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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.

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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.

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Day 42 – AeroGarden

I’m loving the yellow blossoms that are starting to come in. This morning, I raised the light hood (a couple inches) to give them a little more head room, and added plant food.

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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.

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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)
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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.

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Day 40 – AeroGarden

Looks like I need to do another light pruning soon. Mainly just to clear out the smaller, bottom leaves that aren’t getting any light. I also have a few branches extending out past the light source so, I may train them to come back in

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Day 35 – AeroGarden

I’d say it has recovered pretty well from the massacre er, pruning that I did a few days back.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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on the effectiveness of simplicity

“I didn’t have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead.”

Mark Twain

This blog post, from A Learning A Day, has me thinking about how I work, about my output, and about how I want them both to be.

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Day 27 – time for a pruning?

Day 27 - Time for a pruning?

I need to look into how/when to prune the AeroGarden tomatoes. I feel like now is the time to be doing this. I’m impressed at how much height they have gained since I raised the (roof) lights a couple days ago.

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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.