Launching a couple Tumblr sites

Learning that Automattic purchased Tumblr made me excited. I then I read this and got even more excited.

Automattic CEO Matt Mullenweg thinks the future of Tumblr is bright. He wants the platform to bring back the best of old-school blogging, reinvented for mobile and connected to Tumblr’s still-vibrant community…

from The Verge interview with Matt Mullenweg

So I fired up (logged into) the ol’ Tumblr account (I’m surprised I still knew my password but reset it for good measure) and went to work creating two blogs that I had been imagining for a few months:

  • Photoblog – something more curated than my Flickr photo stream, and an outlet that focuses on photography rather than trying to “squeeze” it into this blog.

And,

  • I also started a food pics blog. I take a lot of these and wanted a stream of just my food photos separate from my main blog. I also plan to start weening myself away from Instagram, where I currently post most of my food pics.

That, for me, frees this space, making it easier for me to focus on text-based posts and the more “everyday” updates. I’m excited to have these outlets, especially in addition to my weekly email newsletter.

Now, time to create.

checking in

Waiting

I had to take a little break from posting here. In fact, I took a break from doing a lot of my usual things. I recently got some news that shook me enough to warrant changing some of my lifestyle very quickly.

And in doing so, I fell into a state of confusion, anxiety, and overload. Thus, I had to break from some things.

I’ll write about all of this in the future, far less cryptically. I’m feeling good about everything this morning. I spent an hour on my front porch, sipping coffee, just taking it all in. Allowing myself to sit, think, and breathe in the morning air.

Stay tuned… more to come soon.

“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.

Bring on the Stranger Things

I’m so looking forward to this. I love this series almost as much as I love Freaks and Geeks (and, if you know me, that’s saying something). It’s the combination of nostalgia, coming of age, group of awkward friends, and science fiction that just hits all of the right notes for me. It also doesn’t hurt that the characters are not only well-written but perfectly (in my opinion) cast.

Also, I need to get crackin’ on that Lego set

Five things for the week

1. Family

My brother in law spent the three day weekend with us, and we made it a fun weekend. Other than making sure every meal was good, we went to Topgolf, did some reminiscing in my wife and his old neighborhood (they grew up around here), wandered around downtown, and spent some time catching up. All in all a fun weekend.

2. Creating

I carried my camera with me all weekend. I got some shots I was happy with but, this was more about getting back into the habit of carrying that camera bag around with me without being self-conscious about it nor seeing it as a burden (ugh, something to carry). I used the XT-1 and the 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 lens. I loved the flexibility of the zoom as we wandered through the city.

For Memorial Day, we stayed around the house and relaxed (where we caught up and just talked). I grilled a feast (above), including Santa Maria-style tri-tip, bbq spare ribs, garlic bread, ranch beans and coleslaw. It was so, so good.

3. Read

Something Is Changing in the Way People Eat at Home I’ve been increasing our efforts to reverse this trend, at least in our household. I want to be at 80% meals made at home and eaten at our table, and 20% going out and being more social. My wife and I both grew up in families where every dinner was at a table with everyone there. It’s just so odd how quickly we got away from doing that in our adult lives.

Why Walking is the Key to Being More Productive I have mentioned needing to build walking into my daily routine before. I still haven’t managed to get to a point where I can say I am doing it regularly, even after reading all of the different studies and essays and articles showing how much this benefits an individual.

4. Watched

The Lonely island Presents: The Unauthorized Bash Brothers ExperienceIt’s fun, and silly, and had some fun cameos, and made me laugh. Isn’t this really all that matters?

5. Listened

A lot of Japanese Breakfast came through the headphones and speakers, this week. It’s just really good music and songwriting. I created a playlist exclusively for them after watching Michelle Zauner, Maangchi, and Sarah Lee in this video, from Munchies.

I tried to listen to the Apple Music curated “Focus” playlists while working. They’re okay for background music and I didn’t really find myself distracted, which is good. I think that I need to use them in moderation; too much trance and electronica-type music for too long sometimes gives me a headache.

3 whole days!

If Taylor Swift’s curated playlist, on Apple Music, tells me anything, it’s that she and I do not share the same taste in music.

I’m headed into the three day weekend having met all of my deadlines on both the work and the school fronts. This means, there is not excuse for me not to enjoy this time off. My brother in law is spending the weekend with us so, it gives us a good opportunity to play tourist and enjoy the area.

With nothing hanging over me. It feels good. Stress free. Clearing the road for a very enjoyable three day weekend.

Songs are getting shorter?

Something that I have noticed, over the years, is that songs seem to be getting shorter. It’s almost at a point where, for me, if a song is over 3:30 then I feel like it’s going on for too long. This is crazy considering most of my favorite songs (mostly classic rock) are between 4 and 8 minutes long, and I have no issues with them whatsoever.

Is my attention span shorter (well, yes)? Am I just noticing something that really isn’t even a “thing”? Turns out, it’s somewhat true. Songs are getting shorter, and for a reason. Thanks, streaming services!

There is absolutely nothing wrong with short songs. If they tell the story the writer/performer wants, and they are enjoyable to you, go an enjoy them. The same goes for longer songs.

I just found the shortening of song tracks, fascinating.

King of the Monsters

Godzilla (2014).

I was pleasantly surprised by this version. The 1998 abomination left a really bad taste in my mouth for any USA, big-studio remakes of Godzilla. I think it was Bryan Cranston’s performance that made me realize, early on, that this movie would be different. Very different. And I wasn’t disappointed. It’s actually one of my favorite iterations of Godzilla.

Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)

So, after seeing trailers for this one, I have very high hopes. The cinematography (at least in the trailers) looks amazing. There are some great actors in this too so, I’m just really really hopeful.

Another set to the queue

2287 Pieces…

I added a 5th set the the queue of Lego sets that I need to put together. I try to only indulge in the sets that really interest me; the ones that really look like they’re going to be released just once and will be hard to find down the line.

When I saw this Stranger Things set, I purchased the morning it was released. It arrived today. The box is huge! It looks really cool, with a lot of details throughout. I love how they handled the upside down with the real world, creating a set that you could flip over.

Now, I just need to find some more time to get through,

  1. Saturn V
  2. Wall-E
  3. Volkswagon T1 Camper Van
  4. Voltron, and
  5. The Upside Down (Stranger Things)

Five things for the week

Mid morning naps

1. Series Finales

I have been getting increasingly frustrated with the way The Big Bang Theory has been written for the past few seasons. It just stopped being funny and felt like the storylines were flat. Like no one was making an effort. This last season has been increasingly irritating because I kept expecting big things to happen being that it was the last season but, no… still flat.

Though, I will say, the series finale did end in a way that was fitting for the series. It was fun to watch that.

Now, here’s hoping that Game of Thrones, with tonight’s series finale, salvages something from the past few seasons…

2. Work-Life balance

Adjust your perspective to see and understand things differently. If you don’t like what you see, what you learn, then make changes to what you can make changes to. My main thing? I need to get away from the feeling that I have to be working all the time. It’s a feeling that I just can’t shake. Even when I’m caught up with everything and have plenty of time to complete tasks, I feel hurried and stressed and feeling that I need to sit down and do it all. I feel guilty that I have free time. That’s not right.

3. Read

Aguacero, by Patricia Engel – Wow. I love a good short story. This is a STELLAR short story.

Why Public Transportation Works Better Outside the U.S. This is clearly evident anytime you travel to any modern city outside of the USA. There are cities and countries that are truly innovating and placing priorities on moving people around their city, without prioritizing automobiles. It’s mind boggling how far behind our transit systems in, say New York City or DC compared to those in Seoul or London. I was more recently surprised by how efficient Austria was with their trains, buses, and street cars. We need to do more.

My ULTIMATE real world REVIEW of the FUJIFILM FUJINON 23mm f2This blog post, by Aiden Morgan, made me laugh at a time when I least expected (especially due to the post title) and at a time when I really appreciated the laugh.

4. Watched

In addition to the series finales mentioned above,

Jailbirds, s1Most of my enjoyment from watching this came from knowing that 1) this was taking pace in my city, and 2) I have driven by the “tower” a few times a week since we moved here. There really wasn’t any character that I “followed” or found myself sympathizing with. I was fascinated with the use of the toilets for “fishing” and as “phones”. I had to turn away from some of those scenes, though. Somewhat disgusting. Also, so much drama everywhere. Everyone is messy!

Lucifer, s4 My wife was so happy that Netflix picked this show up (after it’s cancellation from network tv) but, with reservations. I paid attention to ~75% of it while she watched and can honestly say, I find it tedious.

5. Listened

KCRW Good Food, May 18th Roy Choi is doing some good, really needed things. Pay attention. And Bill Esparza’s Taqueando sounds like something that I need to go to.

Back to FUNdamentals

The first time that I remember “being a photographer” was on a trip to Alaska, with my grandparents, when I was 12 years old. I had a simple point and shoot (film) camera with me while we drove from Anchorage to Denali (and took a bus tour through a bit of Denali National park) to Fairbanks, and then back to Anchorage via Delta Junction and Paxson.

This was after spending the first week of that trip with my cousins in McGrath, a town only accessible by plane. The entire experience was incredible and life-changing.

I remember, with that point and shoot, that all I wanted to do was roam, see everything we could, and photograph everything I could. And yeah, the Alaskan landscape will do that to you.

That school year, my Freshman year of high school, I enrolled in a Photography class as an elective. I learned to roll, develop, and print my own film. I learned photography basics about exposure and composition and storytelling for photojournalism.

my Pentax ME Super

I also “borrowed” my grandpa’s Pentax ME Super (SLR) which didn’t leave my side/bag throughout the rest of high school. I still have it, 25+ years later.

I’m currently rereading two books: 1) Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Exposure and, 2.) On Being a Photographer: A Practical Guide, by David Hurn. They’re two of my favorite photography books and I believe they’ll help ground me with this hobby.

I want to get my mindset back to that Alaska trip, and back to how I worked in that photography class. I want to focus on fundamentals and get really good with them. And I just want to get out there and photograph without worry, without self-consciousness, and with passion.

Current streak: 2

My wife and I are really excited to see how many dinners we can cook at home, in a row, this week. My goal is to get us through Friday with a dinner out on Saturday. We shall see…

Sunday’s dinner was a (cast iron) pan fried NY steak, a steamed artichoke with lemon butter, and some roasted asparagus. I really wanted to be sure we used up the veggies in our refrigerator. I picked up a pretty decent 16oz steak direct from the butcher counter for us to share and it ended up being the perfect amount.

Monday’s dinner (above) was grilled corn, black bean, and cheese enchiladas. Originally I was planning on making just plain cheese enchiladas but, last minute, decided to “southwest” them up a little. I cut the corn from the cob right after grilling. It was perfectly charred yet still nice and sweet. It made for a great addition to the enchiladas. I briefly thought about adding some green chiles too but, I think I was distracted by a phone call or something because I forgot all about it (and didn’t remember again until we were eating them).

So far, two dinners. And so far, both have been very very good.

Five Things for the Week

1. Photography

I bought and then returned a Fujifilm XE-3. I thought that the rangefinder-style layout combined with the ability to change lenses, would make for a great everyday carry camera. But, soon after opening the box and setting it up, I realized that wasn’t the case. It’s a great camera, and one that I wouldn’t mind having in my collection. But it’s not on that I want to carry all the time. I prefer the SLR-style cameras, like the Fujifilm XT-1 (that I currently have) and the recently released X-T30, which is smaller and somewhat inviting to me because of the smaller factor.

For now, I am going to stick with the XT-1 as my main and make some further investments into the lens ranges that I want. This will give me more time to just get used to carrying a proper camera around with me; perhaps even force me out to go photograph something specifically (not by happenstance).

2. Houseplants

Right now my success rate, for my indoor plants, is “average”. I think I’m losing my orchid due to watering (either too much or not enough, I’m still trying to figure that out). I over-pruned my AeroGarden tomatoes (will post picture update soon) but, they seem to be recovering perfectly fine. Another leafy houseplant is doing okay though, I still worry about the amount of light it’s (not) getting.

I hesitate to get more for now but, i also understand that since I’m new to this, it’s all really a learning experience. The lemon tree (outside) is doing well. It was full of blossoms a few weeks ago but the wind knocked most of them off over this past week.

3. Read

Science’s Newest Miracle Drug is Free This article points to a very big “duh” and something that we should all take more seriously. Just being outside, in my backyard, improves my mood. We’re not meant to be cooped up.

The rise of fear-based social media like Nextdoor, Citizen, and now Amazon’s Neighbors Fear begets fear. If all you read is bad, you start to believe all is bad. There are some really cool things in my Nextdoor feed, from food drives to students getting tutoring from each other. But the bad posts (complaining about really dumb stuff, posting of fake car break ins and burglaries, etc) always have me second guessing why I use that app.

Olivia Laing: ‘I was hooked and my drug was Twitter’I recently realized, and admitted out loud, that checking Twitter puts me in a bad mood. I divided my timeline into two accounts, one public and one private. The public one so that I could follow a wide variety of people and feeds to respond, the private one being more “intimate” with people I really wanted to keep up with. It helped but, I still hate opening the app and started reducing my use there.

4. Watched

Chasing Life with Dr. Sanjay Gupta I stumbled on this series (forgot how) and was drawn in with some of the stories he is telling abut the people in the places that he visits. I don’t want to oversimplify any of it (it’s all really good food for thought) but, it seems that humans, no matter where they are and what circumstances they’re in, find ways to evolve both physically and mentally to achieve happiness and health.

The United Shades of America I like W. Kamau Bell’s perspective on the topic he brings out, and I like that the topics themselves are both topical but not always at the forefront of our news cycles. This week I caught up on Season 4’s episodes, with great appreciation for his most recent on the Hmong Americans.

Game of Thrones, s.8, ep.5 – Clegane Bowl, good. Rest, meh. I know they’re trying to wrap up as much as they can before the end of the season/series but, everything is far too rushed, with too many character arcs being cut short and/or not making any sense. A very disappointing season.

Wine CountryArgh! I wish this was better than it was. Especially with the acting talent that they had. There were definitely moments when I thought it would break wide open and become really funny and really good but, this was so subdued and bland. Disappointing but, I want this group to keep making content.

5. Listened

Nothing significant to report here. This week, when I had time, was filled with my usual news podcasts and Apple Music playlists.

Sheet Pan Nachos

sheet pan pollo asado nachos

We opted for dinner in, rather than going out for Cinco de Mayo. Our usual tradition is to go to our favorite Mexican restaurant but, since we had been eating out (what felt like) a lot this past week, we thought a dinner at home would be better.

So I grilled up some corn and then some pollo asado. Combined with other toppings like queso con salsa, jack cheese, green chilies, black beans, cilantro, and a few squeezes of lime, we ended up with a sheet pan of nachos.

I love this because it’s fun to come up with your toppings and assemble it all. A few minutes in a hot oven really brings it together. And it’s nice and fun/messy to eat.

Five things for the week

the eyes

1. Nesting

I think it might be time to get an interior designer to come look at our home and give us some ideas. My wife and I are definitely not decorators but we want to find ways to make out home more… well, more like a home. It’s all very utilitarian right now.

2. This coming week

Another school term begins (Monday) and work looks to be ramping up in intensity again (which I welcome). I found a pretty good rhythm and balance to getting work done, mostly making sure that I take the time to schedule work on an actual calendar. So, instead of just meetings, I have blocks of work reflected on there. The key, of course, to being successful here to to stick to it! If you have 45-minutes blocked off for a task, do the task. It requires discipline but when done right, it’s super effective for me.

3. Read

Workers Love AirPods Because Employers Stole Their Walls I like reading articles on the modern workplace, especially those that talk about dynamics and issues related to layouts. I found this fascinating because, even though we know why people wear their headphones in working environments, it’s still a more complex behavior than we’re giving it credit.

As a Mexican-American Woman, I Have a Few Thoughts on Cinco de Mayo. It Could Be So Much More I don’t have anything to add to this; I just think it’s important to read.

4. Watched

Street Food Netflix sure is going full st(r)eam on food shows, am I right? Lame pun aside, I did appreciate this series for the focus on street food vendors and their lives. It wasn’t following a host around who was trying different foods, which I find (that format) extremely tiring now. I did enjoy seeing Nikki Tran pop up in the Vietnam episode. I would love to see Nikki Tran get her own series; we could learn a lot from her.

Brené Brown: the Call to Courage Before watching this, I had no idea who Brené Brown was. I hadn’t heard of her TED talk nor her books. I watched this to fill some time between ending work and starting to cook dinner. The message is clear. I don’t disagree with any of it. It’s difficult and it’s very genuine. It’s a message that more people need to hear. I’m glad I watched.

Rogue One I re-watched this (May the Fourth be with you) and I have to say, they got a lot of things right with this. Everything from the look and the feel to the technology they showed (not crazy new stuff that would be out of place in episodes IV-VI), to the characters not being over the top. It’s just all really well done.

Game of Thrones, s.8, ep.4 – This show has it’s issues (but I like it anyways) and I had many with this particular episode. I didn’t enjoy this; in fact, it felt like I watched it out of obligation. Like I had to only to understand what would come next. There wasn’t any enjoyment out of it.

5. Listened

Song Exploder: Ep 158 The CranberriesThis episode breaks down the “All Over Now” track which, in context to Dolores O’Riordan’s untimely death, adds more weight to this episode, and the track itself.

Day 22 – tomatoes

Day 22 - this jungle needs pruning//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

It’s a jungle in there! I definitely need to start pruning some of these, since the top leaves are starting to bloc the light from reaching the lower leaves. I also need to keep encouraging vertical growth.

I’m also starting to consider whether I want to keep them going in the AeroGarden all the way through (to when they produce fruit) or transfer them to a container outside. I have some herbs that I want to get started soon.

Jones bbq sauce!

Like many (apparently), we went online to purchase some Jones BBQ sauce after seeing them in an episode of Queer Eye. It arrived over the weekend and I immediately started brainstorming some ideas to use it up. Their sauce is sweet and tangy. No, really… it’s sweet and tangy. A little too much for my liking so, not something I would use as an everyday sauce. But, there are definite uses.

Ugh, Mondays.
Grilled bbq shrimp

Grilled shrimp came to mind, first. Sweet and tangy goes well with shrimp (in my opinion). And, with the weather (warm) and light (yay for being lighter later in the day) cooperating, I grilled some up on Monday evening.

The skewers came out really well, with just the right amount of char on the shrimp and veggies. I also grilled some corn on the cob and zucchini to go with it. All in all, not a bad dinner for a Monday evening. It also felt really good to be outside in the evening after a long day in front of a computer (work).

This evening (Tuesday) I’ll be using the rest of the bottle to make some shredded chicken sandwiches. That’s one of our favorites, too!

Five Things for the Week

//I’m still experimenting with the format. Last week’s “Five Things for the Week” was combined with “Recently Read, Watched, and Listened”. In this week’s, as you will see, the two were merged.

1. On mental health

Something inside of me is broken. The good thing is that I’m getting closer and closer to figuring out what it is. And logic would dictate that once I do figure out what it is, then I should be able to figure out how to fix it. Admittedly, I have known something was broken for a while. It just that it wasn’t until recently that I started to try to identify what it was.

2. On adoption

My last post was a short vent about something that triggered me. Like I say in that post, I don’t write or speak publicly about adoption. I do write and think about it a lot. It’s my way of processing feelings and thoughts that I have not only about adoption as a “thing” but, as an adoptee and the experience I have. There are times when I do want to be more public about expressing myself as an adoptee, even wanting (at times) to add my voice to some of the issues around it… Perhaps soon.

3. Read

If You Want to Kill Someone, We Are the Right Guys This reads like a season of FX’s Fargo.

Students Live In Tents, Do Homework Under Flashlights, And Deal Without Textbooks Months After California’s Massive Camp FireSchoolwork was difficult enough for me, having a desk and other resources at home. I can’t imagine trying to do it in a tent, using a flashlight. This is an incredible look into how students are coping after the destruction.

Blair Braverman on the Iditarod, Fear, and Resilience“I was learning to break the impossible into tiny pieces. I was learning the difference between limits that can and can’t be pushed. I kept waiting for the trail to get easier, but maybe it wasn’t going to. Maybe all you could do was keep moving.”

“Fixer Upper” Is Over, But Waco’s Transformation Is Just Beginning “Do I love this? Do I hate this? Or do I just resent how effectively I’m being marketed to?” This is my thought with most things I encounter. This is a long read but fascinating. The “Magnolia Effect” is going to be a documentary some day, I know it.

4. Watched

Kung Fu Hustle Watching this again after several years (I first saw it in 2004 when it was released), and it still was a fun experience. Movies aren’t made like this often, with tongue in cheek humor and characters that are just, fun! Still as entertaining as the first viewing, if not more so.

Patriot Act, Vol. 2 – My respect for Hassan Minaj grows. I love the mid-90s NBA references.

5. Listened

Three Apple Music playlists in heavy rotation: 1) Top 100: Global, 2) Top 100: Korea, and 3) Top 100: USA. There’s a lot of crossover but I like the Korean one the best. K-Pop! Duh!

an adoptee pain point

Ah yes, the ol’ joke about how the person must be adopted because they’re so different from the rest of the family… so different, in fact, that they couldn’t possibly belong with the rest of them.

You’re not one of us. Cue laugh track!

Hilarious.

So funny that it makes me want to literally punch the person who wrote the line in the face. And then punch anyone else involved who allowed it to make to air.

Listen, I’m adopted. It’s really complicated… the experience, the feelings, the thoughts… it all has so many layers that it’s really hard to understand them all. Even more so, it’s harder to feel comfortable with it all; to feel comfortable with yourself and who you are.

I have a great family, and an overall good adoption experience but, adoption – and being an adoptee – is not a “thing” that can be summed up with a binary “good” or “bad”. Like I said, it’s really complicated.

I don’t (publicly) write about it because I still struggle to understand a lot of things around it. Every adoptee has a different experience, a different story, and a different set of feelings that they need to work to understand. Each adoptee will react differently to things like this. Some might even find that joke funny.

That is 100% valid and acceptable.

It. Is. Complex.

I have my own pain points. I have my own triggers.

That ol’ joke? Yeah, that’s a trigger. Yes, it’s a pain point.

Wrap party

Homemade Vietnamese dinner

One of our favorite things is when a friend hosts a “wrap party”. This is where she prepares all of the ingredients to make one of the best home cooked dinners we ever have. She prepares the meat filling for egg rolls, lays out egg roll wraps and rice paper and then puts us to work. Usually there are at least five pairs of hands busy filling and wrapping egg rolls, stacking them high on a baking sheet so that she can take them into the kitchen to fry them.

Prior to us even arriving, she has prepped the vegetables, a beautiful plate of varying shades of green. There’s lettuce, cucumbers, green apple, cilantro, and other herbs. While the guests are wrapping egg rolls, she is preparing beef, pork, and shrimp for our rice paper rolls. Each person gets their own dish of fish sauce and sweet chili sauce for dipping. Then there are bowls of pickled radishes.

All of a sudden, plates of grilled pork, beef, and shrimp arrive. Then come the rice noodles. Then the golden brown egg rolls. And then the rice paper which we get to get ever so slightly damp, so that we can wrap the veggies and the meat into an opaque roll.

It’s all just so damn good. And the only thing better than the food is the conversations, and just being with friends.

Her mom stopped by for a few minutes (to pick something up) and I witnessed this exchange:

Friend’s mom (in Vietnamese): is he Japanese?

Friend (in Vietnamese): No, he’s Korean.

Friend’s mom, with disappointing tone: Oh.

I was sitting right next to her (friend’s mom). She was so disappointed that I wasn’t Japanese. It was funny and adorable and funny. Really, she was “disappointed” that she hadn’t guessed correctly.

Being the conversation was in Vietnamese, I only heard/understood: Japan? No, Korea. Oh.

Still makes me laugh. It was so funny.