowd and an even cooler beer list. Or, as my friend Hyunoo summed up: I learned that beer is still good.

4: Urban scaling is an alternative way to rank cities – perhaps some of our larger cities are not unusual cases after all. According to this kind of analysis, NYC could be perfectly “normal” for a city of its size.

5: People do a wide range of research projects under the Fulbright Program, including research on topics like fashion. Browsing through some of the project topics is great.

6: Local music appeals to me because of the connections you make with people based on a mutual passion for music and community-building. Writing a nice letter to a stranger can make their day, and a reminder that a friend of a friend isn’t such a stranger after all.

7: Learned what a cassoulet is. “Each bean tastes like it was read a bedtime story.” I also read up on West Timor (the Indonesian part of Timor) and the Indian Ocean earthquake disaster of 2004, which devastated Indonesia.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Crystal Bae

January 31st, 2011 at 9:17 pm

GW Graduation Commencement, Class of 2010!

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For our 160,000+ hours of community service logged by GW students and faculty in this academic year, Michelle Obama delivered an inspiring commencement address to our 2010 graduating class on the National Mall this morning. I’m a university graduate now, and nothing like a grand ceremony to drive that fact home. Congrats fellow grads!

First Lady Michelle Obama, our commencement speaker, on serving the global community:

You have joined a generation of activists and doers. …
But the truth is, and you know this: creating anything meaningful takes time. And sometimes the only thing that happens in a moment is destruction. I say this because during our trip to Haiti, Jill Biden and I got to visit the people there, and they’re amidst so much misery and destruction, all of which occurred in a matter of minutes. It is so easy to ask, “After so much ruin, how can anything rise again? After so much loss, how can anyone still have hope?” But let me tell you that everyone I met during that visit – doctors, relief workers, Haitians, Americans, citizens of the world – they were focused on the task of answering those questions. Yeah, they were exhausted. And they were heartbroken, but they were equally unyielding in their determination to help that country heal – fully aware of how many years that would take. …
Everyone I met during my trip embodied a Haitian proverb that I learned which says that, “Little by little, the bird builds its nest.” And your generation is doing its best to live by this idea. As impatient as you may be to get out there and change the world (and that’s a good thing), you’re equally patient for that change to come. As idealistic as all of you may be, what your generation has lived through has also tempered you with a deep realism.

You understand things that perhaps your parents and I even don’t always have to consider when our world was still separated by walls of concrete and communication: that we are no longer isolated from what happens on the other side of the world. That it’s in our interest to look beyond our immediate self-interest and look out for one another, globally. That so many of today’s challenges are borderless, from the economy to terrorism to climate change, and that solving those problems demands cooperation with others. And more than any other generation, yours is fully convinced that you are uniquely equipped to solve those challenges. You believe that you can change your communities and change the world, and you know what? I think you’re right. Yes, you can.
So today, graduates, I have one more request to make of you. One more challenge. And that is, keep going. Keep giving. Keep engaging. I’m asking you to take what you’ve learned here and embrace the full responsibilities that a degree from an institution like GW gives you. I’m asking your generation to be America’s face to the world. It will make the world safer, it will make America stronger, and it will make you more competitive. Now you didn’t think I’d show up here without another challenge, did you? …
It can mean continuing your own personal and professional growth by traveling far and wide, or it can mean reaching back to convince the students behind you to try study abroad programs, especially students from communities and backgrounds who might not normally consider it. It can mean seizing that overseas opportunity with a company or it can mean staying here and fixing the world by doing business with the world, and at the same time creating opportunity in your own community. This class of graduates in particular has a leg-up, because at GW you’ve already been trained to think this way. …

I grew up in a blue-collar neighborhood on the south side of Chicago where the idea of spending some time abroad just didn’t register. My brother and I were the first in our family to go to college, so we were way more focused on just getting in, getting through and getting on with our lives. After law school, my priority was paying off my student debt. I never considered that I needed to take an additional journey or expand the boundaries of my own life. And then I met my husband whose life was somewhat different than mine. His had been more informed by experiences abroad. Watching him helped me to expand the way I looked at things, to consider my life as connected not just to my country, but to the world.

‘Traveling far and wide,” that’s me. 🙂

She encouraged continued service, touched on President Barack Obama’s plan to expand opportunities volunteering in the Peace Corps, and supported expansion of study abroad and exchange programs in schools and universities.

When we just make that effort to engage with one another, when we share our stories, we begin to build familiarity that often ultimately softens mistrust. We begin to see ourselves in one another. We begin to realize that the forces that bind us are so much more powerful than the forces that blind us.
When you serve others abroad, you’re serving our country too… And yes, serving abroad will make you stronger… just talk to any of your colleagues who have spent some time abroad and one of the first things they’ll tell you, for example, is you’ll never learn a language or develop self-reliance as quickly as you will when you’re on your own in a foreign country. But they may also tell you that making a difference abroad might just be the thing that inspires you to come back and make a difference here at home. They may tell you that engaging with the world doesn’t just change the course of other peoples’ lives, it may change the course of yours too. You may just find that pivot point that you’ve been looking for. Or maybe one that you didn’t even expect at all.

You can watch the ceremony – minus the silly pre-ceremony Jumbotron glee – online. On our way to lunch with family and friends afterwards, we joked that the video was probably already on YouTube, and lo and behold, here it is.

Written by Crystal Bae

May 16th, 2010 at 9:25 pm

Graduating GW and travel plans!

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First, apologies to readers. I know there’s at least a few of you out there. Keep the emails and comments coming! One of my intentions this year is to blog more regularly, and though I think I’ve been averaging more monthly posts than in 2009, final projects and term papers have been my main priority for the past week… that, and lazing about in the sun with friends. Which is also essential.

The turn of good weather aligns perfectly with the deadlines for everything, and it can be frustrating when you’re holed up in the library searching through scholarly texts, and everyone else in the world seems to be strolling about eating ice cream cones and thinking about kittens and falling in love with strangers. Fortunately, by this point I only have term papers, a couple projects and a presentation, and final exams before I can look forward to graduating!

Did I mention that George Washington University’s commencement speaker this year is first lady Michelle Obama? Yep, we met that 100,000 hour community service challenge. Because of this push to complete the challenge, GW’s students got more involved in helping the city this year – an excellent way to improve relations between DC residents and students. So I’ll be graduating on the National Mall with a speech by the first lady – can you say historic?

Speaking of volunteering, I also meant to post earlier about Greater DC Cares’ Servathon 2010. (I think by now it’s too late for new volunteers to register for this year’s event.) Tomorrow, I’ll be participating in Servathon as part of team Global Nomads, working to paint and renovate a DC public school in Northeast. Thanks to everyone who has sponsored me in this day of service!

Anyway, my life lately is looking like this: finish schoolwork, graduate, then travel as much as I can afford to! The past three years of working while at university (sometimes two jobs at a time) have given me a little bit of personal savings that I’m perfectly okay with spending to travel. Hey, I’m young and filled with the spirit of exploration and I hope some things never change. I think it will be a good time to focus on my writing, and I also want to volunteer in projects abroad.

I’m going to Morocco on a geography course from late May to June, which I’ll write about more as the date approaches. That’s already confirmed and paid for. Then I’m deciding between backpacking through Southeast Asia and visiting the part of my family currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand, or spending the summer taking trains throughout the U.S. visiting friends and getting out to middle America and the west, or visiting other friends in Peru and Ecuador (except I can’t speak Spanish so I’d be relying on them). Or some combination of those.

Currently leaning towards SE Asia, because even though I’d miss my friends back home, I think I would learn a lot and be able to travel for a longer period of time. I’m fairly good about keeping in touch through email (less so about responding to letters), so I can catch up with everyone when I get back. I need to take my dad’s advice and book my tickets so I’ll be committed. When I do that, you’ll read about it here – since I hope everyone continues to read this blog once I’m on the road.

Written by Crystal Bae

April 23rd, 2010 at 8:49 am

DC’s participation rate in the 2010 Census

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See how Washington, DC is doing in returning the 2010 Decennial Census forms. You can use this tool from the Census to track what percentage of your community has returned the Census, compare participation with other ZIPs, cities, states, and see how that stands up to the return rate in 2000. Not real-time, but updated daily. I think can generate some healthy competition between communities and potentially help raise the response.

As of this morning, the national participation rate in the Census is at 29%. Washington, DC is currently at 25% and it looks as if the current highest response rates by state are for North Dakota (45%), South Dakota (43%), Montana (42%), Nebraska (40%), and Wisconsin (39%). If you’re from a different city or state, what’s your community’s return % so far? Think this tool is useful?

Full disclosure: I currently work with the Census Bureau, but I’m posting this because I’m a geek about maps, not because anyone asked me to do so. And no worries, government and taxpayers: I’m on my lunch break. 🙂

Written by Crystal Bae

March 26th, 2010 at 11:54 am

Reading Bits, thoughts by Sam Anderson

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Extended observations on the state of our reading, by Sam Anderson:

“Bolaño’s relationship to narrative grew organically out of his many years as a poet, but it resonates nicely with our new habits of web-inflected incremental reading. We are increasingly fluent in (to quote 2666) “images with no handhold, images freighted with all the orphanhood in the world, fragments, fragments.”

Read more: Sam Anderson on When the Meganovel Shrank – The 00’s Issue — New York Magazine

This also reminds me that I intend to read some Bolaño this year. His books have been personally recommended enough times now for me to act. Persistence is key with a memory like mine, heh. Martin Amis is another author that has been suggested to me multiple times, so I’ll make time to read more of his work soon. My first read of the year, however, will be the short novels in Kenzaburō Ōe’s Teach Us to Outgrow Our Madness (another recommendation from a friend).

End of 2009 reads were Alaa Al Aswany’s The Yacoubian Building, David Benioff’s City of Thieves, and J.M. Coetzee’s Life & Times of Michael K. All three are quick, compelling reads.

I’d say 2009 was a good year for my blog – the first complete year of blogging, and I kept with it fairly well. I found that writing a blog is easy: it’s all about showing up. And I am sure that 2010 brings glad tidings. Bonne année, с новым годом, 새해 복 많이 받으세요!

Written by Crystal Bae

January 1st, 2010 at 2:15 pm

Lists upon lists for the 2000s

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Kottke presents a megalist compiling many “Best Of” lists for the past decade. There’s a list for just about everyone here. Interesting ones include Global Language Monitor’s Top Words of the Decade (I had forgotten about Colbert’s truthiness!), the decade according to 9-year-olds (the dial-up part is so funny), worst dining trends, and some excellent book lists.

Check out what’s listed so far on The Noughtie List, and check back for updates.

Written by Crystal Bae

December 9th, 2009 at 10:29 am

Posted in decade list,outlink

This is a year ending in “9,” so you know.

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This means the Internet’s going to be awash with all manner of “Top # [Noun]s of the Decade” lists. I am wishfully searching for some niche-y “Top 20 Washington, DC Renovations of the 2000s” or “Top 10 Most Bizarre Astronomical Phenomena of the Decade.”

I’ll attempt to link to the most interesting or unique ones as I find them, and also write a few of my own. I’m eagerly awaiting a “Top 10 Novels of the Decade” list, which I would write myself if I had read nearly enough contemporary literature from 2000 on.

My friend Dan worked on this great list: Top 10 Albums of the 2000s for Urban White Males with Incredible Taste. Considering I am abundant in my agreement with the albums that made it onto this list, what does this tell about me? I’m especially pleased that the band LIARS gets a mention. They’ve been one of my favorites, though I’ll acknowledge that they can be downright strange and so are not for everyone.

Written by Crystal Bae

July 28th, 2009 at 5:27 pm

My 2008 in review.

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It’s now December. Where does the time go?

Lots to remember about the year 2008:
Barack Obama elected first African-American president of the U.S. (and my first time voting in a presidential election), much global worry over the financial crisis, first tattoo, summer Olympics in Beijing, pirates and vampires abound, house shows and living in the Columbia Heights house with Aaron and Katie and Sarah (plus signing my first lease), countless bombings and crashes worldwide, trips to North Carolina and Montreal, one of my best friends finally getting out of the hospital, training new employees at work and going to concerts with co-workers, and appreciating youth as I turned 20.

Written by Crystal Bae

December 1st, 2008 at 3:55 pm