Improving quality time

My friend Shiao-li and I are trying out a new way to hang out. In the past we’ve tried studying together, but I often get distracted when I’m around people, especially if I’d rather not do whatever studying needs to be done. It means that there are many times we don’t hang out + reconnect or study together as well as we could be.

Some days, when the workload is low and/or I’m in need of a bandwidth recharge, this doesn’t matter. It’s fun to study together, especially since you get the added boost of exercise (walking to the cafe) and caffeine. Taking breaks while studying to talk is also fun.

But for days when I’m already going at full capacity and feeling motivated to get work done… this doesn’t work well.

So we tried setting a 30 minute period of time, 1-1:30pm, and a location, the patio. We showed up, without our computers or an agenda. We talked for that time, caught up, shared knowledge… and then left at 1:30.

It worked out really well, because we were both 100% tuned into the conversation, and because it meant that I was 100% committed to it the entire time despite feeling stressed about completing all the work I had on my plate. Because I knew it would end in just 30 minutes, which was an amount of time I felt comfortable giving, I didn’t have to worry about what else I could be doing with my time or how to exit the conversation.

How might we find other ways to improve our quality time with one another in an environment of hearty workloads and a poor work-life balance?

First two weeks in HITEC City!

I made it to India! It’s way better than I thought it would be, honestly. Multiple people told me that everybody either loves India, or hates it, but I think I’m solidly over the line on the “liking” side, but not quite to “love” yet. Enjoying the heck out of while I’m here, yes, but I’m not sure I’d move here permanently.

Here are some highlights!

My first meal in India was thali, I think South Indian. Basically, a huge dish of samples of curry, breads, yogurt, rices, desserts… not pictured are a basket of roti (puffed bread) and a small metal pitcher of hot (and hella delicious) ghee. We use ghee at my house, but I’ve never heard other people talk about it… until now.

Some school friends and I went to Golconda Fort, a historical marvel that spiked my creativity, fascination with the area, and dislike for people who carve their names carelessly into their surroundings. (Note: I don’t mind beautiful, well-thought out and well-placed tagging and graffiti. Just the stuff so unaesthetic as to besiege your senses.)

Part of the fort, newly re-plastered. One of the coolest things was thanks to the same low standards for protection of the site that led to the vandalism I shook my head over in just the previous photo: we could go anywhere in the site. No nook or cranny or hallway was off limits. Through that black portal to the right was an internal site where pigeons now reigned, so far from the bustle of the main grounds that I could imagine going there on a hot day when I wanted to escape the rest of the inhabitants of the fort hundreds of years ago.

Olaf and Mayzie, on one of the only walkways in the place. One thing I can’t say about India: it’s universally accessible.


The pigeon decided not to hold still for a photo. I decided I didn’t mind.

LOOK AT THOSE EDGES. HOW. INTENSE. Can you imagine building that by hand?!?

The view from the top. Hazy. Yum yum pollution! I’m going to start looking into anti-pollution measures here in Hyderabad; with all the of bright minds in this country, I’d be surprised if there weren’t several startup solutions in the works already. The only question is, how do I best support the effort?

Suraj snapped this photo. It’s got to be my favorite photo of myself, ever.

Dare I call this the obligatory, “cows-in-the-road-I’m-in-India” pic?

South Korea, where we spent the last semester, has left its mark on us. 애교!

Another delicious meal. I’ve only eaten something gross here once––a sort of shredded coconut curry thing with balls of something lemony in it. A Mistake. Shredded coconut is my kryptonite. The rest is delicious. This plate came from a resturant down the street and cost about $2. I am spoiled. Best of all, I’ve started eating street vendor’s all-you-can-eat-rice-and-curry dishes for $1. So. gooooooood.

Isn’t this over-way in construction fascinating! I don’t know what it is about it, but it feels so… futuristic. Urban.

And it just ends…


Face swipe: understanding intergenerational conflict

Maybe this explains why we have a divide between the generations: without realizing, we misinterpret each other. Trying to play along, we miss some essential component that was invisible to us, but obvious to the other person. The first two boys are 23 and 20 respectively, the man is 40. 20 years is more than enough time for references and social behaviors to come and go. Besides being the funniest thing I’ve seen today, it’s a good reminder to keep your eyes peeled for the things we can’t always see.

Also, here is a comic about Detective Hume. 🙂


Day in pictures.

Started out my day alone at Minerva Seoul HQ (school headquarters), just me, a latte, and a LBA paper to write on glocalization.

Justine and Inna, being artsy af, joined soon after and provided welcome company as well as creative inspiration.

While getting coffee for us three, I was struck by this building, which I’ve passed by before but never seen. I took a picture, because why not? I like the building. Now it’s recorded on my personal device.

Same story with this framing / shape making technique in the coffee shop I went to. What an interesting way to decorate the wall!

All the way back to HQ I felt a curious sense of belonging. I, Phoebe, was holding a takeaway coffee carton because I had too many drinks to carry in my hands. I had friends/co-workers to get back to. I had a place. I had a purpose. And it was clear for the world to see.

And of course, the obligatory selfie reminding you of where in the world I am. With a little Korean touch – I’ve always wanted to wear the fog mask, and here I am. What fun. 🙂

Portugal’s approach to the war on drugs

This is a really interesting causality analysis comparing the U.S. approach to the war on drugs and Portugal’s decriminalization of drug use… it’s especially meaningful to me having grown up in Tucson, Arizona near the border, lived in Panama for a year for high school student exchange, and worked with people coming from Central America seeking refugee status from the U.S. government.

I think that if the results from Portugal are replicable in another study that follows typical, empirical criteria for attaining accurate and confound-free results, we should adapt this model in the U.S. to start decreasing the amount of money poured into the war on drugs, extending lifespan and improving quality of life of those suffering from addiction, and ultimately decreasing the prevalence of hard drug usage overall.

Sunny weather

One year ago today, Dean Chandler arrived in Berlin to greet the class of 2019. Today, it’s her last day in Seoul visiting the classes of 2019 and 2020. About 20 of us gathered to wish her goodbye over fried chicken. Maybe she’ll be in London next year…. 
The weather today was soft, the sky sunny; it was the perfect temperature. By nightfall, autumn had made itself known. I sat outside on Bitter Sweet’s fake turf, watching the cars go by for a little bit, thinking about how perfect days like these are too often spent indoors and are never fully appreciated. Then I went inside so I could see my laptop screen better. 

At the cafe next door.

My evening was made perfect too, despite the sudden chill of nightfall, by a long discussion with Vini, Julia, and Anna. These are the deeper connections, the longer conversations, the natural pauses and the run on sentences and paragraphs and pages and lack of HC and LO scoring that aren’t fulfilled by class. My classmates, however, are more than adiquate to round out my human interactions and persuit of knowledge. 

And now it’s time for bed, and there is so much to look forward to. 

Here’s to warm weather. Last as long as you can. 


Paula Rothenberg on the traditional curriculum

“The traditional curriculum teaches all of us to see the world through the eyes of privileged, white, European males and to adopt their interests and perspectives as our own. It calls books by middle-class, white, male writers “literature” and honors them as timeless and universal, while treating the literature produced by everyone else as idiosyncratic and transitory. The traditional curriculum intro- Representing Multiple Viewpoints and Voices ~ r 7r duces the (mythical) white middle-class, patriarchal, heterosexual family and its values and calls it “Introduction to Psychology.” It teaches the values of white men of property and position and calls it “Introduction to Ethics.” It reduces the true majority of people in this society to “women and minorities,” and calls it “political science.” It teaches the art produced by privileged white men in the West and calls it “art history.”

The curriculum effectively defines this point of view as “reality” rather than a point of view itself, and then assures us that it and it alone is “neutral” and “objective.” It teaches all of us to use white male values and culture as the standard by which everyone and everything else is to be measured and found wanting. It defines “difference” as “deficiency” (deviance, pathology). By building racism, sexism, heterosexism, and class privilege into its very definition of “reality,” it implies the current distribution of wealth and power in society, as well as the current distribution of time and space in the traditional curriculum, reflects the natural order of things.

… Women of all colors, men of color, and working people are rarely if ever subjects or agents. They appear throughout history at worst as objects, at best as victims. According to this curriculum, only people of color have race and only women have gender, only lesbians and gays have sexual orientation — everyone else is a human being. This curriculum values the work of killing and conquest over production and reproduction of life. It offers abstract, oppositional thinking as the paradigm for intellectual rigor.”

––Paula Rothenberg, quoted in Representing multiple viewpoints and voices: Beyond the Great Story: History as Text and Discourse, by Berkhofer, Robert F., Jr, 1997

My 5 favorite puzzles this summer

1. Coach Mechelle

Coach Mechelle (1)

My mom has begun health coaching professionally! And as such, she needed somebody to help her with the finer details. Enter my return home for the summer. I’ve been creating social media pages, creating content, commissioning a logo, making banners (like the one above), ordering business cards, building a website, promoting her business… it’s been excellent lean start experience, and it’s been really good to practice working with somebody whose personality is so different than mine!

Plus, we use Asana, which makes me feel very official.


2. U.S. politics


Pod Save America, NPR’s 1A and Invisibilia, Washington Post, assorted articles from Pocket, and so many other sources are now available for me to explore, now that school is over. Were politics always this interesting and I was just blind to it all? Or is it just my luck that this administration came along now I have time+energy+interest to delve deep?

3. Blackbox


I figured I’d like the game as soon as I saw “complex system” on the opening page. Complex Systems was my favorite class last year at school, influencing my decision to major in Social Science next year. This puzzle game has awesome, encouraging me to think about my phone in depth and search for patterns. But it’s not easy!

4. Design thinking for those who aren’t interested.

In May, I created and led a design thinking intro / sprint for high schoolers. In June, I worked with two others to create and lead an all day design thinking intro and workshop. In both cases, the youth were mostly there because of the adults: one was a school-sponsored activity and the other part of a career readiness program.

This offered a unique puzzle: how do you get those who haven’t sought out design thinking to engage in a process that requires such full-minded dedication? I’ve never experienced such a situation before at the conferences and workshops on design thinking I’ve been to.

…Still refining my answer to that question.

5. Korean

I have fallen hard for Korean. I want to speak Korean badly. But Phoebe, you may say, aren’t you just confusing your love for kpop boybands for the Korean language? To you I say, probably. But who cares why I love it? It’s a beautiful language spoken by beautiful people. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ XD

See that video below? It is GOLD. Luckily, it has subtitles. Not all videos do. For those, I need to speak Korean. Plus, translations aren’t perfect, and don’t convey tone and cutesiness and unusualness easily. So, I’ve gotta learn Korean so I get full cuteness!!

(I mean, there’s also the little thing about me moving there in August but hey.)

There’s been some progress; I’ve been dedicating 30 minutes a day to the language since May, and it’s paying off. I can’t wait for some more immersion in Korea, though.


Beyond these puzzles, I’ve been spending a hell of a lot of time reading (find me on Goodreads), hanging out with family and friends, cooking, relaxing, reading, chilling, volunteering, traveling to out of state/country family… this was the summer I needed, after burning out during my year at the U of A and the research summer following, and only deepened by my most academically challenging year ever.

I’m happy. Hope you are too. ❤

Trying to book a flight to Seoul like…

Next semester, I’ll be living in Seoul, South Korea from September to late December, 2017. Hence, the search for an airplane ticket, which I mentioned to my mother and father, who promptly expressed no small amount of concern for my wellbeing. Soon it felt like my parents weren’t the only ones who were trying to warn me about going to live so close to North Korea. As the search for a good-priced ticket began, so did the prevalence of warning signs….

In the waiting office…
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In travel insurance… 
Screen Shot 2017-06-05 at 10.34.06 AM
In Twitter… 
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As the first result on Youtube… 
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The search results for North Korea. Unsurprising, perhaps, but not what you want to see when moving in next door.

I still bought my ticket. While I’m sure I’ll keep one eye on the news, watching for escalation in threats against South Korea. After all, South Korea and North Korea are technically still at war. However, if I wanted to avoid every possibility of danger, I wouldn’t be driving in a car as an American.