All posts filed under: Personal

Discourse on Fate and Free Will

Some ten years ago, Nathan and I were sitting on the floor of our college dorm in St. Louis, waxing poetic about nothing and everything at 3 AM. On this particular night, which I remember vividly, we were focused on the topic of fate, destiny, and free will. Over the years, I kept thinking about what I described and my thoughts have changed much on the subject. Personally, fate, destiny, and free will all fit together as pieces to the greater whole of life. So how do they fit together? The idea is really quite simple, despite debating all night about it. Fate is generally the idea of things happening as preordained by some higher power. Destiny is that specific or necessary events will happen – set points in life like having three kids. An apt analogy would be a book. Fate is the existence of that book while destiny is the chapters of that book. Free will, then, is the unwritten or forgotten details in between the chapters. This seems contradictory, because is free …

This is Not the End

You die at sunrise; you died in your sleep. Every night, you dream. Every time, you fall in a little bit. Six inches under, six inches deep. Just as the sun is below the horizon, your destiny is in the East. Rise from the last day’s ashes; you find yourself sweating, unable to breathe. Is that fear I see? Yesterday’s knowledge congeals into baggage. Today is another day for mistakes. Tomorrow, you know nothing. So you died in your dream, over and over again, chasing what you want to believe. What you want to believe is the gravity holding you down, the air above. What you want to believe is tomorrow. Tomorrow, the sun will rise. Yet, at sunrise you are dead. You see nothing in the light. You see nothing as the night fades from your blinds. There is only one thing you see. One person you actually see. Who am I seeing? Who I am seeing? The one person you see, staring back blindly, blinking. The face is familiar, the smile is peculiar. …

New Beginnings – Columbia

The past month has been a whirlwind, from my departure from the City of Los Angeles, my cross-country roadtrip, to my first week at Columbia University. A lot has changed. I am no longer engaged in building public policy or writing feasibility studies. Everything has become a blessing after the hardships I endured the last eight months. There is much truth in the idea that new beginnings allow you to do something new and be someone new or even to feel something new. I have never worked so hard or felt as assured in my life, from handling grad school coursework to really trying to organize and bond our cohort together. This change really came from the lesson during my time at DCP, especially the last months. The importance of knowing the people you see and work with everyday cannot be understated. Babak, Cally, Nina, Jason, Iris, and Angela you taught me so much during the last few months we spent together. I cannot thank you enough. Though everyday has been pretty much a 9 …

Flowers for Algernon – Knowledge and Distrust

Where do I even begin to discuss this book? With everything that has happened over the course of my life, the impact now is more profound than if I read the book any earlier than I did. To put it simply, it is about the journey of a man who undergoes an operation that lifts him from ignorance to knowledge. The book contains a multitude of themes I have yet to ruminate over, but here I want to discuss the issue of knowledge breeding distrust. As Charlie becomes smarter, he wants to learn more to know more about himself. Through that process he realizes that the people around him all have something to hide; they all have imperfections. He becomes ashamed of himself as well, because of his own past and imperfections. His coworkers at the bakery, though they take care of him, laugh at him because of his lack of mental acuity. The professors who performed his intelligence enhancing operation are not motivated by his well-being but rather their own professional advancement. His mother …

Public Policy 101: Understanding Policy

It is important for the public to understand how to understand policy, especially when it is in the process of being deliberated and adopted. As a policymaker, I want to share some of the finer points of policy making, especially into today political climate. *My views do not represent the City of Los Angeles or the Department of City Planning. Every year, a large number of policies are deliberated at all levels of government. Some are passed, some are postponed, some are dead upon arrival. In a democratic government, almost all of these policies are heard in some form or another by the public. However, there are a lot of nuances to understanding them and because the public are not generally versed in understanding policy, there are ways to get policies passed by influencing public sentiment or despite public sentiment. To make it easier for you to understand policies, especially those you care about, the following are three important things to look for to avoid supporting a policy on misguided assumptions. They are listed in …

Letters on Tuesdays – Thanksgiving

Mom and Dad, circa 1988? Dear Wilton, In light of the recent world events, it is a good time to reflect on something more positive as Thanksgiving is here. Perhaps, to you, it is just a prelude to a long winter holiday. I remember those days when I was your age. Thanksgiving, as an American tradition, held no meaning for our family. However, since coming to the States and having spent several Thanksgivings with my dear friends and their families who hosted me, I learned that it is indeed a good thing to have a day set aside to reflect on the positive. Every year, every day, every second something can easily go wrong. Sometimes it can go so wrong your life depends on the next move you make. So, it is because of this exact unpredictability and fragility that we should celebrate gratitude. I will keep it simple today. Let us remember to thank those who came into our lives. Let us reflect on the beauty of the natural world and all the positive …

Letters on Tuesdays – That Friend You Hate to Love

A young man on his journey to make “F-you money”. Another one of my successful brothers from college. Dear Wilton, I have been very fortunate to have met and made friends with many great men so far in my young (somewhat, but probably not to you) life. As a kid, you have met many of them: Charly, Chicco, Michael, Ivan, Dan, Hien, Rambo, Nathan, and the likes. Most of them, it was a smooth ride to friendship from common interests and backgrounds. Other friendships, and perhaps you have experienced this, grew out of competition and contentious relationships. You know the old Chinese saying, “不打不相識” – unless you fight first, you won’t be friends. That literally sums up my friendship with Dan. To me, he is brazen and witty, sometimes callous, sometimes caring, but more often than not, a huge thorn in my side with his stinging banter. If he was a superhero, he would probably be more along the lines of Deadpool or Flash (but probably less comical) than say Thor or Batman. Yet, as much of a …

Letters on Tuesdays – Until A Basket to Reach Into

Dear Wilton, Though we are thirteen years apart, as siblings growing up with nearly identical upbringings, we have many similarities. You grew up surrounded by the very books your sisters and I read. Over the years, I have seen you develop a love for reading through them. Like me, you are captivated by books and we have voracious appetites for the written word. I am certain it is because our books give us wings, wings to fly into foreign and imagined lands. The written word can easily become magic in a young mind. The written word relaxes us and takes us places where our worries become thin air and where our fears are replaced by a character’s. There are untold amounts of joy when I see you engrossed in one of my old novels. I can imagine you going through the same emotions, the same questions, and the same challenges with each book. Though it pains me to see  you having less care for the physical conditions of the books than I, for many were still in …