XC: The Great American Road Trip

Tomorrow morning I will drive from my home Southern California all the way back to Swarthmore College, whether I make it there or not. Well stay tune to the blog for more updates.

This is an exercise in replication of the Great American Tradition, lugging oneself from sea to shining sea, in the confines of ones’ own gas-guzzler. Hopefully everything goes well, and I get to live my American dream.

First stop, somewhere in Utah.

Wisdom of Cultural Inheritance

To live with fertility and harmony without hurting others, might be the most basic endeavor of human civilization. But to arrive at this lifestyle, one needs wisdom, pragmatism, and faith as tools. These tools of life, developed over time, produces what we deem to be “culture”. Especially within the Chinese culture, many traditions of daily life are infused with the wisdom of greater thinkers and philosophers, passed down generation after generation. Foreign friends might be intrigued by or compliment on the effortless beauty of calligraphy, the seemingly magic of acupuncture, and such special cultural artifices, but they might not be able to understand with depth the art of tea, the pondering of the moon on a Mid-Autumn night, and other more multifaceted aspects of Chinese cultural wisdom.

Every one of us hopes to be unique, to be noticed by others; but we also wants to feel a sense of belonging. Our own distinct culture is the medium with which we communicate with our family and loved ones, and it is also the source of that sense of belonging and acknowledgement. We strive to create our own identity, but do not wish to distance ourselves from others, this is a daily tug-of-war for all of us.

But in the fast-paced world of today, it is easy for people to borrow and combine in the process of cultural intersections. And even easier to create the fleeting popular culture. This trend hopes to turn all things into the relatively uniformed. For a culture like China’s, rich in value and deep in wisdom, we are beginning to lose the patience needed to appreciate it. If we are to succumb to these modern circumstances, we will lose the connection to a tradition that can speak to the bottom of our hearts. One day, we may find ourselves lost in a state of  detachment; we might not be able to interact with other people, even worse, we might lose contact with ourselves. Of course, cultures change, no one culture can endure the winds of time and history. But I still believe we should accept the changes of new, without losing the memories of the old.

Living in the modern family of today, it is very difficult to resist the constant need to feel fulfilled. Our urge to quickly complete all the task at hand causes us to lose our patience towards the details. We are on the threshold of a change, about to forgo the wisdom of inheritance and tradition. We seem to think that sitting down to wait for a cup tea to cool to the right temperature is a mere waste of time, but we don’t seem to appreciate that this process is what makes life so full and valuable.

In regards to our own cultural traditions, we are not only responsible for understanding and carrying it out, but also for relaying it to the future generations. The ocean of Chinese culture is as deep as it is powerful, stemming from Laozi to Zhuangzi and many others who has showered us with their thoughts wisdom, all the down to the culturally astute people of today. The stream flows continuously with no sign of slowing down.

Swarthmore’s New “Wow-classes” will literally Wow you

More and more colleges around the nation are bringing “Wow-butter” into their dining halls to accommodate students who are fatality allergic to peanut butter. Not to be outdone by its peers, Swarthmore College (a leader and innovator in the field of social justice), plans to introduce a series of new classes called “Wow-classes” to accommodate students who are fatality allergic to ignorance and human fallibility. These classes, which will run along side current courses, exclude aspects of human behavior that could cause a fatal allergic reaction in some students, such as a penchant to speak without knowing the complete history of everyone in the class, which can  trigger a remote incidence in one’s early childhood and prompting some very harmful allergic reactions.

To ease students into the process, Swarthmore College has begun to run test trials of their “Wow-classes”. So far the responses from the student body has been that of the utmost support and excitement. “The new classes really wowed me, before I had to force myself to learn to deal with people’s ignorance and difference in opinion and it was really getting to my mental health, ” says senior Alice Paul, “I think this is a big step forward for equality in Higher Ed, almost as important as the woman’s suffragist movement.” Some students were so excited about the prospect these classes that they even promised to donate more funding to the college once they matriculate. “These classes are so cool, it’s like everyone just agrees with everything I believe in and have come to hold as true,” says Junior Eugene Lang, “if I ever get rich one day, I am gonna donate not one, not two, not three, but four building back to swat.”

Inside these classes, students actively engage in intellectual group discussions, stating literally the same things in five different languages and citing various sources that seem to be conducted by the same research institute. But some member of the student body are becoming increasingly reminiscent  of past classes, “Is it alright if we go back to the old classes where people say stupid things, and we just tear it apart for being misogynistic and intolerant instead of focusing on the actual argument, it was so fun” said one senior who asked to remain confidential in fear of the possible ransacking of his residence in Phi Psi Lodge.

But no one was more welcoming of the “Wow-classes” then the professors themselves. “I have so much more free time now that that ignorance and human fallibility has been artificially selected out of my classroom, it’s like I don’t even have to teach any thing of substance anymore,” says one rather corpulent professor of the Science Dept. Other professor have taken advantage of the extra time on their for more productive activities. “Now that we have “Wow-classs”, I can spend the whole day pondering my pronoun preference on Facebook, maybe I will even help my father with his,” reported one elderly member of the Philosophy Dept.

Review of 2012 : A Year in Blogging

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Martial Arts is kinda like Writing

Two of my favorite pastimes, other than to sleep and eat, would be martial arts and writing. I might not be that great at either, but I really do enjoy both and in return they provide me with a chance for growth.

Though apparently unrelated, they are actually quite similar. There are hundreds of different forms of martial arts (JKD, TKD, Wushu, Muay-Thai, K-boxing, etc.) just like how there are many ways to write, some more flashy than others, some more narrative based, some more report-like, and others more journal-esque. But no matter which form you chose, they can all get the job done. Whether it is avoiding conflict with technique or communicating your ideas with writing.

Just like how there isn’t a “best form of writing”, there also isn’t a “best form of martial arts”. It depends very much on the practitioner/writer himself. It is the person that makes the form, not the form that makes the person. Depending on the situation and the parties involved, some forms can be more effective than others. If you are writing to an individual of humor and culture, a more flowery form of writing with satire and content would serve much better than a simple, bland, straight to the business one. If you are fighting a very long individual whose reach is greater than your own, than a form that involves close contact (which eliminate  long-range attacks) such as judo, grappling, and wrestling would be better served than per-say TKD.

Even the actual process of learning are very similar. In martial arts, you start with basic skills of flexibility, stances, and punches just like how one starts with vocabulary, grammar,  and intellectual thought in writing. Then one moves on to  “structural forms”  such as long fist with combines the kicks and stances together,  like how we first learned the Jane Shaffer format and “1CD and 2CM” or the later “Thesis-3  body paragraphs-Conclusion” format of Eng Comp. This second stage of structural writing and practicing of martial arts can be quite long depending on individual understanding and talent. Most students in college or even working college grads still use very “formulated” or “structured” ways to write (not that there is anything wrong with that), just like how numerous excellent martial arts practitioner are still stuck on doing techniques in predetermined order and style.

The most difficult step would be to “Make it your own”, to make your writing style “yours”, or to make your martial arts form “second nature”. It takes decades of practice and daily repetition with thought, even then most aren’t able to achieve this level. Which is why not everyone who writes for 30 yrs is a published author and not every Wing-Chun practitioner of 30 yrs should open gyms and teach class (though most of them do, sadly) . But if you don’t practice day after day, then I am sure you won’t make any form “your own”, whether it is in regards to writing or martial arts.

Why is Everyone “Gangnam Styling” ?

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So, I just found out about “Gangnam Style”.

Please excuse my lack of  knowledge about pop culture, but after being in a temple for the past 5 month, I haven’t been tuning in to the world as much as did before.

Anyways, now that I am off on break, I am seeing this “Gangnam Style” every I go, at basketball events, Communist meetings, elementary schools, even senior Tai-chi Championships. I am taken aback at first cause I really didn’t know what it was, it was only until I met google did I found out that apparently some Korean named PSY has beaten my “boy” Bieber’s Baby on the Youtube all-time view list.

Sure, it has catchy tunes, interesting animistic dance moves, minimal social satire in the lyrics, but can anyone please explain to me why this stuff is so contagious that it has reached almost every age group in every corner of the world? Really this is a legit question, cause honestly I thinks is a valuable question to ask.

Just want to throw that out there, please comment below, post on fb, or email me at koshimomo@gmail if you think you know the answer.

Parkour is like Cat Style Kung-Fu

Some days when it gets just too cold to move, I tend to stare directly in-front  for a prolonged period of time. Yesterday while I was “freezing” outside, I observed a stray cat moving with lightning fast speed through the rocks and plants in the ravine, it was something like D-wade in the 05-06 season before the hurt shoulder, back, arm, knee. etc. But further observation of the way the cat accelerated every time it got past an obstacle  reminded me more of Parkour, the modern urban-sport built upon the idea of getting from point A to point B in the shortest time with the utmost athletic skills and “balls of steel”.

So for all the parkour-loving folks out there, it won’t do you too much harm to watch some action-packed cat videos once in awhile or just observe those living around you. But  do NOT emulate the way them fall, because unlike cats, when humans fall we don’t always land on our feet.