Tip of the Tongue 001

Being Asian American, Precision, and Habits

What is TOTT? A (hopefully) weekly snippet of what I’ve been thinking about, pockets of content for bite-sized consumption, not quite big enough to be pieces of their own. Think of this like a commonplace notebook, or a conversation starter. 4/30/17

Being Asian American

As An Asian American, I Am Invisible In This Country

Recently, a friend of mine described being Asian as being “the most desirable minority”, as if we, as an ethnicity, experienced the least amount of racism compared to others. Instead, we experience it in very different and perhaps less obvious ways, and in order to become desirable, we’ve suppressed a lot of ourselves.

To whom are we desirable? Being the model minority has always meant being the closest to white. We are rewarded when we voluntarily erase our own culture, and Asian Americans are used both as a carrot and a stick for other cultures, an example of sticking to Westernized societal norms. Maybe that’s why so many of us feel separated from our roots. We’re called banana and twinkie by our relatives because of the methods of survival we have adopted here.

The Side Effects of Precision

Recently, my beloved Macbook Pro lost one of its footpads. It’s not really a problem, and a 75% retention rate over 3 years is pretty impressive. However, this little defect has been bugging me far more than it should, considering it doesn’t affect usability at all.

Apple machines its products for a cohesive experience. Every millimeter matters, every bevel accounted for. The affect of this obsessive design is that the user notices — or rather, that the user notices when something is wrong. I notice when my fingers run over a scratch in the aluminum (a scar from an encounter with a bicycle basket) or if one of the keys has a hair under it (it’s true — cats love keyboards).

Additionally, the amount of precision under which this computer was machined means that few non-OEM replacement parts have the same tolerances, or the same feel. Replacing internals is one thing, but woe unto you to try and find a footpad that’s made out of the same material, or isn’t a different height by a few millimeters. (You think I might be nitpicking here, but the Amazon reviews tell me that it’s more than just myself caring about these things.) If you want a replacement that feels like the real thing, you’ll have to get just that — the real thing.

Maybe I’m just a detail-oriented person, and that’s why this matters to me. But I think Apple also has this in mind when it makes its products. When no one else can recreate the experience you provide, the customers will have to come back to you. I’m going in to an Apple Store to get a replacement footpad next week.

Habit Vacations

They say that in order to create a habit, you have to consistently do the action for 66 days . But what happens when you take a break? How quickly does a habit get lost?

I keep a few habit trackers in my BulletJournal, and filling those out is a habit of its own. On a normal day, it’s all a part of my automated routine: I grab a pen and my book, and write a bit before bed. But every time I take a few days of vacation, I also take that time off from these routines of mine. It’s not that I find them tedious — in fact, I rather enjoy these habits on a day-to-day basis. But when I’m in a different mode and on a different schedule, these habits don’t have a natural place in my day.

And once I’m back home, the habits are lost. I got back from a retreat this past Monday, and I haven’t given my journal more than a few guilty glances. How do you fall back into a regular routine? How do you keep your routine habits through irregular schedules?

This article was originally written and posted on Medium.


March 30, 2017