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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.

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Sesame Street on NPR Tiny Desk

This was too cute to not share. The songs brought back some good memories. I can’t believe these characters have been with us for so long!

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Woke up to some color

It was a pleasant surprise to see a couple of the AeroGarden’s tomatoes starting to show some color, even more than my last check in.

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5 Things

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.

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Day 74 – AeroGarden

Just an incremental update as we’re seeing some change in the color of the tomatoes. You can see a couple of them in the back (left) are beginning to change to a more yellow color.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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This week’s earworm

I don’t know where or when I first heard this song. And I have never seen the video until I searched for it, for this blog post. Watching the video made the earworm worse, as now I see the two alien slugs when I hear “roooooooocket ship”.

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5 Things

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.

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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.

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Day 65 – AeroGarden

I love the bounty that is coming in, some of it show in the above photo. You can see all of the fruit coming in on the canopy of the plants. There are more coming in beneath that top layer. It’s exciting to see them develop, and even more so when I anticipate how many tomatoes we’ll be able to eat!

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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.

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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).