December 6, 2008

[Vlog] Eventual Gratification

Vlog: Eventual Gratification from Ankit Shah on Vimeo.

- My patience in waiting for facial hair for more than half a decade
- The importance of patience in life-living
- Activities I've taken on that have slowed down my life, made it less rushed, and what I've gained from these activities
- Patience as a crucial factor in the work of Martin Luther King Jr. and Mohandas K. Gandhi
- Why life eventually works out for all of us, that the universe is on our side, the human race wants us to do well
- Life is beautiful.

November 26, 2008

[Vlog] Today, I'm Grateful for Vision. What about you?

Vlog: Today, I'm Grateful for Vision. What about you? from Ankit Shah on Vimeo.

Chock full of "um"s and "so, yeah"s and bad hair/droopy eyes. Recorded at 3:50a this morning, and I was totally not feeling a rerecording, so this is my thanks for your understanding of that. There will be a most substantial thank you post tomorrow night or Friday morning in text form.

Thank you for being you.

P.S. I think my slight lisp becomes less and less "slight" as I listen to myself. I never know whether to actually care about that or not.

November 23, 2008

[My first vlog] What are you doing right now? Living.

Vlog: What are you doing right now? Living. from Ankit Shah on Vimeo.

By the way, tell me that hat is not the best ever.
Also - I don't edit videos (nor do I know how to.) This is completely on the spot. Sorry that it's eleven minutes, but to be honest, I think 11 minutes of video is certainly more entertaining than 5 minutes of reading.

November 7, 2008

I'm comin' in when I feel like, so turn this thang up only if it feels right.

Gratuitous Self-Image Wednesday. Yes, it's 3:34a on Friday. ¿Es un problema? I'd hope not :)

Funnily enough, I was trying to get a picture of myself in the reflection but I was blending in with the reflection of the trees. Total fail.

Update (11/10/08): Just realized these "GSIWs" totally take away from the purpose of this blog. The fun, meaningless (but sometimes, meaningful) stuff will now emigrate to my tumblr.

November 5, 2008

History in the Making


You know, as wild as all of this is, I’m really just trying to absorb it all right now. The implications of today are just so immense. It makes me appreciate Martin Luther King Junior to such a great extent. What he did for this present moment in history was so key, and look at us now. 2008, and in 76 short days, we will have a Black&White House. It’s weird shifting from the “imagine” and “hope” mentality to the “oh shiz, it’s here” mentality. Most of my conscious life has been spent under a president I haven’t really appreciated much, so this is going to be something new. This is going to be something I tell my kids. This is going to be something special. This is something special.

A civil war that, in many ways, began at Bull Run, Virginia, on July 21, 1861, ended 147 years later via a ballot box in the very same state. For nothing more symbolically illustrated the final chapter of America’s Civil War than the fact that the Commonwealth of Virginia — the state that once exalted slavery and whose secession from the Union in 1861 gave the Confederacy both strategic weight and its commanding general — voted Democratic, thus assuring that Barack Obama would become the 44th president of the United States.

- “Finishing Our Work,” by Thomas L. Friedman, November 4, 2008

What boggles me most is Obama’s family history. His parents have been dead since before his 2004 DNC Address. His grandmother passed just before not only his greatest moment, but also quite possibly the country’s. We haven’t seen any of his siblings (or maybe we have and I haven’t followed well enough) throughout his campaign trail. His drive has got to be coming from the heart because there’s so few other outlets. Who’s he fighting to impress? There’s no, “Look ma, I did it!” I can’t imagine having moments like the one he just had tonight without the family I grew up with there with me. I don’t know what to make of it, but I think that makes him so much more impressive.

Congratulations, Barack. Please don’t stop sending me emails (even if David Plouffe is writing them). It makes me feel like we’re bros. We’d pound it if I ever met you.

Looking forward to enjoying the next four years.

My gut tells me that of all the changes that will be ushered in by an Obama presidency, breaking with our racial past may turn out to be the least of them. There is just so much work to be done. The Civil War is over. Let reconstruction begin.

- Thomas L. Friedman

November 3, 2008

Tumblr looks like tummy.

I'm now running a tumblelog site. It's where I'll share music, photos, videos, conversations, and brief notes on a much more frequent basis than I do anything on this blog. I'll still put up random stuff here, but this will be more dedicated to my thoughts (but that's not to say my thoughts won't be interspersed with music/photos/videos/conversations/briefnotes).

Check it out:

Letters of Gratitude

You know what's a really cool idea?

Writing informal letters to friends about how much you like them, why you're thankful for them, and why your life wouldn't be the same without them and mailing the letters to their homes. Even if you see them every day in school and could hand it to them. Getting things in the mail is really exciting (especially when you're not the homeowner at home and everything that ever has your name on it in the mailbox is either from "Herricks High School" or "______ University.") I think I'm going to send letters of gratitude to people. It really takes maybe 15-20 minutes to write letters and another 30 seconds to envelope and stamp them. I'm excited to see what I write and who I write to. I'm so lost right now.

It's 3:28a and I don't know WHAT I'm doing. Except maybe this:

My green smoothie matches my walls. I painted these walls before I knew half my diet could be vomited on the wall and it wouldn't even make a difference because it'd all blend in. I love it.

I need to touch up my ceiling paint. There's still bits and pieces of green paint that somehow found their way onto the ceiling despite the tape we put on the corners to prevent that. Whatever. You should paint your own room in the middle of the night. It's a really fun experience (especially when no one's home and you can blast music from midnight to 6:00am.)

October 31, 2008

Dave Matthews on "Speeking" One's Mind

(Yes. That's the real Dave. Follow him on Twitter @

October 29, 2008

Apparently this picture day is the new "in" thing

So I've been frequenting a lot of blogs recently, and a common theme I've found is that many bloggers have a day of the week they choose to take a picture of themselves and they post it that same day every week. SO, I'm going to start that same trend for two reasons:

  1. It'll force me to more frequently update my blog. When I post more pictures, I'm forced to think about more significant things to write about.
  2. It's cool to kind of observe my growth and see trends in my shaving patterns or when I wear glasses and when I don't or when I have bags under my eyes and when I don't. It'd simply be cool to look back and be like, "Oh yeah, I remember that week because of those bags," or "Oh yeah, that stupid pimple that got all pus-filled and wouldn't freaking rid itself from its comfortable home on my forehead was so frustrating."
  3. I got the new MacBook, which is gorgeous and fast and sleek and light and everything beautiful ever. BASICALLY, I have a webcam and photobooth to take pictures and quickly upload them.
Simply put, this is my happiness or my weirdness of the week:
Now tell me Photo Booth isn't cool. This reminds me of the Brady Bunch (and of how much of a loser I am).

I think I'll call this Gratuitous Self-Image Wednesdays.

October 26, 2008

You can vote however you like!

Or you could just vote Obama, but these kids are the best.

October 20, 2008

The Magic of Perspective

Autumn is beautiful
"I doubt myself a lot." It almost hurts me to hear someone say that. Something I've learned in the last year is that life is all about the lens you look through when enjoying it.

You could doubt yourself, or you could question yourself. Kanye West, in his short but insightful book, Thank You and You're Welcome, says something like this:
I question anyone who questions me, but I question myself all the time!
Doubting yourself is acknowledging your flaws to an extent and telling yourself there's nothing you can do. Questioning yourself opens the doors to "What can I do about it? How can I improve? Where do I go from here?"

You could struggle, or you could welcome new challenges. When you view something as a struggle, there's very little opportunity to move forward. It's hard to march on with a smile. I can't stand struggles, but I lovingly welcome challenges. They give me something to look forward to, something to live for, really. Dhrumil phrases it well in his essay, "Struggle vs. Challenge: My Road to Completion":

A challenge may not be easy, but it can be joyful. A challenge is something that can be embraced even from the begin of the journey. A challenge, while it can be difficult, does not include the added dimension of resistance.

A struggle is being in once place and needing to be in another. A struggle is not only difficult, but it is a burden. A struggle is a challenge that is filled with resistance. A struggle is no fun at all.

How do you know where your journey stands? All you need to do is simply ask yourself, "Am I complete where I am?"

One of the greatest gifts that I've been given is the gift of completion. It didn't start that way and I've had many bumps in the road, but now that I discovered it, I want to help others discover it too.

Challenges are beautiful things.

I'm pumpkin carving this week! Haven't done it since elementary school =)

You could have bad experiences, or you could have learning experiences. So often I witness complainers talking about how terrible a night, a relationship, an experience of any sort was. I hate using this word, but I can't help but pity them. Something I love doing is finding the light in the darkest of situations. There are some occasions when it's harder than others, but when it clicks, it's a lot more gratifying than incessantly complaining. I can't really think of any essay or book that cites something completely relevant, but I know Kanye wrote something like,
Never complain without offering a solution! You rarely see positive results from people who do nothing but complain. The majority of the time, complainers seek only to be heard with no solution in mind. Once heard, they're off to find something else to complain about.
It's all about perspective. Open your eyes a bit to see the learning experiences, to welcome challenges, to question yourself! You'll see nothing but self-growth, and there's nothing like the sense of achievement you get from seeing yourself grow.

Be fresh(-minded),

P.S. A way I've tracked my self-growth has been through this blog. Occasionally I track back by checking out my archives, and the change in mindset and the increase openness to new ideas and points-of-view are totally evident. Try blogging and see if it works for you.

October 17, 2008

The Purpose of Lying (or lack thereof)

How often do we tell people things that we follow up with, "Keep it on the DL though," or "...but don't tell anyone"? Ever thought of why that happens so often? How about what those things are -- those that we follow up with the disclaimer?

This post was supposed to go up in August when I had a long conversation with a friend about a relevant topic, but because I can't say that the insight is 100% relevant at this point in my life, I'll briefly touch upon what he and I discussed. We had a conversation that almost ended in the fashion described above, but just when we thought it was over, it had just begun. That disclaimer sparked a conversation all about why one would ever want to hide something.

Something I've deduced (don't want to say concluded because it's still open to change) is that we hide the things we're least proud of. We hide the things we'd like no one to know, but most of the time, another person is involved so unfortunately, they have to know. Sometimes we even wish that person didn't have to know. I'm sure a lot of us have even realized this, but I've found, in myself and a lot of individuals I speak to, that very rarely do we actually make the conscious decision to change. Very rarely do we put our feet down and tell ourselves that the only things we want to be doing are the things we'd be happy other people knowing about.

I'm not saying to live your life to achieve the highest regard by others, but if you really think about it, if we can't have someone know what we're doing, there's a reason for hiding these things. In my short past, there are several things I don't like to talk about:

  • arguments I've had with people about utterly stupid things (but, of course, I realize this AFTER the argument and not during)
  • girls I've taken interest in/been involved with for absurd or superficial reasons (or no reason at all)
  • decisions I've made that go against things I typically stand for
  • the fact that I was gifted with a leather wallet that I currently use despite the material
  • the fact that I bought a leather belt after going vegan because I was too lazy to go out and find a mock leather one
  • what I think of myself, whether positive or otherwise
I'm sure there are more, but those are what I could come up with off the top of my head. The common theme among these things, however, is the fact that it's simply embarrassing, sometimes shameful.

Then I look back, and I wonder, why did I do it? Why'd I do something I'd be embarrassed to talk about? There's little to no logical reason, but there is a change to be made. That change is to be conscious of the things you do with a semi-mentality (if that even makes sense) that someone's watching what you do. Your peers know what you're doing. Then, act and be proud of what you do. (Please PLEASE note, however, that I don't encourage doing things that your friends want you to do. Do what you would do, what falls in line with your values and perspectives. Just pick the best decisions based on that rather than what other people may want you to do.)

As wild as this might sound, I challenge you to start talking about the things in your life you don't feel comfortable talking about, things you'd typically avoid discussing. Spilling your flawed actions is the most effective way of reminding yourself WHY you should do things you'd be proud of -- no matter who you're talking to. If I hooked up with girl X, I shouldn't feel bad about it. I shouldn't pretend like I didn't do it. That's not to say I should run around announcing it, but there should just be no shame. As I type this, I'm hesitant to reveal that I had a few leather goods. I'm hesitant because this post is confirming that there are relationships I've had that I don't talk about. I'm hesitant because this post is announcing that I don't live by 100% of the values I discuss in this blog 100% of the time. It's all about taking baby steps, though.

If you're going to eventually lie about it, fuck it. Don't waste your time resenting something you don't have to do.

Stay true to the world (but most importantly, to yourself),

P.S. If you have any nice pictures that are aimless but are just nice to look at, send them my way. I'd love to throw other people's material on this thing (and I'm starting to run out of random pictures. I haven't went out much recently to actually take pictures.) Thanks :)

Living Beauty

World Animal Day was observed earlier this month - on October 4th. Started in Florence Italy in 1931 at a convention of ecologists, World Animal Day has since expanded its focus from its original intent, which was to bring attention to endangered or threatened species. The day is now set aside as a time to reflect on all of the animals we share this world with, and our involvement with them - and to spur action to commemorate that respectful relationship. Half the world's mammals are declining in population and more than a third are probably threatened with extinction, according to an update of of the Red List (an inventory of biodiversity issued by the IUCN), released on October 6, 2008
- Alan Taylor of "The Big Picture"; blog post dated October 17, 2008

A white lion. Who knew those existed?

Beautiful. There's definitely a reason I couldn't eat anything that came from another living being. They're all way too precious. Who wants to go to the zoo with me?

October 9, 2008

Happiness is Infectious

My happiness.

It's been too long, and it always upsets me to have people come to me telling me that they've checked this thing numerous times to see NOTHING new, so I'll throw in a quick word to maintain at least a little bit of interest.

I'm writing my college essay as I type (well, I was 5 seconds ago until I got distracted by this heavenly demon (talk about oxymorons lmfao) called the "Internet"), and it's on this line a really grounded brother shared with me: "True happiness is only real when shared."

Think about that line for a second. I'm not saying you have to split your veggie burger and give up half your smoothie for another person (though that would work), but rather, share your indispensable joy. Something I see WAY too often is really purposeful individuals, who have so many things that make their life great, not share their moments. Don't get me wrong: this isn't because they're greedy. Most of the time, it's just that it never crossed their minds.

Why I blog, why I twitter, why I campaign for various things, why I make an ass of myself in school to get people involved in things like Homecoming and Model Congress is all because of this line.

The things I blog about are things that (1) make my life a little more enjoyable, purposeful, (2) make me a little more positive, or (3) make me a little more spiritually grounded -- all things that I think everyone could use (no matter how happy or enlightened they may be).

The things I twitter about are things I'm present to at the given moment that might just be happening OR things that have caught my interest and might catch yours too (i.e. the sun rising, the quality food I may be enjoying, the general environment I'm in).

The sunset from the top of Pier 17 @ South Street Seaport.

The things I fight for -- animal rights via the vegan diet, AIDS awareness, healthy living in general via exercise, diet, and no bullshit drama -- I used to do just for myself. I just kinda did them. They were part of me, but recently, in increasing amounts, I've shared these things with the people around me because I know others might find fulfillment in exploring paths I'm trekking along myself.

Finally, school activities that I talk about so much to kids around school. Let me be straight with you when I say that I wouldn't be the person I am if it weren't for the extracurriculars. When I started high school and jumped into a number of these things, my intentions were split between hmm this could be cool to try out. everyone else is doing it and NICE. now all i have to do is write this on my college résumé that i'll be submitting in a few years. Eventually the mindset transitioned to i'm really getting a lot out of these activities. a lot of who i am and a lot of the way i carry myself is founded upon what experiences in these clubs have given me. Now, as a senior member of many of these activities, I don't only see my responsibility to be to assist in the running of the club and to make sure things are going the way they're supposed to. Being that my life has changed as a result of these activities, I only think it correct to create the experience I had and expand upon it for all the new students. There's a lot of purpose to be gained from these things, and I only see to make that known and available for the students around me.

That's how I share my happiness, my fulfillment, and my purpose. That's how I reap more than I sow. These three things -- happiness, fulfillment, and purpose -- do not come in limited quantities. They aren't scientific, so they don't follow the laws of conservation of whatever. What brings you happiness? What made your day today? Share it with someone. I highly doubt they won't crack a smile. Heck, share it with me. Comment or hit me up personally. I'd love to hear your happiness.

I think success should be measured by the smiles you induce. Something like this (for the math nerds):
Success = ((Average intensity of smile from 1-10)(Number of smiles))^(Number of resulting smiles on other faces)

Stay real,

P.S. Tumblr's a great way to spread your joy. I'd use it if I wasn't already settled in with Blogger. It'd be heartbreaking to leave my online home. Here are a few people that have done a great job at making my day with their tidbits:
P.P.S. It's Breast Cancer Awareness month. Wear your jeans and your pink and flaunt your support. For those of you in Herricks, donate a bit of your change in the front office. For those from elsewhere, Avon and the Susan G. Komen Foundation have been doing great things with their money.

Note the pink ribbon-shaped firework on the left. Crazy, no? (Taken October 5)

P.P.P.S. For those that weren't there, Semiformal was RIDICULOUS. Be on the lookout for a winter formal. Big ups to the rest of the Exec Board and the many individuals that made this possible. Love all of you!

P.P.P.P.P.S. (This has got to stop) Other shots from the Semiformal:

After all the dancing (and sweating) lmfao.
Our beautiful banners.

September 15, 2008

Quick Note

"Mercy," by Duffy, as featured in the first scene of the beginning of Season 5 of Entourage (which my brother LOVES, and I'm sure you'll figure out why if/when you watch it haha)

Way to be.

Just realized that I haven't written any of my own work in the last [too many] posts (so many that I have to click "Older Posts" to find something that's worth reading for some mind meat (that's the only kind of meat I like)).

A little caught up in school and other business right now to update substantially, but I promise, something will come soon. After Homecoming weekend (Sept. 26-27), my time slots should open up a LITTLE more, so hopefully I'll have a few good ones to check out right after then (if I procrastinate enough, maybe I'll write one before then).

I've had a bunch that I've wanted to write about though, specifically about lying and negativity, but those will have to be put on hold until time opens up. For now, however, I need to write another 7 pages of my science research paper and cite it all by tonight! CAN'T WAIT!

Keep rockin',

P.S. Random pics that might compensate for my shortage of meaningful postage:

New additions to my room-decoration family lol. I love these things

Macro-mode. New camera-knowledge for me - thanks to Brian and Natalie and their neverending facebook albums from Costa Rica

My little black book (and the best pen in the world. Yeah it's weird, but I can't write with anything but the Zebra) -- also known as my life in a book. Even more detailed than my pointless twitters.

September 13, 2008

Wanna Hit Up the Semiformal With Ya Boiii? "Uh, no."

So for those of you that don't go to Herricks, there's been a huge advertising campaign that I, along with the rest of the Student Gov't exec board (Ella, Devon, Neil, and Natalie), have been developing and putting on the morning announcements (BIG THANKS TO SAJEEB FOR PRODUCING THE VIDS). All these vids are in the form of a "Semiformal Dance Tip" (i.e. how to shave, how to dress semiformally, how to stay clean, etc.), and my favorite is the one on how NOT to ask a girl to the dance.

The night after that vid airs on the announcements, I get the following stream of messages from Greg:

LMFAO. This has got to be the best series of messages I've ever received on facebook.

BTW - First ever Homecoming Semiformal is on the 27th of September (the Saturday of Homecoming weekend). You've GOT to check it out. Nothing like any dance Herricks has ever seen. Tickets are on sale until Wednesday (17th) in the Senior Lounge every day after school. $10. Get yours.

Featuring (many of these for the first time):
  • Professional DJ (aka no iPod)
  • Sit-down, catered dinner (yes, it's gourmet-status shit. You're going to love it. Promise)
  • Dessert, obviously
  • Semiformal attire lmfao (guys - that means NO JEANS. girls - summer dresses and things similar)
  • Dates (optional)
  • Battle points for class with most attendees
  • The announcement of Homecoming King and Queen
  • A potentially new Herricks tradition (that is, if every single one of you comes)
  • Ya boi, A-dog, tearing it up on the dance floor (that should really be reason enough)
See you on the dance floooor kids,
Ank - I mean, A-dog.

Update (9/13/08):

September 11, 2008

Get to Work!

[kanYe West : Blog] Love Lockdown - Studio Version

kanYe West : Blog

Kanye West - Love Lockdown (Studio Version) - first introduced at the VMAs

What do y'all think?

Thanks for the heads up Sajeeb.

September 7, 2008

[Talent] Nuttin But Stringz

I don't know how many of you watch America's Got Talent, but I don't. Yesterday, my brother introduced me to this one act that's came a long way on the show (which is apparently in its final round right now), and I think it's something everyone has got to check out. Absurd talent. Absurd passion. It's just too good.

God damn. Ridiculous. Enjoy. Buy their album. They came from small roots -- Jamaica, Queens -- and had a rough childhood. I don't buy too much music, but the bit that I do is always for people who I think actually deserve every penny they receive. They definitely qualify. See them at Click on "Store" to buy their album.

September 5, 2008

Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.

- Mark Twain

September 2, 2008

Diddy on Gas Prices

Sure, he thinks he's a baller, but even ballers gotta face reality once in a while. Too funny (and too real.)

L. Armstrong on Attitude

I take nothing for granted. I now have only good days or great days.

(from Living Jain's quote of the day)

September 1, 2008

Why try?

Sometimes I get the whole, "Ankit, I like what you're doing. It's admirable, but I don't think I could do it. I don't have that kind of self-control/willpower/whatever" thing a lot -- whether it comes to raw foods, fighting for a certain cause, or maybe even a daily habit, but what I thought about recently (and the thought kind of solidified during a discussion at the temple the other night) is that when you do a lot of the seemingly good things you do, it's not because you try to.

I don't like the word "try." "Try" implies you're fighting against some opposing force or that there's resistance present. I don't "try" to eat raw foods. It's just something I do. I don't "try" to be environmentally conscious. It's just something I know is the right thing to do. I don't try to do much. What I TRY to do is feel good, and surprisingly enough, that happens when I stop trying.

(On a totally real note, however, I'm in school. There are going to be things I don't want to do, but I put an effort forth to do them. Not that it's pleasurable, but I make the best of it by revolving my work around what I want to do when I can.)

I think the key to doing things that make you happy and simultaneously help the world around you is to simply become aware. When I learned about the environment and global warming and all that, I kind of brushed it off like, "Okay. Now what? Al Gore will save us all." I became aware when I actually learned about the consequences of our actions, when someone drew out the image of a plastic bag or a styrofoam cup chillin in the same place I put it literally 10,000 years from now, when I realized that buses and other mass transportation were leaving their feces all over our atmosphere even when they weren't full. Now it only makes sense to turn off the AC and open the windows when I'm in the car, to simply get half-naked in my room instead of turning on the fan (or maybe I just do that to feed my ego. Dual purpose. Whatever), to drink out of a reusable bottle instead of a plastic cup, to shower after a morning workout rather than before AND after, to basically do anything that's practical and will minimize the glacial melting caused by my actions. It only makes sense, so I do it. I don't waste energy in doing any of it. It just becomes second nature. It's the same way with food. I just know how I feel and how it impacts me (and the environment, in fact) when I eat processed foods, so I don't do it. When I do, it's because I'm thinking about it and I don't see any reason to hold back. Any time I have a bit of cooked food (yes, I do it occasionally), the goodness of raw living is only strengthened in my mind, furthering my awareness, making me less prone to doing it again. It's all about awareness. I don't TRY to down a green smoothie in the morning. I just do it because it makes me feel like a superhero.

I'm not negating the power of trying; it's certainly effective in getting that bit of activation energy necessary to increase awareness, but from that point on, it's all about awareness. Thinking, trying, making an effort -- it's just not worth my energy. Becoming aware requires a tiny investment, but from that point on, the gains you reap are unmeasurable. Heck, I gave up the whole keeping track thing a while ago.

When you feel enthusiasm to do something, it means you’ve lined up the Energy, and you are being inspired to take action from that point of alignment. When you don’t feel like doing it, don’t push yourself, because your effort is not worth it. But, when you line up the Energy, the feeling of procrastination goes away.

- Abraham Hicks (from Seema's blog)
Stop trying so hard,

P.S. Thinking about doing a video-blog for my next post. What do y'all think of the idea?

August 31, 2008

Minimalism: A Worthy Hit

I've heard tons of quotes throughout my 17 years (does it not almost-kinda-notreally sound like I'm old?) that have mentioned that possessions welcome grief aka negative energy. I never really got it until -- well, I still don't know if I fully get it, but I can certainly feel the wavelength a little more.

These quotes were expanded upon when I checked out the "100 Things Challenge" on Zen Habits (credits to Dhru for the ref), and happened to find it all over the place online. The more possessions I own, the more burdened I feel, especially when I start to concern myself with them. I mean, if you can own shit and not care whether or not you lost it, great for you, but I struggle a bit with that. When I buy new bedsheets, shit, I want those bedsheets to stay spotless. When I buy a book, I want to make SURE the corners don't bend because I like the way new-looking books look in my bookshelf. Simply put, increased possessions lead to increased attachment.

Today, I completely cleaned my room, inside the closets and drawers and out. What I found were tons of clothes I don't wear anymore or that I could do without. Sadly, my closet still looks like this:
Mildly successful attempt at combining two pics of the closet?

If I knew I were going to write a post about this 12 hours ago, I'd have taken pictures of it pre-cleaning, but trust me when I say that it was a LOT more jam-packed than that.

Now, is it just me, or do we all get clean feelings inside when we trash, donate, or sell a lot of belongings we don't use/don't need/don't need to use (or any combination of the previously listed)? This 100-things challenge is really getting to me, and when I think of it, besides the things I wear, read, use for school or put around my room, the only things I really use are my iPod, camera, water bottle, tennis racket, blender, juicer, and cell phone. Maybe a few more things, but I really don't think the things I wear/read/use for school/put around my room are necessary at all.

Cleaning out the bit that I did already makes me feel like my life is a little simpler, and that feeling would only be amplified upon ridding myself of more possessions (read: weight). I was briefly mentioning this to Kush earlier, and together, we kind of came up with the idea of having a clothes drive at school where all of us could clean out our closets and bring stuff that other people would actually wear and sell it at school as a fundraiser. It wouldn't be old garb that no one wants, but rather, nice clothes that we've just stopped wearing so much. Upon thinking about it a little more, I expanded on the idea by having a yard sale of sorts at school. With a group of willing individuals, we could all clean out our closets and rooms, and have a giant sale in the gymnasium as a fundraiser for the AIDS Walk or another cause we'd agree upon. It'd definitely take some work to get this by administration, but I think it's TOTALLY feasible. That said, rather than keeping it an idea, let's make it reality -- if you're reading this and you're from Herricks, let me know if you're into the idea via comment/email/AIM/whatever and we could put this together.

Basically, I'm putting the idea out there to challenge all of you. Do you actually need all that you own or could you live a simpler life? I'm still working on it, but I think it's definitely a worthy effort. Personally, I think being able to rid yourself of any number of possessions kind of emphasizes that we could not only be satisfied, but content with fewer possessions. It only makes sense that it would lead to further peace of mind and happiness with less _____ than you're used to getting. Just a thought.

Stay minimal,

P.S. I'm thinking of just throwing in random bits of happiness in the post-scripts of these posts when they have nothing to do with the actual post. With that, check out my room -- I finally put pictures in my frames and filling in my box-shelf things. The bookshelf is here and filled (though it's been here for about 3-4 months now. I just never posted it after my old post when I didn't have it [which I think is on the old picture blog]):

Also, school's starting on Wednesday, and to be honest, I'm totally excited. Work's no fun, obviously, but seeing everyone and the constant company you get in school isn't something you find everywhere. Looking forward to that.

XCountry started last Thursday for me, and it's so killer (in a good way). I love the post-workout satisfaction of having completely pooped your body. It's the best. On Thursday, went to Long Beach with the team for a boardwalk run then a sand workout + ultimate frisbee. Did 4.4 miles in 28:30 with Eric. I swear, I didn't think it was possible, but the thought of leaving all the pain for Eric sounded only too kind, so I got some for myself. Friday -- 6 miles at a human pace, dying of the lactic-acid buildup. Only getting ready for a whole season of this. Lovely.

Lastly, a few songs I haven't been able to stop listening to recently:

"Sarandonga," by the Buena Vista Social Club

"Green Light," by John Legend feat. Andre 3000 - you've gotta listen to 3000's rap at 2:53. Too good.

"Human After All," by Daft Punk - their music is what got me through the cleaning day. Always makes me wanna dance.

"Fruta Fresca," by Carlos Vives - sometimes, I wish I were latino.

I'm SO obsessed with this audio embedding thing. Hope you enjoyed the music.

August 26, 2008

Zen Habits

I occasionally write posts where I throw in a big block quote from another blog or article and write a few lines of commentary, but I've been skimming this blog recently (skimming because I have to actually work at lab. Otherwise would be reading intensely of course) called "Zen Habits." It's not some spiritual thing, but it has so many great bits about how to lead a more joyful life, and it's totally relatable for everyone, so definitely check this out @

A little description by the person that runs Zen Habits:

My name is Leo Babauta, I’m married with six kids, I live on Guam, I’m a writer and a runner and a vegetarian and I love writing Zen Habits.

Zen Habits is one of the top blogs on the Internet, and covers: achieving goals, productivity, being organized, GTD, motivation, eliminating debt, saving, getting a flat stomach, eating healthy, simplifying, living frugal, parenting, happiness, and successfully implementing good habits.


If you slightly enjoy any of the things I write about, definitely check this out.

btw - I don't know Leo Babauta, and he is in no way related to me. He needs little to no help increasing the popularity of his site, but I think you all should definitely consider enriching your lives with its content :)

Much love,

August 23, 2008

Are you kidding me?

Not only do they not feed cattle corn (which sucks), but not they're moving to potato chips and M&Ms. You are what you eat: junk.

The One Way Nature of Blogging

Found this online while browsing some blogs -- why we should all be blogging:

There's a woman who reads this blog regularly who I went to high school with 30 years ago. We were two of the "smart kids" in our grade. We took the same classes and had a pretty similar experience in high school (it sucked). Both of us went on to really great schools, blossomed, and have gone on to leave fulfilling adult lives.

She emailed me yesterday about a small problem she had with my Donors Choose Bloggers Challenge (reminder, I still need some help getting to $25k). We traded a few emails and in one of them she said:

That's one of the great things (or maybe not) about blogging. I haven't
seen you in almost 30 years, but I am fairly up to date on your business
and family etc... Of course, you know nothing about mine so it's pretty
one sided.

It's true. She knows a ton about what I've been up to and I don't anything about what she's been up to. I asked her if she blogged. She doesn't and then sent me a two paragraph email update which I read with interest. Her point was she's got nothing to blog about. That's for her to decide, but I am not so sure.

I read blogs all the time from people who leavehave lives that many would say are not worthy of blogging about. They are some of the best blogs I read. It's not so much about what you do, it's about what you think and how you share those thoughts with everyone else.

But until everyone has a blog, this medium is still going to be pretty one way (me talking to you). That's why I love comments so much. I want every commenter in the entire blog world to have a single page where all of their comments are captured. Then they'll all have a blog that I can subscribe to. And it won't be one way any more.

- Quoted from

Consider it. Check out,, or Maybe there are more hosts. These are three of the biggest though. Let me know if/when you start one. I'd love to read it.

August 20, 2008

Testing. Testing. 1, 2, 3.

"Everyone Nose (Remix)," by N.E.R.D. featuring CRS

"I Have a Dream," by Common featuring and Martin Luther King, Jr. (who knew he was a hip-hop superstar?)

This is really just a test to see if this audio embedding thing works. If it does, you'll be seeing plenty more songs on this thing.


Much love,

August 18, 2008

Now Featuring: A Difference Maker

I love it when people take initiative to do something great. This post is all about someone who's doing just that, and I'm gonna request your help in making it even greater.

Her name is Taara, a fellow senior at Paul Schreiber High School in Port Washington, and she was there to celebrate my birthday last Saturday, and she came back the next day to give me a gift that was unnecessary, but appreciated nonetheless. Part of the gift had a pack of greeting cards with cool prints of Ganesh and a phrase written in Hindi, saying "Om Shanti Om." To be honest, I thought this was some pack of cards she had left over from Diwali or something and she was just giving them to me -- that is, until I turned it over and saw a little informational card, saying that the pack of cards helped donate a bit of money to Autism Speaks, one of the most up and coming organizations when it comes to raising autism awareness and money for research to progress the fight against the unfortunate disease.

I find out a bit later that Taara didn't even buy these cards. She made them. I was completely fooled. They were professionally made, wrapped in plastic, and really...good looking. I just didn't think you could make that kinda thing without machines or a factory or whatnot, but it turns out Taara is not only determined and passionate about the cause, but she's AP Art status, so she pulled this off pretty well.

She took her skills to do something special, and that is to raise money for autism awareness while selling a great product at the same time -- excellent, 100% handmade greeting cards (she used a roller to print! I didn't even know people did that anymore!). She's selling a pack of 5 cards with envelopes and a cute little autism charm for $10 where 50% of the cost goes straight to Autism Speaks (and the other 50% to materials. Art materials cost more than you think -- or at least, I thought.)

Not only do I write this to simply call attention to the efforts, but to encourage you to take part by buying a pack or two of greeting cards. It's a small $10 investment, and you're gonna love these cards. Taara's selling them, and if you're interested (shipping is possible), feel free to contact her at or myself -- I grabbed a few to help her out -- at or by commenting.

Make a difference. Take initiative. Taara did.

Much love,