Nov 11 - Nov 17

Five Things for the Week

Hello! The above photo is from last weekend’s hike at Calaveras Big Trees State Park. I like how the morning light was hitting the young trees, and it got me thinking about how these trees will grow and prosper despite competing with all of the “adult” trees surrounding them, many of which are full grown and whose canopies block the majority of the light from reaching the new growth. I’m sure this is a metaphor for something; just let me keep overthinking it for a little while longer.

I got through another week because, like the trees, life finds a way. Right, Dr. Ian Malcolm? Have a great week!


[one] we interrupt this introvert weekend to bring you art, culture, and disappointing fish and chips

This weekend was easy-going, spent mostly at home recharging and taking care of some pesky to-dos that had been lingering for a while. Today, we did manage to sneak out, visiting the Crocker Museum and getting lunch in Old Town. I’m grateful for the time we were out; it’s such a beautiful day and there weren’t a lot of people at either place, so it was nice and mellow. 

The museum was a nice change of pace. We wandered through a few of the halls looking at a mix of paintings, ceramics, and sculptures. It’s definitely a place to go back to view in sections. Trying to take it all in one day would be too much, and too hurried. I especially liked seeing a group tour of deaf people, and watching how the tour guide was so inclusive and took her time to make sure that all of the participants could ask questions. 

We shared a fish, shrimp, and chips plate from Railroad Fish and Chips. The first time we ate there (almost a full year ago) it was wonderful, everything freshly fried and tasting very good. It was rainy and a little chilly, and we had spent the morning wandering around so we were hungry. Today, it all tasted… off. The food wasn’t horrible, but it did taste a little stale and you could tell that the fry oil was on the cusp of needing to be changed. It’s disappointing, especially since that first experience was so good. 

[two] i still should have brought my wide angle lens

I was one of those “why would I want an ultra-wide angle camera on my phone” people. That is, until I went for a hike and didn’t bring a wide angle lens for my camera, then remembered that my fancy smartphone might help. So much for keeping the phone in my bag while I’m experiencing nature.

[three] found a trustworthy mechanic so, now we’re never moving

It’s a great feeling, finding an auto mechanic that you not only feel comfortable (trust) going to but, that you actually like. With as many times as we have moved, it’s difficult to establish “go tos” for various services. I took one of the cars in for service and asked them to check out a few other things. They went above and beyond not only fixing them, but looking at and fixing other possibly related issues without charge. This was the 4th visit to them. The first visit was awesome, and each time since was an increasingly better experience. 

I was one of many dropping their car off on a Friday morning. Being in no rush, I told them so, not expecting to pickup until mid to late afternoon. So, I walked ~2 miles to a shopping center and hung out in a Panera and then wandered through a Barnes and Noble. Just as I was considering taking a Lyft to downtown, they called to let me know the car was ready and told me about the other things that they had found and fixed (no additional charge). And even though they were minor maintenance things, they didn’t have to go above and beyond. On the walk back I couldn’t help but feel happy and grateful for having found them, and started to plan when I would take our other car in for service. 

[four] the stress is coming from within the house

At the beginning of the week, I somehow got too deep in my own head (self-doubt) and setup camp. The good part is that once I recognized what I was doing, it stopped getting worse. Holding steady for the remainder of the week was, as far as I’m concerned, a win. On the whole, it really wasn’t bad; I cooked healthy meals, got in some exercise, lost a little weight, met all of my work and school deadlines… It’s just weird to feel like, despite doing that, somehow I failed? That I wasn’t as productive as I should have been? That I’m underachieving? 

This is all to say that I’m learning, as I’m paying more attention, that the source of the majority of my stress is internal and self-imposed. 

[five] i still refuse to become a software developer

It’s strange for me to say this but, I have a new “favorite” code editor. On a recommendation form a classmate, I switched from Sublime Text to Visual Studio Code and was very pleasantly surprised at how much more I like it. Even stranger is that I’m actually having fun working with Python. It’s a much easier language than others I have experienced and, for some reason, it’s “clicking” with me a lot quicker. So much that I even put together a few scripts just to play around. 


Recently Read

Blue Moon, A Jack Reacher Novel, by Lee Child - I read this book much like one watches a long-running crime procedural on network TV. You know, the ones that you have watched for years and keep watching, despite their predictability, partly because you like/are familiar with the characters, and partly out of habit. The line between entertainment and habit (due to familiarity) is severely blurred. Yeah... this is how I’ve felt after the last few novels in this series so, perhaps it’s time to hang it up. 

Monstress Vol. 4, by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda - This is one of my favorite graphic series. The combination of story and art works; I love the artistic style, itself adding to the story, not just supplementing it. 

“In Hong Kong, the protests have exposed bitter divisions — even among friends and families” - Another excellent piece of photojournalism from California Sunday. 

“Why I’m Wrong About Everything (and So Are You)” by Mark Manson - I think we all know this to  be true in our heads but, it’s a good reminder to read something like this every now and then.

Relationship Lessons from Trees, by Maria Popova - I appreciated this post and its literary sources. They resonated with me, especially with our recent hikes through sequoias and redwoods. 

[Newsletter] Black Box, by Christine Lee - It makes me so happy to see Christine has a newsletter. Please subscribe and enjoy!

Recently Watched

I lost track of how many Python (and general coding) tutorials I watched on Youtube. Some were extremely boring but educational. So, exactly like you imagine coding videos on Youtube to be.  

Star Trek: The Next Generation - We’re up to season 5, episode 24. I appreciate the series’ ability to go from serious to light-hearted and back to serious from episode to episode. I’m also enjoying the guest starts that popup, seeing a young Ashley Judd, Famke Janssen, and many more. 

The Office “Dinner Party” - A classic episode, one of my favorites for how well it was put together and carried by the acting. The tension build between characters Michael and Jan, and how increasingly uncomfortable it makes the other characters (and the viewers)… I relate to it because (a long time ago) I witnessed something similar when attending a housewarming party for a coworker, and watched as he and his girlfriend escalated into a full-blown screaming match. And they called each other “Babe” the whole evening, just like Michael and Jan.

Recently Listened

This week’s rotation included Peggy Gou, Fin.K.L., GOWE, and The Fat Boys

[Podcast] Dolly Parton’s America, “Dollitics - Fascinating. I admire, very much, her ability to accept and forgive. 

[Podcast] The Moth: Around The World - “Judge less, and help more”. Kwong Yue Yang’s story about a helpful stranger.  Note: his is the second story in the episode. 


Post notes

I had something else written for topic [two] but changed it right before sending out the newsletter. It was more personal than I was willing to share, at least for now. A common request I get (for this newsletter) is to share more photos so, I opted to do that instead.

I’m keeping up with Screen / Life Balance’s “30 Days of Gratitude” posts on my blog.

Nov 4 - Nov 10

Five Things for the Week

Hello! The above photo is SOOC (straight out of the camera), which means no post-processing (editing). I saw this in my head (while on a hike) and knew what I wanted, and how I wanted the color to turn out. For this frame, I took six pictures, with different camera settings, and settled on the one above as being my favorite of those six.

I chose my Fujifilm X-series cameras for a few reasons. Mainly because their smaller form, the abundance of manual setting controls, and the image quality that come from them. But, I’m also coming to appreciate the different film simulations that are built into the camera, allowing me to apply those filters to the image as I’m photographing versus having to spend time post-processing.

The point is that these cameras are great tools for me. They allow me to spend more time achieving what I want to, in the moment, and less time “fixing” things afterwards. This is what I want more of in my life.

Thank you for reading and sharing. Have a great week!


[one] my hips don’t lie (they’re sore)

I cannot express how good it felt to get in a hike this weekend. Yesterday, we joined a friend and accumulated 7.5 miles in a little over 3 hours, completing the South Grove Trail and then the North Grove Trail (near the visitor’s center) at Calaveras Big Trees State Park. There is something so healing, so refreshing, to wander through the cool morning mountain air amongst the mix of hundred plus year-old sequoias and pines. 

Especially enjoyable was that we got there early enough where we were the only ones on the South Grove Trail (on the way up), and I got to take in the silence and the morning light through the canopy, and it felt like it was all there just for me. 

Afterwards, we nourished our already-aching bodies with pizza — the perfect after-hike food — and then started the 2-hour drive back home. All in all, it was one of the more perfect days that I have had in a while. 

[two] still productive without the internet? nah…

On Wednesday, there was a *shakes fist at* Comcast outage and I lost internet for the afternoon. Thankfully it happened after my last few conference calls and the majority of my work. I tried working using my phone as a hotspot for a while but, that was just irritating. So I used the time to rearrange the layout of my home office. I wanted something a little more simplified, and where my desk wasn’t facing in a direction where I could be easily distracted with the stairs and hallway in my peripheral vision. I like the new layout; the place just needs some more organization and rearranging of where and what is out on shelves. It feels more “permanent” to where I’m almost ready to paint an accent wall and add some floating shelves to it. 

[three] “Great kid! Don’t get cocky” -han solo

I had eleven coding (Python) exercises to complete. I put them off until Friday morning (my lightest work day) so that I could knock them all out at once. Surprisingly, they didn’t take as long as I thought. I knew more than I gave myself credit for and got through them pretty quickly/easily.

[four] please take care of yourself

I didn’t listen to my (physical) body, this week. Which means that I didn’t hear or address what it was telling me. Which means that because I ignored it, things got progressively worse (through the week). And that played into my mental health, where levels of guilt and stress increased. Which means that those increased guilt, stress, and anxiety levels cycled back around to affect my physical being. Which, my physical being was trying to tell me all along, eventually yelling at me for help. And which I continued to ignore. 

This is how I self-harm. And it needs to stop.

[five] does anyone else hear the theme song to CHiPs when you see CHP?

No? Just me? Ok.

On the drive to Calaveras Big Trees State Park, I got a speeding ticket. Sometimes an open highway is a little too tempting. Especially after being stuck behind a slow-moving school bus and line of cars for a while. It would be nice if the CHP was a little more empathetic to those situations. Wide open highway! C’mon, Ponch!


Recently Read

I had a few false starts with some (fiction) novels. I just couldn’t get myself into them, whether it be because the books started too slowly for me or because I couldn’t get my mind settled enough to concentrate. Will try again. 

Matthew Ogle’s daily newsletter, “Pome” - I enjoy reading a new “modern” poem each day, and his curation is helping me discover other writers (poets). 

Recently Watched

Nothing much to report here, other than a few more episodes of The Office, which I suppose is a good thing. 

Recently Listened

On a second screen, while working, I had the Post Modern Jukebox videos playing. They take modern songs and give them different music and historical styles. It’s a fun channel to get lost in. 

This week’s rotation also included The Black Crowes, Courtney Barnett, and Rainer Maria

[Podcast] Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend: Neil Young - Neil talks a little about the quality of music (and how much is lost in compressed digital formats) and it makes me realize that while I don’t consider myself an “audiophile”, I hate it when I can’t hear every single instrument in a song (and/or the music sounds “muddy”). 


Post notes:

More pictures from yesterday’s hike here, on my Flickr Photostream.

I’m keeping up with Screen / Life Balance’s “30 Days of Gratitude” posts on my blog.

Oct 28 - Nov 3

Five Things for the Week

This was one of the more mundane and uneventful weeks (not a bad thing). It turned out to be a good mental, stress-reducing, unplanned break for me. I got to hang out and do almost nothing (much like the frog, above). Which is good because I foresee the remainder of 2019 being very busy, on all fronts.

I appreciate all of the dialog that came from last week’s newsletter. Most of it was around mental health and it makes me feel good knowing that it’s something a lot of us are focusing on.

Take care, and have a great week!


[one] Early birds

Is 5:30 our new wake up time? Seems to be. If I wasn’t setting the alarm to make it to a conference call, I was setting it so that we could get to the gym. Surprisingly, the morning workout wasn’t bad and, in fact, did a lot to set the tone for the day. I found it easier to make better food choices and be more active throughout the day. My mood and overall energy levels remained pretty high too.

Morning workouts also took the pressure off of the evenings, where the biggest question still remains “what are you feeling for dinner?”. If I can just step up on the meal planning front (which I’m doing), that will get easier too.

Am I actually becoming a morning person? Nah...

[two] Everyone is going through something

“There are only four kinds of people in the world. Those who have been caregivers. Those who are currently caregivers. Those who will be caregivers, and those who will need a caregiver.” ― Rosalyn Carter

[three] 30 days of gratitude

This November, I am participating in a gratitude writing exercise. I’m following the “30 Days of Gratitude challenge” prompts from Screen/Life Balance and author Catherine Price. If you want to keep up with them, they’re on my blog.

[four] Week of gaming

On Monday I felt energized and was able to get way ahead on both work and school fronts so, I found myself with a lot of spare time (good) to do non-productive things (also good, IMHO) for the rest of the week. I spent an embarrassing amount of that time with the Nintendo Switch, at first setting out to play my way through as many Mario series games (starting with the original Super Mario Bros) possible but, I was quickly sidetracked when I opened Zelda: Link’s Awakening just to “check it out”. 

Though it’s a remake of the Gameboy version, I never played the original so everything feels new to me. I love the artwork and visuals, not to mention the characters from other Nintendo properties. It’s both weird and fun to have Link stomp on Goombas (from the Mario series).

I have also come to appreciate Tetris 99 for a quick match between calls/tasks. In it you’re matched against other players (online) and it’s a trip. A very fun trip. And I definitely cannot leave out Untitled Goose Game, something I play when I'm feeling particularly anarchist.

The Switch is great for its flexibility. I prefer playing in handheld mode, moving to different rooms, playing outside on the patio/porch, and throwing into my backpack to have with me when I go out. 

[five] Community

I like that the City is involving residents (and those of surrounding areas) in the design selection of the I Street Bridge Replacement Project. They have emailed ongoing surveys with each design iteration, which I like taking part in. A few weeks ago, after dinner, Michelle and I ‘stumbled” onto a presentation in Old Town, where they were showing off different designs and explaining the thought process behind them. It just feels good to have some input (no matter how big or small) into our community.


Recently Read

In retrospect, I wish I had taken some time to read some fiction this week. I spent time reading about Python (coding language) because, well... that’s my (school) life for the next 8 weeks.

Maangchi, The Internet’s Korean Mom - This is a nice, short, profile on Emily Kim. She has one of the few Youtube channels that I watch regularly. She mentions Korean adoptees liking her channel; I’m part of a Korean adoptee Facebook group where we talk about her and her recipes a lot. She does give us a sense of connection to Korea. It’s amazing how food can do that: make one feel at home even without having actually experienced home.

Recently Watched

Star Trek: the Next Generation - We’re up to season 5, episode 10. It was nice watching Leonard Nimoy’s first appearance in the series (“Unification” parts 1 & 2). He has really done so much for the entire Star Trek franchise. That was followed by the “A Matter of Time” episode, which left us debating whether Matt Frewer’s character was more or less annoying than Q.

The Office - Carrying on the theme of re-watching older TV series, I started watching this in correlation with the Office Ladies podcast so I have the episodes fresh in my mind while listening to the stories and fun facts behind it.

Recently Listened

This week’s rotation included Sharon Van Etten’s album “Remind Me Tomorrow”, Peggy Gou, Elvis Costello, and Japanese Breakfast.

[Podcast] Criminal: A New Kind of Life - I listened to this episode on Halloween, which was fitting because it creeped me out for the rest of the afternoon. It recounts the story of Elena de Hoyos and “Count Von Cosel”. *shudders*


Post notes:
  • Frog photo is from our visit to the Sacramento Zoo.


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Oct 21 - Oct 27

Five Things for the Week

This was a “Week of Introversion” for me, much like my cat (above) who did her best to blend into the rug behind me while I worked. It was good overall; I don’t have any complaints.

I was especially happy earlier in the week when it was made official, our Republic FC USL team will be competing in MLS soon (2022). They’re starting on the new stadium already. I can’t wait to get to some more games next season and beyond.

Have a great week, all!


[one] “Introverts live in two worlds: We visit the world of people, but solitude and the inner world will always be our home.” ― Jenn Granneman, The Secret Lives of Introverts: Inside Our Hidden World

In a weird way, I like being sore after working out. It’s not a “pain” but a reminder that I did something good, active, and not something that I normally do. Of course, it’s not a state that I would choose to be permanently in (my shoulders and chest are not comfortable as I type this) but, it doesn’t make me regret going to the gym.

Which, I need to do more often. Of course. I feel stronger. I feel better. I stand up straighter. I’m walking longer distances and more frequently. My mood is better. And so on and so on. So, the more I do these things, the more all of that continually increases. Hm, this whole “health” thing might have some merit to it after all.

So, I need to work more to translate this to mental and cultural health. Let’s take these mobile devices and work more “mobil-ly”, rather than remain hidden in a home office. Let’s experience, not perceive. Let’s learn, not assume. Let’s explore, not limit. Let’s get out there to exercise interactions with more people in more places, even if we’re left “sore” afterwards.

[two] “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage” — Anaïs Nin

In the spirit of putting myself more ”out there”, I have given a lot more thought to getting involved in some community and photography related clubs. I’m even considering spearheading some efforts and projects for local photographers. In addition to this newsletter, I’ll be blogging and sharing more. More to come, I think… hope…

[three] “I have rewritten — often several times — every word I have ever published. My pencils outlast their erasers.” ― Vladimir Nabokov, Speak, Memory

I thought that, once I turned in this term’s final project, I was done. Finished. Stress free until next term. Nope. The final was a paper that evaluated and made recommendations for better Human Interface Design on a website/application of my choice. I must have written it on autopilot (as I most often write) because I received an email from my professor letting me know I had veered way off course. I started off with a design-centric focus but drifted more towards the implementation of the application (what I do for a living). Thankfully he gave me a chance to rewrite and resubmit.

[four] “Grass is the cheapest plant to install and the most expensive to maintain.” — Pat Howell 

Every Wednesday, the city mows the lawn and maintains the landscape at the park across the street. When they’re done, I make sure to open the windows while I work. I love the smell of the fresh cut grass.

[five] “We must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.” ― David Mamet, Boston Marriage

It was Wednesday when I realized that I was clenching my jaw. The areas where my jaw hinges (?) were sore and there was a lot of tension from those hinges down through my neck. I could start to feel the same tension in my shoulders. Wednesday evening and Thursday morning I became even more aware of how much, and how strongly, I was clenching my jaw closed, almost as if I was trying to bite down on something impossibly hard to break. How long have I been doing this? Why? Am I stressed? I’m probably stressed.

I took the time to write out anything that I thought could be stressing me out. I included both good and bad stressors. I tried my best to include possible stressors that I wasn’t aware of or even would normally acknowledge as stressors. It helped a little but then seeing them all on one page erased that “help”.

What ultimately helped was being more aware of when I was clenching my jaw closed. And then, when I was doing so, taking a walk and/or stepping away from what I was doing. And breathing. Breathing is good.


Recently Read

What Ignoring the Disability Community Costs Hollywood - Inclusion is true representation.

Underground Lives: The Sunless World of Immigrants in Queens - Not only a compelling story but, I love the way it is presented: a mix of text, still, and moving images.

Recently Watched

Rotten - I watched the “The Avocado War” and “Troubled Water” episodes. They’re very well put together. It’s enough to make you stop and think the next time you buy something.

Star Trek: The Nest Generation - Currently sitting at season 5, episode 6. We only squeezed one more episode in this week. Busy week.

Recently Listened

Unintentionally, there was a lot of Ann Wilson (Heart) and Chrissie Hynde (The Pretenders) this week. Which reminds me, fan of Led Zeppelin? Check out Zepparella.

[Podcast] Office Ladies - Angela Kinsey and Jenna Fischer are providing some backstory and fun facts on each episode of The Office. I like the backstories and it’s fun to relive the episodes through this. I miss that show.


Post notes:

In last week’s newsletter, the use of mole (the animal) and chicken mole (the dish) was coincidental. I didn’t eat a mole, I ate mole. ;)

Oct 14 - Oct 20

Five Things for the Week

Hello! Ever had one of those weeks where you were busy but, at the end of the week, you can’t remember what you did and when? The week went by fast. I know that I got things done but feel like I have nothing to show for it.

As I write this, I keep repeating to myself, “onward!”. Next week may be just as busy but, I got this. And you do too! Have a great week!


[one] santa cruz weekend

The weekend began with an easy drive to Santa Cruz and a 45-minute tour at the Mystery Spot. According to their website:

The Mystery Spot is a gravitational anomaly located in the redwood forests just outside of Santa Cruz, California. It is a circular area of effect around 150 feet or 46 meters in diameter. Within the Mystery Spot you will be stunned as your perceptions of the laws of physics and gravity are questioned.

It was 45-minutes of demonstrations with a level and some volunteers from our tour group, not to mention 45-minutes of really bad jokes and puns. But all in good fun and an intriguing place to visit. We did a short hike on a nearby path (photo above) afterwards.

We then left our car at the hotel and wandered around the downtown, the Wharf, and the Boardwalk areas of Santa Cruz. We got our fill of people watching and exploring. The Boardwalk started getting flooded with teenagers as a nearby high school marching band competition finished up, and all of the participants sought to unwind. And we sought to escape.

Lunch downtown was nice as we dined al fresco on the patio at Chocolate. Their chicken mole was wonderful. Dinner, at Firefish Grill, and a sunset walk capped the evening. Breakfast at the Walnut Ave Cafe was good but, I’m glad we got out of there before the rush really kicked in.

It was an overall nice, relaxing, low-key getaway. Something we need to do far more often.

Here’s a bonus picture of a seal lion sunning itself, below us on the wharf, as the sun set. I suppose that all animals must enjoy basking in light and warmth in some way during their lives. Except for moles… yeah, moles probably don’t do this.

[two] please stay on path

Part of the reason I chose the feature photo that I did is because I strayed a lot from my health routine over the course of the week. Down numbers were up and up numbers were down. In addition to the guilt, I felt worse both physically and mentally. I could blame it on decision fatigue, stress, laziness, lack of time, etc…

Time beats forward and, to keep up, I need to put in the work this week. This means back to daily walks, more sessions at the gym, and eating better (for me) foods. I also need to build in more time to relax.

[three] in time

M’s birthday was this past Thursday. I was worried because I bought her gift (a few weeks ago) from a shop in Korea and the tracking showed that it was stuck in customs for a really long time. Thankfully it arrived the day before. She enjoyed the jewelry box just a little more than she enjoyed the fact that I actually wrapped it.

[four] this week’s theme

This was the “week of overthinking” for me. You name it, I spent time over-thinking and second guessing any decision I made on it.

[five] chinese proverb

“The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a person perfected without trials. ”


Recently Read

Is Anyone Going to Get Rich off of Email Newsletters? - Very informative and interesting. Reminder: I will never charge for my email newsletters. I use Substack and am keeping an eye on the platform. If they change their business model to require writers to charge, I’ll find another platform that doesn’t.

I don’t have anything else to list here. Most of this week’s reading was school related, focusing on human interaction and design for human interactions in technology. If you’re interested, here’s one blog post, from Automattic, that I used as a source for a paper.

Recently Watched

Star Trek: The Next Generation - we inched forward to season 5, episode 5. Just three more since last week. This is the season that they’re beginning to round out more characters (character development) and it can be — in my opinion — a little tedious because some episodes are too focused on one character.

I watched a lot of Youtube (enough to categorize it as an “unhealthy” amount) centered around photography. Subjects ranged from how-tos on equipment setup, settings, and photo editing, to video essays on creativity and the craft itself. I didn’t set out to learn anything specific rather, I started with one video and let myself fall down the Youtube rabbit hole (algorithm).

Recently Listened

This week’s rotation included more Sharon Van Etten (her latest album is good), Peggy Gou (great in the background while working), and G.O.W.E..

[Podcast] Hidden Brain: Guys, We Have A Problem: How American Masculinity Creates Lonely Men - It’s comforting knowing that it’s not just me; that this is an issue with many adult men. It’s disheartening knowing that it’s not just me; that this is an issue with many adult men.

[Podcast] Dolly Parton’s America: Sad Ass Songs - I don’t know much about her music or her life but, this first episode has me wanting to learn more. My respect for her songwriting has grown tremendously.

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