#32 Designing Your Life
01 February 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
“Living coherently doesn’t mean everything is in perfect order all the time. It means you are living in alignment with your values and have not sacrificed your integrity along the way."
–Bill Burnett & Dave Evans
Book No. 04 of 2017
This book was one of those business-oriented self-help titles that seemed to make some pretty grand promises on its book jacket. Naturally, I was skeptical. But it did offer some big picture ideas regarding “designing” a life that worked well for you in was including and beyond your career. Being on the job hunt and having the cleanest slate ever, I figured it would be a good time to check it out.
A lot of the ideas in the book were seemingly random. There’s a chapter in there about job interviewing and networking. One about brainstorming and mind mapping. One about evaluating your life. In one way, it made sense, but it also felt like a random assortment of exercises and ideas. Thankfully, the exercises and ideas were helpful and so they had a bit of value.
I’m thankful I read this book. I went through and did some of the exercises, so I think I got my money’s worth out of this one.
02 February 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
Mission 04: Make a version of this Filipino sour pork soup on par with the stuff you had growing up.
The Results: I mostly used Yasmin Newman’s recipe, with a few modifications. I always thought it was vinegar that gave the soup its sour taste, but it turns out… it’s tamarind! I had a good amount of seared pork belly, some bok choy, and eggplant in here. Sinigang isn’t one of my favorite Filipino foods, even when it’s good, but I thought my version turned out alright alright.
Also, I gotta get some more photogenic bowls.
03 February 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
Some of my favorite nights with Deanna these days is clearing the table off after dinner and playing Pandemic. We badly needed a board game we could indulge in whenever it was just the two of us. Pandemic was the perfect choice.
It took us a little while to engineer the gameplay to just the right level of difficulty, but I think we’ve got it. Great game. My one big complaint is that three of the six pawns are different shades of green.
#35 Alpaca Farm
04 February 2017 // Creswell, Oregon
The other week I took Deanna on a nice little date to an alpaca farm not far behind our house. I know you're all thinking it. Wow! This is something right out of The Bachelor!
Nothing but the best for my sweet girl. And the best means alpacas because they are the best of the best. You may be familiar with their work from the sweaters I've worn to many a Christmas party.
Alpacas. You guys are my favorite camelids and camelids are my favorite livestock. You keep doing you.
#36 Super Bowl LI
05 February 2017 // Springfield, Oregon
Give it up for the real Super Bowl MVP– teamwork. As in New Belgium teaming up with Ben & Jerry’s.
Thanks to Tai for hosting!
#37 The Circle
06 February 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
"Most people would trade everything they know, everyone they know- they'd trade it all to know they've been seen, and acknowledged, that they might even be remembered. We all know the world is too big for us to be significant. So all we have is the hope of being seen, or heard, even for a moment."
Book No. 05 of 2017
I'll give Dave Eggers credit for something, he knows how to think up a book premise so interesting-sounding that I find it hard not to read. Does he always deliver? That's a different question.
The concept of a Brave New World style dystopia that emerges from some Google-Facebookish mega network sounds intriguing. And it had the chance to make some interesting points.
Unfortunately there were a few things I felt fell flat with the book. First, I don't think Eggers added anything new or substantial to the conversation that hasn't already been said in most anti-social media rants, he just lets those play out to their logical extremes.
Also, most characters lacked a believable or interesting motivation and came across as flat. I've seen the film trailers for the adaptation and I think it has the potential to be better than the book. If anyone can rescue flat characters, I'll take my chances with Emma Watson and Tom Hanks.
#38 Smith Family Bookstore
07 February 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
I suspected that being done with grad school would result in me reading a whole lot more. That ended up being the case. At this rate, I’ll have read a book a week throughout this year. And I’ve already come upon some good ones.
Here are some of the things that have helped me read more–
1) Using travel time well. I finished Trevor Noah’s memoir and The Righteous Mind both on extended airplane trips and with airplane time. There’s something about sitting inside a flying iron capsule that lets me enter a deeper focus I can't in “ordinary life.”
2) Designate time. I’ve been better at reading before going to sleep, mostly because it helps my mind transition and my eyes get ready to shut. But consistency is probably the big reason I’ve done so much reading this year.
3) Read with purpose. I used to force myself to read some books so that impulse purchases from four years prior wouldn’t go to waste. I cut out the impulse purchases, and as a result, the feelings of obligation also went away. Instead I look to mix up my genres, read what I’m passionate about at the moment, follow friends’ recommendations, and things that pertain to my life at the time.
#39 Here I Am
08 February 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
"There’s a Hasidic proverb: ‘While we pursue happiness, we flee from contentment.'"
–Jonathan Safran Foer
Book No. 06 of 2017
I picked up Here I Am both excitedly and nervously... excited because Foer's other two novels are a couple of my all-time faves, nervous because it's been over a decade since his last and what if the magic wears off?
JSF really doubles down on his style in this book, for better or worse. There's one moment when, in order to show a character's discontentedness, he lists her architectural likes... for a whole page in parallel sentences. A little excessive there, and without a character like Oscar in Extremely Loud, it felt more out of place.
But! There are these moments where Foer rears his brilliance at showing a character's complicated interior life through amazing narration... as he does when the character Jacob realizes the scarcity of moments that make him feel alive.
Compared to his well-received other novels, this book takes similarly great creative risks but lacks a loveable central character like Oscar or Alexander. Jacob is an overly familiar mopey 40-something divorcee and Sam is a more cynical twist on Oscar. While the first half of the book is extremely domestic, it does take a more captivating and creative turn when geopolitical drama surrounding Israel is introduced.
#40 The Waiting
09 February 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
Man, 2017 thus far has been kind of a patience tester. And I normally think of myself as a patient person. Flight delay? NBD I got a good book. But I've found that once I've gotta wait more than 24 hours with a little uncertainty in the mix, then the challenge begins.
It's tough to remember so I gotta remind myself- life wouldn't be the same without a little uncertainty, a little suspense, and a little I-wonder-what's-going-to-happen next. It's only in some messed up Black Mirror world where we know how everything turns out in the end, and even the most miraculous life events are greeted with a shrug.
#41 Lardon Rolls
10 February 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
Mission 05: So there’s this place in Portland– Philippe’s Bread. Maybe I’m (for obvious reasons) biased, but I love their stuff. One of my favorite items is their lardon rolls, which are perfectly fluffy and carry just the right hint of bacon all the way through. My goal was to try and make some on par with that.
The Results: So I didn’t quite do that. Not that mine were terrible, but there’s a reason why Philippe’s Bread is one of the top bakeries in town. I thought mine were alright, but I wish I could’ve figured out how to get the hint of bacon to resonate throughout the whole roll. We did make some of these into buns for breakfast sliders, though, and that was just great.
#42 Early Valentine’s Day
11 February 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
Happy Valentines Day!!!
Before I had Deanna in my life, a good Valentines Day would be a rare thing. I thought I just had the worst luck ever when it came to February 14. Maybe I was being overdramatic, but also, I might’ve been right! I’m married to the best girl ever, and yet, being able to properly celebrate the day continues to elude me.
Last year it was being sick. This year I’m in California for some interviews. Maybe I’ll get a rad job and that’ll allow me to afford some pretty sleek dates.
Thankfully, we preemptively celebrated over the weekend. We went to go see A Dog’s Purpose (Giant Beignetface, as I call it) and then had dinner at Membrillo Latin Kitchen and oh my goodness, you guys, I had one of the best dishes I’ve ever tasted there. Seared scallops with black garlic and squid ink chimichurri… yes please!
#43 OMW San Diego
12 February 2017 // San Francisco, California
Good things have been happening lately!
First of all, I just learned that pandas and sea cows are no longer considered endangered due to population increases. This is actually somewhat old news, but it’s news to me. Hooray for them! Especially the sea cow. The best New Years’ Resolution I ever made was in 2014, when I decided to start calling manatees by their proper name.
On a more personal level, I’m en route to San Diego for an interview! I’m feeling cautiously optimistic, but this is the first time I’ve been flown somewhere to interview and that’s an exciting feeling.
And finally, last week I finished Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel series, Boxers and Saints. Long story short, I loved it! I thought the story was so well told, and I don’t normally read graphic novels. I’d be totally down to explore some more, if I can find others of this caliber.
13 February 2017 // San Diego, California
The reason I’m spending a week in San Diego this month: I got an interview with an organization I'm a pretty big fan of.
Every day leading up to it was building excitement and tension. If I get the job, I figured, I would be doing exactly what I'd hope to be doing with my career– as opposed to taking a job just cause it'll feed the family. Plus, if I spent years doing something I was less in love with, I'd be putting myself in line to keep doing that in the future. But I need to nail the interview to even have an option!
Normally I would tell nobody until it was a done deal and I was hired, because that's how I like to roll. But I guess I really wanted the job because I told some people who I wanted prayers from. And I think that paid off. I think they liked me at the interview.
#45 Chris at Bankers
14 February 2017 // San Diego, California
Photography tip: hang out with your friends and get wrapped up in a conversation that goes for so long that the sun goes down and the commemorative photo must be taken using a way-too-bright phone flash and salvaged on Photoshop.
Wait, that’s not a very good photography tip… but it’s a great tip for fun!
#46 Holy Parking
15 February 2017 // San Diego, California
Remember where you parked.
That should be pretty easy.
Maybe you should drop a pin?
Nah, trust me I’ll remember.
Okay, but just to be safe–
No, man. This is a parking space you won’t forget.
#47 Ballast Blast
16 February 2017 // San Diego, California
The past week in San Diego has been fantastic! And of course Ballast Point with cousins was a necessary part of the week.
A couple other good things–
One of my first favorite albums of 2017 has reared its head. If you like Jack Garratt or James Vincent McMorrow, might I suggest Sampha's newest album? I've been digging it.
Also, I've been learning some fun stuff about Mike Illitch, the Little Caesars CEO who also owned the Detroit Red Wings and Tigers. A lot of the athletes he employed are coming out and saying great things about the guy, who happened to quietly pay Rosa Parks' rent for years until she died. I love it when people do secretly incredible things.
#48 Julian’s Classy Office
17 February 2017 // San Diego, California
Ok so Julian gets the prize for coolest workspace I've visited. I mean, his desk is right over the ballpark and a dozen steps to a beer and kombucha tap.
Thanks for showing me around! Hope we get to have some more meet ups soon.
#49 Baked Bear
18 February 2017 // San Diego, California
I do love some cousin time.
So far this year has gone by at both lightning speed and at a snail's pace. It's been a couple months of hurry-up-and-wait and hoping and dreaming about opportunities that are so close but yet to come.
I have so many ideas I'm looking forward to implement. For now, I've got a couple days more to sit back and trim the excesses from my life to make sure I have ample room for what I want front and center.
#50 Chris at Legacy
19 February 2017 // La Mesa, California
Went to church on Sunday and– oh hey, I know that guy!
For real, though, I'm very proud of Chris and happy to see him in a role he's very much made to thrive in. Plus he spoke on Purim and the book of Esther which is one of my faves and one I've been into a lot recently.
#51 SD to EUG
20 February 2017 // San Diego, California
Spent a whole lot of time yesterday in airports because of crazy weather and flight delays. Thankfully I got to charm my way to some food vouchers! My visit the past week to San Diego was great! Honestly, it was one of the best times I’ve had in a city where I’ve spent a lot of time.
I loved seeing a whole bunch of family and old friends, many of whom have just moved in the area pretty recently. And I got to make some new friends I meshed with just about right away.
I was super happy to see how green it was. All that rain really paid off. I don’t know if I’ve ever appreciated it’s flora so much.
And I love how much new stuff has popped up since I last frequented its neighborhoods. New restaurants, book stores, community groups, and of course, microbreweries.
Here’s hoping and praying that I’m back again in the city very, very soon.
#52 Boxers (& Saints)
21 February 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
“What is China but a people and their stories?"
–Gene Luen Yang
Book No. 07 of 2017
I don’t think I’ve given graphic novels their proper credit or attention in the past, so I sought to rectify that this year. I heard good things about Gene Luen Yang’s Boxers & Saints series, so I decided to start with that and I am so glad I did.
The complementary stories show two different sides of the Boxer Rebellion in China a century-ish ago, where peasants and countrymen in China rose up against the urban elites and the foreign missionaries and Chinese converts to Christianity who were bullying them. Except among those converts were people who Chinese traditions had oppressed.
This story itself does a great job of reminding us that in every conflict there are two sides, each with deeply personal motivations. It’s well told, visually, and the story got compelling right away. The elements of magical realism and heroic iconography were also awesome. The first of the two books focuses on the Boxers’ side of the story, and how one village boy turned his love of opera into his motivation to be his people’s defender. I ranked Boxers above it’s Saints counterpart, only because the story is longer and in the case of this series, that is a good thing.
#53 (Boxers &) Saints
22 February 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
“The world will never be exactly as we want it, Vibiana. But regardless of how imperfect things may seem, God’s will can still be found."
–Gene Luen Yang
Book No. 08 of 2017
The sister piece to Boxers– this book focuses more on the perspective of the Chinese converts to Christianity during the Boxer Rebellion, those deemed “foreign devils” by revolting peasants.
Of course, this book/series does a fantastic job of using a simple story to show how things are more complex than that. While many of the missionaries and their governing allies are undeniable bullies, other Chinese villagers have found acceptance among them while their societal traditions have once bullied them. The characters are so well developed, noble and flawed.
I wish that Saints was equal in length to Boxers, as it left me wanting more- but in a good way. The final scenes, in which the two stories are tied together, happen so beautifully and richly that you’re reminded of how people’s differences are equally capable of producing beauty and brutality.
#54 Matcha Shortbread Cookies
23 February 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
Mission 06: I’m not a big sweets guy, but one of the huge exceptions would be shortbread cookies. I think it’s because they’re buttery and give you a bit of that sweet and salty magic. What could make it better? Maybe a little bit of bitter? I wanted to try and add some matcha to make it even better.
The Results: I’m happy! Matcha is one of my favorite flavors, and you really don’t want to do a whole lot to take away from its depth. I ended up using large flake sea salt instead of regular salt in the dough and it turned out to be an improvement– when eating the cookies you’ll get more scattered sharp notes of the crystals and that is one of the things that actually compliments matcha pretty well.
#55 Red Pepper Linguine
24 February 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
Mission 07: I’ve been working on trying to get some better veg-friendly meals going. Homemade pasta seemed like a good bet- and red pepper linguine seemed to be enough of a complex flavor so I wouldn’t really miss the meat.
The Results: In terms of flavor- I’m happy. The red pepper taste was alive and well, and complemented by a modified marinara sauce, sea salt, and crimini mushroom to add a few extra notes. Unfortunately the texture was a bit off. Our kitchen/apartment is a little too small so we don’t exactly have a great space to spread out pasta noodles to dehydrate overnight, so I just had to face the fact that it would get a bit on the mushy side.
#56 Silvan Ridge
25 February 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
This weekend was an oasis of sunlight in the middle of a month of monotonous winter days. It was too good that we had to get out and had fun.
After getting the dog tired out at the dog park, we headed to the outskirts to do some wine tasting.
It was our first time at Sylvan Ridge… a simpler vineyard compared to the others we’ve tried in the valley, but their complementary tasting had some good malbec as a part of the flight.
26 February 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
I have degrees in International Studies and Nonprofit Management. I also have a knack for telling stories, communicating, and marketing. A job that contained all these elements would be the perfect fit for me. After finishing grad school, though, I figured I would take one that contained two of the three, or maybe even just one. I’d eventually get to that perfect fit, but I expected to have to work for a little bit in a less-fit role to support the family for the time being.
Then, I checked the website of a nonprofit organization I’d been following for years. Plant With Purpose. I discovered them through my friends Chi, Jihyun, and Youngjin three years ago and kept them on my radar. It turned out they were looking for someone to do their marketing. They do amazing work at reversing deforestation and reducing poverty… and way more people should know about the great stuff that they do.
I sent a resume. They sent emails. I sent emails. They asked me to come to San Diego. I came, ate the best burrito I had in years, and also interviewed. And then I went back to Oregon. They called me and sent emails. I sent emails. And after all that, it became official. I was hired.
And… I found this old newsletter that Jihyun gave me when he told me about them for the first time. Now I’ll be helping to put stuff like this together!
#58 The Seven Story Mountain
27 February 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
“It is only the infinite mercy and love of God that has prevented us from tearing ourselves to pieces and destroying His entire creation long ago. People seem to think that it is in some way a proof that no merciful God exists if we have so many wars. On the contrary, consider how in spite of centuries of sin and greed and lust and cruelty and hatred and avarice and oppression and injustice, spawned and bred by the free wills of men, the human race can still recover, each time, and can still produce men and women who overcome evil with good, hatred with love, greed with charity, lust and cruelty with sanctity. How could all this be possible without the merciful love of God, pouring out his grace upon us?"
Book No. 09 of 2017
I have wanted to read some Thomas Merton for a long, long time. The consensus was that The Seven Storey Mountain and his conversion story would be the right place to start, so I found a sweet eighties copy at a used bookstore and dove right in.
This book and Merton’s thoughts and stories are all pretty meaty and substantive. This memoir starts off a bit slow but then really ramps up a bit before the middle. It’s not the sort of book you can quickly blitz through, but it’s also not the sort of book you’d want to. While this book in particular is about Merton’s gradual embrace of the monastic life, it is scattered with the sorts of thoughts and quotes I came to expect from snippets others have shared.
#59 Dutch Bros.
28 February 2017 // Eugene, Oregon
One of the worst parts about San Diego? The Dutch Brothers aren’t the same. Literally. I did a search for Dutch Brothers here and apparently all they do is repair cell phone screens.
Here’s one thing I’ll be missing from the PNW for sure.