House of Cards: Season 1, Chapter 3

SPOILERS: Don’t read this review if you have not yet seen, or don’t want to know, details from this episode.

Since Steve suddenly took ill, Frank gets a young new driver/body man, Edward Meecham (Nathan Darrow, who was part of the company of Richard III w/ Spacey).  Darrow has a tough job, communicating w/o saying much, as his position requires.

Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) at the pulpit.

Truth be told, I never really knew him… or what his dreams were.  He was quiet, timid, almost invisible.  …The man never scratched the surface of life.  Maybe it’s best he died so young…  Frank talks about his father (in an aside)

This ep takes us to Frank’s hometown of Gaffney, South Carolina-shooting was still done in Maryland.  (Yes, the peach statue is real!)  We see a different side of Frank, as he talks w/ regular folks: the mayor, town council, a pastor, and the grieving parents of a teen girl (who died while driving and texting about the statue).  The speech in the small, simple church was both self-serving and compelling!

Frank still conducts meetings (via phone) with Marty Spinella (Al Sapienza), lobbyist for the teachers’ union and various others.  The education bill Frank wants to take to Congress needs some revisions.  Controversial issues like performance standards and teacher tenure come up.

Zoe is praised by the owner of the newspaper, much to the dismay of Tom.  He doesn’t like Zoe’s (ungrateful) attitude, plus the fact that she’s becoming a media darling.  

I know what it’s like to be beautiful and capable and ambitious…  What I see in you is a woman I admire, which doesn’t happen often.  I want to enable you.  I want to clear the way, so that you can achieve what you want to achieve, on your own terms.  -Claire says to Gillian

Claire uses a soft sell to recruit Gillian Cole (Sandrine Ho), the founder of her own start-up (World Well).  Gillian is smart, young, and idealistic, but lacks health insurance (coughing through the job interview).  Claire insists that Gillian see her GP.  Though she’s still a bit skeptical, Gillian agrees to a trial run at CWI.

Peter dumps out the little bag of cocaine (great bit of nonverbal acting from Stoll), and gets to work, even on a Sunday.  Christina is surprised, pleasantly.  Though she got a great job offer, Peter needs her more, we can sense. 

What did you glean from the scene with Claire jogging through the graveyard?  That old woman’s comments affected her somehow. 


The Most Epic Blanket Fort and the Nerdy Love Story That Made It So

Love, InshAllah

Ali Nhu An Ali & Nhu-An’s engagement photo

This fall, Nhu-An and I are getting married.

We’ve been together since November 18, 2000, back when we were seniors in high school. Despite a lot of obstacles like living on opposite sides of the country for much of our relationship and the glacial pace at which I completed grad school, we’ve stayed together and continue to be in love. To celebrate our engagement, we made this epic blanket fort.

Here’s the nerdy story that made all of this possible.

A nerdy love story

Nhu-An and I were very different people when we met. She worked hard, wanted to make a big difference in the world, and kept thinking about the next big thing. I only cared about enjoying the present moment with my friends and family. That’s why our senior class voted me “most likely to be out of class” while Nhu-An was “most…

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Update & Few Tips on Health & Beauty

Hey readers,

Hope your Summer is going well!  Life is going great (VERY rare for me to admit) so far this year- it may be my best yet!  I don’t think the 25 y.o. me would recognize the person that I’ve (slowly) become. The confidence factor is key, I feel, b/c I didn’t have much of that as a younger person.  I may be unusual, BUT I think life really starts after age 30.

As you may have noticed, I was VERY busy from mid-March to early July, esp. w/ work.  I have a different role (but w/in the same company); it’s been a BIT of a challenge (at times), and also a GREAT learning experience.  I have MORE to learn, I’m certain.  Since I took on this role, I’ve learned more about my company and dealt w/ many people (including consultants and partners).  I really enjoy that aspect (now); as an older teen/young adult, my part-time jobs helped me slowly get out of my shell and not be fearful of strangers. 

Thanks for reading!



Don’t worry about your looks; worry about your health.

Don’t only change for men, you have to be healthy for yourself.

Above are two of my mom’s fave sayings; I’ve been hearing them over the years.  I must add that my mom has ALWAYS been a moderate eater.  She doesn’t believe in diets, fads, or even spending 2 hours ea. day at the gym; her chosen exercise is walking and yoga.  After several  years of yoga, Mom branched out to Zumba and few other aerobic classes at her (no-frills) gym. 

The few other South Asian women at her gym were happy to see a friendly face; exercise is not often at the top of  our lists.  We want the younger gen to have their heads in books.  (Sidenote: If you can read on treadmill, then you’re not going fast enough.)  Most desi kids, even in the US, don’t grow up playing a sport, which can be benefit when they get older.  Now, we don’t need to be GREAT at sports, but why not attempt it more often?  My little brother and a 2nd (girl) cousin are the only ones I know who played sports after elementary school age.

If you want to lose weight, cut down on the following foods:

  • Bread (white) – I can’t even recall when I ate white bread; I like flatbread now. 
  • Candy/Desserts – We now know that (a BIT) of dark chocolate can be good for us.  However, the I feel that MOST of the US indulges too much in sugary foods.  We must (slowly) train ourselves to get out of the habit of turning to sugar; try some different fruit instead (if available).  Save desserts for rare/special occasions. 
  • Pasta (white) – I used to be a BIG fan of pasta, but rarely eat it now.  Wheat pasta is not bad tasting, IMO. 
  • Potatoes – I eat potatoes RARELY; I do like fries.  Mom suggests baking sweet potato fries; she did that before it became popular.
  • Rice (white) – This is a tough one for me (as well as MANY South Asians)!  Since I hate brown rice, I choose couscous instead.  My family liked brown rice, for the most part.  Good for them!
  • Soda (esp. dark-colored ones that are worse for health and teeth) – I have a love of Coke (trying to cut back to once a wk); Mom does drink Sprite and Ginger Ale (on rare occasions). 

The BEST tip- don’t beat yourself up for having a bad meal… or even a bad day! 


I don’t like that stuff [makeup].

Don’t use so many different brands. 

These are my mom’s thoughts on beauty.  Everyone says that Mom has natural beauty.  Growing up, she would use Ivory soap, Oil of Olay (face cream), and Ponds (face cream for the Winter).  On rare occasions, she would (reluctantly) put on some eyeshadow and lipstick.  Things that looked fake were NOT for her; the inner self was reflected by her outer self.

Is Mom’s idea of staying as natural as possible old-school?  Hmmm… maybe not!  After all, many of us see more breakouts when we use foundation.  And NOT all mascaras last ALL day; it’s not good for Spring allergies either.  Many surveys have shown that a clear, fresh complexion will get you noticed than ANY type of makeup.  I feel that makeup is good for dates, weekends, and special occasions.  The key is to know your skin type, what colors suit you, and how to apply the makeup.  I suggest talking w/ a few makeup artists (Ulta, Sephora, etc.)- they can guide the total newbie (like I was a few yrs back).