Category Archives: Issues/Causes

Missing: Nancy Salas

Glendale Police are looking for missing UCLA student, Nancy Salas. I don’t think I knew her personally, but apparently, I’ve been in school clubs wit her when I was at UCLA. I pray for her safe return and for God to strengthen her family during this time.

Anyone with information can call the Glendale Police Department at 818-548-4911

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Filed under College, Issues/Causes, Life

Affecting Communities with 58-12 Design Lab

One of the best things about my college experience was it jump-started my passion in helping others. I found that my apathy quickly dissipated when I got out of my comfort bubble. I learned about Alzheimer’s disease and how it affected not just the individual, but the entire family. I learned about the homeless sleeping on the benches of Santa Monica’s 3rd Street Promenade and on the floor of Los Angeles’s infamous Skid Row. I learned about human and sex trafficking that not only occurs around the world, but even in my neck of the woods. But it’s not enough to know something–something must be done.

College exposed me to a variety of ways I can help my community or make some impact in the world. When Hurricane Katrina hit or even as most recent as the earthquake in Haiti, college students across the country volunteered their time, even sacrificing their Spring Break to help those in need. You see, college supposedly trains you in life to be upstanding citizens. But it is utilizing what you learn in the classroom into the real world that shows

Most people after they graduate get a job or go for more school. Some even get married. There’s noting wrong with which path you choose. But that’s usually when the spirit of apathy comes stumbling back, telling you that what you’re doing doesn’t matter. Sure, you can’t save everyone, but you can definitely save one person at a time. Well, for Jonathan Crisman, Melanie Young, and Thomas Yung, the passion for helping others never left. Together they formed the 58-12 Design Lab, dedicated in integrating design that would affect communities in positive ways. But they first need your help. It takes less than 2 minutes. Vote for their project on Pepsi’s Refresh Project .

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The Art of Seduction Is A Piece of Cake

You know, you can learn a lot about life from watching a Season 8 episode of  NBC’s “The Biggest Loser.” You’re rolling your eyes saying, “Thank you Captain Obvious. The moral of the show is that we have an obesity problem in America.” And I would respond kindly, “Yep, there’s that, but that’s just the fat of it. Forgive the pun. You need to go deeper to get to the meat of the problem.”

Temptation. The word basically means the quality of seduction. I find the Temptation Challenges on “The Biggest Loser” quite entertaining and down-right educating. The first Temptation Challenge changes the weight loss competition into a all-out strategy game. The contestants stood behind silver platters. When they open the platters, a single cupcake is revealed containing 100 calories. Whoever eats the most cupcakes gets to manipulate which team would fall below the yellow line at final weigh in. However, the team who wins the challenge still has to work hard to not fall bellow the yellow line, or it would be a waste of strategy. Oh, and whoever wins the challenge would not receive any help from trainers to lose weight. To put it simply, to eat the cupcake, or not eat the cupcake? That is the question. Only two gave in to the temptation as piles of cupcake are added to each contestant’s silver platter- Antoine from the red team ate one cupcake, while Tracey ate four. She “wins” the temptation.

When I saw this, I had to laugh. This is ridiculous? Tempting people with cupcakes? That’s so easy to resist. But it isn’t. I forgot the context of the situation, and who is being tempted. For someone who enjoys food and eats cupcakes like breathing air, this was quite a challenge. Addiction is challenging. I remembered my own addiction to Starbucks frappes and how I tried so hard to give it up for 40 days, only to fail on the 20th day. When the temptation was presented to me, the smell of a Chai frappe floating through the air, floating towards me–I remembered the fun times I had sipping on my Starbucks frappes. And my body remembered too, craving it. That’s what temptation is, right? Seduction. Reminds you of what you’re missing out on, what you can’t have, what you had, and essentially, what you could have for the taking. It’s right there in front of you, welcoming you, calling out your name. It messes with your mind. Temptation is easy; withstanding it is the hard part.

Lately, I’ve been craving cupcakes, but not just any cupcake. RED VELVET CUPCAKES! My mouth is watering just typing the words down. I can taste it now, the vanilla cream cheese with a dash of red sprinkles touching my taste buds. And I’m not the only one. Everyone and their mother have been wanting cupcakes, whether it be red velvet cupcakes, I do not know.  In this down economy, the cupcake industry has been steadily growing between 2006 and 2008 and still growing now. Gee, that’s about time the economy started going down. But why the increase when the economy isn’t tasting good? Apparently, cupcakes are nostalgic foods and comfort foods. Cupcakes bring people back to when life was much simpler and better (nostalgia) and when they eat the cupcake, it makes them feel a whole lot better about themselves and their situation (comfort). It’s as if all the stresses of the world disappear while you’re eating a cupcake.

Living in Los Angeles, I love Sprinkles Cupcakes (located in Beverly Hills). They sell about 5,000 cupcakes a day. And though the cupcakes may be a bit pricey (hey, they got to pay the Beverly Hills rent somehow), their cupcakes are worth it! Not only are they delicious, but you can also customize it if you want–find a cupcake that matches your nostalgia and comfort.

So with that, I send you off with a Sprinkles Strawberry Cupcake recipe located via Martha Stewart, the Queen of Conventional Cooking and Arts and Crafts. And send a cupcake or two my way. I’m great at testing food.
What’s your favorite cupcake? What’s your favorite cupcake bakery?

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Filed under Entertainment, Food, Issues/Causes, Life, Movies/TV

Too Fat to Fly? Then Lose The Fat And You’ll Soar.

I LOVE to eat as much as the next guy. I am always munching on something. I am a huge fan of tofu and because it’s such a versatile substance–I love eating it in various ways: Mapo style, fried, soup. I also enjoy my steak medium rare. Meat. I LOVE meat. Don’t get me started on Korean BBQ. And dessert? There’s an extra “s” in the word for a reason–dessert is extra scrumptious! But at some point, I have to wonder: am I eating to live or am I living to eat? I’m very fortunate–it’s not like I’m living in parts of Africa where McDonald’s is seen as a luxury. I have choices–I just don’t always make the right ones.

Don’t let the Winter Olympics and the image of healthy American athletes fool you America–you are getting  FAT!  Or maybe I need to be politically correct and more sensitive–you are getting obese–morbidly obese. According to the American Medical Association (AMA):

The researchers found that in 2007-2008, the prevalence of obesity was 33.8 percent overall. Among men, prevalence was 32.2 percent overall and within racial and ethnic groups ranged from 31.9 percent among non-Hispanic white men to 37.3 percent among non-Hispanic black men. For women, the prevalence was 35.5 percent overall, and ranged from 33.0 percent among non-Hispanic white women to 49.6 percent among non-Hispanic black women. The prevalence of overweight and obesity combined was 68.0 percent overall, 72.3 percent among men, and 64.1 percent among women.

Wake up and smell the Starbucks coffee. Okay, don’t because even too much of that can be bad for you. But you really need to get out of your seats and do something active. Currently, obesity is in the media once again as a result of “Clerks” and “Jay and Silent Bob” director Kevin Smith. He was kicked off a Southwest airplane for pretty much being fat. Now, as much as I don’t agree with how Southwest treated Smith, I do hope it’s a wake up call for Smith.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not hating on fat people. I think I’m fat myself. I’m fighting my own weight-loss battles, and so far I’m winning slowly. Very slowly. But I’m on the way if I can keep up all this activity I do. I just hate it when we fat people make excuses. We are the first to blame genetics–you know, the classic case in Psychology: nature versus nurture. It’s in my nature to be fat. After all, we can’t all have Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt as our mom and dad. And children who have obese parents are more likely to be obese themselves because it’s in their genetic make-up. But we can’t just excuse ourselves because of genetics. There’s also your environment. Your lifestyle choices also play a role. Whether you choose to head to the gym and undergo intense workouts or to pick up that red velvet vanilla frosted cupcake or to go out running a mile or two or to stay at home at watch 6 hours of TV–those choices are yours and yours alone. Unless you have some major health problem that doesn’t allow you mobility, you have no one to blame but yourself–the choices you made.

Writer William Saletan in his 2008 article, “Fat Chance:Obesity, genetics, and responsibility.” :

How do we know the modern environment is a factor? Because the obesity rate has soared in less than a generation. As the authors point out, “The dramatic rise in childhood obesity in the past 15 years is clearly due to changes in the environment, because genes have not altered.” But this implies a paradox: “Obesity is both predominantly environmental … and predominantly genetic.”

How can this be? Because genetic and environmental influences are measured differently. What’s genetic is the weight variation within a population, such as the kids in your neighborhood. What’s environmental is the weight variation between populations: kids in your neighborhood today, compared with kids in your neighborhood 15 years ago.

So that’s it then. My fatness is partly due to my genetics, but it’s mainly on me. If I want ripped abs like Taylor Lautner or a mighty chest like Gerard Butler (who reportedly gained a few pounds last year, but is back in shape in recent photos). I can’t just wish it into existence. I have to act on it. It starts with me and the choices I make. The English poet, William Ernest Henley said it best: “I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” And so goes my obese identity revealed–I need to drop that donut and go on that mile run now. Oooh…donut. No…bad donut. Run fool, run.

And while I run, I’m going to be thinking a lot about this fat war:

1. Regarding airplane seating: should obese people pay extra if they take up an extra seat or is that discrimination?

2. Why aren’t we making good choices in our eating habits? Is it because healthy food just isn’t affordable?

3. Do we make up lots of excuses so we can stay comfortable being fat?

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Filed under Entertainment, Issues/Causes

The Prostidude Identity

I heard a jingle on TV today of a famous song from “Annie Get Your Gun” that goes like this: Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you. It’s a fun song that entices competition of the genders. Yes, well when you apply it to one of the world’s oldest professions (and I’m not talking about farming), it can be a little strange. Forgive me, but to describe this profession, I have to use a little Menglish, which writer Griffin Longley describes as “a language used of, by, to, and about men.”

So here it goes:

Prostidude (n): a male prostitute; gigolo (Urban Dictionary)

I bet you didn’t know they exist, but they do. Or, maybe you knew because like me, you’re quite aware of the most famous one of all: Deuce Bigalow, male gigolo.  We’re all about equality, right? So why can’t a guy be a male prostitute? I can see it now, men lined up putting their fists in the air, fighting for equal rights in a woman’s world. And as the world economy goes down the drain, maybe prostitution is the way to go. According to Barbara Ross and Larry McShane of the New York Daily News, despite an economic meltdown, the prostitution business is still up and running and hasn’t really experienced the effects.

So enter 25-year-old “Markus,” America’s (and more specifically, the state of Nevada’s) first legal male prostitute who puts the “bro” in “brothel.” The Shady Lady Ranch hired him after successfully obtaining state and county approval, and since then, the controversy has given him his fifteen minutes of fame and a spot in Nevada history. Markus is not without critics, and perhaps the most ironic come from female prostitutes.

Markus is an ex-marine who did a short stint as a porn actor in Los Angeles, but dropped out because he thought porn degraded women. Great, a prostitute with a conscience. He was homeless and was living on the streets of Santa Monica before he made the move to Nevada. Oh, and he “sees himself as [a] sexual pioneer and likens his role to that of civil rights icon Rosa Parks” (Daily Mail UK). At least he’s active in other things, right?

I applaud New York Post reporter Mandy Stadtmiller who got the exclusive and had to go through great lengths (you’ll understand what I mean) to go where no reporter has gone before. And her article is insightful, especially of Markus’s “mommy issues.” It’s quite entertaining and informative, but if that’s not enough, check out the MSNBC article.

Here I am, tapping my feet to that famous Broadway song again. Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you. Well Markus, sorry bro, but this is a competition you’re probably going to lose.

What do you think? Do you wish him luck?

**Note: I am NOT a supporter of prostitution, male or female. I believe it degrades women (and I guess now, men too) and robs them of their self-worth and their dignity. It saddens me that prostitution still exists after thousands of years in civilizations around the world. As a researcher of modern masculinity, I thought this “prostidude” was an interesting look at how masculinity has changed and perceived today.

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Aborting Tim Tebow’s Superbowl Ad?

“Tim Tebow is a Greek god,” my friend Sandra* said. “Yes–tall, dark, handsome, and a whole lot of man. Wish guys at my school looked like him. I’m definitely going to be paying attention to Florida football from now on.”

“What are you talking about? It’s college basketball season now.” I asked surprisingly. “Besides, I thought you have a crush on Mark Sanchez. He was a Trojan you know, and…” As I turned around, I realized what brought on this random conversation. There was Sandra, going through my collection of books and magazines. In her hands was my September 2009 issue of GQ magazine where Tebow was interviewed and featured.

“Yah, Tebow is bow wow.” Sandra winked. “I’d go to church if I get to see that every Sunday. Are all you Christians this hot?” Then she takes the magazine and points to a close up picture of Tebow wearing John 3:16 eye-black markings.

“Yes,” I answered sarcastically. “Very hot. I mean look at me. Better get those books and magazines away. They catch fire when I’m around.”

Sandra picks up a book, throws it at me, and starts laughing. “You wish.”

Yah, I wish. Sigh. How can a five-foot-seven, 195 pound guy like me supposed to compete with a six-foot-three, 235 pound athletic phenomenon? I know where to pick my fights. Tebow is numero uno, so why try harder? He was the first underclassman (a sophomore at the time) to win the prestigious Heisman Trophy back in 2007. The truth is, I do admire the guy, despite being a Bruin. I kind of have to, at least according to the hilarious Jon Acuff. I commend Tebow for being outspoken about his faith, without getting too preachy or Pat Roberson-ish and not minding all the ridicule or criticisms associated with being a Christian in the public eye. Here’s a guy who genuinely loves Jesus Christ, and can’t help but share that fact with the world. I mean, isn’t that what we all particularly do when we are in love with someone? We want the world to know it. That’s why songs about love are the most common types of songs. And for those who see football as a religion–well, he plays football darn well too. You don’t have to be a Christian to like him–he’s easily likable.

He’s easily likable for many female fans for obvious reasons, but for some women’s groups, that’s another story. And that story first started twenty-two years ago with Tim Tebow’s parents, Bob and Pam. In 1985, the Tebow family moved to the Philippines for a Christian missionary outreach. Unfortunately while pregnant, Pam Tebow drank contaminated drinking wanter and contracted amoebic dysentery. The doctors advised her to get an abortion because the medications that would help her recover could have extreme irreversible effects on the child she was carrying. Pam Tebow chose to keep the baby, and on August 14, 1987, the Tebows welcomed a healthy baby boy. That boy would grow up to be the Heisman Trophy-winning American football quarterback for the Florida Gators, the guy that girls like Sandra dream about, and that guy I can never measure up to.

And now, that boy grew up to star in a controversial Superbowl advertisement coming to a TV near you. Working with Focus on the Family (FOTF), the Tebows finished a commercial highlighting Pam Tebow’s predicament in the Philippines. FOTF spent about $2.8 million on the ad. The Tebows just want to tell their story, but women’s groups believe it’s an anti-abortion ad and urged CBS to pull the ad. Although I can sympathize and understand the women’s groups, I think even if you were pro-choice, you should respect Pam Tebow because she made a choice–she chose life. And to be pro choice means to respect choices that might not agree with your own.

“I know some people won’t agree with it, but I think they can at least respect that I stand up for what I believe … I’ve always been very convicted of it because that’s the reason I’m here, because my mom was a very courageous woman. So any way that I could help, I would do it.” – Tim Tebow

Controversial Superbowl ads are nothing new to Superbowl Sunday. The most controversial ads tend to be the most sex-infused because the Superbowl tends to be a family event. Why aren’t women’s groups making noise about how women are being portrayed in these ads? Well, at least they made some noise over a certain wardrobe malfunction. Should Tebow’s ad have a place with all the other Superbowl ads?

I don’t care. If people are willing to shell out millions of dollars and are abiding to FCC regulations, then shouldn’t they be given a chance to show their ad? Isn’t that the American thing to do?

Tim Tebow knows some people won’t agree with it, and that’s just fine by him. But then again, not many people could say that at one point, their mothers were about to abort them either.

I picked up the book that Sandra threw at placed it on my desk. Then I got my revenge by picking up a dictionary next to me and throwing it at her. Don’t worry–it was a soft cover.

“Ouch,” Sandra said, then started laughing. “See, I’m right. You can never be like Tim Tebow. You throw like a girl.”

*Name change

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The Importance of Being a LOSER

School Hierarchy (n): The social order in which any high school runs from top to bottom.

Flashback to the awkward days of high school. In most high schools around the nation, you know where you belong in the school hierarchy. If you didn’t, you’ll certainly be put in place. It’s a food chain, and when you’re a guy, you can have it just as bad.  If you’re too scrawny you get picked on, and if you’re too fat you get picked on. Like Goldielocks, things have to be “just right.”

In college, those lines get blurred. Why? The infamous Freshman 15–almost everyone seems to be gaining weight. Results from a Cornell study showed an average weight gain of 5 lbs in Cornell freshmen. Despite the results, there’s still an obesity problem and according to Newsweek reporter Johanna Cornblatt, “In an effort to fight obesity, colleges may also trigger disordered eating.”

What exactly causes Freshman 15 or should I say the Freshman 5? I, for one, know all too well. I wasn’t blessed with a high metabolism:

  • Eating unhealthy dorm food and/or over-eating
  • Eating late at night.
  • Having unhealthy snacks in the dorm.
  • Drinking lots of coffee, lattes, etc.
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol.
  • Lack of exercise
  • Less sleep
  • More stress

When I first entered high school, I was at a scrawny 145 lbs. By the end of college, with my weight shifting up and down, I became a fat 205 lbs. Inexcusable! It’s time I reclaimed my life and my health. This New Year resolution is going!

I was a geek back in high school, and in many ways, I still am. I’m not ashamed of it. It what makes me…well…me. After all, Clark Kent had nerdy glasses and look who he turned out to be. And that fat that has accumulated over the years? That needs to go so Superman can come out. So dear friends, the geek in me is shouting: I want to be a LOSER…a loser of weight.

And I hope you’ll accompany me on this 5-month journey of being a loser by keeping me accountable. Encourage me when I need it, and abuse me when I make bad health choices.

I’ll fill you guys in on my BMI and other health info tomorrow as part of a health series. For now, that’s my loser identity revealed.

How about you? What’s your weight-loss strategy? How much have you gained since high school or college? What are you doing about it?

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Filed under College, Issues/Causes