Runs In Transit

Month: August, 2014

Kanye West’s Five Most Underrated Songs

I clicked a buzzfeed link to Kanye West’s Album Tracks Ranked From Worst to Best (I regret my decision). It was wrong in so many ways. Ranking Gorgeous 68 out of 72? smh

Kanye has a lot of good songs, from top to bottom. But while everyone is familiar with his hits,  a lot of gems go unnoticed.

Here are, in my opinion, five of his most underrated songs:

1. Street Lights is an emotionally distressed, auto-tune heavy song about depression, life’s repetitiveness, it’s quick passing, and the difficulty in finding meaning as you age. The song is comprised mostly of a chorus, but the words are poetic and full of deeper meanings:

“So I hopped in the cab and I paid my fare. See I know my destination, but I’m just not there. All the street lights, glowing, happen to be just like moments, passing, in front of me”

2. Gorgeous is a well played song, but because it’s on Kanye’s most popular album, it doesn’t gets the respect it deserves, evidenced by the reviews it receives online (fucking buzzfeed). Gorgeous showcases some of Kanye’s best lyrical work. The verses are ingeniously written, have an amazing flow, and make social commentary on race, inequality, and how music fits in between.

“Inter century anthems based off inner city tantrums, based off the way we was branded. Face it, Jerome get more time than Brandon, and at the airport they check all through my bag and tell that it’s random”

3. Hey Mama is a super emotional song dedicated to Kanye’s mom. It talks about everything she sacrificed for him and attributes his success to her. Two years after this song released, his mom died, and this song has a different but just as important meaning today. It’s a great rap song and the topic is something everyone can get behind.

“I was three years old when you and I moved to the Chi. Late December, harsh winter gave me a cold. You fixed me up something that was good for my soul. Famous homemade chicken soup, can I have another bowl?”

4. Can’t Tell Me Nothing doesn’t lack in popularity. It was a single off Graduation but was out-shined by other hits on the album like Stronger. Apart from being one of Kanye’s most defining songs, it shows the beginning of his “me vs. the world” attitude and his “no fucks given, I am a god” bravado that we would see again in MBDTF and Yeezus.

“I had a dream I could buy my way to heaven. When I woke up, I spent that on a necklace…. So if the devil wear Prada, Adam Eve wear nada, I’m in between but way more fresher”

5. Robocop is one of my personal favorites. It’s a catchy song with a different style that traverses his relationship with a “Robocop” girl, in this case his ex-fiance. It’s funny, sarcastic,  melodic, and even slightly relatable, which is rare with Kanye.

“Who knew she was a drama queen, that’d turn my life to Stephen King’s. Up late night like she on patrol, checking everything like I’m on parole. I told her there’s some things she don’t need to know. She never let it go. Ok, ok, ok, ok”

You may have noticed that 808’s and Heartbreak got decent representation on this list (2/5). That’s because if we were to talk underrated albums, it’d be number one. I recommend listening through completely and really trying to understand the lyrics. You’ll get used to the auto-tune and lack of verses, trust me.

Why Tipping Sucks

I ‘m not a fan of tipping. I’d go as far as to say I think it should be banned.

I know waiters are paid below minimum wage – my current job depends on tips, and I know tips at least somewhat incentivize waiters to provide better service. Because of the first reason, I tip above average whenever I eat out.

But I’d prefer not to have to do that. Tipping is uncomfortable, inefficient, even discriminatory.

When I eat at a restaurant, I prefer to be left alone with my food and sometimes my company. I don’t care for over-politeness or servers asking me if I want to try something or “can I get you anything else?”. To many, these are considered “good service”, but for the introverted and frugal, it’s uncomfortable. Americans tend to be more polite, friendly, and outgoing than other nationalities, and this kind of service generally receives better tips. To me, good service can lack all of these qualities. Good service can consist of being prompt and respectful. Sometimes I feel like I am pandered to solely for a better tip. It’s uncomfortable, and I couldn’t afford to tip more even if I appreciated it.

I imagine many waiters find it uncomfortable and would prefer a smoother, more predictable source of income rather than the volatile paychecks tips create.

In China, and probably many developing countries, service is vastly different. Besides the time when you order, no one will stop by to assist you. You don’t even have a waiter or waitress. If you need something, you yell, “fuyuan!” and someone promptly comes. It’s fast, efficient, and once you get past the urge to be polite, it’s more comfortable.

Freakonomics did a podcast on tipping (link above). It talked about how tips depend on a variety of factors, many of them discriminatory. For example, blondes are tipped better, women are tipped better, and minorities are tipped less. Basically, if you’re not an attractive white woman, you’re out of luck.

Not only that, tipping has a strong correlation with corruption, and who’s not against corruption? (sit down N. Korea)

Unfortunately, tipping is so ingrained in our culture that it probably won’t change in my lifetime. Luckily, it doesn’t bother me that much, but if it did, I have some options. I could move to a country where tipping is offensive because good service is expected and bosses pay livable wages to their workers (Japan). I could move to a country where tips are left for exceptional service and are typically the change used to round up to the next $5 bill (France).

This post is a passive way of saying I want to move out of the US.

Master Chief Collection, Why You Gotta Do Me Like That?

The Master Chief Collection comes out November 11 and I couldn’t be more excited… and sad… and nostalgic all at the same time. It’s got me feeling a weird, indescribable kind of way.

If you don’t know, The Master Chief Collection is a remastered compilation of the Halo series, including Halo CE, 2, 3, and 4, all in one game and for the Xbox One.

If you also didn’t know, I’ve spent more time playing Halo, and specifically, Halo 3, than any other activity besides sleeping and eating (and maybe sitting in class). I could go in detail about the effect Halo has had on my life – I could even write a full length book on it, but today I’ll just share a synopsis.

It all started in 8th grade when my friend Pud introduced me to the world of competitive gaming. He showed me how kids our age had six figure contracts with Major League Gaming, and how he himself, was poised to make a breakthrough, as evidenced by his ranking on the first page of the 4v4 H3 Gamebattles ladder.

I have a slightly addictive personality. When I get into something, I dedicate everything towards that goal. It took me a whole 2 seconds to realize I wanted to be a professional gamer, and for the next 3 years I would spend some hundreds of hours improving my skills. Catching up to my peers was my immediate motivation, and winning tournaments and backing up my trash talk was my carrot-on-a-stick. In short, a lot of memories were spent in Halo, and for better or worse, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Except maybe chasing girls.

So back to the modern age. Bungie and 343 release a couple of unspectacular Halo games, which shall not be named, and the competitive community for Halo is all but dead, along with my hopes and aspirations of being a pro. Then all of a sudden, The Master Chief Collection is announced at E3. At this point I am used to disappointment after hearing anything labeled Halo, but this time is different. This game has all the features that made Halo great. It isn’t changing anything or trying to be game-changing, it’s just Halo, and I get slightly chub from that.

So now I have something to look forward to. Not just the game, but also my hopes of going to an MLG event, something high on my bucket list, and just in general kicking ass in a game. Why am I sad? Well first, I have to buy an Xbox One to play MCC, which I will pretty much use just to play Halo 3. This would set me back about $460, and that’s not including Xbox Live (damn you Microsoft). But finances I can manage. What I can’t manage is putting time into gaming again. I’m too busy in the real world trying to be productive, meaning my dreams of placing top 64 at a tournament are more like pipe dreams. So I’m sad because I passed my prime, both in terms of skill and leisure time, but also because I feel old and nostalgic. I wish I could go back in time and relive some of those nights in friends basements, playing video games until the sun came up, and sleeping in til 2pm or when parents would kick you out. Those were the days when it was perfectly okay to not have aspirations. Now, doing that is another word for unemployed.

Master Chief Collection coming out will give me something to do and bring back some great memories, but it also reminds me that I’ve left one stage of my life and went on to another. Some call it childhood to adulthood, but whatever you may, for those realizing it, it’s a bittersweet time, because even if you want to experience childhood again, it’s too late.


It’s okay Master Chief, I’m sad too.

GRE’s, Career, and the Real World

Today I finally signed up for the GRE’s. Now my fall is looking like this:

1.Take GRE’s

2. Go to Career Fair

3. Do well in my 2 math classes

4. Help my best friend’s production company get off the ground

4. Apply to grad schools

5. Hopefully have a full time job offer or get accepted into a good school!

6. Regardless, go to London for winter break, celebrate, and maybe get a cool tattoo (don’t tell my mom)

asian man relaxing

You’d think graduating a year early would be less stressful, like this asian man relaxing.


The Winner’s Curse and How to Avoid It

Have you ever bought something and instantly regretted it? They call this buyer’s remorse, and I get it every time I purchase an Xbox Live membership (online multiplayer should be free!). When the winner of an auction feels buyer’s remorse, it is called the winner’s curse. This phenomenon occurs in auctions where bidders view the good with common value but have incomplete information about the market value of the good. In these auctions, the winner tends to overpay because their winning bid either exceeds the goods anticipated value or its actual value. Examples include IPOs and oil field auctions, where it is impossible to know the true value of the good until after it is bought.

How does the winner’s curse apply to me? I’m currently trying to buy a nice pair boots. And I don’t mean a pair of Timberlands or a pair of Clark’s Desert boots,I’m talking a well-crafted pair of leather boots that are made to last, a la Dayton, Alden, Wolverine, etc. Unforunately, these boots typically run in the $300-700 range, way over the budget of a recent college grad working part time. Hence, I’m willing to buy a pair of pre-owned boots, which I think look pretty vintage. This brings me to ebay. For the past three days I’ve been watching a pair of Wolverine 1000 Mile boots. The auction ends tonight, and I want them. The style fits my tastes and my willingness to pay is high relative to my budget. So what’s the problem? I don’t want to suffer the winner’s curse.

Last year, a classmate in my thesis class wrote his paper on the winner’s curse. He found that the chances of the winner’s curse occurring is increasing with the number of bidders in the auction and the inexperience of a bidder in auctions. Unfortunately, there are over a dozen bidders and three times as many people watching, and my experience on ebay consists of winning a gamecube game in middle school. Basically, I’m at a competitive disadvantage, and even if I win the auction, my chances of experiencing the winner’s curse are high. But fear not, I have the power of game theory and a decade of competitive gaming strategy under my belt.

First off, it is safe to assume the two principles of the winner’s curse. This is likely a common value auction. All bidders probably value these boots the same-why else would be watching this specific pair? There is also imperfect information. None of us can know the true market value of the boots because 1) we cannot examine the boots physically, 2) the description cannot be perfectly accurate and 3) the boots are discontinued so there is no way to compare it’s price.  Thus, it is difficult to accurately measure it’s market value. If I assume that the average bid is accurate, meaning half of the bidders underbid and the other half overbid, then the auction winner is very likely to overpay. This is bad news for me. Not only is my budget likely lower than my competitors, I am also no expert when it comes to boots. Combined with my high willingness to pay, I am likely to be an overbidder.

So what’s my best strategy? Ignore estimating the market value and go for the snipe. The boots are discontinued and are not listed anywhere else, meaning the market value is largely irrelevant, especially because I place a high value on them. When the auction is nearing complete, I will stalk the price. If it is below my willingness to pay, I will bid and test the waters. If I am immediately outbid from an automatic bid, I will increase my bid until I know the maximum bid of the leading bidder. If I get this far and I am still willing to pay for these boots, I will try to snipe the boots with a last second bid. If not, which seems likely, I will have to sleep in remorse, but at least I won’t suffer from the winner’s curse.

These are the boots. Pretty fancy huh?

Edit: When I tried to make a bid I realized I was signed out and couldn’t place a bid in time. I didn’t get the boots. Fail.

“Runs In Transit”?

My nickname is Runs. I’ve had it since 9th grade, and although I’m constantly reminded it refers to untimely bowel movements, the name has stuck. And plus, I like the way it sounds.

I’m “in transit” because I feel lost. I don’t know what I want to do with my life and I don’t know if I’ll ever know. Being in transit is a metaphor for my life. I’m on my way somewhere, but I just don’t know where I’m going and when I’ll get there.

Luckily, I enjoy being in transit. Some of the times I’ve felt most at home were during road trips, plane rides, and train trips. The feeling of going somewhere new, having a destination, and watching the scenery change around you is comforting. Traveling is always on my mind, and having a blog called Runs In Transit only serves to remind me to get back in that position ASAP.

Also, I just started working as a delivery driver so I will quite literally be spending a lot of time in transit. This will give me ample time to ruminate and write down my thoughts.


Here’s a picture of me riding a train in China. I’m on the left spreading panda propaganda.