Sunday, November 30, 2008

Inspirational Women

This weekend a lot of my friends were working or out of town for the holidays, so I had a lot of time to myself. I have to admit, among other things, I did watch a good deal of TV and I have been newly inspired by two women: Suze Orman and Sara Blakely.

I've always liked Suze Orman, she's an awesome financial advisor and while she can be a bit much at times, I really trust her advice and like her straight talk. I never knew her story until this weekend. Suze got a BA in social work and was living in a van in Berkley, CA for the first 3 months after college. Then she got a job as a waitress and worked at the same place for 7 years waitressing until she was almost 30! (its never too late to start ladies!) At that time she decided she wanted to start her own restaurant, and a long time customer of hers gave her a $50,000 loan to get started... talk about an angel investor! She took the money to Merrill Lynch at the advice her customer and four months later her stock broker had lost ALL of her money!

But this was no defeated woman. She decided to become a broker herself so that she could earn the money back. She got hired at Merrill Lynch and started training to become an account executive (despite the fact that there person who hired her told her that he believed that women belong barefoot in the kitchen). Through her training, she discovered that the broker who lost all of her money had done so illegally and so she SUED Merrill Lynch WHILE she was WORKING FOR THEM and WON! She got all of her money back PLUS interest! Clearly this woman doesn't take shit from anyone!
And that is how she got on the road to becoming a top earning account executive. Three years later she was a VP of investments at Prudential, and 7 years after starting at Merrill Lynch she owned her own investment firm. Now she is a best-selling author and TV personality and very wealthy. This woman is an inspiration.

The second woman who inspired me this weekend is Sara Blakely who started the company Spanx (which makes footless body shaping pantyhose and a host of other undergarments) just shy of her 30th birthday. After flunking the LSAT twice, Sara became a chipmunk at Disney World before getting a job selling fax machines door-to-door (what a shitty gig that must have been!).

One day she couldn't think of anything to wear underneath her white pants that wouldn't show any lines so she cut off the bottoms of her pantyhose... and the rest is history. She set off on a mission and now owns a multi-million dollar company. She has also started her own nonprofit, The Sara Blakely Foundation, to help women around the world become educated and independent. Wow... another inspiration.

I know that I can be like these women. I can work for myself and I can be very successful. I do believe that I have a lot of potential. And, although I have no idea what the future holds, I'm excited.

The one big problem right now is that I currently have no idea of how I'm going to do it. Lightening has not struck yet... but I'm young, right? I have a lot of time to figure things out and I'm hoping that I will have a stroke of genius in the next couple of years! Even if it doesn't happen right away, I do have big plans for myself. I want to be an inspiration to young girls one day. And I want to have the ability to help other women achieve the same things.

I do have to say though, that it really is easy for self doubt to creep in. Even right now, as I'm about to post this, I'm thinking... what if I post this blog and then I'm a big failure or I just end up being average and working in sales for the rest of my life, or I never come up with a good idea and never end up starting a business... and then I have this post to look back on and think "O how naive I was," or "wow what a failure!"

Yeah... its definitely scary to say these things out loud, but I really want to do something awesome with my life. I've always believed that I can do anything that I want to do (thanks to my parents) and this is what I want for myself. Financial freedom and entrepreneurial success. So, instead of being scared to post this for fear of failure, I am trying to be excited to post this as a public statement of my goals in life.

It's not that I necessarily want to be rich, it's not about the money (although having money is great) its about having freedom. Freedom to travel. Freedom from the burden of making ends meet. Freedom from worrying about retirement (yes, I'm already worrying about that!)... It's about doing something that I'm proud of and working for myself. And its about the ability to be completely in control of my own destiny and to be able to help other women do the same thing. Yes, that is what I want....freedom and control.

So, like I said... I have big plans for myself. And I am thankful for the women in the world who have been an inspiration and have helped me believe that I can do it. The world is my oyster!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Giving Thanks

Tonight I went to a Thanksgiving dinner at my cousin Brian's friends' house, Jay and Erika. The dinner was fantastic and the company was great. All in all it was a wonderful Thanksgiving. (And a much more sophisticated dinner than the Thanksgiving Kegger we had on Saturday!)

After dinner Erika came up to me and the other guests with a little pad of paper and some pens and told us all to take a moment to write down a list of things that we were thankful for. It wasn't meant to be shared with anyone, but it was just a way to ensure that everyone took a moment to acknowledge all of their blessings and really feel thankful for all that we have.

She is Columbian and said that she was introduced to Thanksgiving only 2 or 3 years ago and she thought that it was a wonderful holiday. But she also noticed that there isn't actually much time set aside to really give thanks. So she wanted us all to take a moment and do just that.

I was actually struck by the thought because I realized that there really isn't much time dedicated to the act of giving thanks during (most) Thanksgiving celebrations. Lots of times at dinner everyone will go around and say one thing that they are thankful for, but I can remember very few Thanksgivings where I actually sat down and was really, deeply thankful for all that I have.

This year, thanks to Erika, I did spend some time thinking about my many blessings. I am so thankful for all that I have in my life. I have an amazing family (including all 4 grandparents alive, healthy, and sharp witted!), an awesome group of friends here in Denver (and scattered about the rest of the country), a good job and steady paycheck, and an amazing boyfriend who I'm completely in love with. Life is really good.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Found Magazine

I was just on the Post Secret MySpace blog and I discovered another fun project: Found Magazine.

Found is kind of similar to Post Secret, but not exactly. In Post Secret people send in secrets about themselves. At Found, people send in other peoples writings and pictures that they have found. It'd definitely not as profound as Post Secret, but it is still an interesting project.

Just think about the things you have found... book marks in the library, napkins at restaurants or bars, papers on the street... Its a pretty cool idea. Granted, I don't think its quite as cool as Post Secret, but it is neat to see the things that people find lying around. And then to think about what kind of things I have left around and who has found them. I mean its not completely out of the realm of possibility that something I doodled would end up in this magazine or on this website... very strange.

I think its especially interesting because, to me, it's reminder of how many people there are in the world and of how small I really am. I don't think that I'm particularly self-absorbed (although aren't we all to some extent?) but I have so much going on in my life that rarely do I sit down and think about the fact that I am only one person in this vast, huge world and there are millions of people who just go on with their lives completely independently of me. Its not exactly a comforting thing to think that if I was gone, only a very small group of people would be affected. But that is definitely the truth. The world is a big place and I am a small woman.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Vegas: The Stratosphere Thrill Rides

This past weekend I was in Vegas with my mom, dad, sister, and roommate, Aimee. As always in Vegas, I had an awesome weekend.

On Sunday morning, after two very late nights we were wondering what to do with our afternoon and I had the idea to head over to the Stratosphere Hotel and ride the rides at the top of the building.

I have to preface this by saying that whoever thought of putting thrill rides on top of a 900' building was absolutely INSANE and brilliant. This is really the craziest thing I have ever seen... only in Vegas, huh?

The first ride we went on is called Insanity. You basically
sit in some seats attached to an arm and the arm moves you out into the open so you are just sitting there above the tallest building west of the Mississippi with nothing underneath you. Then they spin you around so that you're at a 45 degree angle to the ground just looking at the pavement below you praying to god that you don't fall out and squash your brains on the ground!

I was terrified. For some reason this was was my idea, but unfortunately once I was up there I discovered that I inherited my father's fear of heights. I seriously almost cried and almost threw up on this first ride. I had to hold Aimee's hand on this one and my mom's on the other two, and on the Insanity I was sweating so bad that there was a little puddle in my shoe when we got off the ride (and that is not an exaggeration!).

The second ride was called the XScream. This lovely little ride is basically a see-saw with a car on top of it that moves with the motion of the see-saw. The car is literally hanging off of the track over the edge of the building (again with nothing below you) and they just let you sit there a little bit to absorb how extremely terrifying it is before suddenly dropping you down farther. This video gives you a nice idea of what its like.... This was probably the least enjoyable of the three for me.

After that, my nerves were shot. I was absolutely freaking out at this point and we still had one more ride to go: The Big Shot.

For this ride, you just sit in some seats attached to the bottom of a big shaft and they shoot you 160 feet in the air at 45 miles per hour before you come plummeting down to earth. (Keep in mind this is 160 feet in the air on top of a 912 foot building! putting you at a total of 1,081 feet above the strip!). By the time we got to this ride, I was basically having a panic attack. I absolutely did not want to do this, as is evidenced by my face in this picture:
My mom did way better than I did on these rides and I was the one who made her do it! It is amazing that I have been skydiving and bungee jumping, but these things are what really scared the bejesus out of me. (OK OK, they had to push me over the edge for the bungee jump...but this was definitely scarier!)
In spite of being completely terrified, I really did enjoy the day and I think I would recommend for anyone to try these rides while in Vegas.

But, I can tell you this: It is something which I will never do again!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

If you Google My Name

It's been a while since I Googled my name, so today, I decided to do so.

1) Facebook.... not too exciting

2) Poster Page... just a list of posters that were presented by my junior chem class

Tri State JV Girls 2000... the bane of my google existence

I cannot believe that after 8 years this is still in my top three Google results. This is the last cross country race I ever ran... just about the time I did not give a damn about the sport. AND if you scroll all the way to the bottom you can see that my sister and I came in last and second to last out of 118 runners!!!! WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!!

I ran plenty of races where I was competitive. (OK well not really in XC, but in track as a sprinter) but none of those are up on the Internet! ooh the embarrassment!

There is one redeeming factor... number 4 on my google list is results from a 5K I did my first year in college (the
Moxie Thon) and not only did I place higher (111 out of 400+) my split went down from 10:46 (a pitiful mile) to 8:20 (a pretty good mile by my standards). But it still doesn't change the fact that the worst race I have ever run in my life is still one of my top three Google results!!!!

More from my Google search revealed that I was on the Deans list in 2005 at Penn State (

I also found a listing of all of the Denver Marathon participants and discovered that lots of people finished after me! (the last person crossed the finish line an hour and 10 minutes after me!) so I can feel good about myself for that. We can ignore the fact that the I crossed the finish line exactly three hours after the first finisher! (details, details)

Anyway, most of my Google results are rather underwhelming, a bunch of Facebook friends and race results. But there is one fun one. The Penn State Chinese Program still has a paper I wrote in Chinese posted up on the Internet (posted in the
Gallery of Students' Works). Its about my family and I think its pretty cool that its still up there....

The quality isn't very good here, but if you're interested (OK you probably aren't... but if you are) you can see it much better if you click on the link.

well that's all for my self-exploration today. now its time for girls night!

Monday, November 10, 2008

Post Secret

I vaguely remember hearing about Post Secret at some point in the past, but I never bothered to look it up and see what it was all about. For some reason today I found myself on the Post Secret website... at this point I really can't remember why, but I'm really glad that I did. It's awesome.

Post Secret is an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a postcard. A guy named Frank collects them and posts some of them once a week on his
blog. He has also published 4 books of compilations of the post cards that he has recieved. It is really a cool thing and I'd like to encourage everyone to check it out.

Here is a video Frank made about the project... (posted on the Post Secret Community website)

Big Brother

Last night I was watching CNBC's Big Brother, Big Business and I have to admit... this is scary shit.

Everyone knows that the information boom has made more and more of our personal information available to anyone who has the know-how or the money to access it. Before watching this show I had a vague awareness that companies can track my spending habits based on credit card purchases and compile it to learn about buying habits of particular groups of people. I also had some understanding of the problems with privacy in the electronic age. But what I did not know is how much information there really is available about me, specifically.

A company called Acxiom for example collects HUGE amounts of information on individuals and keeps it all together in personal files on private citizens. Looking up a person’s personal file will give you info on everywhere they’ve lived, who they’ve lived with, what property they’ve owned, where they shop, what professional accreditations they have, what their criminal record looks like, and on and on and on. This information is not available to private citizens, but mostly to corporations like Sears and other retailers to help them direct advertising dollars where it will have the biggest impact, and I do understand the value of that. But, the fact that there are private companies that have huge amounts of information compiled about private citizens and that we have no say about what is in the files or how it is used is very scary. Not to mention the unfairness that someone is making money off of selling my personal information to others w/out permission or notifying me.

This becomes a big problem when you get to law enforcement and the Fourth Amendment. Based on the Supreme Court’s interpretation of the 4th amendment, as long as the information acquired by law enforcement officials is coming from the hands of a third party, that information receives no Fourth Amendment protection. This becomes a problem with private companies like Acxiom have huge files on people and all the government (who is a customer of Acxiom) needs to do is purchase the files from Acxiom to circumvent the Fourth Amendment requirement for a search warrant.

This puts me, a private citizen, in a position where I have a reasonable expectation of privacy for the information in that file (not all of it, but a lot of it), and I cannot control or even access my own file at Acxiom, but the government can access it if they want to without violating my Fourth Amendment right. I don’t think this is what the founding fathers intended when they wrote the Bill of Rights.

The problem is that the laws certainly have not caught up with the technology. Another grey area is online accounts. For example, it is illegal for someone to open my mailbox, take out my phone bill, and look at it. But it is currently not illegal for them to go online, pretend to be me, generate an online account in my name, and look at my phone bills over the internet. Anyone who knows some personal information about you and has moderate internet knowledge can do these types of things without real ramifications.

A lot of people may think that as long as you have nothing to hide, this isn’t a problem. But I think that we should all be worried this. Just thinking about how much of your personal information can easily become public knowledge is pretty creepy. There is a real possibility that this information could fall into the wrong hands, not just the government, but anyone from thieves and hackers to people with personal vendettas against you. It is becoming increasingly easy for us to be spied on. Just the fact that people are watching our every move and that it is possible for private companies to compile VERY detailed and accurate portraits on virtually every citizen is very unnerving.

Even Google is a scary thing. I use Google for everything. I have a Google email address, Google homepage, and Google Blog and about 99.99% of all internet searches I do are through Google. Because of that I was felt than a little uneasy when I discovered that Google saves EVERY search done on its search engine! And it is very often possible to link searches to the particular person who made them. Think about it for a minute, a detailed list of every Google search that you have made is like an insight into your brain. Google is so common it has become a verb! I Google practically everything that pops into my head and I now know that there is a record of all of my searches that can pretty easily be linked back to me.

And its not just Google, the company that is scary, but what you can find on Google. According to one person interviewed on CNBC, a lot of the information that you can find online is available becuase companies or government agencies inadvertantly post it on the internet. Just doing some basic Google searches he found someone's full credit report and spread sheets of people's personal information.

And if you didn’t think that the information age was scary enough, maybe you should take a look at a company called VeriChip. This company makes a small RFID tag that is implanted under the skin in the arm or hand and gives off radio frequencies to positively identify people. And at least one company has already required some employees to get these implants to access secure areas in the workplace. And the people interviewed at the company don't see any problem with it! (um can you say slippery slope!)

Forget about the universal ID, that is child’s play! The technology is here today to implant people with all of our information (and these things can even be synched with credit card accounts… just swipe your arm over the checkout and you’re good to go!) Of course it is easy to say now that if the government ever tried to implement this, it would be met with fierce resistance… (and I’m sure it will be) but just knowing that this technology exists can lead one to think that it may not be as far fetched as we assume. All we need is for people to become comfortable with doing this by choice and it may only be a matter of time before the government requires it.

Whew…. Well I’m just exhausted thinking about all of this, so I’m going to finish with my conspiracy theorizing now… but this shit is scary. Think (Orewll's 1984 or Sandra Bullock's The Net) For now, I will go on choosing to ignore it most of the time because thinking about it can be too disturbing, but at least its on record that I am scared!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Barack Obama

OK, I finally have some time to write a post about our new President-Elect.

WOW, first I have to say how relieved that I am about this whole thing being over. Its good to know that Bush is officially on his way out and a breath of fresh air is on its way in. I have to say that it looks like the rest of the world agrees with me. I saw pictures and read news articles about people all over the world celebrating this election. Can you imagine the world's disappointment if we had voted in John McCain? I do believe that Obama will be able to bring America back to its place of influence and admiration throughout the world. God knows that the last 8 years have done a pretty good job of destroying that (along with our budget surplus!)

As everyone knows, this was a historic election. For the first time, we had candidates who looked different from each other, and weren't just old, white men. I would have been celebrating Barack Obama's win regardless of his skin color, I agree with him on most of the issues and believe in his ability to lead, but it was even more special because he is an African American. I was a part of history and one day I can look back and tell my children that Yes, I did vote for the first black president. That is awesome.

I felt a special sense of pride in our country for finally breaking down that barrier and showing the world, and more importantly our own citizens, that this truly is the land of opportunity. We have come a long way. I think that this is long overdue, but its here now and times, they are a changin'.

When Obama's win was announced, I was sitting in my living room with Aimee, finishing up dinner and watching NBC. As soon as the announcement came, there were people whooping and hollering outside, beeping their horns, and cheering the victory. Watching all of the people on TV over come with emotion... I have to say my eyes watered a bit as well.
This is history in the making. We were all part of it. And this is the beginning great things to come in the United States. That I am sure of.

Congratulations Nathan McCarthy!

I am so proud of one of my best friends ever, Nathan McCarthy. An article was just published in the New York Observer about his fall fashion line.

At 24, Nathan is designing his own clothing line and rocking it. He even kind of mentioned me in the article (not by name) saying that in high school he helped his girl friends pick out their prom dresses.... Not only did he help me pick out my prom dresses, but I don't think I ever bought ANYTHING without his input. We did go together to my senior homecoming and I think I had the only date in the whole school that actually helped his date shop for her dress. He also independently picked out my jewelry and hair accessory.

My only regret now is that we don't live closer together so that he could still help me with my seriously lacking wardrobe.

Anyway, I miss him and I am very very proud of him. So go check out his article and support him!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


Praise the lord!
i'm so proud of America!
I can't even express it.

Here comes McCain to conceed.



Halloween weekend was AWESOME!
I have to say that I think it was my favorite costume that I have ever had. My friend Jaime was in town (we studied abroad together in South Africa) and she had the idea that we all (5 girls) dress up as crayons... she had seen some of her friends do it once before.

So Thursday night we went to the fabric store and picked out our fabric. I was hot pink "Razzel Berry" Jess was "Purple Fun Bag" Aimee was "Blue Ball" Ashley was "Rambo Red" and Jaime was "Ganja Green." Then, I spent all day Friday making the costumes with the help of the other girls. It was intense. There were five tube dresses to fit to everyone, they had to be hemmed top and bottom and then we had to make the black cutouts for the top and bottom of the crayon. I spent about 8 hours ironing (we used iron-on stitching stuff so that I didn't have to sew it all) but the costumes looked AWESOME! they were sooooo freaking cute.
We all went to the boy's house before heading to a concert for the night (and then later to the bar). At Nick's there was 5 crayons, a banana, Mario and Luigi, a hot dog, and a red neck (nick!). It was awesome.
Its hard not to have a good night when all of your friends are dressed up in awesome costumes. It was great.

Then Saturday in order to get over a hangover, we went to the Rio for lunch and had some margaritas... and stayed out for the rest of the night! Jamie (who was the banana the night before) still hadn't been home... he had crashed at my place, went straight to work, and then met up with us directly after Saturday afternoon. So he still had his banana costume in his back pack. As soon as I found it, I put it on and wore it for the rest of the night! haha. A good time was had by all.

Anyway, I basically wrote this post just because I wanted to put pictures up to show you how awesome our costumes were! haha. All of them are still looking good and I'm going to keep mine in case I ever want to wear it again!

The bar we went to Saturday night had a photo booth! --->

Beastie Boys Rock

Last night I went to the Beastie Boys and Tenacious D for their Rock the Vote tour. It was awesome!

First, I was excited to see Tenacious D because in general I find them very entertaining. They definitely did not disappoint. They played all the crowd favorites including The Government Totally Sucks and Fuck Her Gently.... it was great. And for a little bit Jack Black played this weird instrument that looked like a Dr. Seuss saxaphone and it was awesome. I wish i could figure out what it was. It sounded pretty bizzare.

After Tenacious D, the Beastie Boys came out and fucking rocked the house! It was seriously awesome. I'm definitely not a big Beastie Boys fan, I loved License to Ill back in middle school, but since then I haven't really listened to them except for their few hits. But they kick ass in concert. I have to admit.... a lot of their songs do sound very similar, BUT the energy was awesome in the Fillmore and they were so much fun to see.

At one point, there was a girl in front of me who was dancing ridiculously and kept bumping into me. So I turned around and started backing it up into her and instead of toning it down or getting pissed like I thought she would, she turns to me and goes "Yeah Girl, You're Awesome! I love it!!" I was like, 'you kidding me!?' But if you can't beat 'em, join 'em! So I just danced with her. haha. It was great.

Anyway, there are two points to this post: (1) Beastie Boys and Tenacious D was an AWESOME concert and (2) don't forget to vote today!!