Is it really September?

Why, osh-kosh-buhhh-gosh! It IS September. How did that happen? I have already finished my 3rd week of pharmacy school when it felt like just yesterday I was at orientation. Being back in school feels great for the most part. I feel more driven and I have more sense of purpose this time around. I really hope I can maintain this momentum. I really want to maximize my educational experience in pharmacy school so I enrolled in Global Health, an elective that focuses on global health issues, lol. It’s a pre-requisite for any mission trips, study abroad trips, and international APPE (advanced pharmacy practice experiences), ie rotations at my school. And if you know me, you know I love traveling. I also joined a professional fraternity. Pledging process starts next week. Eeek gaddd! I also am one of the class representatives for my class. I felt pretty fabulous my peers entrusted me with the responsibility. I hope I can do ‘em proud! My cohorts are some pretty amazing folks. Some are young as heck, some are older, married, have children, work, etc., yet they are very committed to their studies. It’s quite inspiring. As you can imagine, my dear blog, I’m pretty frickin busy. I will try to tend to you more when time permits. Toodle loo!

Social Media and Depression

While doing his weekly Gizmodo roundup, my ragamuffin sent me this youtube video.
Hence, my first op-ed. Har har har. I thought the youtube video was an entertaining but gross depiction of social media and its effect on us. However, I do agree with the message. All that glitters is not gold. There are numerous articles on the extremes people have gone through to depict a certain image of themselves online. In an age of overachieving millennials, these perpetuated mispresentations exacerbate the growing general discontentment caused by unprecedented outlets for social comparison. Individuals have too much access into others’ lives.

There have been several publications on the matter of social media and the negative emotions it can evoke, namely, loneliness and envy. While the majority of studies that have been released supports the claims that the internet, in particular, social media can make you feel unhappy, I found at least 1 study that argues social media can promote social trust and engagement. One study I read stated using social media for browsing rather than “actively creating content and engaging with it” tends to increase feelings of envy. I found the studies to be quite interesting. My conclusion is, I am in charge of my happiness. I also feel that the internet should indeed be utilized in a way that will help me to increase my creativity and productivity. Finding purpose in my activities increases my self – efficacy. Have self – efficacy makes me feel like the bomb-diggity.

I currently have about 900 friends on facebook. I’m a social person and I generally accept friend requests from acquaintances. When I was in college, I was more open to accepting random facebook friend requests from strangers, but I no longer do that. However, with other social media, such as Instagram or Yelp, I’m more open to accept friend requests or “follows” from strangers. They contain less personal details of my life than Facebook and are more geared towards a common interest, so I feel, perhaps naively, safe.

I should probably clean up my Facebook friends list, but the task will be too exhausting at this point. Instead, I customize my facebook settings to receive updates and notifications for what matters to me, like my niece’s first birthday or a close friend’s graduation. Despite tweaking my facebook settings, I know I am still susceptible to occasionally feeling isolated or envious when I am using social media. Thankfully, they’re ephemeral and I don’t allow myself to sulk on others’ perceived happiness.

On a tangential note, I have read some interesting articles on how the rise of the “selfie” have made individuals more vain, another trait of millennials.

A little backstory and Trip Advisor’s Top 25 US Destinations of 2014

Throughout grade school, I was a homebody. I had little interest in going out, partly because it involved spending money, which I didn’t have. Life was monotonous, but I was content. College was a chance for me to reinvent myself. I took initiative and enrolled myself in a study abroad program. I was very, very fortunate to have won two competitive national scholarships: the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship program and the Freeman-Asia Scholarship Program. Along with some financial aid, my study abroad trip was completely funded for, with some extra cash on the side :) I highly recommend everyone who is currently in school to study abroad. It really shaped me into the person I am today. I am more open-minded, patient, resourceful and independent. I also caught the travel bug, something my travel abroad advisor said will surely happen. It’s true, traveling has definitely become one of my passions. I love traveling not only because I enjoy different geographies, tastes, but also because I love learning about people. Understanding different ways of life allows you to gain more insight on yourself and others.

Anyway, David and I were researching places to go and things to do for July 4th weekend when I stumbled upon Trip Advisor’s Top 25 Destinations – United States of 2014. It’s a good list and I thought it would be fun for me to mark off the places I have been to with a picture. Some of these pics are several years old. I look like a baby in some of them! There are a couple places I have yet been to that’s on TripAdvisor. I actually plan on visiting Texas and Oregon before school starts. Alright, here goes…

1. New York City, New York Image

2. Chicago, Illinois

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3. San Francisco, California Image

4. Las Vegas, Nevada

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5. New Orleans, Louisiana

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6. Los Angeles, California

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7. San Diego, California — TBA

8. Seattle, Washington

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9. Washington D.C.

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10. Orlando, Florida

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11. Honolulu, Hawaii — TBA

12. Houston, Texas — last time I visited was so long ago, pre – 2005, could not locate any pics, lol. Due for a trip soon!

13. Charleston, South Carolina

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14. Boston, Massachusetts

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15. Portland, Oregon — Coming soon, in July :)

16. San Antonio, Texas — TBA

17. Palm Springs, California — TBA

18. Austin, Texas — TBA

19. Branson, Missouri — TBA

20. Atlanta, Georgia

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21. Phoenix, Arizona — TBA

22. Myrtle Beach, South Carolina — TBA

23. St. Louis, Missouri

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24. Nashville, Tennessee — TBA

25. Miami Beach, Florida

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Shady’s Back

Dearest Blog,

I am terribly sorry I have not tended to you for nearly a year, GOT DANG! I vow to nourish you with at least 500 characters weekly and give you the opportunity to burgeon into something with more than 5 (?) readerships. Cuz in the words of JT, ” baby, you’re worth it.” Truly though, I want to utilize this blog mainly as a way to reflect on my life, document events (for posterity, lol), and impart some kind of wisdom/ knowledge from my experiences, to those who seek it. So don’t give me trash if you try geoduck per my recommendation and you think it tastes like a rubberband.

Ok, here we go. During my time away from you, there were periods of uneventfulness, some very joyful moments, and a few eeek gadd days. Some highlights since my last entry include watching my precious niece Audrey grow, visiting Seattle, Chattanooga, Amelia Island, Charleston, meeting my soulmate, breaking my leg, going on an “Wild Animal Safari”, meeting Lady Gaga (at her concert, from a distance), Renaissance Festival, watching Hawks destroy (subjective) the Heat courtside (practically, lol), getting into pharmacy school, and going on a cruise (finally!).

Since I am easing back into blogging, I decided to share with you some new things I have added to my ever-growing “bucket list.” I got most of these ideas from stumbling upon http://travel.allwomenstalk.com/things-to-do-in-the-usa-before-you-die

Ready, set, go!

1. Visit the Royal Gorge Bridge in the Grand Canyon. It’s 2 hrs from Aurora, Colorad0. Next time I’m in Colorado, will also visit Glenwood Springs

2.  Tour the Whitehouse. This is also on bf’s bucket list. I would also like to go back to DC to re-visit the National Mall and nearby Arlington Cemetary

3.  Go to the Superbowl…primarily for the Half-time show. Chances of the Jaguars making it to the Superbowl are moot

4. Ride a Cable Car in SF; been to SF twice, yet did not once ride the cable car. To be fair, so many things to do in the SF!

5. Hershey’s Chocolate World; welp, will be visiting Pennsylvania in a month, so seems fitting. Sesame Street is also from Pennsylvania, but I’m not sure I will be able to visit. Also, will be visiting the famous LOVE park, Liberty Bell, Eastern State Penitentiary, among other things. I also want to drive through Amish country

6. Visit the Redwood National Park. While at it, just visit the whole state of California. Love that state!

7. Visit Mount Rushmore. Actually, this has been on my bucket list for years now. Would also love to visit the Badlands while I’m there

8. Mardi Gras in the Big Easy! I actually had reservations about visiting New Orleans, but the city is incredibly vibrant and hospitable. I would love to experience the bacchanalia that occurs during Mardi Gras.

9.  Texas Sandfest. Annual sand sculpture sand festival in Port Aransas, Texas. Usually takes place in the spring time (around April).

10. Take a helicopter tour of Hawaii. Honestly, anything Hawaii will rock my socks

11. Visit Mark Twain’s, or Samuel L. Clemens’ grave. Redding, Connecticut. Respect.

12. It would be equally neat to go to WestMinster Abbey to visit Charles Dickens’ grave

13. Skywalk of Grand Canyon. While I am at it, Hoover Dam. I’ve driven past it once, but did not get the opportunity to stop and explore

14.  Death Valley, California

15. Antelope Canyon, Arizona – omg gorgeous

16. See the Northern Lights. I have always wanted to observe phenomenon. Someone I met recently, who worked on a Alaskan cruise ship, told me during her 3 month trip, she saw the Northern Lights once and it was amazeballs.

17. The Burning Man, Nevada! Seems quite intense; a weeklong experience, promoting community, creativity, and freedom from conformity. I’d love to partake, but might be hard to recruit companions

18. Witness a rocket launch. Cape Canaveral isn’t too far and the next one will be some time in August/September

19. Ride the Gondola! In Venice, ~160$ for 50 minutes, but in Vegas, it’s $20 pp for 15 min or $80 for 1 hr, whoohoo! I’d actually love to experience both, even though one is an imitation of the other.

20. Watch the Ellen Show live!

 

BURGER QUEEN

Just kidding, I am no Burger Queen, but I’d love to be that bad bitch. I ate burgers three days in a row and realized how much I love them burgers. They are a quintessential American symbol. And I am American as can be, ya dig? Also, yummm, cow. I decided to dedicate this post to some burgers that came into my life. This is not my definitive list. I have also enjoyed the bugers from Holman and Finch,  The General Muir,  Farmburger, Flip Burger, and the Vortex from Atlanta, GA.

Bison burger @ Yeah Burger, Atlanta, GA

Bison burger @ Yeah Burger, Atlanta, GA

Cheeseburger, Village Burger Dunwoody, GA

Cheeseburger, Village Burger Dunwoody, GA

White Castle bitches!  I love their seasonal fried jalapeno burgers!

White Castle bitches!
I love their seasonal fried jalapeno burgers!

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In - N - Out Burger Cali

In – N – Out Burger
Cali

Gott's Roadside. St Helena, Cali

Gott’s Roadside. St Helena, Cali

20130105_130631 20130105_130637

BiBimBop and Bulgolgi Burger Milano Bakery, Atl, Ga

BiBimBop and Bulgolgi Burger Milano Bakery, Atl, Ga

20121231_154238 20121231_154329

I can't recall

somewhere Atl, GA

Sushi Burger, CowFish Charlotte, NC

Sushi Burger, CowFish Charlotte, NC

Bocado Burger, lookin classy, Bocado, Atl, GA

Bocado Burger, lookin classy, Bocado, Atl, GA

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Shake Shack, everywhere NYC

Shake Shack, everywhere NYC

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The Counter, Roswell, GA

The Counter, Roswell, GA

The Counter, Roswell, GA

The Counter, Roswell, GA

Cafe Tu Tu Tango,  Orlando, FL

Cafe Tu Tu Tango,
Orlando, FL

Eagles' Deli, Boston, MA It was featured on Man vs Food. Has a 5lb burger challenge. rawr

Eagles’ Deli, Boston, MA
It was featured on Man vs Food. Has a 5lb burger challenge. whoadang

“You’re Next” Movie Screening

youre next(oooh…everyone look at the spooky movie poster!)

Tonight, I will be attending a free screening for “You’re Next.” It’s a horror movie that premiered in 2011 at the Toronto International Film Festival. The synopsis, according to IMDB is as follows: “When the Davison family comes under attack during their wedding anniversary getaway, the gang of mysterious killers soon learns that one of victims harbors a secret talent for fighting back.” It’s supposedly horror genre, but it also has aspects of crime and comedy in it. I have seen quite a handful of free movie screenings: Footloose (2011), Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter (2012), No Strings Attached (2011). Basically, I love free and I love movies. So naturally, I love free movie screenings. gofobo.com is where I go for free screening opportunities. Usually though, I get an access code from some social network I am part of, so I am almost guaranteed a ticket. Sometimes they let you bring a +1. The last time I went to a screening, the staff required everyone to put their cell phones in signal blocking bags.

“You’re Next” prompted me to think about my movie taste. I am kind of freaked out at the amount of horror movies I have seen. I have yet to meet anyone who’s seen more horror movies than me. I dunno, it could be because I only know like five people. I have seen ghastly, ghoulish, demented, demonic, and violent movies produced throughout cinema history.  Even the cheesy, terrible F (for f*****-awesome!)-rated movies. Shizz, I fold laundry to those movies.

However, I truly enjoy all types of cinema. Nonetheless, my movie preference is akin to that of a prepubescent boy. I like crime, action, horror, sci-fi movies the most. Dramas and comedy are acceptable, especially if I’m not paying. I least like romantic (definitely not paying to see that).  However, when they are all of the above, I am quite titillated. I have composed a list of ten movies I have enjoyed within the past couple of years (and whatever). They are essentially movies I would happily watch again. Truly however, there are so many awesome movies out there… and I can go on and on…

1.  Inglourious Basterds (2009)

2. Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)

3. The Descendants (2011)

4. Chronicle (2012)

5. Attack the Block (2011, probs my favorite)

6. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World ( 2010, actually my favorite and EFF everyone who didn’t go see it! how dare you not support this genius movie!)

7.  Bridesmaids ( 2011, exceptional chick flick… “you are *my* exception”) <– that was not lame if you get the reference!

8.  Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2011)

9. Final Destination 5, just kidding, Tropic Thunder (2008)

10. Up (2009)

And for fun, here is a list of horror movies I enjoyed

1. Shutter (2004, original, Thai version)

2. I spit on your grave (2010)

3. Insidious ( 2010 and eff anyone who thinks this movie is a joke!)

4. Trick ‘r Treat (2007)

5. Shaun of the Dead (2004)

6. The Descent (2005)

7. Martyr (2008)

8. Inside (2007)

9. Severance (2006)

10. The Last House on the Left (2009)

Although it did not make my list, I have watched Zombieland 7xs. Alas, “The Human Centipede I and II” did not make the cut because I’d rather gouge my eyes out with my bare hands…The most effed up movie I have ever seen is “A Serbian Film.”  It’s very graphic, beyond disturbing, and traumatizing. I’m so serious. Ugh, I hate myself for watching it.

A Wisen Yelper

I’ve been a Yelper for 4 years now. But I’m not just any yelper dawg. I’m an Elite Yelper. It’s pretty fun being an Elite yelper. There are also a lot of free perks. Namely, a lot of really good food and drinks, and Yelp SCHWAG, woot! Occasionally, we go on really cool road trips. For instance, there’s going to be a roadtrip to NOLA this May. I already know it’s going to be epic. I’m gonna make it epic, coz.

When I first joined Yelp, I was in beast mode and popped a review nearly daily. I was very insouciant about my reviews. Most of the time, it was written very light-heartedly. Even to this day, my reviews are written very conversationally. In my early years of Yelp, I had several businesses accost me because of what they considered a poor review. To me a 3-star review is not unfavorable, but understandably so, business owners who took pride in their business, were upset at my 3-star reviews. Most of the time, they were very diplomatic and usually offered me a free meal. However, I quickly learned to be more cautious of what I wrote for fear of retribution! DUN DUN DUN. I can taste the salivary amylase! No really, I realized even one poor review can devastate a business. Now I am more judicious about my reviews. I have a responsibility to my readership. Even if 90% of the readership are my friends. I have a responsibility to my friends!

Anyway, I’m going to keep writing because I want the highly coveted ( not really, although really to some) Gold Badge. Whaaa?! Gold badges are given to Yelpers who’ve been Elite for at least 5 years. That’s when I know I’ll make it big in life.

I recently nominated my boo for Elite status. I’m crossing my fingers the Yelp board of directors/governing council/ junta will make him elite. Otherwise, it’s over between me and him.

“On a completely different note, I’d like to nominate [my lover] for best person ever and for Yelp Elite 2013. Here are the following reasons why [my lover] should become Elite.

1. He loves food and eats like a beast
2. He always down for a good time in the A-town. And believe me, this fella’s been around
3. He’s well connected with some folks, like the servers at Poetree and Joli Kobe… har har har. No really, he knows a lot of Asians
4. He’s really good looking. So he’ll make Yelp even more appealing to everyone
5. He’s been to Yelp events and is pretty down w some Yelpers already
6. He worked in the restaurant industry and knows a lot about the fine wines and stuff. can you dig it?
7. He’s very active in the community. He volunteers to clean up dilapidated parks.
8. He once rescued a puppy on the side of the road. True story
9. He rows boats. He participated in the DragonBoat Festival last year. He single-handedly (may or may not be true) brought his team to victory. 1st place folks.
10. He’ll blind you with his smile.
Really, I have like at least 80 more reasons why he should become Elite 2013. But why take my word for it. Check out his Yelp page yourself “

Snow Mountain

BF and I went to Snow Mountain the last weekend it opened in February. Snow Mountain is an event Stone Mountain hosts yearly. It opens in November and ends in February. The park sets up an artificial snow park for snow man/angel, igloo-making and whatever else your heart delights. There is also a separate area to go tubing. There are single riders and group tubing stations. They have a  belt to escort you up the slopes. It’s pretty convenient considering you have to carry the single tubes up the slopes. Snow mountain is a great activity for the family or big kids like BF and me. Admission starts around $27 pp. This does not include park entrance fee, which is 10$ per vehicle. You can purchase an annual pass for 35$. I highly recommend making online reservations for Snow Mountain because it gets sold out quickly. You don’t want to get to the park and not be admitted. That would be LAME. Here are some pictures from our afternoon.

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Pho Le

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Pho Le

1370 Dorchester Avenue  Boston, MA 02122

(617) 287-9746

I am the duchess here, so booyaka! This has become my go-to Vietnamese restaurant in Boston. It’s located in the Dorchester neighborhood, which is where most of the Vietnamese businesses are located. The restaurant gets quite busy on the weekends and the service is fairly good, although the employees were slacking when the owner wasn’t there, namely the chefs.

Here is what I’ve tried at Pho Le thus far:

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Com Hen

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Com Hen accompaniment

Com Hen is a central Vietnamese dish. Com Hen literally means Rice (w/) Baby Mussels. At Pho Le, you have the option of having the dish prepared with rice or vermicelli (Bun Hen). As you can imagine, those baby mussels really don’t  do much for the appetite, but the auxiliary ingredients will really fill you up. Pho Le’s Com Hen has great presentation. I counted 12 ingredients:

1. sliced Granny Smith apples. Interesting addition to the dish. It adds another dimension to the taste  and texture of this dish. Probably a substitute for green mango

2. Mint leaves

3. Iceberg lettuce

4. Thinly sliced banana heart/flowers

5. Home-made Vietnamese pork rinds

6. Peanut

7. Sesame rice cracker

8. Sauteed onions

9. diluted Mam ruoc (fish paste); has a subtle lemongrass flavor

10. Bac Ha (Elephant ears or Taro Stems)

11. Rice ( or Vermicelli)

12. and the star of the show, (drumroll please) Hen (baby Mussels)

The accompanying soup tastes like the base broth for the next dish, Bun Bo Hue. It has a slight lemongrass taste.

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Bun Bo Hue. As the name suggests, this dish is also a Central Vietnamese Dish originating from you guess it, Hue. Dang, I never realized how much I liked Central Vietnamese food. I have to say, their foods are most varied, out of all the regions in Vietnam. This Bun Bo Hue is a winner. It has a clean lemongrass broth base. It’s served with pig’s feet traditionally. Sometimes, there’s huyet, or bloodcakes (yum!…yea I said it.). However, Pho Le served it with beef and pig’s feet.

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Com Suong. I consider this a safe dish for individuals new to Vietnamese cuisine. The centerpiece is the juicy porkchop, but I like the eggcake. The stringy looking pieces are so much fun to chew. It’s like chewing on your hang nail. Just kidding, I didn’t say that. This side dish is called “bi” and it’s made of pork skin. It’s also served with diluted nuoc mam (fish sauce) on the side. Obviously you have the option of using the sauce or not. The choice is yours. Choose wisely. Reach for the nuoc mam. Do it. Image

Bun Thit Nuong. This is a variation of the previous dish. Instead of rice, it’s vermicelli. Instead of a whole pork chop, you get strips of grilled porks. This is a basic dish. Other versions include shrimp, shrimp pastes, eggrolls. etc. There’s a good bit of Vietnamese herbs (rau thom) such as mint and and basil. It is also a very textured dish.

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This is Pho Le’s Pho Dac Biet. Pho, originally a Northern dish, is a perennial favorite for Vietnamese folks. This pho dac biet came with beef brisket, tripe, tendon. There’s scallions and cilantro in this pho. The cilantro is a recent trend. This pho came with a side of culanto, basil, bean sprouts, lime, and peppers. Legit. It’s outdid Pho Lemongrass, Pho Hoa, and Le’s Restaurant.

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Finally, a Southern Vietnamese dish. woot! This is Hu Tieu. It’s a clean, wholesome, dish, but it will definitely leave you satiated. This Hu Tieu was served with shrimp, artificial crabmeat, pork, cha ( Vietnamese ham, sorta), and dried onions. You can also request the dish to be served with egg noodles, rice noodles, or both.

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Banh Beo. This is another Central Vietnamese dish. It’s a rice flour dish garnished with shredded shrimp, greased scallions, and diluted fish sauce. While it can be a meal for some, let’s be honest here, this is more of a snack for me. My sister told me this dish tasted better on a previous visit. When we had it, the rice cakes were a bit hardened. I still cleaned the dish, but I have had better.

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Bo La Lot. Grilled Beef wrapped in Betal leaves. This dish is listed under appetizers. It’s pretty good, probably because the meat is fatty and served with greased scallions! It’s served with pickled carrots and daikon, Vietnamese herbs ( namely mint), and cucumbers.

There are many street parking available, but there is a large marked parking lot behind Pho Hoa specifically for Pho Le patrons.