There is an attribute I find attractive, if not essential, in both the women I am attracted to and the friends I find myself spending time with. Due to lack of a better term, I have called it “continentalism” for the past many years. Essentially, a person’s continentalism describes how broad they have traveled, how exposed they are to the various cultures and customs of the world, and how comfortable they are with those from continents other than their own. Maybe a better term may be “cultured”, but I have used continentalism and will probably continue to do so.

Let’s look at an example. When I first met my wife, one of my first questions I asked was where she was from. For most people, this is an easy question to field, a freebie, if you will. With some people, this can be a hairy question, because the questionee has no idea how to answer. When asked, I usually respond Seattle, merely because I spent my childhood and adolescent years there, not to mention that I think it is a great city and am proud to say that I am from there. (I am less proud of the state where I was actually born, and therefore rarely ever offer the information in conversation.)  When my wife is asked where she is’ from, she tends to say California, although she has spent little time actually living there. Her childhood was spent in Michigan, Singapore, Connecticut, and the People’s Republic of China; her family now resides in California. As you can see, claiming to be from only one of those locales is hard to do, especially since each one made her a part of whom she is now.

Needless to say, my continentalism radar went off when I first heard this and I naturally became more interested in her as a result of her living and traveling throughout many parts of the world. I have been fortunate to live in places that have vast diversity. As I have been places in the U.S. that tend to have less diversity, I am struck at the obvious difference in the people around me and their thought process and openness. Where one is from is becoming increasingly harder to tell based on looks (just ask a Japanese Brazilian or a Chinese American Samoan). But that is the direction that the world is headed, and it is up to us to learn about the world around us.

Thinking For A Change

We too often go through life without thinking. Of course, we must make numerous decisions and take countless actions daily, all of which require us to think. But I’m talking about really sitting down and thinking. Take my life for example. I get up, get ready and start my commute into work. I have my music on my headphones and a book in front of me on the train. At work, I think about what I must do at work to make my partner and clients happy and to get the deal done. After I commute back home, any free time I may have is often spent in front of the television, assuming I’m not running any errands or doing other household chores that constantly need to be done. Then, before I know it, it’s time for me to go back to sleep. Sure, I must think throughout the course of the day. But when was the last time I sat down somewhere with no music, tv, or other noise, focused my attention and thought? It has been a while. 

We all have the same amount of time each day as anyone else. Yet, some of us accomplish so much more in life. The key to success, I think, comes down to two things: one’s attitude and thoughts. These, above everything else, can help us overcome obstacles and lack of natural talent or formal education. It’s not a difficult concept, but few people do it. The reason? Well, I believe that it is because thinking requires someone to think, which is not as easy as it may seem.  

The City So Nice . . .

People often ask me if I enjoy living in New York, to which I always respond with a resounding yes. The truth is that New York is a filthy, overcrowded, over-priced, and sometimes over-rated city. But it’s great. It’s great because it is the only thing that the United States has to offer to the handful of great world cities. Sure, Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, Philadelphia, Seattle, Detroit, Atlanta, and Boston have their good sides, but they just don’t compare to the Tokyo, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Sao Paulos of the world. Of the great world cities in the U.S., there is only New York.

But this alone is not what makes New York great. New York is great chiefly because it captures the heart of America in many ways. The history of New York City is largely the history of this country. In that sense, New York is the classic American city, a place where hard work can bring to pass a personal Horatio Alger rags-to-riches story. Yet, even now, 40% of all residents in New York are born abroad. What this means is that although New York is truly American, there is no other place in America quite like it. I like New York for its size, its pace, its history, its diversity, its opportunities, its people, its reputation, its attitude, and for the city itself. I must admit that I am part of the “bridge and tunnel crowd” that lives beyond the shores of Manhattan; nonetheless, when I move on, I can happily say that I filled the longing in my soul to one day live in New York – the most unique, most American, and most global of any city in the U.S.

There’s Now a Crib in my Crib!

This past weekend was a watershed weekend for me – I put up my first baby crib. And no, it wasn’t for someone else’s baby. In a few short months I will be a proud father of a baby girl (whose name has yet to be determined). Not only did we set up the crib, but also the changing table, the swing, and other baby paraphernalia. I wanted to hold out for the last few months and keep our second bedroom an adult room. But my wife won out and I have now lost what extra space I had to the “nursery”. We’re not to the point where we have the whole room decorated, and we may never be in our current apartment, but it is becoming more real to me everyday that we will soon be parents. People tell me that I better enjoy what sleep I can get now, because I will soon be up every two hours to be with the baby. I am not looking forward to that. My mom and dad told me that I was a great baby. It is rumored that the same cannot be said of my wife. We’ll know who our daughter takes after in a few months. Hopefully it’s me.

Philip C. Jessup Memories

I first heard of Jessup in the fall of 2001. I was a college student in Hawai’i and the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics caused the Pacific Regional to be moved to Hawai’i, where I was attending college. I was interested in going to law school and Jessup seemed like a good way to get involved and meet law students and practicing lawyers. After all, Jessup is a Moot Court Competition. But unlike the hundreds of competitions across the country every year, Jessup is the most prestigious. The Philip C. Jessup International Law Moot Court Competition is the largest, best well known, best written, and most difficult Moot Court Competition in the world, and it has taken up much of my time since that winter of 2001.

As a college student, I naturally didn’t compete in Jessup. I merely helped out and watched. But it looked fun, as well as a lot of hard work. The University of Hawai’i won the competition for the Pacific Regional that year, 2002, not because they were the home team but because they were clearly the best team. They went on to the International Rounds in D.C. and did well, I remember. When applying to law school, I hyped up my experience as a Bailiff Coordinator for Jessup and the people that I met in my personal statement. I even had a line like, “. . . their confidence in the law as a vehicle for change moved me and convinced me that is what I wanted to do.” or some other facsimile of B.S. similar to that. Long story short, I got into law school.   

As a 2L I saw an email for tryouts to get on the Jessup team. Being interested in public international law, I immediately decided that I was going to do all that I could to be on my law school’s team. I spent the next two weeks on my brief and preparing for my oral argument. I made the team, although I didn’t perform as well as I wanted to in orals. It was my try-out brief, research and experience with International Law and Jessup that helped me get on the team.

I was asked to coach during my last year of law school. Our team did excellent thanks to some talented and hard working oralists. We won Second Best Brief in the difficult Atlantic Regional and eventually lost to the team that won the World Championships (CLS). I know for a fact that this year the team is out for revenge.

Now as an attorney, I am still involved through Friends of Jessup. I will be judging the teams I helped compete against in New York in a few weeks at Shearman & Sterling, which has hosted the Atlantic Regional the past several years. Jessup definitely was a highlight of my three years of law school because we spent so much time with the team for those four months. But even now, with law school behind me, I can see Jessup being a part of my life for years to come.  

Because of the iPhone . . .

I’ve been wanting to get a new cell phone for the past several months. The one that I have now has been with me for the past two and a half years and has been a great phone, although the battery life is starting to fade. But I have decided to wait until later this year to get a new cell phone. I have decided to wait not for the iPhone, but because of it.

Yes, I read about the hype when Jobs announced the new phone last month. Yes, the phone looked nice, but it didn’t occur to me to get one. And then, this past Tuesday morning, I arrived early for a meeting at the building on the corner of 59th Street and 5th Avenue – the site of the world’s busiest Apple store. I decided to go in for a few minutes to warm up. While inside, I checked out a demo of the iPhone and its functions and features. I was impressed, to say the least. The iPhone is the direction that phones are heading and I wanted in. Yet, I’m not one of those guys who loves Apple. I have an iPod and enjoy it, but I am loyal to PCs for my computing needs. Once the iPhone (or whatever else it may be called depending on the dispute with Cisco) comes out, it will only be a matter of months before the big cell phone manufacturers come out with something similar available on the major service providers. The price may be steep, but if all of the iPhone’s bells and whistles work as well as they did on that demo I saw, the price may be worth it. I am not the only one to think this, but this phone will revolutionize cell phones as we know it. And once I have more options and lower prices, I will be ready to jump in.

A Warm Valentine’s Day After All

The worst part about the snow is not the snow itself, but the slushy, dirty mess that it becomes the next day or two after the storm. This is especially true in New York City, where most people rely on their own two feet to get around. I don’t have far to walk, but apparently it’s far enough to get dirty.   

I remember the days when cold in February meant 65 degrees. The days when daylight still meant 85, but slightly windier and snow was something only relevant to Mauna Kea. Those were the Februarys in Hawaii that I miss. But now, on Valentine’s Day of all days, the snow outside is piling up. This could be a good thing, however. Knowing that the man who doesn’t bring home flowers will likely recieve an earful or cold shoulder tonight, we may all be leaving work early to beat the crowds at the florist and the worsened weather. Either way, I outsmarted them all. After missing my train last night, I picked up flowers yesterday to truly surprise my wife on a day that she’s not expecting anything. She was happily surprised and responded by giving me my gift a day early. This leaves us with not much to give each other tonight during this Fourteenth of February, except for maybe some love to warm up this cold, snowy February day.