Don’t hoard vacation days

I took this in 2006 but, I’ve had a vacation since then. Right?

I am off work for the rest of the week. I’m giving myself a break and rewarding myself with a four day weekend. It’s one of the things that I need to improve on: taking more time for myself. I can’t remember the last time I used up all of my vacation days.

And that is a bad thing.

Vacation days are part of your compensation. They are part of your salary. Not using them is almost like forfeiting a part of your salary. And while I am able to carry over some vacation hours to the next year, it’s not to be used as a “safety net”. I need to use those hours.

The last “proper” vacation we have had? It’s been a few years. Some extended weekends here and there. Nothing in the realm of 5+ consecutive workdays off.

So, the rest of the week will have to do until my wife and I can figure out where to go and how to spend an actual vacation. Hopefully soon.

Five things for the week

Sunday morning

1. Balance

I work from home and I love it. It’s definitely a privilege that I try not to take for granted. Like many remote workers, I do struggle with “clocking out”. I sometimes feel guilty for even stepping away from my desk during business hours. As the time passes, I am getting more comfortable with it.

I do want to start mixing things up a little more, such as working out of coffee shops and other locations more often. If not just to get some more “social” tine around people. I have written about this before but, I do want to start networking and participating in some meetups more often as well. So I joined Meetup.com to check out what is happening in the area.

2. Habits

I fell back on my “no screen time other than e-readers after 9 pm” habit forming so, will I’ll have to put more focus on that, this week. The second bad habit that I started working to eliminate is working on multiple things simultaneously. In other words, I have been trying to focus more on single tasks, even adding time to my calendar dedicated to them. I would gauge my success rate in doing this at 50% for last week. I have some ideas to implement, this week, to help improve that.

3. Read

Inside the black (cherry) market of vintage Kool-Aid packet collectors After reading this, for a while I sat and tried to think of any food and/or beverage that I felt as much passion for as the people this highlights. The answer? Nope, not a single food item.

The Pu-erh Brokers of Yunnan Province A good cup of Pu-erh rivals the best cups of coffee out there. I love this tea and appreciate this article’s behind the scenes insight on it.

There Is Too Much Stuff Yes.

L.A. Son, by Roy Choi – I started to reread this. I have the hardcover sitting on my dining room table so that I can visit a few pages at a time. Chef Choi is doing some really admirable work.

4. Watched

Good OmensClose to when the book was first released, I attempted to read it. I didn’t finish, mainly because the religious aspect turned me off (I had a huge chip on my shoulder about religion at the time). Thew previews intrigued me so, my wife and I decided to give this show a try. It’s good! It’s got a wonderful blend of British humor and good storytelling. Perhaps I’ll pick up the book again soon.

A Tale of Two Kitchens The more I learn about Chef Gabriela Cámara, the more my admiration grows. This short documentary juxtapositions her two restaurants with the many issues across the US-Mexico border. It’s an excellent look at the people we often overlook. As a bonus, here is Evan Kleiman’s Good Food interview with Chef Gabriela (13 min). Another bonus, here is Dave Chang in conversation with her (68 min). I enjoyed both interviews very much.

June 17th, 1994 This was unique in that there was no narrator nor talking head(s), it was a documentary made from actual news clips and file footage to tell the story. And it was super effective; I found myself remembering exactly where I was and what I was doing as some of those clips were played (and I remembered hearing them the first time).

I remember that, during the chase, I was working (as a busboy at Black Angus). I was irritated because I had to work and all I really wanted to do was watch the NBA Finals. So every chance I got, I would find my way into the bar area to take peeks at the TVs. I very vividly, thanks to the refresher from this documentary, remember the split screen between the game and the white Ford Bronco. I also remember that it felt like the whole restaurant had frozen all activities, as more people filed into the bar area to watch the chase. Very surreal.

5. Listened

Prince’s Batman (1989) soundtrack I linked to Prince’s “Batdance” video. The first time I saw that music video was at my grandparents’ house with my cousins, who were visiting from Colorado. We were all so hyped for this movie. The entire soundtrack is just so fitting with the look and tone of the movie. I still love it. “Partyman” is my favorite track.

Gone at 26 years old, Officer O’Sullivan

Murdered young police officers, the second of the year in this area. R.I.P. Natalie Corona, R.I.P. Tara O’Sullivan.

Officer O’Sullivan was murdered, last night, not too far from my neighborhood. She was part of a group of officers responding to a domestic violence call. She was doing her job.

No, I’m not happy with our systematic racism in law enforcement across this country. But this isn’t an issue where taking one side benefits anyone. It is, like so many of our systematic issues, a very multi-layered, nuanced, complex issue that will only be solved with a combination of empathy, compassion, compromise, and time (to name just a few).

I support law enforcement as much as I support movements like Black Lives Matter.

Murder is murder is murder. We need so much less of it.

It is possible to be angry at and supportive of simultaneously.

Day 72 – AeroGarden

Salsa, bruschetta, Greek salads… we’re anticipating being able to make a lot of this in the coming weeks. Look at all of the tomatoes coming in! I’m now adding water every 2-3 days and haven’t raised the light hood since the last time. It seems like the plants are holding steady at their current height, and are now just focused on producing.

I think it’s because all six plants’ roots are tangled amongst each other and taking up all of the space in the water reservoir. So, in a sense, they have taken up all the space in the pot.

Which leads to some lessons learned for if/when I grow tomatoes again in the AeroGarden:

  • I’ll only grow 1-3 plants which should yield plenty of tomatoes for us, and take up less space. This might also allow me to use the other spaces to grow other things.
  • I’ll check on the roots more often and untangle them as needed.
  • Earlier in the growth cycle, I’ll transfer some plants to soil and grow them outside.
  • I may look into some auto-watering methods. It’s not a hassle to water manually but, the more automated the better.

On mukbang, I… have questions…

First, I will preface this by saying that I absolutely have no issues with the people who create or watch mukbang videos and streams. If it brings you happiness, if it’s something you enjoy, and you aren’t causing harm to others then, as far as I am concerned, carry on.

A sample mukbang video by Nikocado Avocado

I have been aware of mukbang ever since I first heard of it and what it was about, a few years ago. But I was never really intrigued enough to watch a video, let alone know any more about it. For years it was just “a thing” that other people did.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled onto a mukbang video on Youtube. That lead me down the famed Youtube rabbit hole and before I knew it, I had watched a few mukbang videos from a few different streamers.

It’s both disgusting and fascinating. I feel similarly when I watch something like Hoarders or My 600-lb Life. And, like those shows, I’m not going to seek them out to watch regularly but when they’re on a screen I cannot turn away.

  • Why?!?
  • Are they actually eating this much in one sitting or, is there any kind of trick photography involved?
  • What do these people do to offset, if anything, the amount of food that they eat?
  • Do they go in for regular checkups on cholesterol, blood pressure, and others?
  • What do their friends and family think of these? Not looking for “judgement” but more along the lines of whether they are supportive or not.
  • I assume people watch not only for the food binge (living vicariously?) but, that they also get “hooked” on the stories and personalities of the streamers, right?

And so, so many more questions. I also wonder if there is any shame, regret, embarrassment from mukbangers (?) when employers or colleagues discover their videos.

It’s a weird trend. It doesn’t surprise me that people make money from it but, I do wonder where the limit (on what people will do for money) is.

Five things for the week

1. Newsletter

I have been toying with starting a weekly email newsletter. I like the format but was never really sure that I would have anything to write about consistently. I have quite a few ideas forming, though, so I decided to move forward with the first step; creating an account on the newsletter platform that I want to use (Substack).

I don’t know when I’ll write/send the first one but, if you want to, you can subscribe here.

2. Habits

Last week, I started to work on eliminating one bad habit while tying to replace it with a “good” habit. This was simply to stop work, social media, and other unnecessary screen time by 9:00 pm to begin reading (books, articles, non-digital magazines). I would gauge my success rate at 60%.

So, this coming week, I’ll try to keep that going while working to eliminate the second (of three) bad habits.

3. Read

Save Me the Plums, by Ruth Reichl I loved the “behind the scenes” look at what Ruth Reichl had to do to move from the freelance to the corporate world. It still sounds very glamorous, considering the travel and prestige she experienced. It was a fun read, with excellent writing as always (from her). I always thought that I would go into journalism (photojournalism) after high school. That didn’t pan out and I’m kind of happy it didn’t.

USWNT Inspires Older Fans, Too. One of Them Was My MomGrant Wahl’s touching tribute to his mother, after she passed. I love sports for what they mean, and can mean, for people who watch sports. Sure, there is the sport itself but, the journeys and the representation and the stories… this is what I love best abut it all.

Are McMansions Making People Any Happier?I found this interesting as I watch developers and builders, around Sacramento, straddle the line between building neighborhoods with large houses and trying to fit as many of them into their subdivision as possible. It’s so weird to look out your window and directly into the window of your neighbor’s house. Part of me wonders if it would just be better to have townhouses/rowhouses and give the homeowners more back and front yards.

4. Watched

I watched a lot of YouTube this week, mostly watching updates and gameplay videos on Nintendo‘s E3 announcements.

I also found myself watching a lot of the Food Wishes videos. I know I’m late to the party on them but, they’re really informative and entertaining. I like Chef John’s humor.

5. Listened

Song Exploder, ep 161: Sheryl Crow A powerful, powerful track. Love the episode as Sheryl walked us through the process of combining her vocals with Johnny Cash’s.

The Moth: Mets Magic I found Marie Hershkowitz’s story to be very endearing. One because it has to do with baseball fandom, and two because it talks about the sacrifices one makes for others.

I like like flat whites

Flat white coffee and ipad with keyboard

I love cappuccinos. I like, well… I like like flat whites.

My go to at coffeeshops has long been cappuccino. I love the flavor and feel of them, ordering them whenever I find myself in a cafe, coffeeshop, or while traveling. It’s been my go to until a few months back, where on a whim I decided to try a flat white.

According to RoastyCoffee.com, “Flat whites are made by pouring purely textured milk (micro-foam) over a coffee component (usually 1-2 shots of espresso). They are served in smaller cups than cappuccinos, usually a ~5oz tulip cup. When you order this drink, you can expect a silky texture with zero frothiness. The flavor of the espresso features strongly because the flavor of the milk foam is more complementary than overpowering.”

It’s the “silky texture” and the stronger espresso flavor that is winning me over. And since that first try, the flat white has become my go to order whenever I see it on a menu. And even when not on a menu, I ask the barista if they can make one.

The photo (above) was taken a few Sundays ago, at Old Soul Coffee. The barista graciously made it for me, even though it wasn’t on their menu, and it was wonderful. Perfect for sipping on their patio, in the cool morning air, while I wrote and read.

Nintendo E3

I have been keeping up with all of the Nintendo news from E3 and it has me excited about some games that will be coming out soon.

  • Animal Crossing: New Horizons – This looks like a fun game that I (and many others) can get lost in. Animal Crossing has a very calming effect on me. I’m not alone here, according to this Reddit thread. This comes out on March 20, 2020 so I have some time to get through the Games I have before diving into it.
  • Sequel to The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – My first reaction to this was “Uh oh, I guess I need to go back and spend some time with BOTW!” I haven’t put any serious time into the first one. I love it, it’s just that I haven’t had time to play it the way that I really want to play it. Not yet.
  • Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening – I like what they have done with this remake, from the art and design to the 2d game play that I’m so used to with Zelda games. I also love the elements and characters from other Nintendo properties/Games that have made their way into this. It just looks fun.
  • The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance – I’m intrigued with this one. It’s mainly because of my love for The Dark Crystal as a child. I was really never partial to “tactical strategy games” though, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to get into it and, as such, I’m not so sure I’ll buy it. But, intrigued!
  • Pokémon Sword/Shield – I’ll most likely end up picking one of these up. I like the Dreadnaw Pokémon design.
  • Contra Anniversary Collection – My brothers and I loved played Contra, growing up. It’s just a fun “shoot everything” type of game. This was a nice surprise (just released) so I’ll probably be downloading this soon.
  • Metroid Prime 4 – No mention of this during E3 but it still is my most anticipated game for the Switch. Until it’s released, there will be plenty of other games (above) to keep me occupied.

Update June 13: Just watched the gameplay video for Hollow Knight: Silksong. It looks great! Love the sidescrolling genre so much. I’m adding this to the list of games to pickup when it’s released.

WNT vs Thailand… 13 goals!?!

I was so excited to watch the game, the team’s first of the tournament. It felt like forever between the Women’s World Cup opening day and today. I can’t imagine what it felt like for the players and coaches having to wait to play their first match. Imagine the pent up energy and emotion they all had as athletes who have dreamed of playing in the World Cup for their entire careers.

And as you may have heard by now, the team unleashed it all! The final scoreline will tell you that the Women’s USA Team scored 13 goals while the Women’s Thai team scored zero. In the soccer world, that’s a lot. So much, in fact, that it broke records and is the highest number of goals scored by any World Cup team, men or women.

If you didn’t watch the game, you missed much more than the scoreline. The team played really well. They attacked the entire time. Thailand barely made it to their attacking side of the field, the entire match. Yes, Thailand was overmatched (and we all knew this going in). Yes, that played into the result but, it also had to do with the World’s number 1 ranked team (USA) playing like, well, the World’s number 1 ranked team.

I believe that Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl summed it best “… I’m also not a professional soccer player, and I don’t feel comfortable policing the natural emotional reaction of someone who has just done something that may be the pinnacle of her career: Scoring in a World Cup.”

As others have mentioned, the controversy should have less to do with the scoreline and more to do with the players’ celebrations. In which case I still stand with the players. This is a lifetime dream, a lifetime achievement.

There is much more to this argument. More layers, namely the divide between the soccer programs in countries like the USA versus the ones in Thailand (for example). In my opinion, Thailand played very well for Thailand. Especially considering that they were PLAYING THE NUMBER 1 RANKED TEAM IN THE WORLD! The Thai team got to the World Cup. They’re good enough to get there. They earned it. And now they’ll continue to build and develop.

I feel the same watching the South Korea team. They’re not doing too well in the tournament. But they have what it takes; we know this because they got to the tournament in the first place. Growth and success is build on failures (losses).

#fifawwc

I’m excited for this year’s World Cup. The US Women’s team is one of the most talented pool to exist, and it shows with the depth that each position has. Not to mention that many of the players can play multiple positions.

I’m excited because this is an international event where players, individuals, from all walks of life, all cultures, classes, backgrounds, etc… that are all working towards the same goal. And this is a rare sight in this current political and global climate. I think Greg sums this up in a very good way on his blog.

Five things for the week

Canopy

1. Vegetables

There is a simmering movement towards eating more plant-based foods and we are not exempt from this. I love meat but, lately I find myself craving more vegetable-heavy plates and recipes. I’m not sure what has started this. As a result, I find myself learning new recipes and cooking methods. Though, I still will most likely lean on grilling as my preferred cooking method, especially during the Summer.

2. Habits

I wrote a list of three habits that I want to stop. I then wrote a list of three habits that I would like to replace them with. This coming week, I will focus on ceasing one and starting its replacement. I think trying to tackle all three simultaneously will be too tough.

3. Read

I found out Nazi money is behind my favorite coffee. Should I keep drinking it?Large corporations built by Nazis, who own and operate multiple brands, including a bagel chain. What a world.

Too Many People Want to TravelThough I don’t travel nearly as much as I did a few years ago, I would notice how disrespectful we travelers were to the places we were guests at. I can’t imagine how much worse the more touristy areas are. I can’t imagine a shipload of people pouring out into the streets of a small coastal town. That sounds like a nightmare to me.

‘Great Successor’ book excerpt: Kim Jong Un’s gilded boyhood of chefs, travel and lessons on ruthless ruleI may buy this book. I have some “tempered curiosity” about his life, wondering how much of this is real. The excerpt worked, though. Curiosity is piqued.

4. Watched

Captain Marvel We finally got around to seeing this. My superhero movie fatigue is still pretty strong. Sure, this had some fun moments but, all said and done, it was like the others. Same story and plot arch that these comic book movies have.

United Shades of America S4, E5 – The Real DC. I really wish that during my time there, I had spent more time getting to know “the real DC”. I had moments and experiences that I stumbled into but, not nearly enough to be memorable. Just enough to know that what we think DC to be is really not what it is. I loved this episode, peeling back some of those layers.

5. Listened

Criminal, “Jessica and the Bunny Ranch” I found this fascinating if only to remind myself that there is a whole world of things out there that 1) I don’t think about all the time and 2) that I don’t ever see myself being involved in, ever. Yet it’s out there and it’s happening. It has its own set of rules, etiquette, cultural issues and norms, and more.

Day 58 – AeroGarden

Every morning we play a game to see how many new tomatoes we can spot growing. All six tomato plants have tomatoes on them. And they just keep appearing everywhere!

I had to raise the light hood again. You can see that the plants on the right are growing straight up. The middle and left side are still branching out horizontally and need the most pruning.

It’s really fun to watch this all happen.

The Gaming Grandma

I recently watched this documentary on Shirley Curry. This is the purest, sweetest, most genuine thing I will watch this week.

Turns out that she has been quite the phenomenon for a while. And after watching the documentary, and then a few of her videos, I can see why. I can see the draw. I can see the uniqueness that she brings as a gamer. And I love that she uses SkyRim to tell stories.

I also got slightly teary-eyed when I learned that she will have a NPC, based on her, included in Elder Scrolls 6.

Don’t write off elderly people. Just… don’t.

Five Things for the Week

1. Health

Around Wednesday afternoon I started feeling… “off”. It wasn’t until later that I realized I was running a fever. That was also when the coughing fits started to happen. This lasted until Friday afternoon, where even the occasional coughing fit still snuck its way in.

I used two sick days for work (Thursday and Friday). I tried; there was just no way I could get anything done. I didn’t have the ability to focus nor think about anything for any extended amount of time.

2. Perception vs Reality

Of course I didn’t do anything directly to cause me getting sick. It happens to all of us. But this week had me thinking and evaluating: am I really taking care of myself the way that I think I am taking care of myself?

Careful there, I think I just crossed over into OverThink land.

I have certainly improved my self care. I know that I still have a ways to go before I got to where I envisioned. But am I as far along as I believe myself to be?

The blame for this doubt (and over think) is because I didn’t set clear, measurable goals along the way. So I don’t have a measure to tell me whether I am right or wrong, on track or not, succeeding or failing.

Must remedy this soon.

3. Read

The WNBA’s male practice squads lose to women all the time — and enjoy it This was an interesting read and my immediate and most prominent reaction to it is simply “that sounds like a fun job!”

The Billboard This speaks to the power of art, and what art can mean for not ony the artists but for our society. When I see/read/hear about cases like this, I try to remain impartial. I wasn’t there, we don’t have all of the facts other than what was reported on. And though I tend to believe the victims, I always temper it with the reality that I just don’t know all sides.

Simon Liu Isn’t A Sex Offender. But He’s Still on the Registry For Life Our system is messed up. Even some judges, like the one in this article, agree. So, why aren’t we changing it and making things right? And why does change, to do the right thing, take so long?

4. Watched

Always Be My Maybe Another feel good movie for me, mainly because I love seeing Asian representation. I love seeing the increase in opportunities for those who haven’t had them before. I’m also a Randall Park fan, and it was good to see him in a leading role for a feature film. Funny and sweet and loved the Asian foods showcased as well.

Wanda Sykes: Not Normal Damn, she’s good. I was so happy to see that she had a Netflix special. Hilarious. She has been a longtime favorite comic of mine.

Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters I saw these movies come up in my suggestions (on Netflix). I heard mixed things about them but, in my excitement for the upcoming Godzilla movie (and because I was laid up, sick most of the week), I decided to check them out. The first one was promising, setting up some good potential story lines and introducing the characters (though most are clichéd and/or forgettable). Overall animation was good, though.

Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle I knew, going in, that these movies wanted to focus more on human stories rather than Godzilla and “monster fights” so, I figured that there wouldn’t be a lot of action scenes. But, I think that is what made these disappointing. When you use Godzilla as a character, you have to focus on that character. Show action. Show Godzilla action. This movie, for me, is where the anime, story, characters, etc. got so clichéd that it became boring to me.

Godzilla: The Planet Eater The third of the trilogy, surely the climax and ending would be all worth it, right? Halfway through the movie I was highly irritated by the over-explaining, over-narrating of the dialog. It became so repetitive and so tedious I started to wonder if the English scripts where just photocopied and collated in the wrong order, with multiple copies of the same pages. So irritated that I almost turned it off but, saw it through with the optimism that a Ghidorah vs. Godzilla battle would make up for it. Wrong.

5. Listened

Rilo Kiley, Japanese Breakfast, Rammstein, and Blackpink made up the majority of my music listening, this week.

“I felt like I fit in, but definitely did not.”

“When I went back twenty-five years later, I was faced with something almost alien to me; it felt right, but it didn’t; I felt like I fit in, but definitely did not.”

~ Noah Cho

I read the above in a Catapult article where Noah Cho writes about a conversation between he and Michelle Zauner. It struck a chord with me.

This is how I felt during my first visit back to Korea, in January of 2013. I was fortunate, that year, being able to visit the country twice. The first time was for work, the second time, that June, as part of the 2013 Journey class.

January was hard because I didn’t know what to expect. I had travelled before but, this was the first time it would be Korea. My birthplace. My first time back since I was 18 months old. Even more difficult was that I had a job to do, and that came with a schedule to adhere to along with a “bubble” of people that I would always be with.

So while I, of course, was trying to take everything in, I was constantly distracted with the task at hand. In hindsight, it was an emotionally confusing couple of weeks where I was being pulled into different directions, constantly.

The June trip was much more pleasurable and gave me more time to understand and process, while at the same time introduced me to far more of the country than I went in expecting. So much so that even now, in 2019 (six years later), I’m still processing what I saw, felt, and learned.