Sunday, July 31, 2011

Staying Strong

Not everything is always so simple. Whether it be boy troubles, friend troubles, family troubles, school troubles, work troubles, you name it! Something I tend to notice in people is that they let these things get to them. They let these things dissolve their every whim to be a strong person. Troubles absorb one's life until they don't even see the point in trying anymore.

I used to be that person. The person that just sat back as drama took its toll on me. I let everything affect me. The drama in my life really became my life. I couldn't stand it and I couldn't allow myself to trust anyone. I thought if I gave anyone the slightest chance, they would take advantage of that trust and ruin me in the end.

But after recent events, I have learned that I can no longer be that person. Once my grandmother passed away, I knew I needed to stay strong. Not only for myself, but for my family. For my grandmother. By staying strong, I can overcome anything. My grandmother is now in a better place and is done suffering through the pain she had to go through to fight her illness. It took a lot for me to realize this. But now that I do, I know no drama with my peers can take a toll on me any longer. If I can stay strong for my grandmother, then I can stay strong for myself.

Everyone goes through their own issues. I know I cannot complain about my life because there are others who do not even have a home. I am not complaining. The point I am trying to get across is that, everyone can stay strong if they just put in a little effort.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Switched at Birth

ABC Family’s new show, Switched at Birth, deals with the difficult legal and emotional problems that arise after two teenage girls discover that they were “switched at birth.”

Bay Kennish, played by Gilmore Girls’ Vanessa Marano, was raised by a wealthy family with all the luxuries of private academies, expensive hobbies, and a mansion-of-a-house.

Daphne Vasquez, played by Katie Leclerc, was raised by a single mother in a working class neighborhood complete with graffiti, police sirens, and a steady crime rate.

When they discover the mistake that the hospital made, the girls’ parents must learn to get along in order to get to know their biological daughter without losing their “switched” daughter.

This proves difficult as Kathryn and John Kennish, played by Back to the Furture’s Lea Thompson and Saturday Night Lights’ D.W. Moffett, begin to question Daphne’s mother’s parenting techniques, such as the fact that Daphne became deaf due to an antibiotic for meningitis that her mother, Regina Vasquez, played by George Lopez’s Constance Marie Lopez, gave her.

In the show, Daphne, played by Leclerc, her friend Emmett,The Sandlot 2’s Sean Berdy, and Emmett’s mother, Children of a Lesser God’s Marlee Matlin, all play hearing impared people.

In reality, Leclerc lost her hearing due to Meniere’s disease, Berdy was born deaf, and Matlin was born with a malformed cochlea in her ear. Matlin was not only the youngest woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress in a Leading Role, but was also the only deaf actor to win an Academy Award.

The fact that the show used people who are deaf in real life adds authenticity to the plot line. It allows readers to become familiar with a culture that many are ignorant about.

Running Camp

This past Sunday, I got back from a week-long distance runners camp in North Carolina. Let's just say I'm glad there aren't mountains down here in South Florida.

Well, I have to say running up and down these shaded trails through the forests of North Carolina was actually pretty awesome. Down here, you get used to running in 95+ degree weather down the side of the road on a sidewalk, so the great scenery (and shade) was a welcomed change!

Other than the trails, there was plenty to do. Each morning we'd get up around 6 a.m. and run 30 minutes just around the campus we were staying at. Then, after the all you can eat breakfast buffet, we'd do weird team building activities, like a spiderweb game where everyone had to cross this box without touching anyone else on the team. I didn't see the point in them until I realized it helped my team learn to communicate and give everyone a say in decision-making.

Then, after lunch and another activity, the camp would ride buses to the trails I wrote about earlier, each of them having a specific name: Turkey Nob, North Slope, Hook Falls, and the infamous Art Loeb, a 7 mile trek basically all up hill. Every course was challenging, and there was never a more welcoming sight than a counselor standing at the finish line to welcome you in.

On some of the runs, you would run about a foot from the cliff; also, there would always be plenty of roots and fallen tree trunks to hurdle along the way. I probably fell around five times, actually. After running those, we'd return to the campus and take baths in the icy creek to help rest our sore legs.

Finally, on the last day of camp, all the campers and staff (all runners as well) loaded up onto the
buses and headed to John's Rock, or as everyone called it "The Graduation Run". I'd hear about it all week, and it didn't sound like the easiest run; it wasn't. Usually a three mile run would be a piece of cake, but this one was far from that. At times you had to grab branches to pull you up the incredibly steep mountainside.

Finally after around 30 minutes, we finished, and stepped up onto the actual rock. We looked out and saw the entire town below us, surrounded by mountains on all sides. Everyone was taking pictures with their teams and having a good time, happy we'd all finished the last hard run.

Running camp was definitely an experience I won't forget, and I'm hoping to see the benefits of the hard work this coming season.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

cultural v commercial

I recently got back from a trip to China, and while I was there, the universal homogeneity really overwhelmed me. There was so much chaos in the streets, but everybody seemed exactly the same. And I wish I could have experienced it the same way I could have if I had spoken the language.

In general when people travel, it's really hard to get a clear sense of the culture or have legitimate, unique cultural experiences when they aren't able to communicate with the people that live there. My friends and I went line dancing at a communal park one evening, but I couldn't even ask the woman next to me what the moves were because I don't speak Chinese.

In a sense, the trip was disappointing because there were certain instances that I really wanted to feel integrated with the happenings of the city, but my inability to speak prevented that. Many of the museums and festivals that my tour group went to were very commercial and touristy places where the salespeople kept attempting to cram their homemade goods down our pockets. That's the China that we were forced to experience, simply because these types of places are the only ones where we could understand what was going on.

When I tried to say "four" out loud, my incorrect tone inflection accidentally caused me to scream "death" in the middle of Tiananmen Square. It wasn't one of my more proud moments.
A word of advice? Brush up on the native language of a country when you travel. You'll be able to have authentic experiences without insulting the natives-and that's always a positive.

When do you really know you’re in love?

Well I'm just seventeen so I don't have this whole lifetime of experience but I think I could say that I know enough.
It's simple really though we are known to make it a difficult thing to realize. You'd see it quite often if you watch enough movies with a love story and it happens, believe it or not, more often in life. We all can't be Allie from The Notebook, and have 365 heartfelt letters to seal that, "I love only him" deal or fall for a girl so hard that she changes your ways like Landon in A Walk To Remember. Well yeah I mean, we may not have the cleverly contructed musical score to match the scene but it's there. What you have to realize about the moment is it's not gonna happen like a scripted Nicholas Sparks novel, it really just happens. It just hits you. You suddenly realize whether you have the dramatic close up or not that "I love __"
Okay so now you've grazed the surface, the difficult part, finding the right moment to say it :P

End of Harry Potter?

Has it really ended? Is Harry Potter finally over? The epic saga that has been loved by the world, since the first book publication in 1997. From Harry Potter and The Sorcerer's Stone to Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows many people have followed the books and movies with a passion. But now it may all be over. July 15Th Harry Potter and The Deathly Hollows Part 2 appeared on movie screens all over. Midnight screening made the front page of news papers.
I even recall the night of the first midnight screening at the Sawgrass Cinema. I was going to see Green Lantern, at 7:50pm. And already there were people lined up outside in all sorts of cloaks, hoods, Hogwarts School Uniforms (The School The Main Character attends in the series.). Also brandishing many a wands, key chains, spell books, all enthusiastic to see the movie.
But after the movie you would see people leaving the theatre and I'm sure on one of their minds was "Is this the end?"
Though many will miss the anticipation of a new harry potter movie premiering each year, continuing the story that captured many people's hearts. Fear not though Harry Potter will never die. The fans are sure enough to keep the story alive through blogs, forums, fan fictions, and others alike. For the story of Harry Potter by JK Rowling will be loved by generations to come.

School soon?

As summer passes by really quick this summer im starting to feel it. I see many Commercial's talking about "back to school shopping" such as Target and K-mart, My school already told us the date to pick up our schedules, and I'm just now starting my summer assignments. Im happy for school to start(Like every school year) But its just some adjustments that have to be done, Such as Waking up in the wee hours of the morning. During summer I got to sleep late and wake up late, But after August 22nd, I have to get back to the routine of waking up at around 7:30. Ehhhhh'.

A Teenage Jew's Views On Some Amazing Jewish Experiences

By Stacey Pasternak, Cooper City High

Hello all!

My name is Stacey Gayle Pasternak, and I am a Jew. I feel extremely lucky to be a Jew, not only because Jews make up only 0.2% of the world's population, but also because I get to join some incredibly impactful youth groups. Namely, BBYO.

For those of you who don't know, BBYO stands for the B'nai B'rith Youth Organization. It is a teen-led Jewish youth group movement with the slogan, "More Jewish Teens, More Meaningful Jewish Experiences."

photo: My BBYO chapter, Nesichot

BBG (Nesichot meaning princesses in Hebrew, BBG meaning B'nai B'rith Girls) is my heart and home. I always feel so comfortable whenever I go to our weekly Tuesday meetings. But sometimes, you just have to try something out of your comfort zone in BBYO. There is no better way to do this then by going on Summer Experience programs. This summer, I decided to go on one popular Summer Experience among us BBYO-ers called CLTC, which stands for Chapter Leadership Training Conference. CLTC is for those newer members who want to learn how to be both better leaders in their BBYO lives and chapters as well as in their lives outside of BBYO and in the real world. My CLTC started on July 5th. CLTC 4, 2011 (there are 7 of them all throughout the summer, and they each last 12 days). I can honestly say it was the one of the best 12 days of my entire life. I met so many new and inspirational people who would soon become my very best friends, had some experiences with Judaism that will last me a lifetime, learned about myself and who I want to become, formed sisterly bonds with the girls in my mock chapter, and so much more. So, if you are a Jewish teen, that mean YOU have the privelage of bringing BBYO into your life and YOU can take that extra step by going to CLTC and other Summer Experience programs. Nothing is stopping you and you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Take my advice and enjoy your experiences to the fullest.



Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I cannot perceive that our elected leaders would rather have a staring contest than resolve our national debt crisis. I am disappointed that our legislators seem to possess more concern for their own jobs than the jobs of their constituencies. The pending elections have terminated any form of compromise, since both political parties possess more concern about their performance next year than if the nation is able to pay its expenses. And with the imbalanced Republicans slandering President Obama on all of his actions. Worst of all, they are unconcerned about those who will be affected the most, such as the ill, the elderly as well as the indigent. Basically, we should not expect a compromise from our leaders until the nation has collapsed.

Decisions, Decisions

As I am approaching my junior year, I am beginning to buckle down and prepare for college. There are so many aspects to getting into college, and I am determined to go to a good out-of-state school. Seeing as I am interested in journalism and communications, I have pinpointed a couple schools that I would consider going to.

However, before I can even think about leaving Florida for college, I need to make sure that my college checklist is complete. There are certain features of a school that could make or break my decision to attend.

My College Checklist

  • Location (rural, suburban, metropolis, city, town, etc.)
  • Athletics
  • Academics
  • Extracurriculars
  • Weather

The location of college is important. The difference between a college town and a city campus is huge. For example, Northwestern University (Chicago, Ill.) has two campuses, one in the heart of Chicago and one in Evanston, a suburb of Chicago. The downtown campus is a lot more fast-paced and busy whereas the suburban campus is a little more tucked away and relaxed. Certain people don’t want to be anywhere near the hustle and bustle of the city, so a rural or suburban campus would probably be a good choice for them. It just depends on the preferences of that person.

Now on to athletics! I hadn’t really paid much attention to athletics before I actually started seriously looking in to schools. After visiting my grandparents in North Carolina, we made a road trip out of our drive back to South Florida and stopped for some college tours. Our first stop was at Emory University (Atlanta, Ga.). I absolutely LOVED Emory. The campus was gorgeous, the dorms were modest, and the location was great. Everything looked like it was falling into place. And then the bomb was dropped: there is no football at Emory. They have a very successful Division III men’s basketball team, but basketball isn’t football. In the past, I don’t think that would have bothered me. However, after seeing my cousin getting into the Badger football spirit at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I took a liking at the fact that I would be in the same boat once I got to college. Therefore, as perfect as Emory might have been, I am crossing it off my list of possibilities, but I have no doubt that I will find an equally perfect college that DOES have football.

Even though social life and athletics are important in college, academics cannot be neglected. I am specifically looking for a good journalism or communications school. I have found a handful of schools that I am considering in my college hunt. They have made it into my list because of their qualifications, rankings, and ratings and also by word of mouth. Syracuse University has slowly moved itself towards the top of my list. Not only does it have an excellent and highly recommended communications school, it also provides a student with networking. I think that is one of the most important things to come out of college with. You never know when you will need to call on a favor from someone, so it is beneficial to take all the business cards possible. In addition, I have a family friend who graduated from Syracuse’s communications school, and she is currently living in Manhattan with a job at a public relations firm whose client is McDonalds. I can only hope that I start out in the real world with a life like that!

With the extra free time while not at classes or out with friends, there are extracurricular activities that I would love to participate in. One of those would have to be the newspaper. Even if I don’t pursue a major in journalism directly, I still want to be a part of the newspaper staff and keep the reporter in me alive. I love how, in high school, I can be drowning in academic work, but I can always go to newspaper and relieve my stress by writing. Also, I would love it if whatever college I go to has a gym open to all students. When we toured Emory, they had a huge, state-of-the-art athletic building with an indoor Olympic-sized pool, spinning bikes, running tracks, cardio machines, and other gym equipment to satisfy everyone’s needs. Even though I’m not the biggest exercise buff, this building was mesmerizing and made me want to work out 24/7. I don’t know what kind of college life I would have if there weren’t extracurriculars on campus to entertain me.

The last item on my checklist is weather. I am a Florida girl, born and raised (on the playground is where I spent most of my days….wow, that was cheesy). Seriously though, I have lived in South Florida my entire life, so I have never experienced a harsh winter or a snowy winter for that matter. Sure, I have been on trips before to places that have been in the low 20s or below, but that was only for a couple days. I have my sights set on a couple colleges in the northeast and Midwest. As people start to ask me where I want to go to school, and I respond, “preferably Northwestern or Syracuse,” they proceed to laugh in my face and tell me how cold it gets. Yes, I understand that it gets cold in places other than South Florida; I would like to think that for a good college education, I could suck it up and brave the weather. As long as I am properly layered and kept warm throughout the cold days, I think that I would be able to handle it.

If you have made it this far in my blog post, I commend you for listening to my saga. As it is, I am an extremely indecisive person; I am curious to see how this college hunt will end. With all the previously mentioned features taken into consideration, there has to be a school that can satisfy my requests. I know that wherever I end up, I will have the best college experience possible.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Gulfstream Park

So I was supposed to bog about the grand opening of Yogurt Land but as it turns out I went to the wrong one ... I know silly me right? I mixed up the dates of the grand opening of the Yogurt Land in Hollywood with the one at Gulfstream Park. The Gulfstream grand opening of Yogurt Land isn’t until next Saturday, but don't fret, I managed to get a blog out of visiting Gulfstream anyway.

Gulfstream Park is a great hang out spot for teens. There are countless boutiques and shops most within walking distance of each other. I even got to do a little shopping myself. Stores such as Back2Back and Lily McKay offer funky, fresh style clothing at reasonable prices. Gulfstream park also what I think is the most awesome skateboard store ever! It’s called Adrenalina. What's so awesome about this particular skate store you ask? Well, Adrenalina offers surfing inside of the store. Yes, they have a special glass room with a FlowRider, a huge water wave running constantly allowing customers to test their surfing skills. The cost of this great experience is $20 for every half hour. There are also skateboards all throughout the store giving customers the freedom to roam around. Adrenalina also sells surfing and skateboarding gear and clothing.

And every hotspot needs a restaurant. Gulfstream Park has thirteen, including Cadillac Ranch an "All American bar and grill," Blu Sushi a sushi restaurant and Brio a Tuscan style restaurant. Gulfstream also includes a nail salon, Haagen-Dazs, Pottery Barn, Crate and Barrel, and let’s not forget the newest addition to Gulfstream Yogurt Land. So if you need something to do to finish off your summer or hang out on the weekends, visit Gulfstream Park located just north of Aventura at 501 South Federal Highway Hallandale Beach, FL 33009. I recommend going during the day though because all the adults come out at night for the Casino and Nightclubs.

Fabulous Fashion in Los Angeles

Last week I visited Los Angeles it got me thinking about the several treasure boutiques and shopping stores that tourists may miss when they come to visit. I've lived in Los Angeles for 9 years and as I was visiting my friends they showed me around to several places I had never heard of living in Florida. Here's a list of stores I enjoyed and you most defiantly might want to try and visit in your next trip to LA.


4865 Topanga Canyon Boulevard, CA 91364-4228 (818) 346-7686

Soto is a small quiet boutique located in Calabasas with a variety of nice women’s clothing (shoes, tops, jeans, jackets, dresses, etc). However when I went I found that they had a wide collection of unique jewelry for example, these tie dyed colored hair ties that may also be used as bracelets.


4906 Topanga Canyon Boulevard, CA 91364-3112 (818) 704-9808

Sogno is also a small hidden boutique on the opposite street of Soto that has a similar collection of clothes yet a more colorful diverse atmosphere. Sogno actually appears to target a more young fun adult rather than Soto whose classical clothes may be worn by older more mature women.

Brandy Melville

Santa Monica Third Street Promenade
Tel. 310.434.1945
1413 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica, CA 90401

Hours: Monday-Thursday 10am-10pm, Friday & Saturday 10am-11pm, Sunday 10am-9pm

Started 30 years ago, Brandy Melville is an urban store that has moved to the U.S from Europe. I found that the prices were reasonable and that the clothes appeared to be made with considerable quality. This store was probably my favorite because of the way it easily stood out with all the beautiful decorations.

Free People

Westfield Topanga Mall Canoga Park, CA 91303 (818) 716-8069

Mon-Sat 10am-9pm, Sun 11am-7pm

Free people is a new store I discovered during my visit and I could probably compare it to our Delia’s. Everything’s very girly and cute. There’s a lot of drapery in the clothes which appears that the store might be going for a chic hippy look. Although the store is a bit pricey, (its pricing is similar to Urban Outfitters) the clothes are well made and the sale rack has a nice variety.

Peru: A Little Bit of Everything

Adventures in Peru.
My family and I embarked on an adventure to the illustrious and beautifully diverse land of Peru. The true reason for our trip was my cousins wedding but our activities were not at all limited to just that. We got to see a little bit of everything.

Cusco/Cuzco Plaza de Armas, Cathedral

78 year old man cliff diving? Why yes, yes it is!
Would you look at that! Well here he is, he made it out alive oh that's great... I said, a little bit of everything

oh hi Machu Picchu

the 100th anniversary of its discovery was yesterday.. 7/24/11

dance with horses, barefoot

Now how about a look at the Amazon jungle?

&&& to leave you with a little "food" for thought...

here's a snake in the midst of eating a bird :(

well that's all for now folks!

Sunday, July 24, 2011

A Summer of Significance

Junior year of high school is notorious for being the year in which everyone's life takes a dramatic swing in a brand new direction. Academics suddenly become much more intense, the list of responsibilities lengthens and people's true colors start to show. I've heard the horror stores of what lays ahead for me time and time again, but I've never fully believed them until now. This summer, as I make the transition from sophomore to junior year, the huge jump is becoming increasingly evident.

One of the largest-scale changes that I've noticed is that people now have a greater sense of their independence. Suddenly, all of the people I have watched grow up around me are making purchases with their very own credit cards, and caravanning around town in their very own brand new cars. I've found that it's now much easier to make choices on your own, and I really feel like I am growing up.

There is, however, a price to pay for this newfound independence. It's almost impossible to head towards adulthood without a little extra cash in your pocket, and my classmates and I have definitely realized that.

I must admit I was a little nervous when I applied for a job as a summer camp counselor at the end of this year. For the past six years, I had attended a sleep-away camp in North Carolina, so I was used to being a camper and spending the summer goofing off with my friends. My friends were shocked when I told them I was finally making a change in my life and accepting new responsibilities. I was convinced the change was going to be a huge mistake until my first day of work this summer. As it turns out, making the jump was the best decision I ever made. I made so many new friends who are completely different than the people I’m used to, but it’s a refreshing adjustment. My campers are absolutely adorable, and they give me a totally new perspective on life. Even better, I have a lot more authority and have learned a great deal about leadership skills, which I know will help me throughout my life.

Now, it seems like I can't go anywhere without seeing somebody I know working. All of the local supermarkets and yogurt shops have been invaded by teenagers looking for money to fill their gas tanks. It's good to know that my generation can step up when needed.

Of course, the one change I actually did see coming this year is already beginning to show. This summer for the first time in my life, I have to do extensive work to prepare myself for the upcoming school year, and I already feel swamped. I'm signed up for three AP classes next year, and I'm beginning to wonder what I got myself into. I have no idea how to cope with it, and I have a feeling it's going to get much worse.

There have definitely been tons of changes for me this summer (and the list keeps on growing) but most of them have been nothing but helpful. At this point, I'm welcoming eleventh grade AND its changes with open arms, because I can't wait to see what else is in store for me.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Happy Go Skate Day

Every 21st of June there is a holiday called Go Skate Day. Millions of skaters around the globe go out in the streets and skate parks to skate. This year I set out to go take pictures. I went to down town Ft. Lauderdale and met a few kids.

Premios Juventud

Photo: Pitbull's performace (Veronica Mingrone)

I like to think of myself as music-savvy; I know plenty of different musicians and listen to virtually all types of music.

I, however, found myself a stranger to practically every artist yesterday at Univision's Premios Juventud.

From Pitbull to Ricky Martin and Antonio Banderas (basically the only performers I knew), the evening was filled with loud music and enthusiastic fans.

Originally, I attended the show to see one band, Il Volo. Needless to say, I'm a huge fan (hence why I went to a four hour concert for a five minute performance), and they did not disappoint.

While Pitbull and Il Volo gave fantastic performances, other artists, like Romeo Santos, left me wondering "Do people actually listen to this?"

But, like any red-carpet, star-studded award ceremony, the venue was beautiful. Giant screens and a floating DJ booth gave the awards a very high tech, futuristic feeling. And, like any event, the musical numbers were highly energetic and fun, not even leaving me, a stranger to most of the performers, dissappointed.

Missed the awards ceremony? Here's a recap of the night's winners:

Premios My ringtone y Mi Artista Urbano: Pitbull.

Premio Lo Toco Todo: Los Vaqueros, El Regreso, de Wisin y Yandel.

Premio Mi Artista Rock.- Maná.

Premio Síganme los buenos.- Ricky Martin

Premio Súper Nova: Antonio Banderas.

Chica que me quita el sueño: Maite Perroni.

Premio Voz del Momento: Prince Royce

Premio ¡Qué Actorazo!: Jaime Camil

Premio Qué Rico se Mueve: Shakira

Premio Súper Tour: Stand by Me Tour 2011, de Prince Royce.

Premio Está Buenísimo: William Levy.

Premio Actriz que se Roba la Pantalla: Blanca Soto

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Adventures of a Camp Counser

I've set a goal for myself to reach before I graduate high school. 500 service hours. Yup. I know it seems a little daunting but at my school, if you reach 500, you get to graduate with a silver cord (you know, those fancy cords they drape over your neck?) and some sort of a certificate or whatnot but I'm really interested in the cord (Gosh, I sound like George Clooney in Up in the Air with his ten million frequent flyer miles)anyway, to achieve my goal, which I'm like 355 hours short of, I signed up to work as a camp counselor this summer- and you would not believe how weird it has been (half-naked yoga hobos, a seriously disturbed little girl and an eight year old that looks like Damien from The Omen). So follow my blog and I'll tell you about the camp counseling job from Hell.

The Mysterious Power of Ancient Chinese Medicine in the Modern World By: Karam Atli

<---- 蛤蚧 (gap gui) (Texas Horned Lizard) used in brewing Ancient Chinese Herbal Medicines

Since summer vacation started I have been in Hong Kong for about 1½ months. The reason I have been here so long is because of my grandfather’s cancer.

The climate in Hong Kong is extremely humid and hot, due to many high-rise buildings built only a few meters apart from each other. In fact, I think Hong Kong may be even hotter than the sunshine state!

I am lucky that I recovered from jet lag around the 2nd week, because I tell you, switching day and night is not easy. (Hong Kong is 12 hours ahead of Florida, meaning when it is day in Florida it is night here in Hong Kong. During the first week, I slept almost 18 hours a day, and while the Hong Kong people were sleeping I was roaming around my grandparent's apartment wide-awake.

My grandfather's cancer is at the terminal stage, and is still developing, but the doctor suggested not to do anything since he does not have any pain.

We can tell that his belly has been growing, but not from fat. His body's frame has shrunk. The local hospital's psychiatrist told him about what to expect and how to deal with his disease. Since then, he has not been as worried and upset as before.

My mom, aunts, and uncles, busily looking for other options, heard about a famous Chinese Medicine doctor that specialized in cancer patients, and took my grandfather to see him.

So far, the herbal medicines that the Chinese doctor prescribed to my grandfather seems to have given him more energy and strength. My aunts have even noticed that his face has become less pale. For our family, this has been like a light at the end of a tunnel, giving us hope even at this stage.

For me, this has been amazing, and has opened my eyes to a new type of medical treatment. I've studied in my middle school's Pre-medical Academy for 3 years, but have never learned anything about Eastern medicine. Some of the hospitals here in Hong Kong have developed a system of combining Western medicines and treatment along with Ancient Chinese Meditation Treatments ( such as tai chi, and chi gong- which translates into inner potential energy), and accupuncure to help the patients recover faster, especially for early-stage to middle-stage cancer, heart-disease, and stroke patients. I suspect that the tai chi that my grandfather has been practicing for more than 20 years is one of the factors that has let him have no pain. (Almost like meditating the pain away.)

I hope that one day I can have the chance to learn and further explore Eastern and Western medicine and treatments. That may enable me to become a doctor, and help people after I have completed medical school.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The End of An Era

With the hype over the latest Harry Potter movie, almost every one has become a fan. Those who aren't fans just believe Harry Potter to be another mainstream fad that will soon fade as time goes on and new books and new movies take its place.

However, I am one of those few Harry Potter nerds that will say that Harry Potter will stay in my heart forever. As cheesy as it sounds, Harry Potter is my childhood. I have known this book for half my life, and I've been one of the many Potterheads that has followed the series through every book and movie as soon as I hopped aboard the Potter train.

I picked up my first Harry Potter book when I was about 8, in the 3rd grade. It was also around the time that the Half-Blood Prince was released. I remember it was the first "big" book I'd ever picked up--one without pictures and over 30 pages. I was a little reluctant to read it, but once I started, I couldn't put it down. I had started the series from the Prisoner of Azkaban because the school library didn't have any of the other books of the series (a little odd, now that I think about it, but it wasn't the wealthiest of schools).

I still remember reading the book on Saturday morning. I had made myself a cup of coffee, because it was cold out, and I snuggled up with my book on the sofa right by the window. The sunlight was streaming in, it was my favorite type of weather, and I was about to be exposed to the wonderful world of Harry Potter (and along with it, the vast world of books).

I finished the book later that day, and begged my mom to take me to Barnes and Noble so I could get the rest. Unfortunately, we didn't get to go that day, but when we did go, I brought my savings with me. We bought all 6 of the books, mostly paperback and the total was all of my savings. I didn't care though, and I still don't. Usually, my allowance still goes to buying new books.

And then came the summer of 2007, which was the big Harry Potter year. The final book arrived that summer, on July 21st and the 5th Harry Potter movie was released as well. I remember getting the book at midnight, and reading all through the night.

My parents didn't always approve of this--I was now into reading and in this mystical, magical world. They would constantly remind me that it was all fictional, that I should read other books, that I was wasting my time. But the truth is, none of that mattered and having Harry Potter helped me through a lot.

When there was fighting in my house, I'd grab a Harry Potter book and curl up somewhere; I've always loved that about books. I can grab one and as long as it's interesting, I can get lost in the world, lose tune with the world. My mom knows that she has to call me a couple of times while I'm reading a book to get my attention.

When I read the Half-Blood Prince and the scene with Dumbledore arrived, I threw the book against my bed. I couldn't bear to go on. I hated Snape with a passion. The books had become my friends; what happened in that world, happened in mine. I remember signing up to and rereading the series to find some hint of the initials that could be R.A.B.. When I still new to the series and had just finished reading the Chamber of Secrets, my parrot whom I was very close to died. I remember googling phoenixes, and where to buy them, and asking my mom if we could go to the bird shop to find one, because the thought of having a bird that died only to be reborn again was a bright light that shone in my naive eight-year old mind.

Harry Potter has been my life for half my life. I went to the midnight premiere of the last movie, and I realized there would be no more of this. No more being huddled in lines outside the theaters, with the respective book in hand, or waiting outside Barnes and Noble for midnight to purchase the latest book. No more whispering and guessing of what the newest installment, whether movie or book, would bring. No more freaking out about a poster that was just released or the teaser trailer that sends chills up your spine. No more sitting in a theater with true fans who whoop and scream and clap and laugh and cry at the right times. No more having a best friend like Ron to say the right thing to make you laugh at the tense moment, or Hermione with a revelation or Harry with his bravery and courage.

It truly is the end; while Harry Potter will not die, it will be the end of the releases, the end of looking forward to something more, something else, the end of an era.

So, sitting in the theater last Thursday night, I was trembling. Trembling, because truly, my childhood does end with this. I was there with Harry through his first letter from Hogwarts, and now I part ways with him as the story has been told.

It was a phenomenal, breath-taking, life-changing and magical era. And I am proud to say I was part of the Harry Potter generation who grew up with each release of the next book and stayed in line for each new midnight premiere of the next Harry Potter movie.

So, farewell to the Harry Potter generation as we say goodbye to our childhood.

A Day in the Life of: A Rock of Ages Extra

When I received an email invitation to participate as an extra in the new Rock of Ages movie, I could not resist. Immediately I gathered a group of my friends and we decided we were going to rock out like it was 1983.

So, on Monday, July 18th, my two friends and I made our way to Sun Life stadium where we heard the first, of many interesting, news: no cell phones, no exceptions.

While having my phone wouldn’t typically be a problem, it was after we heard piece of interesting news number 2: you’re going to be taken to the Hard Rock Casino on a school bus… and oh, wait, you’re going to be there until 9 p.m.

The news came as a shock to both of my friends and I, as we were expecting to be out of the stadium by 5 pm! Without being able to contact our parents, and somewhat worse not being able to update my Twitter (#totallyfreakingout), my friends and I boarded the bus to see what awaited us at the fabulous Hard Rock.

As we made our way into the theatre, none other than Tom Cruise was singing Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” with co-stars Julianne Hough and Diego Boneta.

After an intense day of Rock and Roll, watching Tom Cruise sing shirtless, and prize give-aways, my friends and I left at 6pm after calling someone to pick us up (thank you, payphone!).

Rock of Ages opens Summer 2012, with an all star cast (members include Tom Cruise, Alec Baldwin, Russell Brand, Julianne Hough, Diego Boneta, Mary J. Blige, Kevin Nash, Catherine Zeta-Jones and more!) .

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

lets talk?

3 years ago: "Oh okay no problem, just email me later."
2 years ago: "Awesome, myspace me and I'll let you know."
A few months ago: "Fine, just facebook me the information."
Today: "What do you mean? I tweeted you.."
Tomorrow: Lets talk about it now..

Wishful thinking, huh? But not impossible.
Right now, a lot of people pretend to be busier then they actually are.
We imagine everyone is consumed in their own filled lives and we decide even if we don't have that yet, we'll make it seem as if we do.

So when your friend Jackie asks what you did last Saturday, of course you answer, "I went to the beach with some friends after I cured cancer and made chocolate calorie free." But only because she'll cooly respond, "Oh cool. Well I have to go, I'm really tired. I ran a 3k marathon today."

But in reality, you went in your pool for 1o minutes last Saturday, then decided it was too hot out and spent the rest of your day lying in bed. And we all know Jackie didn't run a marathon today, she didnt even run. She went on a 15 minute fast walk around her block and spent the rest of her day google-ing "cute exercising outfits."

But lets not waste anyone's precious time and get straight to the point.
The next time you need to talk to someone, go talk to them.
Don't wait until they're far away, making them physically unreachable.
And if it gets to that point, don't text them or email them.. call them.

Because hopefully that call will act as a gateway to a world where people talked to other peoples faces.
Not to a slim smart phone or an online blogging website.

To Bake or Not To Bake

Often times during the summer I find myself wandering around my home trying to keep myself busy. Waking up at half past noon, settling into the deep and dark crevices of the couch, and boring my eyes into the screen of my computer that's discovering information that will never in my life help me is not exactly the model of a productive summer.

I've never been one to join week-long camps, and if I ever travel, it's only for a day or two, or in my case a momentary distraction from my ever so boring summer. For the past few summers, my "vacation time" has hardly seen beach, sunlight, or travel but rather library visits, 16 hours of Tivo to watch, and a forever disheveled bed.

After two weeks of this nonsense during this current summer, I decided to make a change.

One day while in the dark depths of my living room couch, I came across Food Network. After watching thirty minutes of Paula Deen's fantastic southern cooking ( and of course, quietly laughing to myself about the amounts of butter found in her recipes ) did I decide to try the culinary crafts myself. I quickly climbed out of my coffin, I mean couch, and pulled up a recipe online for Cinnamon muffins. Before you know it, I was actually using my legs and creating the creamy, brown batter that I promptly poured into the baking cups.

Only after I had sprinkled the last bits of cinnamon and placed the muffin tray in the oven did I realize how much I loved working around the kitchen. My parents has always been great cooks, always preparing a home made meal even if it was past the regular dinner time, but it had never occurred to me to try to cook or bake myself. You couldn't imagine my joy when my family complimented my work on the muffins when I offered them as a little after dinner treat! I was beyond delighted, and I swore to myself at that moment that I would never return to the sluggish and lazy state I was in earlier that day.

Today i've mastered various recipes, from blueberry pie to cinnamon roles, and i've enjoyed every minute i've spent in the kitchen. I have finally found a hobby that I genuinely love, and apparently other people too! My mother can't stop asking me to bake, and I'm always happy to oblige to her request.

Now, I've had my eye on Paula Deen's recipe for strawberry & cream pie and I intend to master it today! But first, I'm gonna need to do some math to reduce that butter measurement . . .

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Rated M for Most People

Now-of-days you may hear of children being hurt or sent to jail for repeating things they’ve seen on video games, but should the fault for their behavior go to the games or just to the people who play them. For some odd reason, many people believe that video games have little cultural value and contribute to aggressive, violent behavior, but in reality, or how I see it, it actually is helping the world move along.

Video games are just a misunderstood art form that brings out the truth in our hearts while “having a good time.” These games no longer deserve to be considered a “child’s diversion,” as many teachers call them, but they should be seen as a valuable educational tool. That explains why video games are being used as part of a course at UCLA that involves observing artificial realities in hopes of gaining a glimpse into our anthropological beginnings.

As I see it, the games of today are rarely one-sided. They all aren’t just telling you to shoot this person and steal that car, but they run more on a system of morality. They don’t just force you to do all bad or do all good; instead they let you make the decision, choosing a path of good or evil, whichever suits you. You have the choice to help people out as you go about your adventure or to kill anyone in your way just because you needed to blow off some steam. These games aren’t brainwashing the youth of today, they’re unmasking the evil in their hearts.

I understand that there are games out there that are pretty much one-sided, for example the grand thief auto game series, that is all about doing bad and all you do is bad things. But think about how your children are introduced to these games; is it the game companies allowing the children to play? No, it’s their job to make the game and provide a label that suggests the age limits for these games, not to keep them from your children. It’s the job of the parents to keep whatever they don’t want in their child’s life out and if they do a bad job at it then it’s just oh well, deal with it.

Many workers benefit from video game training since video games can enhance visual-motor skills, hand-eye coordination and visual attention. One of these jobs is being a laparoscopic surgeon, who is a surgeon who uses a technique in which operations in the stomach are performed through small incisions. It has been proven in an article, “The Cognitive Neuroscience of Video Games,” that surgeons who played video games more than 3 hours per week had 37% fewer errors, were 27% faster with using the drill and 33% better at task than those who didn’t play video games. That shows that better video game skills equal better work skills.

Video games have proven they’ve done more good than bad in its lifetime so far. So do games have little cultural value and contribute to aggressive, even violent, behavior like many believe? Looks like the answer to that questions just might be no.