starving for substance

Writing Sample

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on April 28, 2009

So I had to write my last story for creative writing today, and I couldn’t generate anything to write this story on (just a short 5-pager), so I made it semi-autobiographical, and I realized I essentially wrote a blog post so I’ll put it here.  It’s a little raw, given the fact that I wrote it in a couple hours, and I embellished quite a few details and toned down some others given the fact that this is a narrative fiction class.  I’d like to go through and do a more formal edit on this cuz I kinda like it…

My Experience as an Asian Tourist

I grew up Korean.  This doesn’t mean I grew up in Korea, or that I even grew up speaking Korean, it just means that every once in a while, my dad would yell at me and beat me with a stick.  In fact, I’m so white if you were to drop me in the middle of Seoul, there’s a very good chance I would starve to death, given the fact that the only Korean I can speak goes along the lines of “Hello” and “You idiot, you disobeyed again?!”  However, the frequent beatings (or “mehm-mehs” as they are fondly referred to by Korean parents) initiated me into the ranks of millions of other Koreans who underwent their baptism by fire and now live their adult lives with an unusually high pain tolerance and a healthy respect for wooden objects.  For this reason, and for this reason alone, do I call myself Korean.  In fact, besides the fact that I enjoy eating kimchi (cabbage in a red pepper marinade that’s then buried underground for a few months until it ferments), I can’t think of anything else that makes me Korean.  For instance when I attempt to speak the language, it sounds like a whale having a seizure.  Last time I went to Korea they tried to put a helmet on me…

However, this unique upbringing is not without benefits as it has given me special insight into a phenomenon that usually baffles most fully-white Americans.  The Asian tourist.  Usually they are seen in the wild wearing a fanny pack, socks that go up to their calves, and some hat or visor most homeless guys wouldn’t wear unless you gave them a lot of cocaine (and it’d still be a difficult decision).  These might be enough characteristics to successfully identify them, but if there is any doubt, there is a foolproof method.  Since these Asian tourists travel in families, some sort of photo-documentation is always required.  So if you ever spot a clump of Asians standing in front of some tourist sight with a random white guy awkwardly taking a picture of them, there is a good chance you are observing real life Asian Tourists.

Watch closely.  Usually the paternal unit will ask the white guy “Pleejuh take peekchur again,” while attempting to smile.  Most Asian men do not know how to smile, but they think they blend in more with American culture when they do.  Unfortunately, this just makes them stand out even more.  Usually by this point in time, the kids are groaning and attempting to sneak out of the picture while dad will start yelling at them to look happy and the white guy will look completely confused as to what is going on.

I can tell you from experience that being in front of that camera lens is nothing short of agonizing.  In my 18 years of living at home, there are pictures of us lining up in front of the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, Mount Rushmore, the Sears Tower, the Atlantic Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, Niagra Falls, and various places in Los Alamos, New Mexico.  After a while, not only does the routine get tedious, it gets infuriating.  Many times I would pass by a spot I knew my dad would want to take a picture in front of so I’d run and hide so he couldn’t assemble the family and grab a random white dude. Even to this day, I never ask people to take my picture and I hate it whenever I have to take a staged picture with a group in front of a scenic location.  Just too many bad memories of standing in front of a tourist location I never cared about while on a vacation I never wanted to go on.  However, it’s not just enough to dress horribly out of style and take pictures wherever you go.

Another mark of the Asian tourist is the remarkable ability to save money wherever they go.  My mom’s purse would become a hoarding place for the free fruit, pop tarts, and bagels that made up the usual free continental breakfast fare that most budget hotels offer.  In effect, free breakfast became our free lunch.  Thankfully most touristy places didn’t have soup kitchens nearby or I’m almost positive dinner would have been there.  Instead, dinner was usually ramen noodles made in a rice cooker that we brought with us to every location.  I guess it was a privilege to stay in a hotel since I guess the most cost effective way would have been living out of our mini-van (Asian families never own anything stylish, if you haven’t realized this pattern before, commit it to memory).  However, fitting a family of five into a hotel room and making them share a bathroom isn’t exactly living large.  Usually when families go on vacation, the idea is to live better than they do back at home.  I guess something got lost in translation.

Finally, there’s always the eyes.  I’m not talking about the Asian’s eyes, you racist bastard, I’m talking about the eyes of everyone else around said Asians.  To me, everyone was always staring at us, and if I listened hard enough, I could almost hear them muttering under their breath “look at those chinks outside the Korean War Memorial.  Getting their picture taken there while my grandpa risked his life for their miserable country.”  Or something to that extent.  Granted, I never really heard this, but I always felt the eyes of others looking at us as we lived out a stereotype.  This fact was once glaringly obvious when my dad decided an excursion to Mount Rushmore was in order.  To his delight, he found that most of the hotels in the area were completely vacant during one week, so being the deal hound he is, placed a reservation, loaded up the car, and away we went.  I learned quite a few things during that trip.  One, the only thing worse than driving through Iowa is being scalded alive in burning oil, but not by much.  The second thing I learned was never visit Mount Rushmore.  Guess what?  Looking at a picture of Mount Rushmore gives you the exact same experience as going there; you just save a lot of time, gas, and even more money.  The last thing I learned was never visit Mount Rushmore during the Sturgis Biker Rally.  For the uninitiated, Sturgis is a town near Mount Rushmore where once a year, millions of bikers from across the country gather for whatever it is bikers do.  This was one of the most terrifying weeks of my life.  Not only had I just received my learner’s permit and was learning to drive, but there were more white people here than a Ku Klux Klan meeting.  And I don’t know why, but I always associate these types of bikers with racism and bigotry, so please excuse my ignorance.  All I saw were Harley-Davidsons and overweight biker guys with flabby arms and handlebar mustaches.  For the entire time I was there, the only non-white people I saw were my brother, my sister, my mom, and my dad.  Everywhere I went, there was a sea of leather, tattoos, and body fat, and my family was drowning in it.  Once we reached Mount Rushmore though, my dad was all down to business though this is probably one of the few times I saw my dad hesitate when he looked around for someone to take our picture.  He was probably trying to figure out which biker was the least likely to run off with our camera.  Most old-school Koreans are notoriously racist.  The trip actually went off without a hitch, and I can say that most of the bikers were pleasant, something I can’t say about the state of South Dakota.

In my eyes, I was never the Asian tourist, I was the white guy trapped in some Asian’s body.  Yet despite the mix-up, I realized all my resentment and bitterness during these “Asian Tourist” moments came from a complete misunderstanding of who those Asian Tourists were.  It might be difficult to believe, but it’s not about being a public nuisance, getting in the way of pedestrian traffic, and loudly keeping up their Asian yakking.  It’s all about loving their family in the only way they know how.  My parents grew up so poor they were lucky to eat meat once a year.  Now they live in America where road-kill regularly rots on the side of the road.  In Korea, trips across the country with the entire family were impossible because their parents had to work.  My mom lived in conditions so crowded, she joked that sometimes at night you would try to scratch your leg but end up scratching someone else.  So now, in America, having realized the American dream, they’re able to take vacations with their kids, they’re able to buy them food, they’re able to let their kids live the life they never got to live.  And I think when I realize that there are many different cultural ways of expressing love, everything else seems to make sense.  Though my dad hit me more times than a horse in the Kentucky Derby, there’s no man in the world I love and respect more.  I’m a self-confessed mama’s boy, and instead of hiding my Walmart clothes, I now proudly tell anyone who’ll listen how stingy she is.  Because she’s my mom and she’s awesome because of those things.  So how do you spot an Asian tourist?  Look for those clueless Asian families whose kids have an unusually gifted sense of math and science skills, and whose parents are trying to give them the world in the only way they know how.

I love the fact that I can write stuff like this and get an A in the class 🙂


I’m a Loser

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on April 27, 2009

The gist of this article is something I think about on a regular (near daily) basis…

Accounting Has Been Redeemed!

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on April 23, 2009

In case you’ve been wondering how business can be used for the glory of God, wonder no longer.  Work out your salvation with fear and trembling…or at least find a way to explain it on a balance sheet.

Robin: i have a HUGE test tomorrow

sorry, i gotta study
i’m so stressed
debit stress
credit life
me: what class is it for?
1:31 AM Robin: accy 510
me: o sick
have fun
good luck
1:32 AM Robin: i’m so stressed, i’m starting to see flying T-accounts
Debit Jesus
Credit Sin
Debit Praise for God
me: hahahahaha
1:33 AM we could totally make a christianity as a blance sheet
Robin: no, i tried before
u can’t
cuz accounting assumes that there are fair values in transactions
but transaction between us and God isn’t fair
for example:
1:34 AM Debit Jesus $infinitiy
Credit Sin $limited
???? $ Balance account
me: Jesus doesn’t balance!!!!
Robin: exactly
me: even better!
Robin: hallelujah
God is good
me: wow
Robin: we’re blessed thru accounting
me: accy finally was blessing
Robin: w00t
1:35 AM me: it only took 3 years
1:36 AM Robin: debit ur mom
credit pleasure
i just thought of something
that’s only in our books
in God’s books
1:37 AM Debit us $infinity
credit Jesus $infinity
in God’s eyes, we’re of infinite value
because of love
1:38 AM me: justification!!
Robin: :OOOO
justification’s T account
1:40 AM me: what other doctrines benefit from accounting treatment?
our “Christ likeness” account value keeps being adjusted?
1:41 AM maybe we could turn it into an amortization table
1:43 AM Robin: oooh, u couldn’t amortize it since our sinful nature constantly increases
me: crap good call
Robin: so u’d have to constantly update some kind of “spiritual nature” account
1:44 AM debit spiritual nature $xx
credit …once more, it’s not a fair balance
1:45 AM u could argue works $xx-z, but z’s still not balance-able
me: yeah, i’m starting to see that
so if you’re doing really well spiritually, what will balance out your sin nature’s side?
Robin: sin itself, i guess
1:46 AM sinful nature $100
sin $85
fighting $15?
fightin $15
Spiritual nature $15
me: hahahaha
1:47 AM this is quite possibly the nerdiest conversation i’ve ever had
1:48 AM Robin: debit nerdiness
credit ….umm…dignity?
1:49 AM me: naw, credit holiness instead
makes us look better
Robin: ahahaha
we’ll use that as a replacement entry
me: or just disclose it in the footnotes
Robin: LOL
me: or for the sake of conservatism, credit dignity
1:50 AM can’t forget about gaap
Robin: u could fair value dignity by using mine
my dignity’s worth less than urs
me: hahahaha
1:51 AM wow
Robin: pwn3d
1:52 AM FASB 157’d
1:53 AM me: what’s fasb 157 about?
Robin: fair value
and its definition
me: ooooo
1:54 AM i’m actually looking up the pronouncement…
Robin: omg
u loser
me: are we really considered market participants?
Robin: hahaha
1:55 AM omg
i can’t stop laughing
me: cuz we really don’t have an established market value for our dignity
Robin: hmmmm
me: so any valuation we apply would just be arbitrary
Robin: nono
just consider it
level 3
me: this is still the most ridiculous conversation i’ve ever had
psh…i’m going to call mine goodwill
because i created it
1:56 AM built it up from scratch i did
Robin: oooooh
but someone has to buy it
me: or is goodwill under assets in this case?
Robin: before u can debit goodwill
me: o crap that’s right
man i’ve forgotten a lot
1:57 AM man we should be jerks in systematics
next time someone says “Jesus took credit for our sins”
ask what account that was in
and whose perspective its from
Robin: actually, that’d technically be wrong
Jesus debited our sins
1:58 AM me: exactly! but you’d never hear it from the pulpit
Robin: omg
this is amazing
debit amazingness
me: we just uncovered heresy!
we should write this in for servants q&a
1:59 AM “Jesus technically debited our sins, so please stop this heresy”
Robin: debit amazingness
me: you’re right though, because imputation would mean we get it
so it’d be debited
Robin: yup
also, in Jesus’ books
he’d debit sins
and credit life
2:00 AM me: ahhhh good point as well
evangelism is going to take a twist
2:01 AM “are you willing to let Jesus unbalance your sin account?”
Robin: ooooh
and debit life to u
me: hahahaha
2:02 AM Robin: For God so loved the world, he credited His only Son, that whoever may believe would never debit death but debit eternal life
me: hahahahahahaha
it’d be in GASB 3:16
2:03 AM God’s Accounting Standards Book
Robin: LOL
that’s the Book of Life
in Revelations
2:04 AM me: dang touche!
2:05 AM well either way, i deem that statement according to GAAP
God’s Accepted Accounting Procedures
Robin: LOL
me: or is it practices?
2:06 AM Robin: Principles?
me: oooo i think that’s right
510 is teaching you well
…or i forgot everything from 201
Robin: lolies
You’re welcome 🙂

I Found These Hilarious

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on April 21, 2009

They need one for Wuthering Heights.


Hopeless Ambition

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on April 18, 2009

I’m the most cynical optimist you will probably ever encounter.  That statement should be proof enough.

When it comes to productivity, I’ve realized how important a regular schedule is.  Right now, my schedule is anything but.  It’s incredibly difficult to meet people for meals, it’s difficult to squeeze in exercise, it’s difficult to squeeze in studying.  It’s not that the classes I’m taking are particularly difficult, they’re just time consuming.

On a side note, at large group I was really convicted to just go to my CPA review regardless of the fact that by the time I take that test, a lot of what I learned will either be irrelevant or forgotten.  Or both.  Suffering produces endurance; endurance, character; and I’d really like some character.

But yeah, with random work shifts and random classes scattered throughout the day, it’s hard to find a rhythmn.  This entire semester, I’ve felt like I’ve been on my toes the entire time, never really feeling settled.  That’s why I’m excited for this summer.  A chance to catch up on my new years resolutions, re-evaluate life, etc etc.

The theme of this summer is discipline.  I really need to learn how to conquer myself and my selfishness.

There’s three things I really want to do this summer.

1) Lots of time in the Word and prayer:  It’s funny because I started the semester spending every moment between classes at Wesley, and now I never go towards that part of campus.  But if I can seek God earnestly with the right heart, I think I can call things a great summer.

2) Get in shape: I have a workout routine going through my head that I plan on implementing.  I think I can get in 2-3 hours of exercise a week, M-F.  As for my health, I’m pretty sure I know more about working out than your average person, not to brag (I think a lot of it comes from not knowing too much, ironically).  So I should stay safe, just really sore.

3)  Be a better student: This includes going to my class every day, there’s also four books I’ll try and work my way through.  First, I’ll try and read through the Bible, I’m also going to try and diligently work through a book on mental math, speed reading, and memory.

An elementary principle of economics is that of specialization.  It’s impossible to be good at everything, so you can only be good at some things.  Much of this stems from the fact that time is a limited resource.  So I will not have a job this summer.  I have things up my sleeve I might try, but yeah.  Time is a limited resource and I’m tired of a job muddling my focus.

I can’t express enough how excited I am.  OIL South to kick things off, and then 3 days of class a week, all starting and ending at the same time.

I think looking at these things, it’s going to be very easy to be focused on myself through this.  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with bettering ourselves, but there needs to be a greater purpose than just being better for the sake of being better.  The hard part is going to be cutting things off if I can’t redeem them.

So the theme is discipline, the verse is Matthew 6:33.


Business and Bernie Madoff

Posted in Uncategorized by starvingsteve on April 6, 2009

I really like business.  The more I think about it, there’s nothing else I’d rather be involved in.  Just as an example, when I walk to and from class, I think about niche markets, how to reach them, and the best products for them.  It’s just something I enjoy thinking about.  The challenge and the creativity really intrigues me.

Just setting that as a groundwork.

I’m watching a documentary on the History Channel about Bernard Madoff.  It’s sickening.  Not so much what he did, but people whose lives are devastated by the amount of money they lost.  It really makes my stomach turn.  As for Bernie Madoff, what good is it for the man who gains the whole world but loses his soul?  But for the people that lost their money…their reactions make me want to vomit.  I’m not just saying that, it’s disgusting to watch.  Yet it’s so heartbreaking at the same time.  They’ve spent their lives living for something that in the end failed them.  That crumbled in front of their eyes.  You know where I’m going with this, so take it from here.

Where is your treasure?  What are you living for?

It’s a tough pill to swallow as I look at that dreamy optimism of the first paragraph and look at the harsh reality of the last one.  No one is above corruption.