minute thoughts 2.19.18

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Thoughts while compulsively tracking Team USA's medal progress

1. Years ago, one of my friends told me, "Think about all of the pictures you've been in the background of," and I haven't stopped thinking about it since. One time in college I became Facebook friends with a girl only to discover that I was in the background of one of her pictures.

2. As we're still in the midst of winter, I've found that a hot cup of really good tea is like a nice dessert at the end of the night. I've only recently discovered that Trader Joe's carries some really delicious ones, and the reason is that in sixth grade I went to a friend's birthday tea party and fell in love with this one particular blend of tea that they served, the Irish Breakfast Tea, and I just never thought to try any of their other varieties for the next 12 years. But the Earl Grey and Jasmine Green Tea are both excellent, and I highly recommend them. Miniature sandwiches and pastries optional.

3. The first week of the Winter Olympics is coming to a close and I'm 100% completely obsessed. And when I say "Winter Olympics," I really only mean figure skating, because it's the only sport I actively follow (my friend: "So...what you're saying is, you watch sports every four years?"). I've always loved watching it because it's so artistically beautiful but also really technically challenging (did you know that figure skaters land on the ice with a force 7x their body weight?). The sheer physics of it are unreal, and it's wild that your entire competition score rests on your ability to perform a couple of key moves, which take just seconds of the whole routine. It's also particularly nostalgic for me, because my family and I used to watch the Winter Olympics together specifically for the figure skating. This was post-Kristi Yamaguchi, so my earliest memories are of watching Michelle Kwan skate in her Mulan television special, and cheering for Sasha Cohen, who had just stepped into the spotlight at the time. We actually attended the Stars on Ice tour when it came to San Diego, and I remember reading that program backward and forward and watching the Champions on Ice VHS at home. Fast forward ten years, and I am deeply in love with all of Team USA (Nathan Chen and Vincent Zhou are precious, Adam Rippon is a national treasure, and the Shibutanii have given me a newfound appreciation for ice dancing), I've got all the figure skating events marked on my calendar, fallen down a rabbit hole of watching old Olympic routines on YouTube (I can actually understand the technical execution of the jumps now, partly thanks to this Vox piece, but am still not very good at judging them based on this fun little exercise), and may or may not have used the excuse "Sorry, the men's short program is on that night" recently. My laptop charger broke last week, which was very upsetting timing, so I've been staying late at the office just to watch the live stream on NBC, and my friend kindly watched the Pairs' Free Skate program for me and gave me score updates. That's true friendship, guys.

4. Also, Chloe Kim absolutely killed the women's halfpipe and her family's story makes me very emotional.

5. But also friendly reminder that immigrants in the United States should not have to win Olympic gold or invent a cure for cancer or be Madeleine Albright to be validated as human beings worthy of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

6. I watched this video analyzing musical selections for figure skating routines (this blog will pretty much be a figure skating blog for the next week) and why Bizet's Carmen was such a popular choice, and I was honestly a little bit traumatized by the opening notes of the Aragonaise. It's a beautiful, expressive song that I have a very love/hate relationship with, because it features a very prominent oboe solo that starts on high A and moves with a lot of momentum, which is very overwhelming when you hate being the center of attention and it's just you playing over a very light layer of pizzicato and Mr. Edmons is staring at you and telling you to "please quicken your vibrato just a little." I hadn't thought of that in a very long time, but it was a bit of a shock to hear it accompanied by a flood of SDYS memories. To this day, I feel stressed when I hear Les Toréadors.

7. I just had this revelation recently when I was trying to explain dim sum to my friend, but dim sum is essentially the Chinese version of high tea, à la carte. Everything is bite-sized and it's served with generous amounts of piping hot tea. The difference is that high tea is quiet, relaxing, and I'm not so full that I hate myself after.

Edit: I forgot about the one space in which the two almost overlap—Hong Kong. I recently found this great video from Vox on Britain's influence on Hong Kong's culture, and it's fascinating.

8. THE INCREDIBLES 2 IS FINALLY HERE AND I AM SO EXCITED! This is my favorite Pixar movie of all time and I have waited 14 years for this sequel so you can bet your biscuit I'm seeing it on the day it comes out.

9. Probably my favorite daily newsletter is Quartz Obsession, a "daily digression into the most fascinating corners of the global economy." They've covered everything from diamonds to gin to the white supremacist roots of square dancing (yes, really), and it's something I genuinely look forward to reading every afternoon (if I love you and/or respect your intellectual curiosity, I've probably recommended this newsletter several dozen times). One of their recent ones was a deep-dive into the Birkin bag, which was indeed fascinating; I had no idea how coveted these purses were. But a "fun fact" also caught my eye: "Currently single Canadian rapper Drake is stockpiling Birkin bags for "the woman I end up with."" And while it may sound sweet, I think it's worth considering the fact that women who speculate about their future husbands are frequently labeled "crazy" by men. It sounds relatively trivial, but I think it's fair to understand how power dynamics in dating and relationships work (ask me about my opinion of Valentine's Day), and to acknowledge that men only appreciate female initiative up to a certain threshold before they're considered "clingy" or "crazy."

10. I love Medium because sometimes you read really serious think pieces about political infrastructure or social commentary and sometimes you read things like this hilarious piece I found recently called "Actually, imma keep cooking pasta from a box. Thanks."

Edit: I've discovered I also like snowboard cross; it's mesmerizing.

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HAPPENING MEOW