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,

August 11, 2008

"Open y'all fucking minds."

On the sidewalk somewhere near 37th Street and 8th Ave.

Two things:
  1. I know this wasn't actually posted on August 11th, but I'm going to make it so it says it just because I like to feel like I actually did something when I intended on doing it. Sorry if that bothers you.
  2. I added an e-mail subscription option to the blog on the top right under the title, so feel free to sign up. This way, you won't have to check back until you get an email notification. I just found the plug-in for that online somewhere, so I don't know how well it works, but let me know if you do subscribe so I know that it works. Thanks a ton.
  3. Okay I guess this is more than two, but new title was inspired by Common's father's words at the end of "Forever Begins," on the Finding Forever album (which I quoted here). If you didn't catch it before, the old title -- You could be anywhere in the world, but you're here with me, and I appreciate that -- was inspired by Jay-Z's intro to "H to the Izzo." Now you know.
  4. New commenting system up -- using Disqus ( It's a great way to manage your comments on other blogs and comments on your blog all at once. Also good to find and explore new blogs. Just another networking tool you might be interested in.
Now that that's done, I went to the Kanye concert on Tuesday. I don't have many words to describe it other than freaking absurd. It was absolutely stellar, and not that I've been to many concerts before (John Mayer, Blue Man Group, and a few random Indian shows) -- so I have little to compare it to, but even people who are frequent concert goers agree -- the performance on Tuesday night couldn't be matched by any other performer. I took a bunch of vids, but haven't uploaded them on Vimeo yet (works better w/ my comp than YouTube). Here's one that I did of the general population's favorite song:

More of that will come in future posts when I post some of the rest of the vids. Another bit of Kanye that I got from this concert was a little more of his personal insight on things, and there were a few things I thought were extremely worth noting because he did go on one of his rants at the end of the concert, but some of the points he made were very necessary, I think.
First, Kanye pointed out how he doesn't identify with any particular type of music. He doesn't hate on shit, but he doesn't think he represents hip hop. "Lemme tell you a little something about me: I don't do it for nobody else but me, and if you disagree, fine," he says. I think he pointed something out that most artists haven't acknowledged yet, and that is that he is himself FOR himself, not for his fans. As much as that may upset his fans (myself included), it's admirable.
Everyone asks me if I do it for hip-hop. I don't do it for hip-hop because it has too many rules that need to be broken. At what point did hip hop stop getting new. At one point did everybody start hating on everything that was new, and saying, "You know what? That's not true. That's not the real hip-hop." See, all that fake ass shit has GOT TO STOP.
Next, he spoke a bit on all the negative energy in the rap game and in society today.
You don't have to be Lil Wayne in order for people to say your shit is fresh. I like all kinds of shit -- T-Pain, Jeezy...Andre 3000 (huge applause).

I just said that to get some of y'all back. Open y'all fucking minds. Open your minds. Be accepting of different people and let people be who THEY are.

I don't like Ed Hardy. But if you like it, I LOVE it. It's cool with me! Hip hop -- you know how many people callin' me, calling me gay because I wear my jeans the fresh way -- not the played-out-ass-way? Or because I said, "Ay, dude, how are you gonna say 'fag' right in front of a gay dude's face and act like that's okay? That shit is disrespectful, fam. That's my word -- fam -- and it took me time to learn that comin' from Chicago where if you saw somebody that was gay, you were supposed to step 10 feet away. It took me time to break out of the mental prisons that I was in, the stereotypes, or the fear of the backlash that I would get for believin' in what I believe in, for accepting people for who they are if they're talented, if they do something special in the world.

I've flown across the world, and I've come back to tell you, "Open y'all fucking minds" and live a happier life. Don't hate on people so much.
I love it. And as much as people love to hate Kanye for his arrogance, take his word objectively because his bit makes sense. That's his grain of sand, and it hits hard when you actually listen to it and notice all the close-mindedness around you -- maybe even in you. How often do you catch people saying shit like, "That's stupid," "He/she's gay," or things of the like? I do it every so often too, but this is making me be more aware of it. There's no NEED to hate on shit so much, let alone even dislike it. You don't have to like Ed Hardy, but accept it when other people do. (You shoulda heard the way Kanye said that line. It brought the biggest smile to my face. I recorded it -- will post soon enough.)

Now, aside from the concert, I had a bit of a party on Saturday. By a bit, I mean all sorts of people arrived. I would say my friend circle is pretty sizable because it spans a wide spectrum of individuals -- from the "Asians" that take anywhere from 4 to 31231 AP courses a year to the "white crowd" that "does nothing but party" (note the quotes, as these are all stereotypes) to the out of school kids who hang out for a good time, putting all the high school stereotypes aside. What happened on Saturday is that all these groups partied together, putting aside (to an extent) the barriers that prevented them from having a good time together otherwise.
The best.
Club Shah, as Poorvi would say

I think that's really what needs to happen more often, specifically during the next year -- our last in high school. Even if we all like different things, even if some of us like to party while drinking while some of us don't, we can still all connect on some level or another, and I think finding that level is something special. As much as this sounds like a "Why can't we all just get along?" rant, I mean it in the most sincere way possible. The reason I thought Saturday night was so extraordinary wasn't just because it was a lot of fun, but because everyone had a blast together, which you don't find too often.

Friday night's dinner @ Pure Food & Wine. I met all but two of these great people that night, and we all had a great time connecting. This is exactly what I mean about getting to meet new and different people.

This really ties in with the Olympics, which conveniently enough is aligned with my thoughts. I watched the Opening Ceremonies last night (DVRed it), and it was freaking stellar the way people all over the world could get together in one stadium to appreciate the next two weeks of world unity. Be it by sports rather than politics, all that really matters is the fact that they're all together. I've never really taken note of the Olympics before, but all the hype about them this year really got me interested. When you see all the countries walk out into the stadium with their respective's just something you don't see often enough.

So basically, what I'm asking you to do is meet someone that's part of a different "crew." Step out of these invisible boundaries most people form around themselves and don't just look at someone as part of a crew and identify themselves with that group, but rather, meet them, connect, and you'll find that the great divide between cliques is totally unnecessary.

Just as an aside: I just wanted to thank everyone who could come out on Saturday and anyone that wished me a happy birthday. Though birthdays don't mean much to be other than a reason to throw a party, you guys really did make it one of the best ever. It really could not have been better, and I don't think I could've asked for more. You all rock at what you do, so keep on doing it.

Poorvi's amazing, completely unexpected (until Mom spilled the beans and told me) and gourmet-style raw chocolate cake. Even my brother liked it, which says something. Love you, tutti.Also, I love Rohan and Vivek (and Amar, but he left earlier in the day so there are no pics of him with us here), who are both all star golfers after one day of training while I still fail. I really can't imagine myself without these guys:

August 8, 2008

Olympic Opening Ceremonies

There's really just nothing like it.
Pictures from "The Big Picture," by Alan Taylor.

August 5, 2008

I'm not right, but I don't think I'm wrong.

Something I’ve gotten a bit throughout the last few months is my seeming to thing that I’m always correct or that I preach what I think to be the ideal to aspire to. Let me be honest – the arrogant, adamant part of me wants to say that I’m always right, but the logical, more thoughtful part of me knows that there’s no right when it comes to ideas. My thoughts and ideas originate from my own thinking in addition to bits and pieces that I extract from the people I meet and things that I read.

I might not be right, or I might, but what is certain is that what I write about is what has worked for me or what I’m currently trying and am in the process of critiquing. I typically only write about the good things/things that work here. Because of that, it seems like I never try things that suck or experience shit situations, but I do. I typically don’t talk about them though. I did at one point, but I looked back at it and realized how unpleasant it was and it just wasn’t too good to look back at and read. I remember my negative situations for the sole purpose of learning from them, and I will talk about the lessons I learn here and in person, but unless completely relevant, I don’t mention the crap situations that led to the lessons, not that they are secret, but I find them unnecessary to discuss (note that not all lessons I learn come from crap situations).

About my opinions though – I don’t intend on telling you that what you’re doing is wrong and that what I’m doing is right, but only that what I’m doing has increased my internal and external peace. In that way, I’m almost a road sign pointing to a route that I’ve taken and enjoyed. Feel free to follow. Some choose not to, and that’s fine, but there’s no need to vandalized with your criticisms (that is, unless they are constructive.) If you dislike me for any particular reason, let me know, but I don’t think the blog is a particularly effective outlet for expressing your negativity because it doesn’t really lead anywhere. If you do think so, however, do what you please. In the spirit of being as transparent as possible, I choose not to delete any comments or posts.

Aside from that – my brother’s birthday was this past weekend. It was a blast, but I didn’t get into the club, which was a bummer. I’ve never had a problem getting in anywhere with my brother, but the one time I actually felt a need to be there, I didn’t. Although it was a failure, the night was still enjoyable. Went to another party then got calls to take care of a few people, so I spent the rest of the night w/ Abhishek making sure people got home safely. The end of the night was a bit of a fiasco, but in its entirety, the night was definitely enjoyable nonetheless. We spent practically the rest of the weekend in the city, coming home after brunch and spending time at home w/ mom for a short bit, then went to a family get together (I don’t think there’s a single weekend this summer I haven’t spent at least a day with extended family), only to go back to the city that night and hang with the siblings, Jinesh, Akhil and Ricky. On Sunday, I made ice cream and hung out with Vivek and his family at Anita’s house (she has a pear tree and a peach tree and failed to ever mention it. I was flipping out in joy).

I’m writing this on the way to the Glow in the Dark concert w/ Kanye, Lupe and N.E.R.D.. I’m probably going to post again later tonight when I get a chance to to update on the concert and all of its amazingness. I cannot freaking wait. This is going to be great. For now, however, I’m going to get to reading A New Earth and trying to not think about the concert until I get to the city. That’s gonna be damn hard.

Much love,

Common's Father on Being

Be. Be here. Be there. Be that. Be this.
Be grateful for life. Be grateful to life.
Be gleeful everyday for being the best swimmer among 500,000
Be-nign. Be you. Be mom's mean pie. Be little black Sambo with bad hair.
Be aware of what a lynch is. Be. Be boundless energy
Be a four star ghetto general.

Be no one except I.

Be food for thought to the growing mind. Be the author of your own horoscope.
Be invited. Be long-living. Be forgiving. Be not forgetful.
Be a proud run, only to return to fight another day.
Be peaceful if possible, but justice in ways (?).
Be high when you low. Be on time but know when to go.
Be cautious of the road to college, taking a detour through Vietnam or the Middle East.
Be able to find Afro-American man; search thoroughly it may be close to the black man
Be amended 5/5ths. Be amended 5/5ths human.
Be the owner of more land than is set aside for wild life.
Be cupid to world government.
Be found among the truth, lost tribe.
Be at full strength when walking through the valley.
Be a brilliant soul, sparkling in the galaxy while walking on Earth.
Be loved by God as much as God loved Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
Be that last one of 144,000. Be the resident of that twelfth house.
Be eternal.
- "It's Your World / Pop's Reprise," by Common

Related Links:

      August 1, 2008

      Apparently, August 1st is kind of a big deal.

      Just wanted to wish two really great boys (don't want to call them men just yet) an even better birthday. Each of them have affected me in great ways, whether directly or indirectly. Enjoy this one, Tinu and Dhrumil. You're both great guys who couldn't possibly get as great a birthday as you deserve, but hopefully it'll be as close as possible. Enjoy, brothers.

      Much love,

      P.S. I was just watching Batman Begins, and just as in Iron Man, the superhero drinks green juice. Coincidence? I think not. Drink up, people.