Thursday, September 25, 2008

Keipop Econ 101

I've actually made attempts to understand the financial crisis. My knowledge of the situation has not increased at all, but I am now more familiar with the vocabulary involved: mortgages, credit, stocks, government regulation, $700 billion bailout plan, taxpayers, etc. Note that this is coming from someone who's step zero was to realize that Fannie Mae is not the same thing as Fannie May. I justify this initial confusion by noting that the candy company had some financial problems in the past couple of years or so. So goes my-style economics, 101.

The problem with finances for me is that I like to see my money in one place. I don't like borrowing it, I don't like thinking about interest rates, and I don't like credit cards. Basically, I don't want to step outside the world of addition, subtraction, and positive numbers. The Porok in me lives on strong!

But now, I figure, I should move away from this financial primitivism. This will help me understand more complicated monetary ideas that are important in the life of a typical upstanding citizen. However, that entails acting against my motto, which is this blog's theme, however thin it is: the preservation of youth. Still, I'm not against mental exercises, so I decided to start with the more thoughtful money management of all the frivolous things I currently covet.

Under my financial adviser Mordecai, I have taken the things I want now, and tried to rationalize and prioritize potential purchases. Generally, the goal is to satisfy "wantiness" and minimize spending. In other words, how do we satisfy "wanty" Kei while also reducing Mordecai's criticisms of Kei's overdesiring and overspending? (I just realized the personifcation of the objective.) So for every item I want, I ask myself, "On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being 'meh' and 10 being 'omgmusthavenow,' how bad do I want the thing?" This number is the "desire magnitude." Next, I need to know how long in days I've wanted the item, the "desire duration." And finally, a column for the price.

The "desire duration" shouldn't be weighted as much as the "desire magnitude" because as the days go by, this number will always increase. The magnitude is very important but stays about the same over time, or averages to whatever the start magnitude was (this is generally true at least for me). So the duration is divided by 4 (more or less arbitrarily chosen), and added to the magnitude. The sum is divided by the price, and the total multiplied by 100 to work with whole numbers. This results in the "purchase potential." So, you can see which items can be justifiably purchased and which items to put on hold for further deliberation.

This might seem like a lot of work with results that ultimately match pre-calculated intuitions, but it's not and it's also nice to have a systematic process for all the small things that add up. I could go into other ramifications of the methodology, but I'll stop here. Comments and suggestions for improvement are invited. For now, what to do with these preliminary results...


Related articles:
FAQ on Lehman and AIG, NYT Freakonomics 9/18/08
"Money Disorder," NYT Fashion & Style, 9/24/08 (at least see the ending quote)

Monday, September 22, 2008

Bag Voyeurism

A number of people have responded to my request to show the contents of their bags: Wesley, Mordecai (unearthed the blog!), Jenni (second comment), Richard, and Phoebe (I am glad our bond continues with shiny bags and eyeliners). I don't know what this amounts to or if we can make anything of these posts, but I like to know these quotidian facts about people (and share my own), especially if I regularly read their blogs (and if people read mine). How I wish I could ask happy blog to show us the contents of her bag, though she already lets us into a good part of her life with her constant updates and photos.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The contents of my soul

Sometime last year (I can't find the post), I mentioned that I was going to disclose the contents of my bag on a random day. In Japanese Seventeen magazines, models are asked to show their personal bags and what's inside them. I've also seen this on a TV show in Japan, where the host looks at guests' cell phones, planners, wallets, and how much cash they're carrying at that moment.

Lately I've seen "fashion bloggers" do this voluntarily. Unlike Seventeen and this Japanese show, the bloggers neatly lay out the contents on a nice background to make things easier to see. But also unlike the Japanese predecessors, they don't really talk about their stuff. I've taken my inspiration for this post from both sources.

I have many bags, and I can never really stick to one. Lately, I've been using this one I bought in Japan this past summer, though it is by golfer Arnold Palmer. He has a line of cute, kind of preppy-but-fun line for young women called Arnie, which I have never seen in the States. I think this line is good especially in the summer--imagine sipping lemonade+iced tea+vodka cocktails, lazily playing golf, hanging out at beach resorts. Arnie has everything you're imagining wearing in such a world.

Here are the contents, minus the camera. From the bottom left, readings: David Lewis on subsistence, James Tully on democracy, and Robert Almeder on the evidence for life after death (!!!). My Moleskine notebook I've had since graduating college; clearly, I don't use it that much. On it are my pen and chapsticks. Below the notebook are three acorns from a Studio Ghibli store in Yokohama--if you recall, I was obsessed with acorns last fall, and this summer I finally got my hand on some Japanese-style ones. My iPod, water bottle, keys, and a pack of tissue I got for free in Japan (they hand them out as advertisements). Above that is my Domo-Kun makeup case, the contents of which will be unveiled below. My wallet is by Hobo International. Oh, there's only $1.09 in change and a yen in there. My phone is the pink Chocolate by LG for which Hilary Duff briefly advertised two years ago. And then my shopping acquisitions for today: Judas Priest-y earrings from Forever 21 and pyramid studded bracelet from Brooklyn Industries.

I used to be quite minimal about makeup (I lived by only Hard Candy's Galaxy eyeliner and Max Factor mascara for seven years), but the contents of my cases are growing.

From the left: I use Covergirl Volume Exact waterproof mascara, advertised by Queen Latifah. When I'm lazy, I use Visée liquid eyeliner, advertised by Koda Kumi. Next to that is my eyebrow pencil. I reluctantly use this crappy Aveeno chapstick when I have no others. When I have time, I use Shiseido eyeliner that comes in cream form in a pot with a little tough brush applicator. It was recommended to me by the lady at Shiseido, and I love it. Next is my Visée eyeshadow, also advertised by Koda Kumi. The last item in that row is my foundation, from the "d" line at Shiseido. I also asked the Shiseido lady for help with foundation, and she came up with this light powder foundation, good for beginners. Actually, I think I just loved the Shisedo ladies because they were so nice and didn't try to make me buy unnecessary crap. And then the bottom row: eyelash curler, eye drops, Claritin, and pins from Claire's.

This is much lengthier than I thought it would be. Anyway, I invite others to unveil the contents of their bags, purses, satchels, man-purses, and so on (makeup case optional): Mordecai, Kira, Richard, Joe, Wesley, Phoebe, Jenni, and/or anyone else reading this?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

À la Happy Blog

I stalk a number of strangers online through their blogs, which is inherently creepy, but I mean it in an admiring, non-sleazy way. Plus, public blogs are public, so blog-stalking is also in a sense inherently OK. Anyway, I have always wanted to prepare a breakfast like the above--yogurt, granola, sliced bananas--because Happy Blog does it all the time (most recent photo here).

But usually I have no time for leisurely preparations and displays, not even time to eat breakfast at home. I had to prepare all of this in about 30 seconds, take it to go, and eat it at the cafe in University Hall before taking care of graduate student tasks.


Last Saturday while eating popcorn, I chipped my lower front tooth. It was bothersome at first, but I've gotten used to the new sensation of my tongue constantly rubbing up on a jagged tooth. It's not noticeable unless I point it out to people, but being the daughter of a dental assistant, I ought to get it fixed.

That same weekend, I came across Domo-kun campaigning for Halloween candy at Target. The Back-to-School section is being transformed into Halloween Nation, with the help of Domo-kun everywhere, as himself, as a mummy, as Frankenstein. This furry clutch/pencil case contained Domo-kun candy bracelets. It is all random and wonderful at once; everyone should check the displays out. And Domo Nation!!!

Though more sugary, this kind of corn is much easier on your teeth.

Three Photos

1. Last week I made use of my sewing machine--it's been a while. Mordecai designed and constructed the drawer-table thingie with my aesthetic guidance and painting assistance.

2. My dad asked me to hem this big square fabric. It was very easy and looked decent in the end. I backstitched as instructed by online tips and sewing machine manual, but I don't really understand how things don't unravel with time, so I did what I thought would assuage my concerns with the loose ends. Please don't laugh at me.

3. I then proceeded to bring out Sam's pants into daylight, pants which he had asked me to shorten just a little bit...about a year ago. All I did was inspect the original hem, realize that the situation would be most ideal if someone (Sam or myself) had marked off where the cutoff point should be, and then remarked on how nice the pants are...i.e., you might see a post in which I am wearing them...or even Mordecai.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Apparently it was Michael Jackson's 50th birthday recently. The Harold Washington Library honored the legend with this display. I like how it is a modest tribute--50 facts about Michael Jackson, cut-outs of his classic poses, a list of his songs--hidden by the bathroom on the eighth floor. I'm still amazed at how a person can have such recognizable poses, and how the library could produce equally identifiable cutouts of these stances. I need to work on a distinguishing pose (peace sign in front of cameras can't count) and preparing templates for future generational use.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

90210 v.2

North Avenue Beach on Labor Day; click on photo to see item in sky

So the new "90210" premiered last night around midnight in Chicago thanks to WGN (CW) owning the Cubs, who took their sweet time losing to the Phillies. Basically, I have been waiting for the 90's to be revived since the 90's ended. Last night I heard "Rhythm is a Dancer" by Snap! in a mix on the radio and was brought back to my childhood of naiveté, however briefly, as the song was mixed out quickly and replaced by something that was not Technotronic or something equally awesome.

But basically, WOW: Kelly has cankles; Brenda's arms are huge; the Peach Pit is crazy; Annie looks like a cross between Aunt Becky and Eva Mendes; Ethan looks like Mordecai's friend from back home; Dixon looks like Chris Brown; no one cares about the principal's boring bastard child backstory; on that note, I miss Jim but not Cindy Walsh; Silver looks like a girl from my Paris program; she wears lots of American Apparel and now I must have those items; what is going on with the newscaster girl with the hyphenated last name containing "Zuckerman"; Naomi seems to be a cross between Kelly and Donna in that Kelly was rich and popular while Donna was ugly with crazy hair; Naomi also reminds me of Jessie Spano of "Saved By the Bell"; Mordecai is calling incest; and who is Kelly's baby daddy???