December 1, 2017

On this day in 1903, the first Western film, The Great Train Robbery, premiered. Tot think 114 years ago films were primitive pieces of silence that emphasized body language to the max, and to track the progress of advancement is spectacular. It’s eye-opening. It’s fascinating.

Today’s Quote of the Day will be silent to honor such a milestone. I recommend watching TGTR and then going to Google to watch the Star Wars: The Last Jedi trailer. I like to think that’s a perfect beginning and “current end-point” to track just how far we’ve come and how much further we are going.

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November 11, 2017

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…

– American President Woodrow Wilson

Today, and everyday for that matter, we salute those who have bravely fought for our country. Today should not be about politics or debates. Today should be about honor and respect. If you see a vet, young or old, black or white, man or woman, take a few seconds out of your day to say, “Thank you for your service” because if it weren’t for them, who knows where we would be right now.

 

October 25, 2017

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.

-C.S. Lewis

Don’t know how I feel about being 23. Don’t feel older. Don’t look older. But there’s this new feeling of wonder that has me thinking with a new pair of sunglasses. I am giddy like a kid but know work must be done like any other adult.

Oh my god there’s donuts.

Happy Birthday to me.

October 2, 2017

Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.

-Winston Churchill

We must not let the bad guys win. We must not let them instill fear in our spirit to the point we fear doing the simplest tasks. We must stay strong and have courage to show the bad guys we will not be taken down easily. We will prevail.

Love Thy Neighbor

There’s a wonderful French cafe and bakery in Bee Caves. They’ve been in business for several years and serve the most delicious desserts. I recommend the 3 Chocolats. It’s a sweet treat that uses white, milk, and dark chocolate mousse. It’s a chocolate heaven. Think that’s too much chocolate? Try the Versailles! It’s dark chocolate mousse and raspberry jelly…oh and a praline feuilletine. If you want more savory flavors, check out their crepes and paninis (pst! The Parisien Brie is to die for!).

The place is small. It’s very quaint and the staff is super friendly. They close on Mondays, which when you first hear about this place you find it odd. But when you really think about it, who doesn’t want Monday off? 🙂

This is more than a food review. This is a call for support. My sister sent over these screenshots that she took of Baguette et Chocolat’s Facebook page. I am not political and if you want to comment political shenanigans, please think thoroughly or don’t comment at all.

My thought process is use common sense. This below drives me nuts. Why would anyone try to ruin an establishment? Especially a lovely establishment as Baguette et Chocolat. I will let the rest speak for itself. If you are an Austinite or a tourist who has visited this place and loved this place, please support them. Please give them rave reviews on yelp. Please tell your friends and neighbors and family and that odd cousin in Idaho about this lovely staff who work in the cutest joint in Bee Caves and who serve the best French food you’ll ever get in Austin, maybe even in Texas.

Love thy neighbor. That’s all I ask.

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STUDIUM Fall 2017 Edition

My dream has always been to be a published writer. I’m so excited to announce that dream has come true.

This past March, I submitted my undergraduate Honors thesis, “Little Complaint, Much Grievance: The Failure of the French Directory (1795-1799)” to a journal called STUDIUM, which is published by the Faculty of History, Philosophy and Theology – “The Lower Danube” University of Galiti, located in Romaina. I had been rejected by Duke and U of Chicago, never received word back from West Point and the folks at Oxford, though they saw the passion in my writing pretty much said to come back when I have my PhD. Hearing about STUDIUM, I was hesitant for five seconds before jumping right in. I mean, it couldn’t get any worse than Oxford telling me to get a PhD. xD Going on a tangent now. Focus!

Almost two months passed by and I hadn’t received word. I was a little discouraged. It was West Point all over again! Siddiqi, the logical one, advised I inquire about it, so I did. Two days later, I got it: the acceptance letter. I was going to be published. Pretty much floated on cloud nine for a week.

Okay present day: Yes, STUDIUM came out with the Fall 2017 edition of their journal. The best part of all this, besides getting published, is the fact I got published in the same edition as Siddiqi. #TexasTakeOver

“Little Complaint, Much Grievance”

“Little Complaint” focuses on the final four years of the French Revolution before Napoleon establishes the Consulate. The Directory (Le Directoire) is not really a high focus since it’s sandwiched between the violent Reign of Terror and the fascinating Napoleonic Era. I focus on how the Directory was established, how they managed the following sectors: Royalism, Terrorism (different from our current definition), Finance, the Catholic Church, War and Napoleon; and an analysis on why they failed.

I spent all of my senior year working on this project. It was the most fun project I have ever embarked on and I love that I can now share my hard work and passion with the world. I would like to thank my family for supporting me, Siddiqi for recommending the journal to me/being my editor, Dr. Austin for being my thesis advisor (and an awesome one at that!), Dr. Lowe the thesis prep adviser for the Fall 2015 semester who helped during the panicky moments of deadlines and research topic mayhem, and Oana-Maria Mitu, the Editor in Chief of STUDIUM, as well as the staff for accepting my submission.

Little Complaint Comic Book Cover
From my undergrad thesis comic book. Yes, there was a paper AND a comic book. 🙂

Please read my article, Siddiqi’s article and all the other published writers’ articles here: http://www.studium.ugal.ro/index.html

#HurricaneHarvey

Please send your thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by Hurricane Harvey. It made landfall about an hour ago on the Texas Gulf and has no intention of going away anytime soon. Buildings have collapsed and trees have been knocked down.

Also, help the local shelters! Major influxes of animals are coming in. Please help out and foster! Austinites, Austin Pets Alive! can use your help, hint hint cough cough.

Fellow Texans: follow your local news channels for live updates.

Everyone else: #hurricaneharvey will give you a load of updates, live Tweets, etc.

 

Steve the Robot

Humans have always been fascinated by robots and artificial intelligence. I mean, there’s R2-D2, Wall-E, the Terminator, and our fellas the Mars rovers.

You would think with technology advancing so fast we’d get used to robots doing the rather mundane jobs like being a security guard. Very, very, very wrong.

My friend John sent me a link to an NPR article about Steve the Knightscope robot who works in Washington, D.C. Steve would patrol the grounds near the Georgetown waterfront, handing out citations or tickets, and making sure everything was okay.

Unfortunately, the robot met its demise when, according to Forbes, Steve missed a step and fell down into its rival: a water fountain. Forbes and NPR both agree it was not foul play. They disagree on the motive. Forbes claims it was sensory issues. NPR had much more fun, saying Steve began questioning its existence and saw the water fountain as a comforting way to end things.

I was much more entertained reading the NPR story and the heart strings really got pulled as Scott Simon, the writer, toyed with the idea of Steve, and robots in general, genuinely feel the void of true emotion as they saw humans experience love, happiness and purpose. That’s not to say the Forbes article, written by Kalev Leetaru, was not entertaining. It provided a realistic possible situation that could have happened to Steve (what is realistic these days?), before going into the question of robotic rights. Yes, you read that correctly: robots have rights.

A good point Leetaru brought up is the scenario of a security guard robot patrolling the streets filled with late-night spots and bars. The bars close and the drunkards fill the streets causing chaos. The security robot films the illegal acts such as vandalism as evidence, or tries to calm the drunkard down. Drunkard doesn’t like the robot and gives it a punch, or worse: destroys the thing. Can the robot’s buddies get together and ask for criminal charges against the drunkard? Would the manufacturer or company who hired the robot provide the necessary tools and resources to fix him (or her? it?) up? Do they get paid to be guards and punching bags? Would they have the right to fight back? What are their rights?? Or if one of their functions fail because the manufacturer was negligent, could they sue their creator? What if they go Frankenstein on their creators? What if they do process human emotion and feel it but feel the negative emotions and try to take over? Would they get the right to vote?

I know all this sounds kind of ridiculous, but I find comfort I am not the only one asking these questions. Considering we are surrounded by new pieces of smarter tech every day, academics, government officials and commercial groups are questioning the same thing. One has to wonder: are robots people too?

Read the full articles here: “The Sad Drowning Of Steve The Robot And The Future Of Robotic Rights” and “I Sink, Therefore I Am: This Robot Wasn’t Programmed For Existential Angst

Amazon to buy WFM for Billions

My phone lights up, spitting out various news sources all saying iterations of the same thing. I stare at it blankly. I couldn’t believe it: Amazon, the online giant, bought Whole Foods Market, the hippie grocery stored turned luxury health nut food store, for $13.7 billion. You read that right. Billion.

Now, I have a soft spot for WFM. I’ve lived in Austin for almost 11 years. WFM is the Austin thing, so the loyalty ran extra deep since I was an Austinite working at an Austin staple during the college days (corn is great 4078! #cashierlife).  I was there when the grand news of WFM’s financial success in late 2013 spread throughout the land. I was there when they came out with their first commercial. I was there when the fancy H-E-B location came along and began to make my WFM store a ghost town(ish). I was there when Trader Joe’s came into Austin and slight pangs of worry hit every manager’s face. I was there when the prison labor controversy was running around causing questions. I was there when they put more fruit inside their Berry Chantilly cake (it’s a disappointing three berries and 99% cream now).  I befriended many fellas from various backgrounds–including the friendliest porter you ever met and the wackiest guests–even met celebrities (Jesse James was kind enough to donate $25 to one of our donation drives one year and Meatloaf is super nice despite his large size). Days spent among friends during the lunch break exchanging gifts of books, food and music were the best. I’ve seen the stock plunge and rise and repeat, staying in the $30 range.

Bakery @ WFM Gateway, ATX

I was gone by the time their financials were not rising, their overprice asparagus water caused uproar, the closing of different extra aspects of the company is other regions, the stepping down of co-CEO Walter Robb in November 2016, and the opening of 365, the “lower-priced” store that follows a Trader Joe’s format.

I’ll be honest, I don’t shop there as often as I do now. You can’t go back when you had a 20% discount card for two and a half years. I still follow the news though. I cheer when they hit a high point and feel a slight pain of sadness when they lose (except for the asparagus water incident. That was just a “raise an eyebrow and face palm” moment).

WFM Original Store
wholefoodsmarket.com
I do find the timing a little funny. Texas Monthly just came out with an article called “The Shelf Life of John Mackey“. John Mackey, who is regarded as the “animal spirit” of the company (Robb was the business brains), was interviewed by Tom Foster. Mackey pretty much lashed out at NY hedge fund Jana Partners for trying to buy them out without really telling Mackey. He was starting his book tour for The Whole Foods Diet, his second book, so he considered the move “intentional”. The article is well-thought out and details everything from WFM’s inception to the present day conundrum. Foster even plays out what I call the WFM contradiction: as it got bigger, it became more corporate, less healthy and the core values became more….confusing…Was it a hippie store? Was it a rich people store? Was it a rich hippie store? I’ve seen my fair share of both groups at the store I worked at, so honestly I can’t really tell. I just saw happy folks buying kale salad and kombucha. No need for labels.

Anyway, Amazon. Good on you for allowing WFM to operate under their name. Also, good on your for raising the stock price from $33.06 at 9:30 AM on June 16, 2017 to $42.00 twenty minutes later (I knew I should have bought WFM stock three months ago when it was $29). I hope you can keep the spirit of WFM alive and well. As much as I don’t want the online robots to take over and ruin any chance I have at working at Vogue (print is not dead people!) or open my coffeeshop/bookstore, I guess it’s better than having WFM disappear altogether.

(Read the articles here, here, and here, or just Google)

“Meet the Young Roses: The Next Generation of Socially Conscious Socialites” – Vogue, June 2017

It’s that time again. The office around you grows quiet. People are “this can wait until Monday” slow to respond to your emails and phone calls. You just finished your sandwich with a side of fresh fruit and you begin to feel the heaviness in your eyes, trying to fight it before your brain screams to run to the nearest coffee shop. Time pretty much comes to a halt as you beg and plead with the Time gods to make 5 o’clock (or 4 if you have a state-wide rot rally coming to your area of town and causing traffic jams that forces you out of the office early, like me). Yes, it’s the dreaded (or anticipated) Friday afternoon.

I always like to spend at least a tid-bit of time on myself to keep me motivating and not looking at numbers all day. I will go out and take a walk, doodle or catch up on my reading. Since I forgot my copy of Anna Karenina (on the list for the “30 in 3” Book Challenge), I have escaped to my favorite place in the world: Vogue. 

Since I have already read the June 2017 story on Elle Fanning (a beautiful piece that makes you want to be BFFs with Elle), it was time to venture down the list. My eye caught the article titled above. My dream is to be a self-made New York socialite (the casual “nerdy/dorky is cool” type. Not the ditzy type, if those still exist), so I found this article intriguing.

The story, written by a variety of Vogue writers, provides a brief look at five NYC’s latest batch of socialites who are successful, charitable, and, of course, fashionable. I love the theme of red the creators used throughout the article. It gives the element of power, which makes the women all the more grand.

My favorite two are the two that get the biggest pictures on the mosaic below: Nieves Zuberbühler and Amy Sall.

Nieves is cool for a) her badass name and b) the fact she works at 60 Minutes and interviewed the last surviving Nuremberg prosecutor. How I want to be a fly on that wall! What makes her an extra level of cool is the ease she takes from casual  to over-the-top-glamorous. Halloween wedding with 900+ guests and a Brandon Maxwell wedding dress that is made of over 250 yards of chiffon? And not just any chiffon, but satin-faced chiffon? Girl, you know how to live it up.

I recognized Amy Sall from the pages of my J. Crew catalogs. My favorite aspect of her is the fact she was a former UN intern AND has a Master’s degree in human-rights studies from Columbia University. Her main focus according to Vogue is her work on the SUNU Journal, an outlet “centered on ideas of African cultural expression.” I looked up the journal on the interwebs and came across their website. Their home page has “Coming Soon” above the subscribe box, but fortunately they have a mission statement page, which you can find here. Amy Sall, overall, is graceful and fierce, and ready to take on the world of the socialites and the socially conscious.

(Read the full article to learn about the other Young Roses here http://www.vogue.com/article/new-generation-philanthropists-june-vogue-issue-cleo-wade-cecile-winckler)

#TBT: “She Received 65 Proposals, but Never Married” from NY Times

As I was listening to the hearing, I played around on the New York Times’ website. I know, I should have been doing my work but this was just too good.

I came across an article written in January 2017 by Lesley M. Blume. It’s a short piece on Mary London Baker, a socialite who throughout her life, as the title suggests, received 65 marriage proposals and denied every single one of them. Ironic how this is in the Weddings section of the paper.

She was known as the “shy bride” who denied her first fiance three times in the 1920s and then denied men 62 more times until her death in 1961. “Shy bride”? Really? Highly doubt that. In the article, it mentions that her father confessed Miss Mary was not shy at all but rather a party girl who like to tango with princes and travel the world.

It is interesting to see how her position and status cast her off from the typical role women played in the mid-twentieth century. Her father was a well-known (and very rich) financier, so she lived a very comfortable life. She refused marriage because she could. She didn’t need the support of a man to keep her social status among her fellow socialites or her pampered lifestyle. She was truly free to wander around, fool around and live life to the fullest.

Nowadays, it’s different. If a woman refuses to marry, it’s not because she’s some rich heiress who wants to travel the world and has the privilege (though they may be a few of those still around). A woman can refuse because she wants to focus on her career or because she does not like the idea of being tied down. She wouldn’t be refused by (most) social circles because of her choice. She’d be applauded. She wouldn’t be labeled as a “spinster”. She’d be labeled as a “modern woman”.

Or maybe I’m just stuck in my millennial mindset and trying to justify my choice to not get married anytime soon (or ever).  Hey I’m a busy girl with big plans. 🙂

What do you think? Comment below!

(Read the full article at https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/weddings/165-years-of-wedding-announcements/mary-landon-baker-shy-bride)