Monthly Archives: October 2008

Privacy across cultures

I hear so many visitors say that New Yorkers are unfriendly.  I remember reading one particularly resonant (but stupid) comment:  “New Yorkers are so unfriendly—they don’t even look at each other on the street!”  Really?  So you’re unfriendly if you don’t look up at everyone who passes by?

I grew up in Seoul, South Korea, a suburb of D.C., and Central Jersey before moving to New York City for college.  (I consider the Jersey suburb my hometown.)  I didn’t find the city or its people overwhelming or off-putting at all, but then again, i did grow up in a fairly large and developed suburb.  On the contrary, i actually found New Yorkers to be much friendlier than Jerseyans.  I found myself in many an argument with those who complained about the unfriendliness of New Yorkers.  

In the end, it comes down to this:  it’s a matter of privacy, not friendliness.  New Yorkers, like all inhabitants of big cities, work hard to stay inside their individual bubbles.  Everyone is constantly bumping into one another, but they’re all encapsulated in their own dedicated bubbles, so they bounce right off of one another and keep on truckin’ along.  But once the bubble is broken—and they do break, whether by accident or purpose—they’re the same human beings as all the other human beings in the world.  (For a similar take on this, read these excerpts from E. B. White’s Here is New York.)  We need those bubbles; otherwise, we’d all go crazy from the constant contact and interaction!  We’re already overstimulated.  

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Filed under culture, new york

It’s gettin’ chilly out there…

Cold wind penetrates
Pigeons puff out their feathers,
Staring; we are numb.

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Filed under nature, new york

Nonverbal expressions of love

I’ve been told that i’m pretty good at expressing love, but sometimes even i have to resort to nonverbal expression, because i have my shy moments just like anyone else.  Here are the ways i express love nonverbally:


-making tea

-impromptu gifts, usually ones that will only make sense to me and the significant other

-sharing beauty, usually in the form of art

I’d say the most subtle way (and therefore the easiest to accomplish, emotionally speaking) would be the last one.  Whenever i see something beautiful, i want to share it with a loved one.  Sharing art isn’t just about sharing taste, and neither is it only about letting someone else express your love for you; it’s about experiencing the beauty of life with a loved one.  It’s a union not only between you and another, but also between you two and the universe.  The most ideal way of sharing beauty would be experiencing nature together, but you have to admit, in our increasingly technological world, finding an untouched enclave of nature, planning the convenient time and method to get there, and finally getting there with your significant other is difficult to do.  But what has become much more efficient is communication, and that’s what makes it so easy to share art, which, by contemplating the human condition, is what comes closest to embodying the universe. 

And now for the inevitable question:  how do you express love nonverbally?

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Filed under art, communication, food, love, personal

Toys that try to be smart but end up failing miserably

courtesy of

the article

This toy that was designed to teach children environmentalism bothers me in so many ways.  It’s not a product yet, just a prototype (as of 09/12/07), but here are all the things that i think would be wrong with it, should it become a product:

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Filed under culture, design, products, technology

The Conversational Salutation Syndrome

Hi Gerald,

is not correct.  

Hi, Gerald.


Then why is it that almost everyone begins his or her e-mails with the former, incorrect salutation?  I’m guessing the traditional “Dear Gerald,” morphed into the more conversational and informal “Hi Gerald,” but it bothers me so much that i’m forced to use it when i know it’s incorrect.  I’ve seen two people opt for the “Hi, Gerald,” format, which i think is better but wrong nonetheless.  I’ve also seen two people opt for “Hi, Gerald.” which makes me really happy to see.  Ironically enough, one of those two people is my father, who, as a first-generation immigrant, speaks fairly good but limited English.  He can only understand simply constructed sentences, but his punctuation is better than the average American’s.  The English he learned in high school and college in South Korea was the proper English, with the proper punctuation and grammar.  A native English-speaker’s English is shaped by contemporary cultural and social influences, not the least of which is the Internet.  I’m sure the Conversational Salutation Syndrome, or so i like to call this little problem of ours, also has to do with how the Internet has changed our use of language.  

As for me, i resort to using the incorrectly punctuated conversational salutation because it almost seems silly to write “Dear Gerald,” which, in today’s world, sounds stuffy and too formal, like the kind of greeting you’d see on a credit card bill.  I have considered using the period to end the greeting, but then would i continue writing in the same paragraph or in a new one?  Both would look a bit odd:

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Filed under communication, language

Education, learning, training

These are my initial thoughts on the differences between education, learning, and training.  I’m looking to see how these thoughts evolve as i continue with my participation in all three.

My Media Criticism professor said that the purpose of his course was to teach us the vocabulary necessary to discuss visual culture.  I think he was on to something.

How many times have you read something for class and gone, “I knew that!  That’s what i always knew or vaguely knew but never had the words to express.”  That certainly sums up how i usually feel when reading academic texts.  And so, we could argue that education is the acquisition of vocabulary, a means of expressing what you know.

Learning, on the other hand, is about perceiving things and thinking about the information gathered.  Learning is the development and exercise of thought.

Training, which is geared towards a craft or profession, is the acquisition of skills.

Now the question is, how well do learning establishments, and even individuals, integrate the three?

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Filed under academics, college