Five Things Friday

Five things Friday: Life in Boston Edition

I’ve been living in Boston for about a month now, and so far, so good! It’s a lot different from San Jose, but I definitely feel a San Francisco-esque vibe here that I’m totally into. And thanks to visits from friends and a very social roommate, I’ve already done a bunch of fun stuff here and have even started to know my way around (which if you know me, that’s a huge feat).

Here’s a list of the things I have found to be really enjoyable in Boston so far:

1) The T

As someone who hasn’t owned a car over the past two years, the T is a blessing. Public transit wasn’t too bad in San Jose, but the T blows VTA out of the water!

Luckily for me, I live really close to an Orange Line stop and that line runs right by the City Year office and Emerson College, so it is pretty ideal. My only complaint is that the T stops running pretty early (around midnight-ish) so if you don’t want to cab it home from a late night out, you have to cut your night short. But maybe that’s not such a terrible thing…

2) Jamaica Pond

I live in Jamaica Plains, which is a really cool area of Boston. It’s a fairly quiet neighborhood in comparison to the college-ridden parts of town and there is a really cute downtown area.

My favorite part of Jamaica Plains is the Jamaica Pond. It has beautiful scenery, you can rent sailboats and rowboats, go fishing or walk your dog. I try to make it there every day to go running around the 1.5 mile loop, cause if I’m putting myself through hell to try to get back in shape, I might as well do it in a pretty place!

3) Sam Adams Brewery

It’s no secret that I love breweries. Thankfully, I have the Sam Adams Brewery right around the corner!

I love the Sam Adams Brewery because the tour is SUPER informative (they even passed around hops for us to check out), the tour guides are really friendly and it’s free.

During the tour, they take you to a tap room where they show us how professional beer tasters sample their wares and encourage us to do the same as we “taste-test” up to five different brews.

They provide you with a small Sam Adams taster glass for you to keep and don’t charge you for the beer, either. They do ask folks to give a donation that the brewery will then in turn donate to local organizations that work with kids. Can’t go wrong with that!

After the tour, they offer you a free Party Trolley ride over to Doyle’s Pub, which is the first bar in Boston to serve Sam Adams (and also apparently makes an appearance in the film Mystic River). If you go there from the tour and buy a Sam Adams draft, they will give you a really nice Sam Adams glass for free. Excellent.

4) Boston Common

This is a really cool area in Boston that just so happens to be where Emerson College is located. There is a really pretty park, lots of cute café’s and eateries and of course, pubs. I really like Sweetwater Tavern and have frequented the AMC movie theater in that district. I’m excited to spend a lot of my time in the Common.

5) Purple Cactus

One of my big concerns moving here from San Jose was that I would be doomed to eat crappy Mexican food for the rest of my life. Then I went to Purple Cactus and saw the light.

Not only do they serve burritos that are the closest I’ve found to the greatness of California taquerias, but they also serve delicious fruit smoothies (I highly recommend the Classic Blonde).

Five things Friday: Early Edition

I’m posting a bit early because I have to be at the office at 6:30 am for a physical service day. Hope ya’ll don’t mind! 

1) Physical Service

Me and my buddy Nick mulching at the 2010 Great American Litter Clean Up.

Today marks the last time I will be doing a physical service project with City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley. After two years of working into the night to trace murals and showing up super early to set up paint stations and greet volunteers, I can’t believe its over. Physical service is one of my absolute favorite aspects of the City Year program. I really hope that I can participate in service events with City Year Boston in the coming years.

If you’re interested in checking out some of the amazing service projects our site has done this past year, check out our Flickr collection.

2) Literally Unbelievable

So I love The Onion. I even showed it to my students last year as part of newspaper club to explain to them what satire was. One of the funniest (or saddest depending on how you look at it) things about The Onion is that people are stupid enough to think that it is actual news.

I just started following this Tumblr account that shows when people post Onion articles on their Facebook as truths. If you need a good laugh or a reminder of how idiotic people can be, check them out and follow them. I get at least one good laugh a day.

3) All Stats

Speaking of Tumblr, two of my buddies created a really awesome account called All Sats. Basically it takes two of my favorite social media personas (The Creative and Information Sharer) and puts them together in a really clever way.

Oh, you should follow them on Twitter too.

4) Romney 2012

It’s official. Mitt Romney is running for President of the good ‘ol US of A.

If I was a betting person (which I’m not… I wasn’t allowed to bet on sports when I played college soccer due to NCAA rules and still haven’t shaken that fear) I’d say he has a pretty decent shot.

I’m actually a fan. I mean, hell, the dude even looks like a president. I’m even impressed with his website; which is saying a lot for a Republican candidate. If he wins the nomination, it will be one heck of a presidential election. That’s for sure.

5) Twitter Upgrade

According to an article in the Mercury News, Twitter is planning some pretty awesome (and long awaited) upgrades in terms of photo sharing. Pretty soon, you will be able to upload photos right through the site and soon after that, they will roll out the feature for aps to be used on the iphone (which I reaaally need to purchase… my Blackberry just isn’t cutting it anymore).

I’m excited for this. Now if Netflix would expand their library, all of my Internet needs would be met.

Five things Friday

1) End of the year goal-setting

As my time with City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley is quickly coming to an end, I’ve spent some time thinking about what I want to accomplish before I leave. It was interesting to find that the goals I had were pretty similar to the ones that my fellow senior corps members had.

Some of the similar goals we had were: Recommitting ourselves to service, showing appreciation for others and setting up next year’s senior corps members for success.

Another goal that I have is that I want to create a mutli-media project to encompass this year’s corps experience. I haven’t really figured out what that means or what it’s going to look like, so I plan on doing some serious brainstorming this weekend.

2) Lake Tahoe

As you may know, I’m planning an end of the year trip for 44 people in Lake Tahoe. It has been kind of stressful putting everything together, but hearing how excited everyone is about it makes me feel like all of the work I’m putting into it is going to pay off. I know I’m super excited for the trip. It’s going to be an amazing send-off after two amazing years of service!

3) GLEE

I got to see GLEE live this week in San Jose at the HP Pavilion and it was AMAZING. I’ve been to a ton of live shows in my day and I must admit that this was by far one of the best shows I’ve seen.

From the singing to the dancing to the little bits of acting, everything was on point. I felt like I was back in my preteens at a Backstreet Boys concert (which hell yes I saw them live!)

Some of the highlights of the show included (don’t read on if you are planning on seeing the show!): The Cheerios handing out Sue Sylvester barf bags, Britney’s performance of “Slave 4 U,” the Warblers performing “Teenage Dream,” Kurt and some lovely ladies performing “Single Ladies,” Artie getting up and performing “Safety Dance,” and of course, the acoustic rendition of “Friday.”

4) Abilities

This week I had the opportunity to do an enrichment (club) at Dorsa Elementary School. I decided to teach the students an Abilities enrichment that corps member Amanda Liles had done at Lee Mathson Middle School. Every day the students learned about a different disability and how the disabled adapt to be able to do everything that they need to do.

At the end of the week when I asked the students what they learned, a number of students said that they learned that just because you have a disability it doesn’t mean you can’t do things. It just means you have to do things your own way. Mission accomplished.

Here is a video that I showed the students about Aaron Fotheringham, a young man who isn’t confined by his wheelchair.

5) Camera

I’m looking into buying a nice digital camera. I’ve wanted one for years and have decided that it is something I’m going to invest in this fall. I’m looking for suggestions for models in the $500 – $1,500 price range, so if you have suggestions please let me know! Ideally, I’m looking for a Canon or a Nikon (Sorry dad, not interested in a KODAK).

(Thanks to those of you who have thrown ideas at me so far).

Five things Friday

1. Sons of Anarchy

Fun fact, the actor who plays Jax is actually British! It's like a hotter, more bad ass House!

If you haven’t seen this TV show yet, you totally need to. It is about a motorcycle club based in a fictional town in Northern California called Charming. It focuses on the main character, Jax Teller, who is the Vice President of the club. Essentially, it is about how he grapples with still being a part of the club even though it is heading in a direction he doesn’t think is right.

Sons of Anarchy is the highest rated show in FX history, which has aired some other really awesome shows such as Nip/Tuck, Its Always Sunny in Philadelphia and Lie to Me. You can catch seasons 1-2 streaming on Netflix. Totally worth checking it out.

2. Violence escalating in San Jose

San Jose, CA is known as one of the safest large cities in the country… or at least it used to be. This year so far, we’ve already doubled the murder rate in San Jose compared to last year. And with police officer layoffs looming, it can’t mean good things.

Most recently, there was a murder-suicide in a San Jose State University parking garage that took place pretty close to my apartment that left three people dead. In what looks like a suspected love triangle, a man killed his wife and one of her fellow students as they sat in a car. Check out this article for more details.

3. GOOD is hiring

I’ve talked about good.is plenty of times on my blog. They are pretty much the epitome of what I love about social media. They recently announced that they are hiring (one of the positions is a social media manager job… hello, my dream!) But since I’m going to grad school and am relocating to Boston, MA, those dreams will have to be put on hold for now.

As for my friends living in LA and NYC, you should check out their postings and see if anything catches your eye.

4. Rochester area brain drain

New demographic data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed what is a surprise to, well no one – young people are leaving the Rochester, NY area.

It is unfortunate since Rochester is a pretty cool city. I seriously considered going back there after I was done with City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley, but the job market kept me from going back despite getting accepted into RIT (was even offered a damn good scholarship).

When the admissions person asked me why I was turning them down, I had to answer honestly: there are no opportunities for me there. It is sad for me because I don’t think I will ever be able to live there and pursue a successful career in my chosen field. Maybe one day…

5. Religion is human nature, study claims

A recent project that incorporated 40 different studies from all over the world is reporting that religion is instinctive for humans. As someone who is re-exploring the idea of faith, this is a pretty interesting concept… especially since I have been reading studies on how organized religion is depleting around the world.

According to Oxford University professor Roger Trigg (who led the study): “We tend to see purpose in the world. We see agency. We think that something is there even if you can’t see it. … All this tends to build up to a religious way of thinking.”

What are your thoughts? Are we predisposed to religiosity from birth? Is organized religion on the decline?

Five things Friday

1. Update on my cousin

If you read last Friday’s post, you would know that my cousin got into a really bad car accident. I wrote the blog post from a hospital waiting room in Mississippi where I stayed for five days waiting to be able to see her for about 20 minutes every four hours. She was in terrible shape. But I’m pleased to say that since then, things are looking so much better. She has since been taken out of critical care and while she is still in a lot of pain, she is healing nicely. Thank you to everyone for all of your kind words, well wishes and prayers. They all meant the world to me.

2. Social Media at the Summit

This week I found out that I will be going to the City Year National Leadership Summit in Washington, DC to help out with social media. I’m really excited about this awesome opportunity to get to meet people from other sites and to help spread the word about City Year and our mission in a big way. I also have the chance to collaborate with a couple of the people I respect and look up to the most in the City Year network; Johnny Barr and of course, Mike Messina. Should be a lot of fun!

3. Asian Americans for Community Involvement (AACI) 

On Thursday I had the opportunity to attend the AACI annual fundraising luncheon. I love going to these events because I get to meet all sorts of interesting (and influential) people and learn about some really great organizations. I urge you to check out the AACI website to see all of the amazing things that they are doing for Asian Americans in Santa Clara County. Really inspiring work.

4. Idealist’s Journey: Setting goals and determining success 

Once a month, the senior corps of City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley has the opportunity to meet together to partake in what is known in City Year as the Idealist’s Journey. Senior corps members take turns presenting case studies, current events or big questions. This week we discussed how can you tell if you are accomplishing a goal you have set for yourself and we also shared some of our own personal goals.

It was interesting to hear what people were hoping to improve about themselves and how they thought they could tell once they achieved that. For me, I said that I wanted to stop sweating the small stuff (which was what inspired my last blog post). I shared that I knew that I achieved something when I received unsolicited positive feedback about that particular thing and if people came to me to ask me how I was doing something.

5. Southern Storms

It has been really heartbreaking for me to see all of the damage and casualties caused by the storms in the south. It’s so surreal to think that when I was there only a week ago, I was in the midst of tornado sirens and some pretty scary weather. They were hoping to move my cousin to another hospital closer to her home, but are unable to because there are so many victims needing care. Hopefully this violent weather comes to an end soon.

Five things Friday

1. Getting Back in the Game

This week I started coaching a soccer team at Lee Mathson Middle School, which was where I served last year as a first year corps member. Not only does it feel awesome to be back on campus on a more regular basis, but it is really great to have the opportunity to share the game I love with some kids that I really care about.

2. Wage Gap for Women

It’s quite sad to know that this is still an issue, but women are still making less than men (77 cents on the dollar according to an article posted on the GOOD website).

GOOD posted hilarious commentary on how us women can boost our pay and really get what’s ours. Some of my favorites included:

Don’t choose a profession that is female-dominated. The wages tend to be depressed already. I mean, caring for children? Teaching? Girly stuff. You need to pick a man-tested, man-approved field if you want to rake in a decent salary.

Maintain your appearance, especially if you are over the age of 30. Put on some lipstick and a nice pair of heels. Just because you’re one of the boys doesn’t mean you should wear what they do. But for god’s sake, don’t dress like a slut! How will anyone respect you if they can see that you have breasts?

Get comfortable on the golf course. Know your way around a humidor. Suggest a post-work happy hour at the local strip club. The real deals all happen outside the workplace, you know. But don’t be too uptight about it when those outside-the-workplace meetings happen in places that still explicitly ban you.

3. Student Loan Debt Greater than Credit Card Debt

As of last June, American’s overall student debt has surpassed our credit card debt and could actually amount to more than $1 trillion sometime this year. As one of those “lucky” Americans, I totally empathize with this. Maybe it could be seen as a good thing. We are investing in our education more often than we’re investing in a flat screen TV, but it could have serious consequences for us personally and could eventually negatively impact the economy.

Some of those issues could include:

  • Being forced to seek higher paying jobs that may not be in our career field of choice to make ends meet (forget about those non-profit jobs!)
  • Not having the ability to save up for our children’s education because it is taking us 20 years to pay off our own
  • Renting rather than owning (who wants a mortgage when you feel like you already have one?)
  • Not spending money on luxury items, vacations, etc. because well, you just can’t
4. Cisco Closing Operations on the Flip

I was pretty surprised when I found out earlier this week that Cisco was shutting down the Flip camcorder division. I’ve owned one for awhile now and really love it. It’s easy to use, produces great quality video and I was able to personalize it by selecting a design to be emblazoned on it. I use my Flip on a fairly regular basis and have really loved it.
Brian Chen from Wired gave his reasoning behind why the Flip, well, flopped.
Smarter General Purpose Devices This makes sense. The cameras on the iphone have been getting better and when Steve Jobs decided to put a camera into the ipod nano, it simultaneously put a fork in the Flip. Why would you want to own a device with only one function when you could pay just about the same to get a multi-functional device?
The shift to real-time social networking I would say this is my biggest (and probably only) complaint with the Flip. While it is super easy to use, it would be nice if I could just send the video right from the camera to Facebook or Youtube wirelessly. On MLK Day, I used my Flip to make a video but had to import it onto my Mac and be connected to the Internet to post it. I ended up having to leave our service site to go to a nearby Starbucks just so that could happen.
5. Prayer
If you know me well, you know that I’ve been agnostic/atheist for quite some time now. Recently one of my old roommates invited me to come to a “spiritual discussion” that he attends every Tuesday evening. Out of curiosity, I went this past Tuesday.
The discussion we had was about prayer. What’s the purpose behind it? How do you do it? How often do you do it? It was then I realized that my Catholic upbringing really made me uncomfortable with the thought of just having a conversation with “God.” Everything for me was formalized. God was too busy to just listen to my thoughts.
But the folks at the discussion challenged me to give prayer a chance for just five minutes a day for two weeks. I agreed to try it out, even though it is really awkward for me since I haven’t jumped onto the Christian bandwagon quite yet. The thing I’ve noticed though is that it is nice to just sit and think for five minutes about my day, my challenges and what I want for myself. So even if I’m not sure I’m talking to a greater being, its nice to have the self reflection time.

Five things Friday

1. Michael Brown came to town

This past week, City Year San Jose/Silicon Valley was visited by a lot of the senior leadership of City Year for a “focus visit”. We were lucky enough to welcome City Year co-founder and CEO Michael Brown to our site during this time. I had the distinct pleasure of hearing Michael speak a couple times during his visit; once at the City Year office and once at the Haas Center for Public Service at Stanford.

It is always so inspiring to be around Michael, as he is truly a crusader for the national service movement. In fact, I highly doubt that national service would be nearly as powerful as it is today if it weren’t for his idealism and ingenuity. He is definitely someone that I look up to and his life and career are incredibly inspiring. If you are interested in learning more about how City Year (and ultimately, AmeriCorps) came to be, I highly encourage you to read Big Citizenship by Alan Khazei, the other co-founder of City Year.

2. Global Youth Service Day

Me tracing a Finding Nemo mural in the nurse's office at Majestic Elementary School.

Every year on Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) City Year brings together volunteers to make a positive impact in neighborhoods across the country. We will bring together more than 300 volunteers in San Jose to celebrate GYSD, an annual campaign that celebrates and mobilizes the millions of children and youth who improve their communities each day of the year through service and service-learning through transformative community service projects.

GYSD is hands down one of my favorite City Year events. There is just something really powerful about knowing that I am serving alongside people all over the world to celebrate what I have dedicated my life to for the past almost two years now.

If you are interested in finding how you can get involved on GYSD, check out their website. Better yet, if you live in the Bay Area, some serve with us! Here are the details.

3. I’m going home…

Okay, so I’m not going home for another 11 weeks (my train arrives in Rochester on June 24th), but I’m starting to get ready for it. Yesterday I packed a couple boxes that I plan on shipping home this weekend (which I’m really scared to find out how much it will cost) and I’m hopefully going to hit up Crossroads, a thrift store in San Jose, to sell a bunch of clothes I don’t want anymore.

Ah! And if you’re in the upstate New York area, you should totally come to the 3rd Annual Bakerfest to celebrate my triumphant return on June 25th.

4. Government shutdown

Clearly, this is a big deal. But I don’t feel like I’ve educated myself enough on it to give commentary. (I am relieved however that my pay won’t be affected by it).

But you should check out my friend Romel’s blog post about it.

And read this GOOD blog post about how Defunding AmeriCorps and taking City Year out of schools is an awful idea.

5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer… not the strong female role model I remembered

So I’m rewatching the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series and let me tell you… it is really different to watch it again as an adult. When I was starting to watch it I was excited to see something with a strong female lead that just kicks ass (there just isn’t enough of that) but what I have been seeing is actually pretty disappointing.

Now that I am the end of the third season, I’m finding that she wasn’t the bad ass I remembered her to be. She’s whiny and completely dependent on Angel, her vampire love interest. It has been reminiscent of Bella in Twilight, whose utter lack of self worth makes my skin crawl.

The true unsung hero of the show is Willow, the smart Wicca and eventual lesbian played by Alyson Hannigan, who is quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses. She is comedic genius in How I Met Your Mother and of course, who could forget her quirky sex crazed character in the American Pie movies. (Which I’ve been reading that she was not invited back to star in the most recent installment).

Anyways, it has been fun rewatching these episodes but it has also been kind of a bummer watching Buffy’s character now that I’m pretty far beyond my high school years. Maybe she will get a backbone when she goes to college in the fourth season…