“Five things” is a now a newsletter!

My weekly post, “Five things for the week”, is turning into a weekly email newsletter.

Each week I’ll choose five thoughts and/or updates on topics and events to share. My hope is that this format of sharing will be less scattered than my Twitter rants. And I much prefer the email newsletter format over posting on a blog/website.

Also included is a summary of interesting things that I have read, watched, or listened to from the week; things that I want to share with you.

The newsletter is free; I have no plans to monetize this medium.

Thank you, and please subscribe here.

Korean food in Woodland, CA

After reading this writeup (Sacramento Bee), I added Kuji Asian Grill to our (long) list of places to try. We finally had a chance to visit on our way home from Davis, CA.

My first impression upon walking into the small, fast-casual style restaurant was, “I like that it’s small and you’re up close with the cooks but, I was hoping for more of a sit-down place.” It wasn’t a knock against the restaurant in any way, I was just more in the mood for a more traditional “server-hostess” style restaurant.

I like that there is a lot of diversity in the area with both food and people, especially in Woodland, CA. The food and people in Kuji were nice and friendly. The food was above average; enough where I would definitely go back. Some of their salads looked really good. I regretted not ordering the bibimbap as soon as I saw someone near us receive theirs. It looked awesome.

All the more reason to return.

All aboard! Nature!

My Grandparents used to live in Oakhurst, CA, right outside of the southern entrance to Yosemite National Park. I was fortunate because this enabled me to visit the park, and surrounding places like Bass Lake, many times. The Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine Railroad is a memory straight from my childhood, as we stopped by top see this train many times.

This past Saturday was the first time I had a chance to actually ride on it. I’m not exactly sure why we never rode it as kids. I think it’s because whenever we stopped to see it, it was either on our way to or from visiting Yosemite itself. It was never really a destination.

The train takes a 4 mile round trip loop through the surrounding forest. It’s based on an old logging train, so much of the narration from the tour guide is focused on the logging history in the area. We opted for the first ride in the morning, 9:30 AM, and were joined by a tour bus full of Koreans on their way to the park.

While I started off taking pictures of everything I could, mostly to start getting used to the new camera, I ended up putting the camera away about halfway through the ride. The combination of the fresh mountain air, the scenery (the trees!), and just being “in the moment” with my wife and friends was far better than experiencing everything through a viewfinder.

It just felt good to be there. To take everything in. To relax. All in all, it was a fun way to spend the Saturday.

Five things for the week

Living wall

Self-Care Sundays

I’m increasingly creating a routine that ends up with Sunday’s focus on my own rest, healing, health, and overall mental state in preparation for the coming week. This comes in the form of things like

  • Personal grooming
  • Spending the mornings reading and writing
  • Eating without guilt, yet still healthy and in moderation
  • Playing on the Nintendo Switch

And, really, anything else that I want to do. The goal being that it’s a day that belongs to me, and shouldn’t be governed by stress or work/school to do lists, or any other obligations that I do not whole-heartedly endorse.

To achieve this, I have had to make routine adjustments leading into Sundays in order to keep them clear. A lot of these adjustments can be chalked up to simply reducing the amount of procrastinating that I do.


Nature

We spent yesterday in the Sierras. The fresh mountain air, the perfect morning temperature, the relaxing open-air train ride through the trees… it was all so perfect. Midway through I put my camera back into the bag and just sat and enjoyed it all.


Photojournalism

I’m not an Angels fan but, the passing of Tyler Skaggs is a story that I have followed this week. This picture of his mother on the pitcher’s mound, and tweet thread really hit me.


Writing

I’m going to start taking it more seriously. This, of course, can mean a lot of things. But, the only thing I want to say here is that, well… I’m going to start taking it more seriously.


Photography

I purchased this camera sling bag and tried it out this weekend. It’s perfect for the new camera. I love that it’s small enough to be comfortable (it’s very light) yet, still can hold what I need it to hold. Makes me happy. And appreciative.

Recently Read, Watched, and Listened

Read

How to Break Up With Your Phone, by Catherine Price I liked this read. The first part of the book gives you the facts and the “why”. The second part of the book talks through the “how” using a 30-day plan. While I haven’t (yet) participated in this plan, I can see how it would be effective. Before I begin it, I need to take some time to really identify how I want my phone use to be. Basically, set a goal around it so that I have a direction to work towards other than “I want to use my phone less”.

Reading with Patrick, by Michelle Kuo After watching her TED Talk, I immediately checked out Michelle Kuo’s book from the library. At large, it’s good reinforcement on how taking time to help and support one another goes a long way. It’s at times eye-opening and grounding at the same time. We can do better by treating each other better.

How to Embrace Professional Decline This is an intriguing perspective, and something that I have been giving a lot of thought to. While I’m not unhappy with my work right now, I do feel a sense of “stagnation”. I don’t feel challenged in the same ways that I used to. I don’t feel as fulfilled. I keep chalking this up to a temporary “lull” where things will pick up again soon.

Sikh drivers are transforming U.S. trucking. Take a ride along the Punjabi American highway I like reading/learning more about the workforce that I normally don’t think about. Everyone from farm workers to truck drivers to maintenance workers. If not to just remind me of how things get done, and to be more appreciative of how.

Road-Tripping With the Amazon Nomads This lifestyle sounds crazy, risky, and (like the subjects say) lonely. And while I understand that it could be lucrative with the right people, personality, and drive, it also disheartens me a little bit when I consider the consumerism that drives this.

How Cooking Websites Are Failing People With Disabilities This is an excellent post, and acknowledgment, by Serious Eats. It’s an issue not just limited to recipe sites, either. It makes me happy to see more people become more aware of what changes need to occur to make things more accessible.


Watched

Parks and Recreation I’m rewatching this series, through Netflix. I liked it during its first run. Now, as I rewatch it, I more appreciate the really good writing in it. But some of the side characters have become more irritating (mostly Tom, Chris, and Andy).

Aziz Ansari: Right Now Purely coincidental that while I’m rewatching parks and Recreation, Ansari’s new comedy special is released. It was an uncomfortable watch; I kept thinking it was “too soon” to see him back. But then I started questioning that, because I realized that I don’t know the full story. Nor does it directly affect me. And I think that’s part of the message in this show. I want to stop judging and punishing, and want to start taking more steps back to learn and understand.


Listened

Uncover, Season 4 Dubbed as “the Crazy Cat Lady Case”, this is another “true crime cold case” podcast series that caught my interest. I found it interesting to follow from episode to episode. But the narration, the tone and the creepiness of the tone, bothered me by the end.

Solomon’s on K

Solomon’s Delicatessen, K and 8th

Today, I found myself with a meeting-free morning and an excuse to be downtown around breakfast so, I figured it was the perfect opportunity to try out the recently opened Solomon’s Delicatessen. They have been working on this one for a while so it’s very nice to have a location much closer to me. Though, their Davis location (my standby since we moved here) isn’t all that far away.

I immediately feel in love with the entrance. As you can see, there is some great artwork around it. So many colors, you can’t help feeling happy as you walk in.

Inside has a nice vibe. I originally thought that I would pull out the laptop and knock out some work while there but, that didn’t quite work out. One because my laptop battery was completely drained and I couldn’t find any outlets that were “customer accessible”. And two, it was kind of noisy and “echo-y” in there. I work a lot better in small, quiet places.

The food is good, and I didn’t expect anything otherwise. I ordered The Russ, which is my go to. Bagel and lox, with onion, capers, and tomato, is one of my top 3 favorite things to have for breakfast. Solomon’s smokes their own lox, and you can tell. Their coffee is good too; it reminds me of a classic diner’s coffee. Nothing fancy but it’s comforting and familiar.

New camera, who dis?

Fujifilm X-T30 with 35mm f/2.8

This week, I finally purchased a smaller “companion” camera to carry in my everyday bag. I also wanted something on the smaller side for those weekend excursions where I want a camera but I don’t want a bigger kit with me. Just something nice and easy.

Because I use the Fujifilm X system, and already have my preferred selection of lenses, I was torn between the X-E3 and the X-T30. While I did try the E3, and found it to be very capable, it just didn’t feel right.

The T-30 did, which I attribute to being the SLR style (versus the rangefinder style). While I like the rangefinder style in specific scenarios, I much prefer SLR style shooting all around.

It already has a space carved out in my bag. Now I just need to work on getting out more often to take more pictures. Looking forward to it.

Two murals in Matsui Alley

Mural, by Josh: 20th and Matsui Alley. Still looking for some background on the mural and artist.

During yesterday’s visit to Federalist Public House, I captured two murals located nearby. All three locations (the murals and the restaurant) are within the same block in Matsui Alley. I really like both of them.

Chase Bank Mural, by Michelle Blade (2016): 21st and Matsui Alley

I love how dreamy this one looks, especially with the color combination the artist chose. It looks like Michelle Blade was commissioned not only for the mural on the outside but, the project continued on the inside of the Chase Bank building. You can see more pictures of the project on her website.

Federalist Public House

Me: I’m craving a wood-fired pizza.
Wife: Same.

Capitol: crushed tomato. mozzarella. cremini mushrooms. smoked pancetta. oregano. evoo. sea salt.

Federalist Public House has been on my list almost since the first day we arrived in Sacramento. I first saw their gorgeous wood-fired pizzas on their Instagram feed. Frankly, it’s a little mind-boggling that it has taken this long for us to try them.

Federalist’s front door: This place is made from 7 shipping containers, their front door (shown here) slides to the right.

We found ourselves in midtown in, well, mid afternoon. After getting a little pickup at nearby Pachamama Coffee (which I also highly recommend), we made our way to Federalist just before they opened, at 4:30 PM. Doors opened right on time and we were the second customers to order.

so much delicious comes from this oven.

I wanted to try everything. Their menu is that good. We opted for the Italian meatball sandwich and their signature Capitol pizza.

Italian meatball: cannonballs. mozzarella. grana padano. oregano. italian gravy.

The filling of this sandwich with, of course, the meatballs melted in your mouth. The warm, fluffy bread was the perfect compliment. How the wood-fired oven made this all come together was magic. The salad was amazing as well.

But the pizza… yeah, it was what we were looking for. Perfect flavor combination of cheesy and salt, along with that bubbly lightly charred crust. Just too good. We’re already planning our next meal there.

Five things for the week

Site and Blog changes coming

I’m still in my planning phase for some upcoming changes to this site. While I don’t have anything concrete to update you on now, I will say that this site will remain an “everyday” general blog. I’m putting together a personal photography website, which will have a portfolio and a photoblog where I will share more pictures and posts on photography. And no, I still haven’t yet determined what my newsletter will be about and when I’ll start pushing that. It’s all just a work in progress for now.

2. Photography

During our weekend trip to Ventura, I deliberately left my cameras behind, opting to travel light and use just my phone for taking pictures. And while my phone worked out just fine, I did regret not taking a camera for two reasons, 1) using my phone as a camera means that I always had my phone out, so chances for being distracted by it were higher than if I had just been able to keep it in my bag. Not to mention my battery drained pretty quickly. And 2) I just feel better when using a camera (instead of a phone).

3. Read

If You See Her, by Ania Ahlborn – An entertaining, quick read that definitely has the author’s signature storytelling. I like her other books, my favorites being The Bird Eater and Brother. This, for me, wasn’t as good but I still enjoyed the read. I think that she self-published this one? At least she published only through Amazon so it’s only available there.

I Wrote This on a 30-Year-Old Computer It’s definitely nostalgia but I like reading about people using old technologies. This one brings back memories of typing out school reports and fighting printers the night before they were due. It also reminded me of fighting with family members for computer time so that I could write stories and poetry, and play games. What I really liked was the author reminding me how much you could really focus in one one task, not being distracted with multiple programs running, as well as sitting down to a dedicated place and machine to do that. Not being so readily available and connected has an increasing amount of draw for me.

The Lingering of Loss Jill Lepore’s touching post about her best friend.

Blowin’ in the Wind I enjoyed the photos in this post. I also learned that tumbleweeds are edible? I remember, in the small town I grew up in, before all of the new home construction how often we would have to deal with tumbleweed buildup around our house.

Why Megan Rapinoe’s brother, Brian, is her greatest heartbreak, and hope This is a great profile on Megan and her brother. There’s so much that so many are going through. All the more reason to be supportive of as many people as you can.

4. Watched

This Old House, s. 40, ep. 26 – I always like the end of season episodes where they finish a project and turn it over back to the homeowner. While I didn’t like this style (mid-century modern), I did like seeing the different techniques used to modernize it.

Stranger Things 3Binged during our midweek day off (weird). Sure, the series has its faults but I like the ride, and season 3 was no different. These kids are growing up, fast! Hopper P.I.!!! And the Neverending Story scene was *chef’s kiss*.

Women’s World Cup matches, including the quarter, semi, and finals – USA! USA! USA! There’s a lot of people that can/will write about this much more eloquently than I can. I will say this: I am inspired.

5. Listened

Why’d You Push That ButtonI especially liked the Jibo episode but, more recently I listened to the Celebrity Death Twitter episode and I found it interesting how so many things could be perceived from slight differences in how and when people tweet.

Song Exploder, ep. 162 Big Thief This episode, breaking down their “Cattails” track, had me listening to the band for the majority of the rest of the week. I just really like playing their songs in the background while I’m working. I find them very relaxing.

Bear Brook, ep 7 – We listened to this update during our drive down to Ventura. It’s a bittersweet update where 3 of the 4 victims are identified as a result of years of research and persistence from volunteer researchers. I sent a thank you to one of them, Rebekah Heath, on Facebook to for the work that she did.

The Mountain Goats I’ve grown into the habit of just bringing up their Essentials playlist, on Apple Music, and letting it loop over and over again. I love the songwriting.

//My Read, Watched, and Listened lists are two week’s worth, even though it might not seem like it. I’m pretty happy that I didn’t spend a lot of time watching anything. The reading list is also low due to our extended weekend getaway and then the weird holiday midweek, which made the whole week kind of lazy (and nice).

Day 88 – AeroGarden

This is likely my last AeroGarden post for the tomatoes. The plants are no longer growing in height nor width, and are really focused on just producing so, rather than continuing to post pictures like this one, I’m going to end the photos here. Y0u can see the next “harvest” coming in. I’ll most likely pick them tomorrow, which I’m considering either turning into a salsa or just enjoying in a Greek salad.

I’m overall happy with the AeroGarden “experience”. I originally bought this to use as an herb garden (our kitchen doesn’t get much natural light) but, something told me to experiment with the tomatoes instead. I’m happy I did that.

Weekend Getaway – Ventura, CA

It’s been far too long since my wife and I have had a chance to go out of town for the weekend. We knew it, and we knew that we were in complete control of when we would be able to. So, we made it happen this past weekend, opting to travel to my old hometown, Ventura.

Ventura feels like home, even though I didn’t grow up there. I grew up about 23 miles away. I was fortunate to have lived in Ventura for a few years, but I chose to move away in pursuit of some difficult to pass on career choices.

We spent the weekend doing what everyone should do on their vacation: absolutely nothing. We woke up when we wanted. We ate when we were hungry. We wandered around with no schedule or agenda.

Slow down. Live in the moment. Empty our minds. De-stress. It was amazing.

I didn’t even take my camera (all of these pics were taken with my phone). I knew that I didn’t want to take anything extra with me. And I also didn’t want to “think” about photography.

And, of course, I had to get at least one meal in at Taqueria Cuernavaca, one of my top 5 favorite restaurants anywhere.