An Excerpt From My Novel – My Hope Tarnished

An excerpt from a novel I’ve been working on (although I haven’t written anything at all recently):

My hope, tarnished like an abandoned bicycle chained to a tree for years;
As the bicycle, my aspirations chained to the harsh physical realities;

New Jersey’s Contribution to Rock

New Jersey has produced a fair amount of seminal rock — the Four Seasons, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, the Misfits and the Gaslight Anthem — in part because the guitar strap fits so snugly around the chip on the shoulder that goes with being from there.

David Carr, New York Times

Why Lagos is an Underrated Travel Destination

Portugal itself is quite underrated as a travel destination. It’s similar to Spain, although it feels more subdued. Things move even more slowly. Everything is cheaper, and there are notably less tourists. The food is more flavorful, and its portions are more generous. If you’re in Europe, and want to see spectacular beaches, one next to the other, that aren’t saturated with tourists, I highly recommend Lagos, Portugal. If you’re up for a nice two hour walk along the cliffs on the coast, you can start from Praia da Batata, and pass beautiful beaches such as Praia Dona Ana, Praia Pinhão, Praia do Camilo, until you reach Ponta da Piedade, where there is a lighthouse. Photo_Batata Beach Praia da Batata has to be the most beautiful beach I’ve seen that’s right in the city center.

Why Learn Foreign Languages

First, let me quickly go through the reasons that people commonly list for learning a new language.

1. You gain a new perspective.

Each language you speak alters the way you view and interact with the world, especially if they are from regions that are culturally very different. For example, I know for a fact that I become more respectful and cautious when speaking to older Korean adults. Obviously, the custom in each region plays a huge role, but the language itself does as well. For example, I saw a Korean TV program that showed footage of married couples getting into arguments while one was teaching the other how to drive. A therapist recommended using the formal tone (in Korean, using the formal tone changes not only the vocabulary, but even the grammar) while conversing in the car. The couples became much more considerate and stopped snapping at each other over time. It’s not difficult to understand how language can evoke completely different emotions. Think of freedom fighter vs terrorist, advance vs invade, chat up vs holler, etc.

Teaching these Spaniards Spanish

Ok.. I think I can leave Spain now. My Spanish is good enough.
I’ve taught two Spanish words to two grown Spanish men. haha

In case you were wondering, they were


Barcelona is such a cool city.. too bad I’m wasting it. -08/19/12

A Summertime Quote by Hemingway

“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”

-Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

I smiled as I read this quote, because I experienced something very similar in Portugal, where I stayed the past week. Pictures to come soon..!

Lucia Graves and Her Nostalgia for Mallorca’s Past

In my last post, I mentioned that Lucia Graves was nostalgic about how Mallorca was before its tourist boom. Here are some quotes from her book, A Woman Unknown: Voices from a Spanish Life. The following excerpts take place in the 1950s, which is quite remarkable, considering how advanced the rest of Western Europe was at that time.

If I close my eyes, I can almost feel the soft warmth of the winter sun on the nape of my neck, and hear the sheep bells and the occasional shouts of the shepherd somewhere up in the olive groves above our house, and the long silences between his shouts- back in the quiet days of my early childhood. I find it easy to enter that uncluttered memory chamber.

Mallorca Photos

Mallorca (often spelled as Majorca among English speakers) forms one of the four Balearic Islands between mainland Spain and Italy. Along with Formentera, Ibiza, and Menorca, it attracts many tourists, especially from Germany and other Northern European countries. In fact, I am not exaggerating when I say that I heard more German than Spanish while I was there. Mallorca is absolutely stunning. Although I’m sure the natives are nostalgic about its days before it became so touristy (quite recent, actually), I thought that the Mallorquins did a great job with balancing the pressure of modernization from the tourists and foreigners with preserving its culture and natural beauty. But what would I know? I was only a visitor for four days. Some advice if you plan on visiting Mallorca:

Interesting Facts and Quotes about Time

  • Time is not absolute, but relative because it is intertwined with space. If the Big Bang Theory is true, time was created with the Big Bang. If interested in the relativity of time, start out by reading about time dilation or the Twin Paradox (There are identical twins. One hops on a very fast rocket, and the other stays on Earth. When the one on the rocket returns, s/he will be younger than the one who stayed.)
  • Everything we see if technically the way it was in the past since it takes time for light to reach us. When you look at the moon, you’re seeing it as it was over a second ago, the sun, eight minutes ago, and Polaris (North Star), 680 years ago.