Posted in Concepts, Music, Technology

#FOWC – The Pizzazz Behind Kinetic Typography

For the past couple of months, I’ve been consumed with this idea of “kinetic typography”, an animation technique mixing motion and text to express ideas using video animation. Kerri Paulazzo created such a cool, energetic video to the beat of Fall Out Boy. Definitely adds a lot of pizzazz to stationary text!

Posted in Concepts, Culture, Events, Quotes, Technology

Part 2: Navigating Political Discussion with Family Members

Hello! Yesterday I posted some philosophical thoughts in Part 1: Reflections on “The Drowning Child”. I concluded that post with this question which I wanted to explore more in depth today:

If we are obligated to save the life of a child in need, is there a fundamental difference between saving one who is right in front of us and one on the other side of the world?”

– Saania

However, as I was editing this post, it evolved into something else, and I have to explore it in Part 3.

Recognizing Societal Illness

One of my favorite books is called “Teachings on Love” by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese monk and Zen master who resides in the Plum Village monastery in France. He occasionally visits the West and leads mindfulness retreats. He’s dismayed when he finds suffering as the result of behaviors passed on from one generation to the next.

There is a deep malaise in society. When we put a young person in this society without trying to protect him, he receives violence, hatred, fear, and insecurity every day, and eventually he gets sick. Our conversations, TV programs, advertisements, newspapers, and magazines all water the seeds of suffering in young people, and not-so young people as well.

Thich Nhat Hanh

He further describes how we put ourselves in an unhealthy vacuum and offers a suggestion:

Taking refuge in these things [smoking, TV, overworking, eating, drinking] only makes us feel hungrier and less satisfied, and we want to ingest more. We need some guidelines, some preventative medicine, to protect ourselves, so we can be healthy again. We have to find a cure for our illness. We have to find something good, beautiful, and true in which we take refuge.

Thich Nhat Hanh

How Do We Even Begin to Heal?

Politics has always been a sensitive topic in my family. I suspect it’s typical for many families. My family prioritized harmony and preservation of familial bonds over open, heated debates all throughout my life. Dad never wanted the children to get upset and shielded us from most of these topics. I was grateful that my childhood and young adult life was relatively pleasant.

Quietly smiling at the irony of my blog name, “Culture Shocks”, I try to avoid talking about it here as well because this blogging space is my “relax and unwind zone”. However, I’m currently in figurative knots, and I’m on the search for understanding.

Now that my siblings and I are all adults, we now see how aspects of politics affect various facets of our lives. More discussions are cropping up during our phone calls. We’re talking things out and sifting various sources together trying to discern real news and fake news dissemination, but it’s gotten a bit sophisticated.

A while back I watched an episode, “Deepfake”, of Madam Secretary where I learned about the concept of deep fake technology. Seeing how easily it was to get society to get riled up and affect the decisions of each respective country’s leaders was quite alarming.

Deepfake technology enables anyone with a computer and an Internet connection to create realistic-looking photos and videos of people saying and doing things that they did not actually say or do.

Rob Toews, Forbes contributor on AI. “Deepfakes Are Going To Wreak Havoc On Society. We Are Not Prepared.”

The pressure is building. My mother and my uncle, in particular, are wanting me to vote in a particular direction, but the current state of American politics is stressful and rife with scandal.

I feel stuck between a rock and a hard place, and many times, I feel tempted not to vote at all. Yet to avoid participation, is making a decision too. It was easier to vote in local elections that impact the community I’m in. I feel like I relate to very few candidates on the national scale. Regardless of whether or not I relate well, I have to take into account how it will affect the nation as a whole.

Last year, I was really surprised to see Marianne Williamson make an appearance as a candidate. She seemed so refreshingly out of place, yet brilliantly addressed various inequities. She wrote a book called “Healing the Soul of America“.

Though I hold her in utmost high regard as a spiritual healer, I’m not sure the pursuit of presidential ambitions would be a good vocation for her. I appreciate her activism and influence and feel that she is more effective outside of the political sphere or at least nearby political circles as an advisor. Similar to how Billy Graham served as a spiritual advisor and counselor to several U.S. leaders. If she attained a presidential role, I feel that her idealism will be snuffed out in the day-to-day responsibilities and pragmatic and, at times, ruthless decisions. I certainly don’t want that to happen as she serves a vital role in society.

Choosing a leader for the melting pot of our nation seems to be an herculean task. I study their platform, their past history and track record, any changes they have publicly made to their stance. I was fascinated by the ideological beliefs of political giants such as Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Michael Bloomberg, Pete Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, and Tulsi Gabbard. I was intrigued by Republican nominee, Bill Weld, and his impressive record of fighting public corruption cases. Trump has been the most beguiling of them all, and has been featured in all types of media.

The Search to Find Common Ground

A few nights ago, mom and I had a discussion about the current American political landscape and the upcoming election. I implore her to look at the big picture and view the potential impact of each candidate. Economic, health, education, and immigration policies are important to her.

She highlighted a point about Joe Biden and how he didn’t support the evacuation of Vietnamese refugees back in the 1970’s. Seeing how this decision would have impacted my ability to be here in the states in the first place and being the curious person that I am, I decide to look for various sources:

Yet Senator Biden, the future vice president, then at the age of 31, fiercely maintained that the U.S. had “no obligation, moral or otherwise, to evacuate foreign nationals,” dismissing concerns for their safety as the North Vietnamese Army and Viet Cong swept south toward Saigon in 1975….

LA Progressive by STEPHEN FOX March 7, 2020

President Gerald Ford was upset with Biden’s response at the time:

The United States has had a long tradition of opening its doors to immigrants of all countries. We’ve always been a humanitarian nation. We felt that a number of these South Vietnamese deserved an opportunity to live in freedom.

Washington Examiner article by Jerry Dunleavy, July 4, 2019

Kissinger said there were Vietnamese to whom we have an obligation, but Biden responded: “I will vote for any amount for getting the Americans out. I don’t want it mixed with getting the Vietnamese out.”

It seems clear here where all the decision makers stood here on this issue. Biden was patriotic and perhaps more of a nationalist than President Ford at the time. As I’m trying to remain even-keeled, I remember a memory of a time I spent at one of my first sociology meetings at the university after I introduced myself and my family’s background.

One of the leaders of the organization listened and responded:

At the time, the United States government sent so many American soldiers to Vietnam to fight and it was such a bloody war. Many Americans were very upset of losing so many of their loved ones on the front lines and felt that the effort was futile. Can you imagine how the American population felt about Vietnam as a whole?

Understandably, I can see why Joe Biden have felt this way. When you have witnessed the destruction that a senseless war has caused, you feel to the weight of the burdens of all your constituents and the people you serve. How can I even think about helping others when I can’t even help my own? He must have felt embittered at such loss and wanted nothing to do with the people who were influenced by their government to commit these heinous acts.

The US responded just as ruthlessly with a chemical warfare program called Operation Ranch Hand. Agent Orange, not only contaminated the health of the Viet Cong soldiers who were hiding in the forests, but also millions of innocent citizens and various animal species that lived nearby. Defoliants made it difficult to rebuild the forest habitat and the reparations for the damage done is still devastating.

The Complexity of Multiple Sides of An Issue

I reflected back on how my parents felt when they first arrived. They too were traumatized and simultaneously grateful to be here. Though, my parents were not the Viet Cong, they were cautious about building friendships with the American people realizing that many were not supportive of sponsoring Vietnamese refugees.

The safe route was to be insular and be friends with those who have faced similar strife and shared experiences, and rebuild their lives from there. They worked very hard to try not to lean on various welfare programs too much as they were aware of marginalized groups abusing the system. Today, my parents’ quality of life is far better than if they were to have stayed in Vietnam.

There’s a certain mentality that countries can only help a small percentage of immigrants, otherwise the native population begins to feel threatened. Despite whatever plight these immigrants have faced in their homeland, both sides’ ways of life becomes disrupted when trying to welcome foreign populations with different values or at least live side by side.

There are so many sides to the issue. Some countries faced the consequence of allowing too many immigrants to enter their country without review only to have the newcomers rape the native women and children in the streets. Some immigrants become valuable business leaders in their adoptive country and help serve their new community however they can. The immigration offices are flooded with so many cases and processing each of them can be cumbersome…

I’ll wrap it up for now. Thank you again for following along my thoughts today!

Posted in awareness, Books, Culture, Events, Quotes, Social Justice, Technology

Aspen Ideas Festival

No Idea Is So Outlandish That It Should Not Be Considered With A Searching But At The Same Time A Steady Eye

– Winston Churchill

Enjoyed this year’s invigorating Aspen Ideas Festival these past few days. Various leaders around the world engaged in a deep discussion of the ideas and issues across many disciplines that both shape our lives and challenge our times. It’s virtual and free to attend. Past videos from this weekend have been archived and ready for the public to view. For more information: https://www.aspenideas.org/attend/festival

Posted in Events, flashback, Quotes, Technology

#VJWC – Be Afraid Not to Try

Decision-making can be such an Achilles heel
Like a plague, indecisiveness spreads
Uncertainty due to complexity
The distraction of entertainment
Like sirens luring you to destruction
with its sweet song

The month of June has been packed with challenges and plenty of decisions! A few:

  • Choice of tech- Vizzelie or Cinchshare? IG vs FB vs Twitter?
  • Sugar restrictive diet or partaking in a baking frenzy?
  • 10,000 K steps consistently or rest in between for Pacer App?
  • Power through an SQL course or academic leave of absence?
  • Red pill vs Blue pill? 🙂

“This is your last chance. After this there is no turning back. You take the blue pill: the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill: you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.”

– Morpheus, The Matrix
GoDogGo Cafe – Sirens
Posted in awareness, Concepts, Technology, Volunteer Experiences

IBM World Community Grid

Hello everyone, hope you are well today! Inspired by a post I read on Tony Burgess’s post, “The Thing About: The Virus“, I thought about various efforts to help find a cure and treatment for COVID-19.

IBM’s World Community Grid allows anyone with a computer, smartphone, or tablet to donate their unused processing power to advance scientific research on various topics ranging from health, poverty and sustainability. I’ve been a member for several years. It’s neat when I take a step away to eat lunch or a jog, my computer is playing a part in helping perform calculations for AIDS research.

You can learn more about their current projects here: Active Research
You can learn more about their program here: About

Posted in Awards, awareness, Books, Concepts, Crafts, Culture, Dance, Dreams, Events, exercise, fiction, flashback, Food/Recipes, Freedom of Expression, Makeup, Music, Nature, Photography, poetry, Quotes, Social Justice, Technology, Volunteer Experiences

Twenty-Four Seven | Daily Inkling #7

Daily Inkling

Just when I think I’m going to be doing haikus for the rest of the year due to my tight schedule…

Blogger “Normal Happenings” has tagged me in an interesting challenge that seems to coincide with a random daily horoscope I received a few days ago from a free Vedic astrology app called Yodha. (By the way, I like your new branding! It’s bold and glowing like a neon sign. 🙂 )

Happy new year! For those of you who are new to my blog, welcome! Thank you so much for following my blog, and I will be swinging by to read yours as well. I see a lot of new faces out there, and I just want to say hi! This is my fun, personal blog where I typically write about all sorts of subjects in a variety of formats: poetry, story, photo-story, music. I’m about to start another blog for school related stuff, but that’ll be shared on another post!

Image from Shivashakti

You may wonder how did I encounter Vedic astrology? Well! One day, I was chatting with a young lady about the staggering synchronicity in both our lives, and she told me about how she regularly talks to her Vedic astrologist for all sorts of decisions. She said that she made some of the best business decisions of her life with his guidance and that it is a lot more accurate than western astrology. I was skeptical because there are a lot of quacks out there as you well know, but intrigued nevertheless.

So, I downloaded the free Yodha Daily Horoscope app where authentic Vedic astrologists from Nepal share with you their insights. I started learning more about it. Apparently there are Indian universities that offer advanced courses in Vedic astrology despite scientists protesting about it being a pseudoscience. Jyotisha is the traditional system of Hindu astrology. Its etymology is from the Sanskrit term, “jyoti” meaning “light heavenly body”. The term Vedic astrology came about later around the 70s.

Below are the sort of messages I get. This is one I received this morning:

“Due to your nature, you are a rather positive person. You are someone who can find a silver lining in most of the situations. Perhaps you are aware of this gift and know how to implement it. At times, you can put a smile on your face even when the circumstances don’t naturally warrant it and in doing so you can spread good vibrations to others. Nevertheless, it is important to understand that not everyone has that gift and you may be dealing with someone who doesn’t. The planets are encouraging you to show how it’s done.”

Astrologer P. Bhattarai

Anyway, back to the horoscope that inspired this post! She mentioned how when time and money permits, I enjoy traveling to an exotic locale and experiencing new things. However, lately, I may be seeking a more spiritual experience which may not be a physical location: a journey to understand myself better, gain a deeper understanding of myself, be more conscious and aware. I thought Daily Inkling’s prompt might help me explore this arena!

Write 24 talking points between current you and you from seven years ago. Consider teaching yourself something you’ve picked up since then.

Twenty-four Seven

Seven years ago was the year 2013. A pivotal point in my life: the beginning of a lot of new things, drastic changes to my lifestyle. This is a rare occasion when all of my category boxes on my blog have been checked! I’ve chosen 24 random topics to discuss in no particular order: then vs. now!

1) Career

2013: Grocery store cashier – Served a lot of people from all walks of life! I love to meet new people and listening to their stories.

Image by Charles Thompson from Pixabay

2020: Technical writer for a cybersecurity firm & vacation business manager – nice balance between the two!

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay 
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

2) Books

I read a lot of books during both years, but I’ll just mention two for now:

2013: Shantaram, an epic, philosophical tale of an Australian convict opening up clinics in the slums of India

“Some feelings sink so deep into the heart that only loneliness can help you find them again. Some truths are so painful that only shame can help you live with them. Some things are so sad that only your soul can do the crying for them.”

― Gregory David Roberts, Shantaram
Image by billy cedeno from Pixabay 

2020: The Atlas of Happiness: The Global Secrets of How to be Happy – People worldwide share unique testimonials of what made them happy

Optimism isn’t frivolous: it’s necessary. If we feel hopeless all the time, if we’re always in crisis, the natural response is to give up and stop trying altogether. But we can’t let snark win. Problems are there to be solved. Challenges, to be met. We can be aware of the bad while also being mindful of how we can make it better. … Empathy is essential, and learning what matters to people on the other side of the world helps us all. Understanding how different nations view happiness can impact how we interact with one another going forward.

Helen Russell
Image by Daniela Dimitrova from Pixabay 

3) Friendships

2013: Friends were there to lift my spirits, give me warm cup of tea when going through a new challenge, have fun in the cosplay contests at school. Really enjoyed checking out the Ghostbusters!

Image by Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

2020: All of the above still applies, but my friendships seem to have more depth and honesty. Also, true friendship has a way of helping me see things in myself that I didn’t think was capable.

5) Nature

2013: I took my family and friends to check out the Arboretum gardens in Dallas, TX during special holidays like Mother’s Day

Image by: Dallas Arboretum

2020: I hope to visit Vanderpool, TX sometime and bask in the warm glow of the “lost maple trees” during autumn

4) Love

Image by Larisa Koshkina from Pixabay

2013: Infatuated by a gentle young man I met one beautiful autumn day while feeding the birds at the pier down by the lake. A rather electrifying meeting, though the relationship never developed due to my fear of commitment.

Image by philpace from Pixabay

2020: Enjoying a long term relationship of 4 years. Its been a dream come true filled fun adventures, humor, and passion with the normal ups and downs of life.

6) School

2013: Attended community college on a digital forensics academic track. The most memorable project was where I developed a website for a hypothetical geologist living in Colorado. He was studying various types of gemstones he found during his excavations. I researched stories of legends surrounding their origin.

Image by Robert Ramsay from Pixabay

2020: Currently working on an online masters program for technology and innovation management track. The most memorable project so far involved a hypothetical four million dollars granted to me to develop a civil engineering software application from start to finish.

Image by dewikinanthi from Pixabay

7) Volunteer Cause

2013: I worked with a group of friends with Habitat for Humanity. Learned a lot about house building and painting!

Glendale

2020: Currently helping a school teacher collect cans and plastics with the Rotary Club for a contest with Pepsi Co.

Novyy Urengoy, Russia – June 17, 2018: Bunch of different empty soda aluminium cans.

8) Music

2013
2020
2020

9) Recreation

2013: Had a thing for barre workouts!

Image from Haute Living

2020: About to do Hot Yoga with my cowokers!

Image by Sofie Zbořilová from Pixabay

10) Sustainability

2013: Back when Google+ was around, I heavily got involved with a sustainability discussion group for many hours. The discussions intrigued me. I wanted to learn how to be eco-friendly and be up to date with all of it.

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

2020: I’m itching to get plugged into community initiatives regarding sustainability issues. They’re looking for ideas, and I hope to contribute in someway!

Image by 95C from Pixabay

11) Blogging

2013: I fancied the idea of being a student blogger on campus. I applied, but was turned down for the position. It may have been because the writing sample I sent was about the sound of a lovely bell ringing off in the distance as I was walking around the campus lake to class. Maybe they want more samples about student life? 🙂

Below is the walkway of the lovely campus I used to walk by often.

2020: Didn’t matter! Here I am blogging my heart out on my own without anyone else’s approval! I don’t know why I thought of it sooner! 😉

Blogging my thoughts has been a freeing, exciting experience. Thank you to my readers for making the experience so worthwhile!

Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

12) Fashion Interests

2013: Bold floral-print Sunday dresses

Image from Popsugar

2020: Bandage skirts, Currently love them! Sorry no picture of me in them, but I love to wear them with leggings

Wheretogetit.com

13) Television

2013: 30 Rock, CSI Miami, Supernatural, Glee

Image by CW

2020: Meteor Garden, Witcher, Miraculous Lady Bug

Image by Otakucart

14) Movies

2013: Frozen, Iron Man III, Man of Steel, The Croods, Monsters University

Image by PixarPost

2020: Star Wars (2019), want to see Mulan, Artemis Fowl, Sonic

15) News

There were a lot of news stories that deeply affected me and my path trajectory.

2013: Nelson Mandela’s death, Boston Marathon bombing, Edward Snowden

Nelson Mandela was a leader whom I was captivated by. Boston Marathon and Edward Snowden prompted my interests in security.

2020: Hospital Janitor Forges Lasting Friendship Between Two Boys in Isolation After Noticing a Love of LEGOS

The news story above impacts me because it deals with one of my favorite childhood pastimes. My first major Lego project was a pirate ship. Always fascinated by adventure even then! Will be going to a Lego Brick Fiesta event with some friends this year to indulge in this interest!

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay

16) Sports

2013: Followed Maria Sharapova tennis matches quite a bit since I practiced developing my forearm swing at the tennis courts!

The Guardian

2020: I might go check out some Spurs basketball players play! Matt Bonner signed my basketball. He was so down-to-earth and friendly!

LOS ANGELES, CA – JANUARY 25: Matt Bonner #15 of the San Antonio Spurs drives the ball against Trevor Ariza #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the game at the Staples Center on January 25, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. The Lakers defeated the Spurs 99-85. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

17) Technology

2013: I was really curious about consumer drones. Always felt tempted to buy one to take awesome aerial photos and videos from the sky!

Phantom Quadcoptor

2020: Right now, I’m super curious about the Click and Grow smart garden!

Image from Click and Grow

18) Favorite Hang-out spots

2013: White Rock Lake, Dallas, TX

I enjoyed walking sections around this park almost every day. Seeing the scenery change with the seasons is a great beauty. I once walked around the whole park which took four hours! There are some incredibly beautiful views, expansive hiking trails, fishing spots. There’s also a well known ghost story as well about the Lady of White Rock Lake! One of my favorite memories is sitting on a wooden bench on top of a hill and seeing the sunset as the breeze is blowing the tall grasses.

Image from Applespice

2020: Riverwalk & Pearsall Park in San Antonio, TX

I enjoy walking downtown and checking out the riverboats with curious spectators gliding by in this river. At night, it’s bustling with tourist activity. Families and couples are dining in the restaurants. Some of my favorite memories here was when my brother visited me and we got to listen to a beautiful mariachi band singing a lovely serenade and when my boyfriend and I celebrated Christmas slow dancing in the island platform.

Riverwalk, San Antonio, TX
Image by: Thrillist

I love to go jogging here with my exercise buddy early mornings! The fields and the hills are incredible. Breathing in the fresh cold air is refreshing.

Pearsall Park, San Antonio, TX

19) Languages

2013: I was trying to continue my Spanish studies on Babbel

Image by Babbel

2020: Duolingo’s mascot, a little owl, has been guiding me in learning Spanish and Vietnamese basics. It’s been fun learning from their podcasts too!

Image by Duolingo

20) Theatre

2013: For an English literature assignment, I had the opportunity to watch a live Shakespearean comedic play, Taming of the Shrew.

2020: Curious about the Miss Saigon musical in town!

21) Environment

2013: Fascinated by Google’s chart that compiled deforestation rates by country

2020: Currently checking out Mongobay’s environmental snippet summary

Image by Mongobay – Lemurs!

22) Health

2013: Learned about Healthcare.gov’s crashing website as millions of Americans tried to sign up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act. Stress is relative though!

Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay

2020: Everyone around me is getting the flu! Got my flu shot. Learning about personalized AI medical care innovations

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

23) Games

2013: Played Juice Cubes a bit!

2020: Curious about Smash Hit and Megaman Zero!

24) Quote I lived by

2013: Eleanor Roosevelt impacted me from an early age.

Do the thing you think you cannot do. You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, ‘I have lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.”

Eleanor Roosevelt
Image by Alexas_Fotos from Pixabay

2020: Right now, these below! More to come later!

Never underestimate the power you have to take your life in a new direction

Germany Kent

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.

Socrates
Image by Ylanite Koppens from Pixabay

 That was fun! See you soon everyone! Hope you enjoyed it! 🙂

Posted in Books, Events, flashback, poetry, Technology

#SoCS- The Toy that Rocked my World

A Delightful Blue Discovery…

My life before simple
A linear path filled with a fairly predictable routine
Then, one hot summer day…
The library presented an irresistible challenge
Itching with anticipation!
Waited for what seemed like eternity!
The mission was to read 20 books!
The reward?
A yo-yo!
The latest spinning craze
Allowing gravity to unwind the string
Lighting up the world of so many participating children
Embarking the reading journey while
“walking the dog around the world” 😉

Years later
Just when I think the yo-yo has disappeared
into the locked vault of yesteryear’s fads
My serious concentration
questioning employers at a cyber job fair
was broken!

Genuinely smiling
Filled with overwhelming nostalgia
A blue yo-yo!
Gleaming against the black tablecloth
Idaho National Laboratory
“You made my day!”
Your motto?
The energy of innovation!
Indeed!
🙂

The first blue thing I see this morning ❤
Posted in Culture, Events, Technology

Friday Follies – 07.12.19 – Strange Font

#FriYayFolly

One day, there was a sale on http://www.vistaprint.com to create business cards. I was catching up with friends at the Olive Garden and we decided to create some cards for ourselves for future networking events. As we were browsing through various designs, I noticed a baffling font called “Refrigerator Deluxe”. I guess it’s standing upright and compressed into a vertical space like a refrigerator? If you are ever in the mood to create your own font, Font Forge, an open source application, is at your service!

According to Wikipedia, typography is the art and technique of making the written language legible and appealing and its principle goal is effective communication. Type design is the process of developing type faces. Various type faces can communicate to the reader a variety of emotions and ideas. Have you ever noticed while reading a book that one font can make you feel bubbly inside and how another font can send chills down your spine? It’s fascinating to see what kind of associations we attribute to the visual stimulus that we get from a font face!