Rain, Plants, and Everything Else


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Foreword

First of all, thank you for subscribing to FORWARD.

In this social-first, auto-playing video, trending topic world, FORWARD is aimed to be the opposite of all of that noise. Not quite a blog, not quite a newsletter, my hope for FORWARD is to provide a monthly dose of inspirational features for you to check out when you have time instead of offering something that will fight for your time.

In this issue, you’ll find an update on the California drought, how to keep plants alive, why it’s important to speak up, and more! This is the first issue so please be patient as things may evolve over time as the newsletter forms its own identity. But in the mean time, please take a look at FORWARD, and join me in this brand new journey.

Oh! And if you like the newsletter, please share by forwarding (hehe) the newsletter to your friends and family.

Let the rain fall down

Before and After the Rain

After weeks of heavy rain, it seems to finally help California alleviate its record-setting drought. KQED did a nifty feature where you can compare the massive difference between 2014 and 2017 side-by-side. You can check out the feature here.

Not so Tender Greens

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Despite my best intention, I have yet to keep a single Rosemary plant alive around the apartment. My black thumb has become somewhat of a joke as Ian keeps buying me Rosemary plants to “replenish” my dead ones. You can check out the feature here.

Minus365: T-Shirts

I’ve always lived minimally, but even with a mindful intention my closet still tend to fill up over time. I was watching The Minimalists, a documentary currently available on Netflix, the other night and it totally sparked an idea for me to declutter my life.

Minus365 is where I will remove/donate one object from my life every day for all of 2017. Each month will be based on a different theme, and I’m starting with t-shirts for January to kick start this yearlong project. Just think, if I were to keep this up for the entire year, there will be 365 fewer things around my apartment, and my life!

Between all the t-shirts I was given (or earned?) in my five year of working at IGN along with other gifts and sentimental hand-me-downs, my closet is full of t-shirts. Are you curious enough to join Minus365? If so, reply to this email and send me pictures of your 30 t-shirts (or whatever you decide to remove!).

Say Something

Jamelia, A British R&B Singer

“The problem is that we don’t tell you, we speak about it amongst ourselves and you get to carry on about your day not realizing you’ve ruined ours.” Jamelia

Recently Jamelia, a British R&B singer, was on board a first-class flight with her daughter, only to be questioned by other passengers who asked to see their airplane tickets. She stood her ground and went on Twitter to explain why. You can read more about the incident here.

Now, I’m not a fan of hers because I have barely heard of her before this incident. But this happens all too often to me and to minorities everywhere. Like Jamelia said, I tend to be too polite or try to rationalize myself to be “the bigger person” instead of speaking up and calling out bullies who makes hurtful or ignorant comments.

But words do hurt, and their comments ruminate with me for the rest of day if not for weeks to come. Why do they get to carry on their day while we suffer silently? It’s not fair, it’s not acceptable, and it’s time we speak up.

Between Us: Classic Aransky

Maybe it’s my connection to RIT or maybe it’s me working at the crazy world that is IGN, but I have a lot of friends who are constantly working on various creative projects. Since FORWARD is a monthly showcase of all things interesting and inspirational, I want to use this space and share with you other interesting projects my friends are also working on.

Classic Aransky logo

Meet Michael Aransky and his new video blog, Classic Aransky. By day he’s a senior producer at IGN, and by night he’s on a yearlong journey to get comfortable in front of a camera as he works his way toward to making his first movie since 2012. You can check it out here.

If you have an interesting project and want to be featured on FORWARD, simply reply to this newsletter and tell me all about it!

Take a Minute

Photo by Michael Browning, courtesy of Unsplash

And..that’s it for January! Please (ahem…) FORWARD this to a friend if you enjoy this newsletter, or sign up below if someone had shared this newsletter with you in mind.

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Love wins

Spent: Can you survive a month on $1,000?

Spent Logo - Play Spent at http://playspent.org

Over 14 million Americans are unemployed.

Now imagine you’re one of them.

Your savings are gone.

You’ve lost your house.

And you’re down to your last $1,000.

Can you make it through the month?

I recently heard on NPR about this simulation game called Spent. It’s about surviving a month with your last $1,000. The game is a collaboration between McKinney and the Urban Ministries of Durham.

I must say, the game intrigued me from the very beginning. I’ve always thought that I live a fairly frugal lifestyle, so living a month with $1,000 didn’t sound like a big challenge. Boy, was I taken for a ride.

The presentation is dark and grim from the very beginning. It truly sets the tone that you have nothing else, and this $1,000 is your last resort. The game barely has any graphics other than a few representative icons on the menu bar, but the way Spent captures your attention is through a ticking time line. With each passing day, the thin red line moves down a 30-day calendar along with your new bank balance.

You start off by picking one of the three jobs: restaurant worker, warehouse worker, or an office temp. These all have different pay scales, but they also come with different requirements. Being a restaurant worker means you have to buy a uniform, a warehouse worker means you need a car, while being an office temp means you have to pass a typing test.

I fortunately passed the typing test, but my friend who also played the game didn’t. Chances are, if you’re from a lower-class background like many of those in this everyday scenario, you may not have adequate computer skills to pass the test, either.

Days go by quickly, but not without making some tough decisions. You have a fever — do you call in sick or go to work anyway? Your landlord raises rent — do you pay or do you move out? A collecting agency calls — do you answer? These are just a few questions that make surviving a non-stop stressful experience.

And then there’s a twist: You also have a child to support. So how do you make these tough decisions while also caring for your kid? I won’t list all the questions, but some of the choices are even more difficult to make when you’re trying to decide between spending what you barely have on short-term survival or investing in your child’s future.

I played several times to see how I could save the most money. There was one time I was able to save up to $500, but that was after skipping out on car registration payments and not giving my mother money for operation. And either way, I could never have enough money for next month’s rent.

This game truly opened my eyes. Not in the sense that I need to stop spending money (since I’ve never been a big spender), but in how much life’s unexpected things cost. With a child to support, the game also gave me a renewed sense of gratitude for my own parents that no other simulation has before.

I recommend everyone to give Spent a try to see how much you’re able to save or how long you’re able to survive at all.

Update: This article has been featured on the front page of Bitmob.com!

You go, then I'll go

tl;dr – “You go, then I’ll go” is exactly what we need to do to move America forward. Rally to restore sanity, indeed. Fear… not so much.

Logo for Rally to Restoring Sanity and/or FearWe all knew Jon Stewart‘s and Stephen Colbert‘s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear was going to be a historical event. Even before the event was officially announced, even before the Internet began its hype machines, many of us already see the two of them as voices of reason from their respective television shows, ironically from a comedy network.

And when the rally finally happened, I found myself confused by the point of it for the longest time. The first few hours was a hodgepodge of musical performances and guest appearances, and as much as I love seeing Mavis Staples and Jeff Tweedy perform You Are Not Alone [iTunes link], I was afraid that the event was nothing more than an excuse to get people out of their houses.


I can see them perform for hours

“Maybe that was the point”, I thought to myself. Jon Stewart did say he wanted to have a reasonable rally and encourage people to “Take it down a notch for America”, and what better way to do that than with some nice music on a breezy, sunny day? Maybe this is supposed to be a nice, relaxing concert in the fall. Continue reading “You go, then I'll go”