Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Chinese American Personality

I'm always intrigued by the topic of personality and personality development, especially when it's in the context of one's culture and beliefs. This article helped me understand myself a little bit more and reflect on who I am as a person.
Excerpted from: "Chinese American Personality and Mental Health"
1. Traditionalist."There is an attempt to be a "good" son or daughter.  Primary allegiance is to the family into which he was born...Self worth and esteem are defined by his ability to succeed in terms of high educational achievement, occupational status, etc. With success he feels respectable in American society; he has brought honor to the family name and has accomplished this all as a minority member."

2. Marginal Man. "The Marginal Man attempts to assimilate and acculturate into the majority society.  Existing between the margins of two cultures, he suffers from an identity crisis.  In attempts to resolve this conflict, the person may reject traditional Chinese ways by becoming over-Westernized."

3. Asian American. "Unlike the Traditionalist and the Marginal Man who have found existing models, the Asian American tries to formulate a new identity by integrating his past experiences with his present conditions... He is more sensitive to the forces in society which have shaped his identity and have too often been left unchallenged.  Problems such as poverty, unemployment, individual and institutional racism, and juvenile delinquency are of primary concern to him.  More than anything, society is to blame for his present dilemma and must be changed."

My own personal background, for the most part, puts me in the marginal (wo)man group, since I do experience that culture clash and identity crisis. However, unlike the people in this group, I embrace the traditional Chinese ways and attempts to incorporate it into my life. Thus, I declare this the dual culture phenomenon. I believe that in this case, it's not that one particular culture is stronger than the other, or that I secretly hate my other half, but the fact that I welcome both values into my life (see new chart below). 
I think this is the best explanation for why I struggle to be the "perfect" daughter, why I have an underlying desire to attain high educations and top paying careers as well as my gravitation toward tradition and family. At the same time, it will explain my desire to be independent, carefree and a free thinker.

Monday, August 30, 2010

U.S. Government Bond Bubbles

On most financial websites that I read, I see the words of "beware of the ___ bubble!" First, there's the tech bubble, then there's the housing bubble, and most recently, it's the dangers of the U.S. government bond bubble.

There's no question the massive market for U.S. government debt is frothy. As this six-month chart of the 10-year government bonds shows, the yield has plummeted from about 4 percent in April to about 2.6 percent last Friday—a decline of 40 percent. The market is displaying some of the signs of bubbles—the momentum and the continuing defiance of expectations and recent history. With rates so low—interest rates on short-term government bonds are close to zero already—they literally don't have much more room to run up.

For me, however, the scare of this particular bubble does not appear to be so bubblicious, and here's why:

First, one of the features about bubbles is that, toward the end of them, the people selling assets—shares in telegraph companies in the 1840s, railroad bonds in the 1880s, dotcom stocks in the 1990s, Miami condos in 2006—are hawking pipedreams and fantasies. They're making financial promises that can't be fulfilled, or that simply don't add up. When reality finally catches up with the hype, the crash can wipe out some investments entirely and the bubble-prone sector can slump 70 percent or more. But that's not what is happening in the government bond market. The people selling Treasury bonds—that is, the U.S. government—are making extremely modest promises and have a long record of living up to much more extravagant promises. On Monday, Aug. 30, according to the Wall Street Journal, Treasury will sell $30 billion in 13-week bills and $30 billion in 26-week bills. I'd be willing to wager my next paycheck (which I don't have...yet) that those bonds will perform exactly as advertised: Buy those bonds and hold onto them, and you'll get your principal back plus a bit of interest in a few months. In the interim, the market value of those bonds may rise and fall. But they won't double, and they won't go to zero.

Second, bubbles are generally driven by greed and fearlessness. Investors jump in thinking they have nothing to lose and are certain they can get a massive return—buy a house for no money down and flip it next month. But today's bond buyers are driven more by fear than by greed. They're not buying government bonds because they think they can double their money by December, or get a 50 percent return in a year by finding a series of greater fools. In fact, it's the opposite. U.S. government bonds are the ultimate safe haven, the least bad place to invest. People are buying government bonds with paltry yields because they can't think of anything better to do with their cash.

Third, look at the behavior of the peddlers of the allegedly bubbly securities. During bubbles, when foolish investors are willing to place high valuations on companies in a hot sector, entrepreneurs and managers rush to give the public what they want. With Wall Street's assistance, they funnel new paper into the markets—mortgage-backed securities in the '00s, dotcom stocks in the '90s—at a furious pace. In a bond bubble, when borrowing costs are exceptionally low, you'd expect the government to increase its borrowing significantly, taking advantage of the idiots by issuing new bonds like crazy. But that's not happening. 

In conclusion, I wouldn't worry so much about the U.S. Government bonds; it's not a bubble.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Ant Population

Today marks 1 week anniversary of this blog... I have kept my promise of posting something every day! Hopefully this record will continue for weeks to come. :)

In this post, I will talk about a new phenomenon I saw on Chinese television this afternoon. The show was in Chinese so I will try to describe it the best way I can here.

On the show, there is one girl, who supposedly belongs to this "Ant" population, "蚂蚁族". It's a phenomenon that is apparently widespread in many of China's largest cities, especially in Beijing and Shanghai. The characteristic of this population is one of high education, poor family background (birth in smaller cities), lack of employment opportunities in big cities but unwillingness to return to birth place. They are usually born after the '80s, commonly referred as 80后.They live in very run down houses far away from city center, living condition is poor. But why do they stay when life for them elsewhere can be better? That is a good question. On the show, the girl complains about her life struggles... Why is it that some people can have a better life when she has worked hard too?

To make the show more interesting, there are two opposing sides--supportive of the "Ants" to stay in the city and against their taking up city's resources. After listening to the girl's stories, they argue back and forth, providing their opinions and points of views.

  • "Ants" are people too. Why should they be the one to leave? The government (or agencies) should help them.
  • They work just as hard. It's not fair for people of better backgrounds to discriminate against those who don't. 
  • Society needs to change. People need to be aware of the "Ants" and give them room for development.
  • If your goal is to be successful, then you must work hard. Keep your expectations in check.
  • Yes, life is unfair. Either suck it up or leave [the city]. After all, no one is forcing you to stay.
  • You are neither weak nor disabled, get rid of your victim mentality. No one can "save" you from your current condition, only you can help yourself.
Which side are you on?

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thought Question #1


Last night, a friend reminded me the importance of having discipline in one's life. Today, I felt inspired to answer a thought question. I think how a person spends his or her free time can be very revealing to the type of person he or she is.

1. Read books. I have already created a virtual book shelf which I plan to add to it as the time goes on. http://www.shelfari.com/sophlee/shelf
2.  Blog. Yes, I spend a lot of time on the Internet and what better way to spend it than engaging in self expression. One of my goals is to become an articulated individual, someone who can speak clearly and write well. I'm far from this goal, but I am working on it.

3. Network. It has been proven and proven again that it's not what you know but who you know world. So, networking is important!

4. Brainstorm ideas. Even if I just have 5 minutes, I can break out my pocket notebook, and start a brainstorming list for a project or article. Whatever you’ve got coming up in your work or personal life, it can benefit from a brainstorm. And that doesn’t take long.

5. Take a walk. This is something that doesn't take long and you can do it anywhere — but even more important, it’s a good way to stretch your legs from sitting at your desk too long, and it gets your creative juices flowing. If you’re ever stuck for ideas, taking a walk is a good way to get unstuck.

6. Meditate. I heard that if one were to just focus on one's breathing, a quick 5-10 minutes of meditation (or even a nap) can be tremendously refreshing.

7. Goal time. Think about goals, personal and professional. Create new ones & follow up old ones.

8. Work on hobbies. Whatever that is. I haven't decided yet. TBD.

Friday, August 27, 2010

What We Least Expect

Peter said [to the man], "I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, stand up and walk."
-Acts 3:6 (NRSV)
In today's reading from Acts chapter three, the beggar who was laid at the temple gate thought his greatest need was money. He had been crippled since birth and had no way to earn income for life's necessities. Consequently, he had begged for money.

Had Peter and John given the man money, his immediate need would have been met, but his life would not have changed. The next day he would have been back at the gate again, begging. Instead, Peter looked at the man's greater need -- his need for physical and spiritual healing. The beggar left the gate that day a changed man, praising God. He could walk! He received not what he asked for but what he needed.

Like many people, I struggle and work hard daily to reach my goals, often times walking blindly toward nothing. There were many things that I thought I "needed" but truth is often times when I actually get it, I realize I actually "need" something else. That is human nature. Today's devotion made me reflect on the wonderful phenomenon that I don't necessarily need to figure out everything myself but to trust that God will be there to guide me and to lead me, and all I need to do is to trust Him to give me what I need.


Dear Father, thank you for meeting our deep needs, even when what comes to us is not what we expected. Amen.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Asian Idols Eye Candy -- Commonality besides Shuai-ness

Like most girls, I have an internal "shuai" detector that picks up instantly any vibe of handsomeness emanating from the opposite gender. Not only does this detector picks up the signal, it subconsciously lures me in and attract myself to them like a deadly magnet. What exactly is "shuai"? Generally, shuai refers to look, nominally handsome looks, but what I am getting at here is-- what is the thing that makes one "shuai". I am certain that besides having symmetric face, dreamy eyes and a genuine smile, there are other factors that dictates why one guy is more "shuai" than the other.

From this blog, we see that 3 of the 10 criteria for attractiveness in men are related to outside appearance-- Strong & muscular, precious smile & look natural than artificial

To explore this question further, let's take a look at some of my favorite Asian idols of all times. Most of these artists are referred as "idols" in their respective countries. They have a large fan base, mainly due to their handsome looks than their musical or acting talents.

From the Taiwanese / Hong Kong-nese category:

Dylan Kuo / Guo Pin Chao, in The Outsiders I and II

Wu Zun, in Romantic Princess

Vic Zhou, in Meteor Garden I & II
I like these actors / singers / idols for one main reason is that they are "shuai"--or handsome. In the drama series that they play, they are usually the protagonist or undergoes dramatic character development but who overcomes his obstacles and wins the girl's heart.

But as the time went on, I realized that Korean idols are even more "shuai":

Joo Ji Hoon, in Goong
Dennis Oh
 Unfortunately, I don't follow J-drama as closely, but this one definitely caught my eye:

  Tezuka Kunimitsu, from Prince of Tennis
Seriously?!?! A cartoon character?! How can my shuai-detector pick it up in something not real? Well it did. Not only did my detector picked up the "shuai"-ness, it also made me wildly attracted to him. But why? How?


I just came back from traveling in China and there I picked up some clues to this mystery. In Shanghai, one of my favorite past times is to go shopping. As I wandered through these malls, I find my shuai-detector buzzing. It was a surprise to me because it is no secret that Chinese guys, as a race, are not that physically attractive, at least compared with Korean and Japanese guys. In the mall, I came across a fashionable salon, where there was a line to get in (at first I thought it was a restaurant), and as I stood there (surprised that it was not a restaurant!), I picked up an incessant signal of "shuai"!

Soooooo, the factor that dictates "shuai", beyond basic looks, height, smile, is HAIR!!!

Think about it. What do all Asian idols have in common? They have amazing hair styles!

So, the conclusion of this post is-- all guys have a shot of emanating "shuai" signals, no matter what he looks like, as long as he has amazing hair, then he can be handsome.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

If You Can Bring 5 (Business-Related) Magazines to An Island...

1. The Economist. This magazine features the most succinct, globe-encompassing wrap-ups of politics and economics on the market. Even often overlooked cultural features such as book reviews glisten with insight.

 2. Business Week. Consistently the best business magazine, more timely than the biweeklies Forbes and Fortune. One strength is international reporting, as in the cover story on India and outsourcing.

 3. Wired. After a wobbly post-boom period, Wired has transformed itself from an insider computer monthly into a slick, smart and playful cultural journal. The reporting is excellent ("The Future of Food," "The New Diamond Age," for instance) and the graphics deliver some of the best short-form journalism in the business. The back-page feature Found" and the upfront section "Start" are consistently strong, and even the "Letters" page crackles with energy. The writing staff is lively yet authoritative, and columnists Lawrence Lessig and Bruce Sterling are smart without being snooty. Even the ads are cool.

 4. Wall Street Journal. Reliable daily investment news source.

5. Forbes Asia.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Personal Style = Personality

These days, I have been perusing fashion websites and magazines, in anticipation of New York's Fashion Week, coming up! Fortunately, I am not obsessed yet but I feel this passion growing and for now, I just want to cultivate it and let it grow as it pleases. Who knows? Maybe in another two or five or ten years...ah, dare to dream! :)

In my amateur belief of what fashion is-- I simply see it as a way for one to express one's personalities and sense of identity through the clothing one wears. That said, I have little or no appreciation toward the crazy designs of well-known designers, which otherwise is known as art. What I do love in fashion, style and shopping is to find that article of clothing that emanates a specific feeling for the wearer and the observers.

Generally, personal style can be characterized into seven categories:

1. Classical Style - Mastering the Classic look is having timeless outfits that are not extreme in fashion. They are tailored and semi fitted so you can actually dress down or up. Classic styles are very versatile and functional. In color and fabric, it is best to go with natural coloring and add dominant and bright colors for accenting. They are at their best in matte surface and traditional prints.

John Galliano, Fall 2008, first look
2. Feminine - Mastering the feminine look requires elements that are draped and softly structured, in a modest length with small details and soft textured fabrics. Feminine women love their natural fiber with matte-sheen in light to medium colors and prints.

The feminine person is romantic and captivating. The look they convey is relaxed gentle, and caring. They appreciate the fine things in life, like soft and luxurious clothing. They like taking life easy and don’t like to be hurried. In business attire the feminine woman will find it difficult to convey the look of authority because of her soft nature. The feminine style in shoes is medium to high.

Tadashi Shoji's Fall 2010
3. Dramatic Style - The dramatic person loves non-classic looks in clothing. Her clothes are always highly structured with lots of dramatic lines and designs. She prefers big bold prints with lots of colors, crisp fabrics in geometric and abstract designs and patterns.

Dramatic people like to be noticed and to be the center of attention. They give the air of authority and convey confidence in their unique look. They like to be in control in any situation. Their clothes reflect their personality the look of strength and authority in style and color. They like to be around people with energy and excitements. Their heels are medium to high, but never conservative.

Christian Siriano, Fall 2009
 4. The Natural Style - The natural or sporty person loves to wear clothes that are classic and casual in style, and still gives them comfort. These gently tailored clothes are easy to care for, usually in medium to light colors, and practical in style and look. The fabric is made from natural fibers in matte finish and practical in length. Often they are in unmatched pieces with no visible coordination. They love the look of sporty patterns that are structured like menswear.

The natural personalities are very friendly, modest and always look at the brighter side. They generally don’t care about the way they look; comfort is their issue, if you give them a choice, they would rather live in their T-shirt and jeans. The total image they give is comfortable, relaxed, and not restricted. They love being outdoors; they are athletes, and never stand still.

Summer 2010, Designer: Not sure
5. Creative Style - Creative people like their clothes in unique unexpected combination. They love mixing all their outfits together they wear their clothes in any style, shape or color old fashion with new structured clothes with flowing, nothing will stop them from being creative in their own world.

Creative people are so unique you can’t copy the way they dress even if you tried. They are artistic and very creative; they can actually pull together a complete distinct look by mixing different styles or colors and actually succeed.

Kate and Laura Mulleavy, Fall 2010
6. The Elegant Style - Elegant people like their clothes to be formal and in top form. They do like the fabric to be the best, with elegant, monochromatic colors. Two colors may often be the limit in an outfit, rather than the commotion of too much distraction in their look. They love the luxurious fabrics and natural fibers like silk and cashmere.

Dennis Basso, Fall 2010
7. The Sexy Style - No element of classic in the construction of sexy clothes. These are tight, body hugging and show a trendy hemline any length short or long. The look is both in bold and daring or basic colors. The fabrics worn often have glitter and shine into to them. Many are in animal prints with low cuts tops.

Sexy women’s styles are glamorous seductive and feminine. Sexy people could be very curvy or slender in body form, the look gives one message and the message is exiting and compelling to men. This dress form is sexy and provocative.

Alberta Ferretti, Calvin Klein, Alexander McQueen, and Chanel, Spring 2009

Granted, we do not and cannot live in the fashion world where it's OK to walk around in see-through dresses and weirdly mixed dresses, but how we choose to portray ourselves to the world is present everywhere. The question is-- which style do you have? A better question is: Which style do you want to have?

Recently, a Chinese friend asked me once if I can teach him how to have style. The conversation went along the lines of:

Me: What kind of style are you?
Him: I don't know. Just tell me how to dress and what to wear.
Me: OK...then, what kind of style do you want to have?
Him: Hmm, I've never thought about it. Should I?

The key to personal fashion, I've realized is that one should dress according to one's personality. In other words, the clothing must suit you. Since clothing can define a person, then either make sure that the clothes portray the personality that defines you or tailor your personality to the clothing style that you want to wear. I guess my latter statement will generate some indignation from fellow readers. After all, why should one change one's personality just to wear certain kinds of clothes?

Let me give you a personal example. A few years ago, when I assessed my personal style, I came to the conclusion that I was someone of dramatic style. After all, I am a confident person and one who can easily garner center of attention. When I shop for jewelry, I love things that are big and bold colored.
Big & Bold Jewelry style, Fall 2008
Just because I like bold colors and big jewelry and that I am confident doesn't mean that I am necessarily a dramatic woman. After all, all my life, I have admired and respected a few women in my life, including Elizabeth Taylor, Princess Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, etc. And what do all these women have in common? They are beautiful, graceful and elegant. I remembered watching Desperate Housewives and thinking to myself: Yes, I like Gabriel Soliz's dramatic style, but Bree is definitely my favorite! To be a classy and elegant woman is my goal.

As they say, beauty is only skin deep, so true beauty must comes from within. So over the years, I have worked to perfect my inner beauty so to speak. From the way I carry myself and speak, I try to be a graceful woman. Actually, sometimes I pretend that I am a princess. :) Gradually, my style has changed, from bright colored clothing and dramatic jewelry to a more toned down and simple style. However, it would be stupid to get rid of all this dramatic flair, after all, I have no intentions of changing my identity, only a little bit of how I wish the world to see me. If I can describe my personal style to you-- I'd say that I am a mix of classic and elegance, with a twist or flair.

In conclusion, a personal style can tell others what kind of person you are, but more importantly, it pushes you to work hard to become the person you admire and respect.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Enjoying SaladWorks: Autumn Harvest Salad

My favorite salad at SaladWorks is Autumn Harvest Salad. The ingredients are simple: turkey, craisins, corn, carrots and sunflower seeds, served on a bed of lettuce mix topped with crispy apple chips, and the blended taste is crunchy and delicious. The sweetness from the craisins, combined with corn and sunflower seeds make it so that it is OK to have this salad with or without dressing. For the most part, I ask for dressing on the side, because it is entirely unnecessary to have the ingredients drenched in dressing.

Nutrition Facts - Autumn Harvest Salad
Servings Size 1 Salad
Servings Per Container 1

Amount Per Serving
Calories 300.50

Total Fat 11.60g
Saturated Fat 1.50g
Trans Fat 0g
Cholesterol 18.80mg
Sodium 231.60mg
Total Carbohydrate 39.70g
Dietary Fiber 15.20g
Sugars 22.10g
Protein 13.00g

*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs:
Calories 2,000 2,500
Total Fat Less than 65g 80g
Saturated Fat Less than 20g 25g
Cholesterol Less than 300mg 300mg
Sodium Less than 2,400mg 2,400mg
Total Carbohydrate 300g 375g
 Dietary Fiber 25g 30g

Yes, everyone knows that eating a salad is healthy but paying $8.29 for something that can be easily made at home seems a bit overkill. Yet, SaladWorks, as a company, has flourished.

Saladworks was founded in 1986 by John Scardapane, the company’s current CEO. The first Saladworks opened in the Cherry Hill Mall in Southern New Jersey, the success of which inspired the opening of 12 additional restaurant locations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania in subsequent years.

Saladworks saw significant growth after it began franchising in 2001, and by 2007 it had 88 locations in eight states, including Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Florida, and Illinois. Today, the franchise operates 100 restaurant locations in 11 states and has announced plans to expand into new US markets in 2010.
I'm always interested in learning more about a company's business model and understanding why one company is more successful than another. Here, Saladworks' unique business model takes advantage of American's desire to lead healthy lifestyles by eating wholesome and nutritious meals by creating signature salads that would allow Americans to eat healthier.

I think if I were to ever open a franchise, I would want my own SaladWorks!