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Category Archives: Original Writings

Impatience

Last Sunday I observed a traveler ahead of me being pulled aside for a body scan, pat down, and luggage check. While they did have TSA Pre-Check, the metal detector kept going off when they tried to go through multiple times. (Likely due to their smart watch that they failed to remove before walking through.) This resulted in the traveler undergoing a random check, which drew attention from fellow individuals passing through TSA.

Their suitcase was opened on the counter and their food packages were swabbed. The traveler insisted it was just food they brought with them. Everything came back negative according to the machine. They were told to repack on another table and the traveler looked irritable as they took over repacking.

The TSA agent who handled the case was weary and commented to me that she knew the traveler was irritated, but it was her job. She said she gets this kind of treatment all the time when rare cases like this come up and concluded that she wouldn’t recommend her job to anyone else.

From the traveler’s perspective, it’s hard to not be flustered when all eyes are on you for a random check. Your brain tells you that the other passing through without problem are silently judging you, wondering why you’re a problem. On the other hand, the scanners don’t do the best job producing a crisp, clear image of everything inside a bag or piece of luggage, which is why certain bags get pulled aside for a second look. In today’s world, you can’t be too careful.

I said to the TSA agent that there is no such thing as an easy job and gave her an understanding look. No one likes to have their luggage opened in public with nosy people peeking in, but the best one can do is try to remain calm and composed. At the end of the day, it can be awkward for all parties to check someone’s belongings, but cooperating can help things move along faster.

TSA aside, I want to encourage everyone to try to remember as we travel for the holidays and vacation to treat everyone with respect. We all want to get to our final destinations on time with as few hiccups as possible. However, taking our emotions out on others only makes things difficult and you could become someone’s lunchtime story of an impossible customer.

The Post-High School Debt Dilemma

Go to college/university, get your degree, and you’ll set yourself up for success. That’s what many of my peers heard before we finished our fourth year of high school and began to think about the future. It’s no surprise I’ve heard this from elementary school to high school – in the area where I grew up, many of the schools pushed for students to dream big and shoot for the iconic colleges or a Bachelors before heading into the workforce.

In recent years, many are reconsidering college or university, citing high tuition, housing, and miscellaneous expenses over 4-5 years that one can accumulate by attending a 4 year university or college. There’s no shame in that – someone once told me that not everyone saw college as an end game before they focused on a career. In an age where social media reigns, there are many ways one can make a living or some form of income without a degree in place.

Time magazine noted that as of this year, 44 million Americans owe $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. While some candidates promise to roll out programs or incentives to wipe out debt if elected, others are faced with the grim reality that it will be a long couple of years to wipe out the debt on their own or with some help. I know I’m part of the latter who is steadily working toward paying off her amounts through hard work.

A company called Blockstack has addressed this issue and shared that the month of November will be spent offering to pay off student loan debt for a few lucky winners. If you’re interested in trying your luck, check out their site and enter here.

Who Cares if You’re Popular on Instagram?

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Influencers are everywhere online and you can find people who will talk, blog, and record videos about any topic or promote various products and services. With the rise of sites like Influenster and Pinch Me, everyone can feel like one for a moment. (If chosen for those sites, as they have criteria that reviewers/testers must match to qualify.) However there has been the trend of people who fake their follower counts by buying users to bulk up their numbers or those who loop in people to sign up for updates and newsletters through giveaways and contests. This leads to the question of who is truly an influencer and who is in it for the freebies?

Perhaps the concept did start with good intentions though. Regular individuals like you and me have shown that they would rather trust the opinions of a regular, working individual versus a celebrity endorser these days. Especially if the regular person reviewing the item or promoting a business doesn’t look like your stereotypical air-brushed glamazon with a perfect life, home, job, etc. We feel we can relate more to the every day individuals, which may be why we spend time subscribing and following normal, every day people who claim they buy or try things on their own dime and give candid reviews for everyone to see.

Nowadays, anyone can open a YouTube or Instagram account and post content to grab attention. Once someone sees your work or your style, usually it gets passed along by others, increasing the potential for foot traffic. Yet for every successful person with a strong following, there’s several struggling to make a name for themselves. It’s almost a get rich quick scheme when looking at it from the darker side – some of the celebrities and influencers make a good deal of money from their endorsements or for making posts about various products. No office required, no staff, just one person (supposedly) making the content on one platform and showing the world who they are.

While some brands have embraced the trend of reaching out to influencers to help promote their brand or product, others have stayed away, having seen the uglier side of it. Many “influencers” try to reach out to brands, boldly asking for free product or trips so they can create more videos and image content for their accounts, claiming this will drive the brand’s business up. But companies such as this ice cream truck have struck back, pointing out that they have their own publicity and name for their brand out there – no “influencer” assistance needed.

The question I now ask is, who truly is in the influencer job/business for the right reasons any more?

No Bad News on the Doorstep Here

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Where do you get your news from? Social media? TV? Streaming system?

It’s no surprise to me that newspapers are becoming obsolete, due to a number of readers wanting to avoid spending money on printed articles that become outdated after a day. (Or in many cases, people cancel because of the tone or quality of the writing.)

Sometimes I can’t stand to watch a regular news channel because it feels like almost everything is “bad news on the doorstep”, no matter where you turn.

Recently I discovered via a friend that a young woman felt the same way, noticing that regular news outlets skew toward the bleak and sad news stories were affecting her and her friends. When you’re constantly bombarded with bad news, it’s hard to find the good in the world. Instead of sitting back and stewing in misery, the young woman created “The Happy News“, a 30+ page newspaper that focuses on the positive stories in the world that are being missed by traditional outlets.

The publication comes out quarterly, with the intent to celebrate stories with a fresh twist.

For more information, please visit their site.

You Never Forget Your First Accident

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Happy 2019 followers and visitors.

Another year flew by and now we’re into the new one. I was reminded by Facebook that today marks the anniversary of my first car accident.

When someone once told me “You never forget your first accident”, they were right. Many people have told me that the sight was so incredible that it’s impossible to forget about.

“Are you okay?”

“Do you get anxious driving?”

Yes

It’s difficult to avoid flinching if you see a car coming up fast behind you. My eyes are always looking to avoid any cases where an unseen car or pedestrian is coming toward me and could collide any moment.

It’s sad and funny how one incident changes you. It’s showed me who is out there that thinks of my well-being in times like that. A good number of friends stood by me and offered support, an ear to hear what was going through my mind, etc. Then there are the ones that simply reacted at first, then went silent without further interaction. The latter don’t get written off as bad people or untrustworthy in my circle of friends; instead, I have realized that they are not as close as the people who have repeatedly demonstrated that no situation, big or small, is a problem for them to offer any kind of help if possible.

Optimism is what I strive for as the rest of the year lies ahead. I only hope everyone else has a successful and safe 2019.

Overdraft – Where the Blame Falls

The 2016 story about a college student who spent $4 million in luxury goods, due to an overdraft error her bank failed to catch until later, isn’t a new one for many. The wide-eyed young woman posing with her expensive bags and using various photo filters has sparked much conversation between people who hear the story. Some look at the bank and scold them for catching this nearly a year after it happened, others blame the young woman for being so reckless with her spending.

The story came up in my Facebook feed and I read it, surprised but amused since it doesn’t sound real. (Maybe it’s because the average individual only dreams about going wild on a shopping spree where sky’s the limit.)

I did note before sitting down to write this post that there was no mention of the young woman’s parents and how they were handling the situation. A few mentioned that they had money back home in Malaysia and would transfer a monthly allowance to their daughter while in Australia. While I do not know any of the parties personally, one predicts that a case of kids copying adults probably influenced her as she grew up. In other words, if she was used to seeing her parents spend their money on luxury items and her parents giving her what she wanted, she was mimicking their spending patterns in terms of how it was used. That is a red flag for me – most parents strive to teach their children the value of money and try to establish rules with asking for things and encouraging them to earn money in order to work for things. (Usually people have shown to have more appreciation for the things they earned the money for, versus those who simply have it handed to them.)

However the majority of the blame should not be on her parents for poor financial management skills – the bank employees managing her account should have done their due diligence on routine checks. We entrust banks to keep our accounts and money safe and hearing stories where they didn’t actively check the status of the accounts for fraudulent or suspicious activity lessens that trust. Who wants to do business with a establishment that cannot protect your money from thieves, fraud, or other incidents? There’s a reason why those mocking the bank in this case are laughing at them for being so careless to oversee the error.

While the young woman had the charges dropped and the bank is working to rectify things after the loss, you wonder if the former and her family learned their lessons. (The young woman for exercising caution and checking the validity of the funds and the family for giving her what she wanted with little instruction on the value of money.) The bank likely required staff to undergo training to learn how to spot suspicious activity and what to do if it happened again, but their reputation is already tarnished as a trustworthy bank.

Where do you fall on this case?

Hype Resell: Business or Avarice?

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For those who know me, I’ve always grown up with an interest in fashion and understanding what makes clothes unique and worth the price tag. Traditionally, quality clothing meant it was made with top notch materials, sewn with complex stitches (ex. French or flat-fell seams), and embellished with detail and care, hence the high price tag. Now with the rise of fashion houses, those values are still valid, but in many cases the high prices are more for the brand name.

It’s no surprise how fashion has changed from glamorous details and high end materials to more comfort-based clothing that translates from every day wear to dressy casual in some cases. Simply put, most of us would rather slide on a jacket, tee, and pants than a tux or gown. Many of the pioneers like Off-White, Balenciaga, and VETEMENTS earned favor with the elite and famous because they’d rather be sporting comfortable, well-made hoodies and tees off duty without worrying about said items falling apart after a few wears.

Yet with the rise of brands doing limited drops like the former or brands such as Supreme and Anti Social Social Club, one has to wonder where the line is drawn when numerous units go up on eBay and resale sites for double, triple, or quadruple the original price. I know there are cases where someone buys something with the intention of wearing or using, only to receive said item and it doesn’t fit/look right or it’s not what the buyer expected. If the brand doesn’t except returns, the item ends up on a resale site to get back some compensation for what one paid for originally. But it feels like the majority of listings are those who buy to turn around and make a profit on the unlucky who missed out the first time.

It’s just business as the old saying goes. Hold on, is it really? A prime example is the Off-White Converse high tops that completed Virgil Abloh’s TEN collection with Nike, which dropped suddenly this past Tuesday online and in physical locations today. A quick scroll through Twitter and Instagram reflected many bitter fans who attempted to nab a pair for their personal wardrobe, with a majority of those scoring pairs saying that they’d be on eBay shortly for those who missed out. Original retail was $130 USD. Scroll through eBay and Grailed, you’ll find pairs starting at $450 and going as high as $1200. Seriously? Many users cried foul on those charging 5 to 10 times higher than original retail and remarked that they hoped the resellers would suffer some form of karma payback for taking advantage of unwitting buyers who weren’t fast enough. There are, of course, those who are so eager for a pair that they simply bit the bullet and paid the prices to have the shoes in their closets.

Regardless of whether the items are sneakers or rare memorabilia, one will always find those who buy simply to make a profit off those who couldn’t obtain the item. It’s a catch 22 – you’re paying for the convenience to own the item without fighting tooth and nail in person or online to own it but you’re paying more for the item in price and shipping. Is it fair? Yes and no. I’m one of those people that buys something because I want it and want to use it. If in the off chance it isn’t for me, it goes online or elsewhere for resale, but I never start it at or above retail, knowing that I tried it on and may or may not have used it for a short period of time.

What about my readers? Chime in on the comments below.

Walk it Off

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Taken by me

Accidents happen as the saying goes. Everyone has heard this at least once or twice in their life and others have been warned against the dangers of driving distracted.

A regular weekday could have become a tragedy for the author. The car on top of the Corvette is mine. The van ahead of me was stopped at a yellow light turning red and I stopped once I saw the van. In the blink of an eye, I was pushed forward into the van by the Corvette and elevated at a 45 degree angle. The Corvette driver admitted they took their eyes off the road for a brief moment to retrieve something that had fallen on the floor of their car and before they knew it, their airbags had deployed and it was dark.

Everyone was fortunate to walk out of the accident in one piece. No one was younger than 26 in this accident – age has nothing to do with it. Regardless of age, no one should ever drive distracted.

Oh How the Times are a Changin’

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If you were to ask me about ‘change’ when I was younger, I would have scrunched my nose up and made an impressive disgruntled face about the concept. To me, it meant taking away something familiar, something comfortable that I could handle. Does that mean that I love change now? Yes and no.

I’m aware that to keep things the same means you’ll never grow or expand your horizons. Instead, one becomes complacent. With that in mind, I’ve come to terms that change can be good and bad – one needs to be on their toes and ready for whatever comes their way.

The picture at the top of this post is from my favorite San Diego Thai restaurant – as of three weeks ago, I will not be able to dine here again like a local resident. After 17 years, my folks have left sunny SoCal for the East Coast, due to work and future retirement plans. While I had lived close to work for almost 5 years now, it feels different telling friends that if I come it will be a short weekend visit or that I may not see them until San Diego Comic Con next summer.

Do I miss the house I’ve grown up in? Oddly it never felt like home – yes I was able to make my room look the way I wanted and I was fortunate to have the ability to create my own Japanese rock garden outside my window. But the neighborhood I lived in was isolated: houses were spaced out very far, neighbors often didn’t celebrate holidays with visual decorations, and it was rare anyone did get-togethers with fellow neighbors. I do hold memories of many pool parties with friends, a few sleepovers, and baking holiday cookies with my parents. (Cue a family assembly line of Mom making frosting and me and Dad decorating the cookies before stacking them to dry on the counter tops.)

If you were to ask me “What’s your hometown?” I will reply with “San Diego” because I’ve spent most of my youth growing up there and making memories. Some of my classmates used to joke about our small town in San Diego, saying that it was sleepy and if you craved adventure and excitement, you were better off moving as far away from our town as possible. I was always split between the comfort and serenity of my small suburban town I was raised in and the energy of the bigger cities further away. There had been a point where I wondered if I would take a job closer to home once I graduated but life is very unpredictable and sometimes you have to roll with the punches.

Lots of changes happening at once but I’m keeping my head up and looking ahead as best as I can. It’s all one can do in times like this.

Free = Frenzy (Observation)

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Yesterday marked another “holiday” called National Lipstick Day. While some makeup companies offered online deals for minis or samples, MAC shared on social media the opportunity to get a free full-sized lipstick at one of their stores or a participating location that sold MAC cosmetics. What was the catch? According to Instagram and Facebook, there was no catch – no buy one get one or spend a certain threshold to get one. Simply show up and get your free lipstick while supplies last.

Curious, I woke up early and got in line at my local mall to score a free lipstick, as I like MAC’s consistency and colors for lipstick. (Not to mention they are one of the brands that doesn’t dry my lips out when I wear it.) Unsurprisingly, there was already a line that formed by the time I arrived around 9:06 AM (store opens at 10 AM). Many were starting to panic or bail by the time they saw the line but I came prepared with a book in tow to pass the time. In between reading passages of A Dance with Dragons, I checked social media to see what others were saying about this “amazing” giveaway.

Oddly, it seemed the giveaway was a little inconsistent worldwide: Australia was promised a selection of the brand’s top colors like Velvet Teddy and Ruby Woo. UK was told they needed to spend 50£ on MAC products in order to receive a free lipstick. Meanwhile some US fans had called ahead and shared online that their stores were only giving away the colors in MAC’s Colour Rocker collection, which are mostly neon or strong colors that could be limited in use or wear. In addition, many users took to Twitter to complain that they waited hours in line only to be told the free lipsticks were out, as there was only a select quantity available. Others expressed disappointment over receiving last pick of the shades remaining, such as the bright blue lipstick which many joked was Smurf blue.

Around 9:40 AM, a MAC representative came around the line to pass out tickets to mark everyone’s place in line. Rules were you needed to trade in your ticket to choose a lipstick. Simple yet effective – cut down the chances of any last minute stragglers trying to sneak into the line with their friends who came earlier. Once the store opened, I heard many of the girls leaving saying that they were among the last few who could actually choose their shade – they eventually moved to putting all of the colors in a basket, shuffling them around, and you’d have to pick one out blindly. Cue many pointing out that the offer stated you could choose your shade of lipstick. Well, you were still choosing a color but maybe not the one you wanted.

At the 2 hour mark, I made it to the front of the store and traded in my ticket. The girl ahead of me asked for something more neutral and the MAC clerk was kind enough to pull one for her. She passed me the same color before moving onto the girls behind me. All while she was holding the basket of lipsticks, the MAC clerk was giving people who didn’t get a ticket for the free lipsticks a sample of their Prep + Prime Lip Balm. Not too bad for those who got in the line too late to get a ticket – they at least got something.

From there, everyone who got a free lipstick needed to go to the register to scan out their lipstick for inventory purposes. Some color trading took place in the line – the girl ahead of me swapped for a brown lipstick when the original owner eyed the former’s taupe shade. Unfortunately some people like the girl behind me, got stuck with the colors they didn’t want like the medium blue lipstick.

While I was pleasantly surprised with my shade, I walked away from the experience with these thoughts about the giveaway. Free is a good way to draw in loyal and new customers to your brand. However, planning is necessary in order to execute the giveaway successfully with little disappointment. I feel that the brand could have selected their top sellers and thrown in a few quirkier colors for fun worldwide, instead of setting different rules for different countries. Some of the locations should have set aside more units for the giveaway – my location said they had 400 units to giveaway while others only had 30. The use of tickets to mark one’s place in line was smart as it prevented anyone from trying to cut the line. I understand they tried to expedite the line by doing a random drawing of your color but it would have be more efficient if they continued to allow people to pick their shade instead. This would reduce the amount of disappointed customers who ended up with a color they’ll never use or wear and prevent the chances of turning away potential or loyal customers who had a negative experience.

Did anyone else brave the lines for a shot at a free lipstick?