Tiongson, Christian J: November 2008 Archives

It's Sunday, November 30, 2008.  The time is 6:45pm, and its gloomy and dark outside.  The ground is wet, the air is cold, and Mr. Sun's warmth and light is 12 hours away from us.  This whole environment makes me reflect the fake Christmas Spirit we all have during this time of the year.  Wait, let me use another word for "Christmas Spirit," because stressing to buy a toy for your kid, pushing other people just to get the perfect gift for your "loved one," and giving retailers the iron fist because nothing is going your way is NOT what Christmas is all about.  Christmas is far from this fake mask we put around our heads from the start of November to 12:00am the day after Christmas.

For those who do not know, I work at a Hallmark retail store around the Boston area.  I started in July, and loved it until the word "Christmas" floated above the Hallmark staff.  Right away, my coworkers (and I) gave one huge sigh in disgust, not relief.  All of us thought back to all the "Charlie Brown Commercialized" Christmases and thought about how stressful it was working, shopping, and preparing for huge Christmas feasts and events.  I personally did not like the working aspect of the Christmas season.  And today just made everything implode with stress...  I've helped a few customers who were extremely rude to me and my coworkers.  Even with their "happy" red coats and "religious" christmas pins over their heart while whistling a season tune, they would give us crap for not "making their day" or not contributing to the Christmas season.  My honest answer is that we are trying out best to give them what they need for their season, but it seems impossible for both ends... it seems impossible to make everyone happy...  

This brings me to a question that still remains unanswered:
Why do we have to be so stressed out, grumpy, rude, and (add other adjectives of your liking or disliking) during the Christmas season?

Why do we have to put ourselves in financial debt to make our family, friends, and other loved ones "happy?" 

And for those who are not stressed out by the holiday, why do we have to put on a so-called fake "I'll be nice for the 25 days of Christmas only," and not continue to be this nice-Christmas self throughout the year?

Those answers will never be answered... that's my opinion.  I've tried to decipher the Rosetta Stone of the "Fake" Christmas Spirit for years, but that ancient mystery is still floating above all of us like a dark thunder cloud.  I can tell you this.  I am trying to change.  Yes, good ol' Christian who does not like working the Christmas Season, because of all the fake unnecessary negative vibe that is felt from customers.  All my life, I've always thought this time of the year is joyful and memorable for everyone in this world.  Come on, it's when Jesus was born, right?  That's the true meaning of Christmas right?  Not this stupid commercialized crap that we all grew up with?  It's all just the flashy, material possessions that makes us happy right? No. 

Is it just the thought?  Yes, but if its just the thought, why do some people spend thousands, and put themselves in debt or in any type of financial crisis?  Like I said, it still boggles my mind.  And I'm not saying that we should stop buying gifts for people, no way.  I'm more of a gift-giving person who adds a memory to it, or to create a memory.  For example, for my friend's 21st birthday, I recorded a music CD with original guitar tracks that I made myself.  I made it extra special by making a (love?) song just for her.  That made her love the gift even more.  Why can't we just do something simple like that... something personalized, creative, and self-fabricated?  I do not want to make someone worry about how much money I spent for their present, because I don't want to put a dollar sign and a figure next to my friend's name.  My friends are not worth money; they're worth more than that.   I want to put everything from my heart into my present.  That's why every Christmas I always make something just to show how much I care, how much the person (or people) means/mean to me.  I think that's better than buying a flat screen television.  Think about it.

I really hope I'm getting my message down nice and clear... sometimes its hard to type down my complete, straight to the point thought about certain topics, especially when my thoughts can be explained in many directions.  But, I hope you (the reader) relax this Christmas season, and think of its real importance.  Put all that money-spending, fake-fronting, Christmas-stress aspect of you aside, and look at the true Christmas Spirit.  Everyone has their own meaning of that spirit... I really hope its not the buying aspect of it.

From my heart to yours, have a Merry Christmas Season.  This won't be the last time I'll say that to you, my readers!

- Christian 
After 11 weeks of classes, I can finally sit back and relax!  You have no idea how excited I am for this very long Thanksgiving Break!  For the first time (and last time), I only have one class this week.  It was my least favorite class unfortunately... Pharmacology.  To add on my lack of liking for that class, we had our third exam on Monday.  That test was 30% of our grade, and it could either kill you or help your grade out.  Right now, I'm not stressing about it, because it's vacation time for me!  Oh man!  Ever since day 1, I've counted down the days to this week long moment.  Now, it's finally here!!!  I can finally take off my stress-cap throw it on the hat rack and do some fun stuff with the family and friends. 

But wait... come to think about it, my vacation truly ends on Friday, because of work.  On the infamous Black Friday, I'm working my new physical therapy job from 7:30am - 10:30am, then work at Hallmark from 4-10pm.  So it's going to be a long day for me!  Plus I'm working the whole weekend also... I mind as well get the most of my two full days of relaxation! 

Usually, Thanksgiving Day is the day that gets me excited about the Holiday Season.  Usually the days before Turkey Day is indifferent than days in early September.  I guess the whole fact that my extended family will be with us for the whole day gets me going into "holiday mode."  Maybe it's the Macy's Day parade on T.V. (even though I don't wake up early enough to actually watch it).  Most of all, I can't wait to grub on our traditional Thanksgiving dinner!   Obviously there is a turkey, mashed potatoes, corn, and other American food.  But I've noticed every year we've added a Filipino dish or desert into the mix.  That new mix just makes Thanksgiving dinner more exciting and diverse.  I've also noticed that T-day is the only day my family can really get together and enjoy being together.  We've all been getting very busy lately from school, (more) work, family, to other kinds of business.  It seems very rare that we all can gather, count our blessings, and just have fun.  I seriously can't wait for a good dose of long-awaited family fun.  Because after that, I'm back to school/work mode until my last day of finals.

But let's not think about school, okay?  I'm happy right now in my pajamas (I know it's 11AM), listening to music, and planning out the day with my family.

I hope all of you have a happy Thanksgiving break!  Sit back and relax!

- Christian 

Commuter Heaven!!!!!!

Please, tell me. 

Did I die?

Is the world ending?

... Hmm, maybe I'm going insane.

Is this real?

I remember a day in mid-July, with the temperatures soaring to a good 90 degrees, and the sky muggy from the trapped humidity.  I was sitting in my Mazda 3 driving down Rt. 99 from Everett and I noticed that my tank is close to empty (again).  So I decided to catch the closest gas station around to put something in my tank.  Unfortunately, I did not drive up to the closest station.  To tell you the truth, I drove around a little bit.  No, I was not trying to kill my tank so my car would die in the summer's heat.  I was just trying to find the "cheapest" gas.  After a good 10-15 minute drive, I decided to just pull up into one, ask for $10 "regular" in my tank, cancel all my plans and just drive home.  The "regular" price was $4.50.  I was broke throughout the Summer of 2008, a summer that I just want to forget (gas-wise).

Today is November 17, 2008, and I see just the total opposite.  Honestly, I think my prayers have been answered.  Heck, my dreams as a Bostonian driver was answered (and unfortunately, it's not the reconstruction of the "Cloverleaf I-93/I-95 (Rt 128)" Intersection).  For the first time in forever, I finally see gas prices under $2.00 littered in one stretch of road.  This is a dream come true!!!!  I seriously felt a tear falling down my cheek (okay, that was just a mental image in my mind).  The economy is pretty much suffering right now, but the gas prices continue to fall.  In five months, prices went from an eye-sore $4.50 to a beautiful $1.77.  As soon as I saw that, I pulled up and experimented...  Let me explain.

Once in awhile I'll add just $10 of gas when my tank hits the last quarter of the gas meter/viewer (or whatever you call it).  After putting $10 in, I check to see how much the arm of the meter increased.  In July, the arm went up between quarter to a half.  Today, the arm went well above the half mark and closer to 3/4.  I was so dang happy!!!!  So basically I can put $20 worth of gas for a full tank, which is half of what I spent for a full tank in July!  

With gas prices this low, I can finally relax and not worry about emptying my wallet!!!  I can finally save money to buy Christmas presents for my whole family!

So to all commuters out there, take advantage of the low under $2.00 prices, because you'll never know when the prices might jump up close to $5.00.  So fill em' up and drive away!!


Hello everyone,

It's been awhile since I talked about my senior year and my thoughts about it.  It's been awhile since I really had a good "vent" on this blog.  I've been long due for a good down-to-earth blog post, so here's my little speech about how things are going for me and senior year.

For the first time ever, I feel like I'm finally getting into the groove of UML and getting really involved with the community.  I know, I know, I'm in my final year as a Riverhawk student, but for some weird reason I'm finally getting used to the way of life as a UML student.  I can't really explain it.  Maybe I feel stress-free this semester.  The past 3 years seems like a tough up hill battle.  It's like climbing up Mt. Everest in subzero temperatures during a blizzard.  But now It seems like the mountain is becoming more of a plateau.  Adaptation to the rough college climate? Maybe.  And now, I'm part of a new student leadership organization - Omicron Delta Kappa.  This group contains the top students/professors/leaders of each major, job, or concentration who has the qualities of a leader.  I feel like I'm finally getting involved with something so great and I'm finally being part of the community.  Yesterday I went to my first UML Riverhawk hockey game, and oh man!  It was a great game!  The R'Hawks destroyed #6 UNH 8-3. 

See, what I'm trying to say is that being a commuter kind of pushes me away from the UML community.  It just seems like we're not involved with anything.  I don't usually stay around campus because it seems like there's nothing to do.  But now that I'm involved, there's tons of things to do around campus, great people to hang out with, etc.  I'm pretty sad that I'm now heading to the end of my UML career... I wish I got more involved with things or be more outgoing when I was a freshmen.  If I was more into the UML community, this last drive to the finish line would be a "Final Hoorah" instead of a "Rookie Celebration."  Oh well...

Another thing that pretty much shocks me is the "speed" of these four years.  These four years is just way too fast to process.  I remember my first day of college... I was sitting on the 3rd row from the right wall looking at the chalkboard around 8am in the morning.  My college writing 1 professor walks in and welcomes us to the university... Now I'm here sitting on my laptop feeling like a freshman again!  Even when this whole experience was like a drag race car going 200mph down a half mile stretch, I seriously had the time of my life.  It is true that people have the time of their life in college.  College changed the way I am for the good, and now I feel like I'm a more established individual.  I have more knowledge, more mature (okay maybe not), and just stronger than what I was before.  I have the greatest friends in the world, who are all from UML. 

Even when I have a good 6-7 months left of my UML career, I'm going to continue to work hard and enjoy what I have left at this university.  Time to create more memories with my best friends and with the rest of the Class of 2009! 

Rock On EPs!!!!!

- Christian  
I was browsing through msn.com one night and I came across one of their famous "best of the best" or "top something" lists.  This weeks special was the best places to raise your kids, which labeled the best city in each state.  Curiously, I clicked on Massachusetts.  Next thing you know, the name "Malden, MA" came up.  Oh man, I started to crack up laughing.  How can my hometown be the best city to raise your kids?  Before I start typing a storm of pros and cons, here's some extra information about the selection process.

Cities were picked with at least 50,000 residents and a median family income between $40k - $100k.  Then they had to have good numbers/characteristics in the following criteria was that was listed on businessweekly.com: 

- Affordability (MAJOR PLUS!)
- School Performance
- Number of Schools
- Household Expenditures
- Crime rates
- Air quality
- Job growth
- Family income
- Museums
- Parks
- Theaters
- Diversity, etc. etc.

And with all those standards and criteria, Malden, MA manages to be the top city in the state of Massachusetts.  If you think about how the research was conducted and presented on the site, Malden, MA is actually part of the top 50 best places to raise your kids in the United States.  How crazy is that?

Here are the pros about Malden: 

- Like what the website said, Malden is very diverse.  Honestly, I don't see a majority or a minority in this city.  It seems that all the "races" are equal to each other, meaning they all have the same number.  Everyone gets along, which means there is absolutely no type of racism here. 

- School-wise, there are many schools in Malden.  The city built 5 brand new public elementary schools, have 3 high schools, and have two private elementary schools.  Plus there are many great small "schools" within the community.  If you want to learn how to play from the best musicians in the area, look for BMR Music off Salem St!!  

- Sports-wise, Malden has the best recreational and high school programs in the nation.  Malden Babe Ruth continues to offer young players a low registration fee with the best competitive baseball league in the state.  Malden Pop Warner A Squad was so good that they went to the Super Bowl of Pop Warner in Disney's World of Sports Facility in Florida.  It was also aired on ESPN.  Malden High School and Malden Catholic continues to build high caliber sports teams in the Greater Boston League and Catholic Conference respectively... heck I can go on and on about sports! 

- Accessibility is probably the most well known factor.  Malden has two "Orange Line" MBTA subway stops and one commuter rail stop.  Malden is near and is surrounded by major highways:  I-93, Rt. 1, Rt 128 (I-95).  Boston is literally a good 10-15 minutes drive away, so accessing major historical points, entertainment, and sporting events is no problem.  Shopping centers are scattered around Malden also. 

I can go on and on about the great stuff about Malden.

Here are the cons (which actually came up first when I started laughing):

- I think the crime rate here is high with the increasing levels of gang activity, drug trades, and other stupid stuff that goes on during the day and night.  Malden is located near some crime-ridden cities, and it seems that more criminals from other places come here to do their stupid stuff, like drug trades, gang stuff, or stealing products from Stop and Shop. The police are working their butts off trying to get criminals off the street, but crime continues to happen (not their faults).  Honestly, I would not walk by myself in Malden in the early evening to late night hours.  I don't want to get jumped.

- The MCAS scores for Malden increased just a little, but wasn't enough to make Malden Public Schools look like the best of the best.  The program is so obsessed with the MCAS that the majority of the teaching staff only focuses on that test, and not learning outside of it.  Malden is trying its best to promote the arts and increasing their quality of education, but putting their 100% effort on the MCAS lags from actual learning.

- Pot Holes:  Seriously, Malden has some pretty bad roads.  Many major roads still haven't been repaved or totally reconstructed, which is actually hurting the commute.  I've noticed more construction activity during the summer, but I still think Malden needs to fix their roads so the commute would be less bumpy.

- Malden Square??????  Seriously, that square is completely littered with dumb dollar stores.  What happened to the "golden age" when Malden Square was always busy?  If you stepped on the Main St. / Pleasant St. "T" intersection and looked into the square, I bet you would've thrown up at the site of it.  The area just looks so gray... the concrete road doesn't make it look better.  I don't know, maybe it's just me, but Malden Square is sooo boring.  It is true that Malden is trying to improve the square so the "Golden Age" would return again, but right now, it looks like its not happening.  The only three major changes I've seen is the construction of a new apartment building, the new building for the Department of Education, and a new Senior Citizen Community building.  Other than that, the ugliest looking city hall is still sitting on the middle of Pleasant St, which continues to detour traffic since the 1950s (or even later).

Again, I can also go on for the cons.

So in conclusion, I was a bit surprised that Malden was the best place to raise their kids.  I just had a conversation with my dad about this shocking finding, and he just had the total opposite reaction.  He told me that Malden was very good to our family.  My siblings and I never had a problem living here and had the best education from Malden.  And look at us now, I'm a senior in college, my sister is a junior in college, my younger brother is a freshmen also in college, and my youngest brother is a junior in high school.  So, my dad thinks that we got the best out of Malden, from sports to education.

So hats off to Malden, MA for being the best city to raise your children!


Today is the day when America chooses its leaders of the future - from state representatives to the president and vice president of the United States.  Also, certain "questions" or policy changes are voted in by the same privileged American citizens.  November 4, 2008 will be the election that no one will never forget. This is the first time America will see a major change from the "presidential norms" of having a Caucasian male president or vice president.  Tomorrow, everyone will know if Mr. Barrack Obama will be the first African-American president, or Mrs. Sarah Palin will be the first female vice-president.  Because of this major change from the "norm," there is a projected record breaking voter turnout.  So today is definitely a crucial part of American history. 

Obviously as a lifetime American citizen, I exercised my right to vote this morning at my voting poll station at the Mystic Valley Charter School gym.  Funny enough, there was a very small line and a minimal wait time.  It literally took me a good 10 minutes to walk in, check-in, get my ballot, fill it out, and check out.  It was a quick process, so I was extremely happy that I got to participate in this historical election in a short time.  Unfortunately, many voters are having problems with lines, wait times, and broken machines across the nation.  I'm just happy to say that my voting session was not an issue.  Come to think of it, the time is 4:00pm and everyone is coming home from work. There is exactly 4 more hours to vote, and from what I saw in the news, there will be even longer lines and wait times!! 

So if you are reading this and you have not voted yet, head out now!!!  The lines will pile-up outside, and the temperature is dropping!  If you hate the cold and hate long lines, go now!  Don't even finish reading this blog!! GO GO!!  

Okay, for those who already voted, congrats! (Ha Ha).  Now is the time when you can just sit here and wait (and do homework obviously).  Seriously, I'm completely excited to hear who's the winner!  History will change no matter who wins/loses.  The way of life may change forever.  The War in Iraq might come to an end.  I just have a big feeling inside (a little nervous actually) on what will happen when the new president gets sworn in.  Will the changes be for the good, or for the worse? There are so many questions that needs to be answered, and I'm hoping our new President can answer them without problems.

So did you do your part today?  (If not, why didn't you stop reading and run out to vote!! Just kidding!).

Christian Tiongson for 2012! (Yeah Right) 

If you saw a bunch of 20+ year old people walking down the streets in Lowell wearing Halloween costumes, such as a navy sailor, hockey player, or Indiana Jones (which was me), what would you think?  Well, some people would think its just another crazy college stun (like getting free candy/food because college kids are broke).  Fortunately that was not the reason why a bunch of us, my friends, and I went trick or treating near North Campus yesterday.  We went trick or treating to collect candy for care packages that will be sent to soldiers across seas, especially to those in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Basically, we all met around 6:00 on front of Cumnock Hall, then walked as a group up University Ave to hit as many houses as possible.  At first the hunt for candy was slow because there weren't as many houses that were giving out candy.  But as the night went on and our route changed from the main road to side streets, the candy piled up.  I, as the forgetful college student I am, forgot to bring a bag to collect candy, so I had to use all the small number of pockets in my Indiana Jones custome to hold the candy I collected.  Unfortunately, it filled up pretty good and I ended up dumping them all into my buddy's backpack.  At first I thought our bags wouldn't be filled up as much since there weren't that many "candy" houses, but oh boy!  We had a whole hockey bag filled of candy by the end of the night!!!!  And hockey bags are pretty big! 

Trick or Treat for the troops.JPG

I had the privilege to walk with a handful of awesome and caring students and members from various organizations, such as Omicron Delta Kappa (ODK).  It was definitely a great experience and of course tons of fun!  Seriously, when was the last time I dressed up in a costume and went out to go trick or treating?  I can tell you its been awhile since I went door to door asking for candy (... maybe it was more demanding for some good sweets ha ha).  I wish I had done this before!  I'm proud to be part of this event and I hope tons of people will join us next year!!!

JUN 002.jpg

Dr. Indiana Jones signing off,

Christian Indy


About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by Tiongson, Christian J in November 2008.

Tiongson, Christian J: October 2008 is the previous archive.

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