Email Etiquette

Since when did email have so many variations? I remember a time when the unspoken rule was to treat email as you would a written letter. After all, an email represents the sender. That does not seem to be the case anymore, regardless of whether the message is sent in or out of the workplace. As for email, there are those that never capitalize anything, those that use little punctuation (to the point where it’s hard to understand), those that never include their name (or even initials) and those that don’t even write in complete words or sentences. We can’t forget those that include all types of digital smiles, ellipses, and/or symbols. One might say that it doesn’t matter so long as the point comes across to the reader clearly, but I think it does matter because there will be a whole generation of kids that will only be used to writing in the form of short emails/IMs/text messages. The implications might be profound on the future of the English language.

Personally, I like to still keep my emails formal. Rarely do I send an email that does not begin by addressing the person by name, and there is almost never a time where I forget to write my name at the bottom of the email, all neatly separated by a space, just as someone would write a letter. As for a sign off, I tend to just write the overused, “Thanks”. The one that gets me the most, however, is “Best”. Who ever said or wrote that before email? I’ve never seen it before. “Regards” is another one that means nothing to me – might as well be a “screw you”, /s/[NAME].  If I was writing to my good friends, I would include something like, “All my respect”, or maybe just “Respect”. One sign off that I have seen and thought it kind of cool was “Eternal”, then again, that’s not something really used in the workplace. It does not bother me when people write “Have a nice day/weekend, etc”, because I feel as if they’re genuine, but Best/Best regards/Regards, etc are worse than “Sincerely” or the other phrases used more commonly in written letters. All in all, I shouldn’t care how people end their emails (and I don’t), but I fear for the future of the digital generation when writing a formal letter will almost be a thing of the past.

Advertisements

The Planner Within

I saw an old friend from college this weekend and we had the chance to talk. She was impressed because five years ago she was constantly on the other end of my personal planning conversations, and can now see the fruits of my labors. People would ask me what I planned to do after college and I would usually tell them that I wanted to go to law school and work in New York City. Well, here I am. My planning has paid off. I am happy with what I have accomplished and where I am today. I have proven many people wrong and have shown others that I am capable of doing what I set out to do.

But the planner within me that helped get me to this point is also the planner in me that can’t stop me from looking ahead – thinking, planning, hoping. Will I ever be at a point in my life when I can stop and be content with where I am? I am able to focus on the task at hand, but in the back of my mind I am constantly thinking of how to progress, or at least achieve what I deem as progress. The reality is that I have no complaints. I am happy with my life and where I am, but there is always so much more to learn, do, and achieve. I tend to compare myself with others unnecessarily and have learned that it does no good. There are always people that will be doing better, make more money, appear happier, etc. But all that matters is me and my family and friends. I am far from perfect, but so long as I can feel good about the direction my life is going, I can and should be happy. To do so, however, takes planning – something I have no trouble doing.  

New York Bar Exam

I passed the New York Bar Exam on the first try. This may be one of the greatest achievements of my life – that’s how big of a deal this is. I doubt I did that well, but I apparently did well enough to pass. And I shouldn’t be surprised. I gave that test my all. I knew that if I didn’t I would have regrets. Sure, I got a lot of help from Bar/Bri and PMBR, but they only provided the materials, the lectures, and the direction (without which I don’t know how anyone would pass). But the time, the energy, the frustration, and the glory was/is mine.

 

The Bar Exam took up two full months of my life. Sunday was the only day I even considered taking a break throughout the process. Yet, in many ways it was a peaceful time – a time that will probably stand out for me the rest of my life. I say this because during the summer of 2006 my only responsibility was to study all 24 subjects tested by the New York State Board of Law Examiners. No one gave me a hard time for not working, not to mention the continuation of my job hunt, I had a good excuse to miss the events I didn’t want to go to and could work around the events I wanted to attend. I knew what I was doing everyday and I knew how to do it.

 

I took the bar review course at NYU School of Law and had access to its excellent library. Every morning that summer I got off the train at Astor Place and walked through Washington Square Park before the day’s heat could take its toll. I spent four hours studying what I needed to, ate lunch (often in the park, relaxing), and then would sit and take notes through a three-hour DVD lecture on a particular topic. I then went back through GCT and came home, only to eat dinner and put in several more hours at night reviewing my notes and doing MBE questions. On the weekends, I went to my law school’s library and spent all day studying, reviewing, and catching up.

I have never studied like that in my life. I was impressed with my focus and my determination. And fortunately, it paid off for me. My thoughts go out to those who must face the exam again, as the rejection and the stress could easily lead someone to depression. It’s easy to say that it wasn’t that bad looking back, but the reality is that it was that bad. It was horrible. Nonetheless, in my case, it was a worthwhile experience and a summer I will not soon forget.

By Chance

There is a new genre of films and books that have grown in popularity in the past several years that has yet top be defined. Unlike most other categories, where one can clearly categorize or explanation it (i.e. drama, action, comedy, romance, etc), this new genre can only be explained as “By Chance”. Perhaps there is a formal description of this rising genre, but I have yet to learn it. A good example of what I’m talking about is this year’s Oscar winner for Best Picture, Crash. I saw another example this past weekend when I saw Babel.

In Babel, as in Crash, small events connect random people as they go throughout their lives. In Babel, two Moroccan village boys accidentialy shoot an American tourist. The wounded tourist is taken to a small village to be cared for and is eventually stranded by the tour bus despite her husband’s strong objections. While in Morocco, the Mexican nanny of the couple takes the couple’s two young kids into Mexico for her son’s wedding, only to experience problems re-entering the United States, largely because of her nephew’s stupidity. To bring it full circle, the viewer learns that the gun used by the two Moroccan boys in the shooting belonged to a wealthy Japanese businessman who gave it to the boys’ father’s friend on a hunting trip he took to Morocco. But instead of focusing on the wealthy Japanese businessman, the film devotes its time in Tokyo on his daughter, a deaf and struggling high-school student who recently saw her mom commit suicide.

I liked the film, but found that the connections were direct, yet indirect. They were direct because certain events affected other individuals’ lives. The connections were indirect because they never knew or were likely to know of each other throughout the course of their lives.

I read a book several years ago that used (or perhaps created) this same theme – that random people are often connected through small events. The book was David Mitchell’s Ghostwritten, and the difference in his book, unlike Crash and Babel is that Mitchell’s work transcends time in addition to place. I reccomend the book for those that enjoy these By Chance stories.

What makes these stories popular, in part, is that many often wonder whether their actions, both good and bad, affect other people. The answer is that every act and every decision has a consequence and nothing we do only affects ourselves. The more intertwined with people we are the more that is true. The consequences of our actions are not always immediate, and there are plenty of times that we may never know the full consequences of our actions. But as these stories show, our fate is not always in our hands. We, by living living on this large, yet relatively small planet, are all connected – for better or for worse.  

Cold But Convenient

There is no doubt that technology has made our life, our work, and our entertainment more available, if not more hectic. But it is debatable whether technology has made our lives more fulfilling. Last week Tom Friedman wrote an article in the New York Times recounting a recent taxi trip in Paris. Between the two of them, Tom and the taxi driver, they were engaged in talking on the phone, sending out email, and watching a DVD on a laptop, all while the taxi driver was making its way across the crowded streets from CDG to the heart of Paris. Not once did they speak amongst themselves – a shame, knowing the secrets that taxi drivers carry.

Now don’t get me wrong. I find it amazing that I can type a message into a two-inch screen and it can arrive in someone’s inbox halfway around the world. What was once only a distant idea is now our reality, and the rate at which our technology is progressing is growing. This is especially so given that I clearly remember sending out my first email in the summer of 1997. The idea of living without email now (let alone not checking it for a few days) is unfathomable for me. I recently joined BlackBerry (read CrackBerry) nation and have since thought: How did people live without this?   

But when all is said and done nothing may ever replace the personal touch of a real-life smile and “hello” or “thank you.” We all know that the =) or “thx” that people digitally throw out nonchalantly is no replacement. Nonetheless, time will tell if our personal touch too will one day be replaced by our increasingly cold, but convenient world.

To Japan and Back

Last week I had lunch with a friend whose ideas got me thinking. It has been over six years since I have been in Japan, and there has hardly been a week (if not day) that has gone by without me thinking about someone I met, an experience I had, or a feeling I felt while in Japan. I came back determined to go back some day in the near future. I could not have guessed that six years later I would still be scheming on how to get back there.

Lucklily enough, however, I have been fortunate to live in places in the U.S. that have large Japanese populations – Hawaii and New York. Consequently, I have been able to make friends and have kept up my Japanese language skills to some degree. In Hawaii, I actually improved my Japanese.

Yet, why do I want to go back? Is it because being from the U.S.  provides me with some type of “rock-star” status in Japan? Or is it because I enjoy large cities, something Japan has plenty of? Or is it because I enjoy being emersed in a homogenous society where I am a minority? Regardless of how well I ever learn to speak Japanese or how long I were to live there, I will never be fully accepted as Japanese. I will always be a gaijin, or outside person. There was a time that I thought my whole life had prepared me to marry a Japanese girl from Japan, but the time came for me to get married and I chose to marry someone else. 

It’s possible I could go back to visit Japan and wonder why I ever wanted to live there in the first place. But I doubt it. I like Japan. I like the people, not to mention the food, culture, and living standards. I find that I get along well with people from Japan, sometimes more so than with people from my own country. But I can no longer think about me anymore. Were I alone, I would have gone there by now – perhaps several times already. But I’m not. I am part of a team, with another member on the way. And so I go on, thinking often about how my interests can be utilized or intertwined with what I am doing now. I have ideas, but so far, they are only ideas . . . . 

Election Day Eve

Tomorrow is election day, again. I can clearly remember thinking how the outcome of the 2004 Presidential election could change the direction of the country the Monday evening before Election Day 2004. A quick two years later, I can’t say that a lot of good has been accomplished. This is coming from someone who has a very republican background, tends to stay out of polictics, and is usually a strong supporter of our elected officials. However, I do not plede allegiance to any party. I am an issue-by-issue guy and have voted different ways in different years.

But tomorrow morning I will go to my public library and cast my vote. I will do so without walking very far (only two minutes, at most). I will not face any violence or danger on my way there. Yet, I will be able to make my voice heard, however small it may be. I live in a very democratic state, but regardless of which way I vote, I will know that I voted, and can be proud that based on the people’s decisions, we will have (hopefully) new government leaders come January. Whether the United States of America is currently rising or declining in power is debatable, but in my mind, America is still a great, if not the best, country in the world. 

On another note, we have finally settled into our new apartment. With all of our stuff in our way the past few weeks, it didn’t feel as if we moved into a larger place. Now that the furniture is in its place, the books are on the shelves, and the boxes are put away or thrown out, our place has a much larger feel. It’s peaceful there, and for at least the next fifteen months, it will be home.