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Ayn Rand and Nostalgia for a Younger, Dumber Self

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but for a brief period in my late teens, I LOVED Any Rand’s The Fountain Head.

The story of a shy but remarkable artist who is oppressed and ignored by the world’s mediocrity helped me climb out of a pit of low self esteem, but it left me with a sense of entitlement and an inflated ego that took a few years to unlearn. (BTW, to anyone who had to deal with me during that period, I’m sorry for whatever I said or did while under the influence of that book.) In reality, I wasn’t a victim of the world, I was just shy and fearful, but imagining myself as a secret hero was a helpful middle step before I could full accept responsibility for my being such an unremarkable wallflower. Read more

6 Years

June 16th, 2007: After 11 months of emails and myspace (!!!) messages, HCB and I had our first date.

Halfway through our long correspondence—while I was in London and he was in California—I was shocked to realized that I was falling in love with him. I felt foolish and too young because only a silly 21-year-old would waste his time and energy like that. After all, I’d only really met the idea of him: a brilliant, sweet, nerdy grad student who would, of course, never return my feelings. Not wanting to make a fool of myself, I kept quiet about it and just enjoyed the emails we exchanged three or four times a week. Read more

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reflections

I like reflections.

the lake in the Sapa town center

the lake in the Sapa town center (more on Sapa to follow)

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Remembrance of Novembeards Past

I haven’t participated in Novembeard since 2009 because I don’t care enough about preventing prostate cancer to be that itchy for than long. In the HCB/DME household, if I go more than a few days without trimming my facial hair, HCB will start to refuse me kisses by shaking his head and saying, “There are animals living in there.” And there might well be. Small herbivores grazing gently but persistently until I’m driven wild by their nibbling. In fact, back in 2009, I didn’t even make it the full 4 weeks. I shaved the day before Thanksgiving, Nov 24th, because I was literally starting to rave about the animals, THE ANIMALS.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that BEARDS ARE HELLA ITCHY, YOU GUYS. Read more

Vietnam, Part 4: Emergence in Hanoi

This is a the Duong Dong day market. Notice how many motorbikes are in this picture. That is INSIDE the market, like next to all the food. Northern Californian hippies wouldn't be too thrilled...

This is the Duong Dong day market. Notice how many motorbikes are in this picture. That is INSIDE the market, like next to all the food. Northern Californian hippies wouldn’t be too thrilled…

Crossing the street in Vietnam is a feat of derring-do. I’m sure there are areas of China or Indonesia with an even greater degree of clusterfuckery, but Vietnam’s driving conditions are certainly deserving of mention. In most cities, the problem is congestion—how quickly you can move through the urban system—because too many cars, SUVs, and busses will collapse a roadway like a blood clot in an artery. However, when the dominant mode of transportation is the moped, a full-scale collapse is virtually impossible because mopeds are both maneuverable enough and compact enough to fit through impossible gaps in even the worst traffic. In these situations, the problem isn’t congestion; it’s chaos. If you’ve been to Rome, you’ve got an idea of what I’m talking about, but Vietnam is an order of magnitude more chaotic than Italy, Europe’s most moped addicted country. Read more

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