the new year, the new resolve, and up with the old

As I write this the first month of 2016 is already almost over.

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In 2015 I had planned to write more often. In fact, the first post of 2015, “promiscuous writing,” was a long spiel about planning to write more on this blog. If anything 2015 was the least promiscuous (what’s the opposite of promiscuity? celibacy?)– with a grand total of three posts.

It’s not that 2015 was uneventful. If anything, it was more eventful, at least in terms of blog worthy events. I sold a house and bought a house. Ended a job and started a new one. I crossed off some major items on my bucket list. I drove the Icelandic Ring Road (well most of it anyways.) I hiked the John Muir Trail (well like half of it, which I suppose still counts).

I suppose I have excuses. I was busy. I was without a permanent home for part of the year, so the desktop computer that I do most of my writing on was not setup. There’s not a lot of traffic on this site, so no one would even know if I stopped writing. Ultimately it was just laziness and lack of motivation that kept me from writing. But now when I look at my blog, it looks almost like a piece of me is missing. I have some good memories in 2015, but none of them are chronicled here.

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Thankfully Google Photos has an amazing timeline feature, with which I can go back and piece together my memories and hopefully make coherent blog posts from them. So that’s the plan at least– I’ll go back and write some posts for 2015, then get back on track and post at least once a month in 2016.

promiscuous writing

The seventeenth century French playwright Moliere had this to say about writing:

“Writing is like prostitution. First you do it for love, and then for a few close friends, and then for money.”

I can’t say I know too much about prostitution, especially in seventeenth century France, but I can’t imagine how it would ever be done for love or friendship. What I can say is that Moliere’s thoughts on writing seem accurate to me, at least as it pertains to this blog.

I was a computer science major in college. Most of my time was taken up by my programming projects. I did have the chance to take one creative writing class, and I found that I really enjoyed it. It was probably my favorite class in college. As a side project, to sort of bridge my interest in programming and writing, I created a little blog platform in php and mySQL. After a while it became too much of a hassle to run my own blog, so I joined the Xanga bandwagon, which was a popular social blog platform at the time.

After college Xanga just sort of died a slow death. And not just my own. Xanga as a whole was dying, replaced by social networks like MySpace and the later juggernaut Facebook. I jumped on the Facebook bandwagon like everyone else, but I found that I still wanted a place to write longer and more in depth. Facebook just wasn’t a great platform for that. It’s not really meant for long form writing.

So I started a new blog. I had a domain that I owned,– and decided that I would start a blog on one of its subdomains. Thus this blog, was born. This time around, instead of developing my own blog I decided to use WordPress, a full feature blogging platform that’s freely available to download.

So it was the love for writing (combined with a little bit of knowledge in technology) that got me started on this blog. After five years I’m actually kind of amazed that it still exists. Back to the Moliere quote, it’s like he said. It was love that got me started but it’s friends that kept me going. Most people know that I’m terrible at keeping in touch with people, and so this is my small way of keeping in touch with friends, letting them know what I’m up to. There are a few friends out there that semi-regularly read the blog, and once in a while I’ll get an email or chat or text message from them about something they’ve read which gets me back in touch with them. So that keeps me motivated to write at least once every few months. And I suppose that I’m my own best friend, in that I find that I continue to blog largely for myself, so that I can go back and relive past experiences.

So it was love that got me started on writing, friendship that kept me going, and it’s money that nearly got me to stop. My web hosting for the dahhh domain is set to expire in a couple of months, and for a while I debated whether to keep paying for it. It costs me ten dollars a month, not a huge sum of money, but enough that I was considering cancelling my hosting. But halfway through writing this I realized that I really want to continue with this blog. So I’m renewing my web hosting for another three years– for love and for friendship, money be damned.

So anyways, I’ll end by going back to where we started, by musing about prostitution. Again, I don’t know too much about prostitution, but I suppose the ones who make the most money from it are the most promiscuous. And so for this blog, if I want it to be worth my money, it makes that I should be more promiscuous with my writing in it. So for my friends out there who still read this (and for myself I suppose), I hope that I’ll be somewhat more promiscuous with this than I have been in the past.

positive is positive?

Yesterday I went in for a routine physical. Part of the reason for the physical was for me to check if I needed any immunizations for an upcoming trip. The other main reason was to ask for blood lab work to be done. I was curious about my cholesterol levels, especially since I haven’t done much cardio for a couple of months. I guess I’m kind of a hypochondriac. Actually I take that back. I’m actually a massive hypochondriac.

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Today I started receiving the results from my tests, so I’ve been checking the website as the test results come in. The third test result I received was this: VARICELLA ZOSTER VIRUS, POSITIVE. So of course the hypochondriac in me kicks in and I convince myself that I have a life threatening illness. First order of business, click the link above that says “About this test.”

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Clicking the link does not ease my worries one bit. It lumps all the viral tests together, including HIV, which I know I definitely don’t want to be tested positive for. The third sentence is particularly worrying: “Viruses cause disease by destroying or damaging the cells they infect, damaging the body’s immune system, changing the genetic material (DNA) of the cells they infect, or causing inflammation that can damage an organ.” So now I’m convinced that I must be dying. Since the website doesn’t have much information on my particular viral outbreak I turn to trusty Google for more information.

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So it turns out that a positive Varicella Zoster virus test result means that I’ve had the chicken pox before. It means that I should be immune to a future outbreak of chicken pox. Reading that on a random website was a huge relief, but it’s information that probably should be on the test results page. Or at the very least it should indicate that testing positive in this case is something positive (i.e. constructive or good) unlike the case of HIV where testing positive would be unequivocally bad.

a funny thing…

2.5 weeks ago I was able to watch as the ER doctor pushed my bone back into my hand, washed the bloody wound with saline solution and stitched up the big gash across my hand.

Today I almost fainted as I watched the nurse pull out the stitches. There wasn’t even any blood.

Adrenaline is a funny thing…

Also, I heard some awesome news today.

“Starting tomorrow you can get your hand wet.”

It’s really a funny thing how the most mundane piece of news can be extraordinarily great news in the right context. In the context of my healing it means my wound has finally closed. It means there’s no longer any worry of infection. It means I can finally take a shower without a bag taped over my arm. It means that I’m on the mend and I’ll be back to my usual self pretty soon, though perhaps slightly more ambidextrous than I used to be.

the weeds

It’s been a while since I’ve posted on here. (And it’s been even longer since I’ve written a post that had any real depth of thought.) My excuse is that I’ve been without internet at home for a while (I’ll explain why later), but mainly I haven’t posted because I’ve been waist deep in the weeds.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALiterally speaking, I’ve been waist deep in the weeds. A lot of my spare time in the past few weeks has been spent pulling weeds, in an attempt to make the outside of my house look somewhat presentable. I started out with a yard full of weeds, waist high, grasping and pulling at them for what seemed like an eternity. Lately the remaining weeds have been somewhere between ankle and knee high. I’ve resorted to nuking the stubborn weeds that are left with concentrated weed killer, and letting it seep in and die, before resuming the never ending grunt work of grasping and pulling. It’s been tough, but at the same time it’s given me a lot of time to think.

A lot of those thoughts have been about weeds. Some of them have been practical thoughts– thoughts about how to best get rid of those weeds with the least amount of work, thoughts about how to prevent weeds from coming back, thoughts about how at least these particular weeds will soon no longer be my problem. But a lot of these thoughts have been about weeds in the greater context of life.

Literally speaking, I’ve been waist deep in the weeds. But perhaps in an even more real sense, metaphorically speaking I’ve been waist deep in the weeds. There are many ways that you can be in the weeds metaphorically. It could be in relationships, it could be in your career, it could be physically (how the hell did I let myself get so out of shape?!), it could be spiritually, it could be in anything really. It’s very easy to find yourself in the weeds. Those weeds are constantly growing, but to find yourself waist deep in them you have to ignore them for some time. And that’s surprisingly easy to do. What it really comes down to is complacency. Being waist deep in the weeds literally has made me realize that I’ve been complacent in so many ways.

To get out of the weeds takes a lot of work. And to stay out of the weeds takes a lot of discipline. In a literal, physical sense I’ve been doing the work lately. In a metaphorical sense, I guess I’m starting to do the work too.

I mentioned earlier about the lack of internet at my house. It’s basically because I’ve pretty much moved out of my house and had my internet service transferred to where I’m temporarily staying. The house that I’m temporarily staying at apparently has never had DSL internet, so they have to pull new lines, which has been delayed several times. I’ve moved out, transferred my internet, and have been pulling weeds because recently I decided to sell my house. I’ll be moving to somewhere with different grounds, a different separate of weeds. I’m hoping that in starting over on new ground this time I’ll have the discipline to keep out of the weeds, both literally and metaphorically.

a dream

Guilt. Guilt and remorse. Guilt and remorse for something that as far as I know, never happened. That’s a weird thing to keep me up at night…

Last night I had a dream. It started off as a pleasant enough dream.

In my dream I was a youth counselor, like I had been in years past. The kids were younger, maybe third or fourth graders, and they were Korean kids. It was like I had gone back in time a couple of years, to when I helped with Davis Korean Church’s Awana program.

Like many Korean kids, these kids were involved in a lot of extra curricular activities. There were two brothers who had just come from Taekwondo practice, and they were still in their martial arts uniforms in church. They were full of energy, wanting to spar with all the other kids. I told them to leave the other kids alone, and then they started sparring me, kicking and punching at random with their little legs and feet. They weren’t really causing any pain, at that age their kicks and punches don’t do much damage, but they were being really annoying and I was trying to corral the other kids to start their bible study lessons.

After about a minute of it I was getting annoyed, so I pushed the older brother away. He landed on his back pretty hard, and his head hit the ground. His eyes started to bleed, so I grabbed a towel and started carefully dabbing the blood away from around his eyes. After a while the bleeding stopped, and so I told him to open his eyes, and he responded that he couldn’t see, that everything’s dark.

“I’m scared,” he said, “everything’s all dark.”

Before I knew it, his mom had been called and he was on his way to the hospital, and I was left holding a blood stained towel. I distinctly remember looking down at the bloody towel in my hand when an overwhelming feeling of guilt and remorse came over me. It was agonizing, to the point where it woke me up, and try as I might, I couldn’t get the picture of the bloody towel out of my mind.

And so I was left with a feeling of guilt and remorse, for something that as far as I can remember, never actually happened. Sometimes I wonder if dreams have a meaning. If so, what would the meaning of this dream be?

the fiddler

This weekend I saw the “Fiddler on the Roof” at a local community theater. It was my first time watching a musical at a community theater, so I didn’t really know what to expect. It turned out that the performances were surprisingly decent and the ticket prices were less than half what they would have been at one of the bigger theaters, so I’ll probably be watching more community theater productions.

The story in ‘The Fiddler on the Roof’ centers around the family of Tevya, a poor Jewish milkman living in Russia. Tevya has five daughters, the oldest three are of marriageable age. Tevya is a very traditional man, (in fact the opening song is about Jewish tradition), and wants his daughters married according to Jewish tradition. Each of his daughters’ marriages move farther and farther away from the Jewish traditions that he holds on to.

The eldest daughter is arranged to marry the town butcher, who is much much older than her, but Tevya agrees to the marriage, thinking his daughter will be better off by marrying the rich butcher. But she instead wants to marry her childhood friend the tailor, despite the fact that he is very poor, and so she convinces the tailor to ask her father to allow them to be married. Tevya is stunned and angered by the breach in tradition but eventually relents and allows them to get married.

The second daughter falls in love with a Marxist revolutionary, who gets called away to Kiev to work for the revolution. Before he leaves he asks for her hand in marriage. Tevya initially refuses, but after some soul searching allows them to get married. He realizes the world is changing, and his daughters are marrying for love instead of through the Jewish tradition of matchmaking. Tevya, who himself had an arranged marriage with his wife, asks his wife if she loves him. (Funny how the topic never came up during 25 years of marriage). She dismisses the question as foolish, but eventually admits that she does in fact love him.

The third daughter falls in love with a Russian. This is where Tevya draws the line, he cannot allow his daughter to marry a non Jewish man. She ends up eloping with the Russian, leaving Tevya wondering where he went wrong.

The story ends rather abruptly with the Jews being kicked out of Russia. Tevya, his wife, and his two remaining daughters pack their belongings, planning to move to America. The story ends with the fiddler playing a song on his violin. Tevya nods to the fiddler and the fiddler follows along on the family’s journey to America.

I didnt’ really understand the whole part about the fiddler, so I looked it up. According to Wikipedia The Fiddler is a metaphor for survival, through tradition and joyfulness, in a life of uncertainty and imbalance. So that makes sense. The story ends rather abruptly, with the family scattered but I guess the fiddler traveling with Tevya symbolizes that life goes on.

Despite the obvious differences (Jews living in Russia versus Koreans living in America, and five daughters versus two sons) the family in the story actually kind of reminds me of my family.

My parents weren’t really an arranged marriage, but I’ve often wondered if they really love each other. In truth I thought they would divorce as soon as my bro and I finished college (maybe that’s a subconscious reason why neither my bro and I finished our four year degrees.) But I guess they’re better nowadays, they’ve learned to live with each other, so I guess that’s some sort of love.

My dad kind of reminds me of Tevya. Lately he’s been really getting on my case about marriage, getting to the point where he’s actually even arranged dates for me. A few months back I got into a huge argument with him about how stupid I thought it was that he was arranging these dates. My dad’s not an overly traditional person, but I guess in his generation people would’ve been married by the time they’re thirty. Nowadays people are getting married later, and I’m not sure why, but for some reason I always thought that thirty-two would be the age that I would want to get married. And he wouldn’t really outright say it, but I’m pretty sure he’d want my bro and I to marry a Korean girl, even though neither my bro nor I have dated a Korean girl for any real length of time. So I guess that’s where the ‘tradition’ is with my dad– probably like Tevya he will be forced to live with his offspring turning away from those traditions.

Things I’m thankful for:

  • cheap tickets for musicals
  • stories that make me think about my own life
  • despite not knowing how to play violin, the fiddle continues to play

post review

As one year ends and a new one begins, I find myself reflecting on the past. For me this year marks the end of a decade and an end of an era. Since zero through nine years is the first decade, turning thirty marks the end of the third and beginning of the fourth decade of life. When I came to that realization I felt really old for a while, but then I realized that there’s still a lot of living left to do.

For most people the third decade is a decade of change. It’s the decade where most people graduate from college and start their adult life, building careers and families and what not. For me it was also a beginning of a new life. It’s the decade where I became a Christian and got baptized. Sometimes I wonder where I would be if I never found Christ in college. I have no clue what my life would look like, but I know that without a doubt my life would be completely different.

I started randomly browsing through my picture albums from the last few years. It made me realize how immensely blessed I am, with good friends and a job that is pretty flexible. And I’ve come to realize that a lot of those blessings came from the church. That’s not to say that I don’t have great friends through work or through school, I have awesome friends from my old job at CalPERS and at my current job at POST, and have awesome friends from high school and college too. Despite being such an introverted hermit I somehow have been blessed with great friends, and for that I’m thankful.

moments to remember

Not too long ago I fixed up my file server. (Yes, I’m nerdy enough that I have my own home file server). So anyways, it had been out of commission for a while, so I forgot what I had on it. After it was up and running again I browsed through the stuff on the hard drive and found a pretty decent collection of Korean movies. So lately when I have some downtime at home I’ve been watching Korean movies.

Recently I watched a Korean movie called, “A Moment to Remember.” The Korean title actually literally translates to “The Eraser in my Head,” but that’s a terrible title in my opinion. I’m guessing the main reason why I downloaded this movie was because Son Ye Jin was in it. I used to have the fattest crush on Son Ye Jin. Okay I lie. I still have the fattest crush on her.

<Warning, I’m pretty much going to spoil the entire movie if you read further>

Anyways, she plays this ditsy forgetful girl whose forgetfulness leads her to meet a man who she falls in love with. To make a long story short, they get married and live happily together. Then one day she goes to the doctor and finds that she has a rare form of early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

She begins rapidly losing her memories, with the most recent memories disappearing first. She starts forgetting who her husband is, mistaking him for someone from a past failed relationship. But once in a while she would have flashes where she remembers everything, and it’s during one of those moments of clarity when she realizes how much she’s hurting her husband. She runs away and checks herself into a mental institute. He searches for her but to no avail. Some time later she has another flash of memory and writes him a letter. He uses it to track her down at the mental institute, but sadly finds that she basically has no memory at all.

He decides to try to jog her memory by recreating the moment that they met. So he recreates it with all her family present. As the camera pans slowly as she’s looking at the faces of her family, the camera zooms to her face. It seems as if she’s starting to remember who they are and asks, “Is this heaven?”

Anyways I pretty much spoiled the entire movie (but it’s definitely still worth watching and I’d actually be down to watch it again.) I wouldn’t normally write about a movie, but this one really made me think. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve slowly come to the realization that experiences are far more valuable than possessions. If anything this movie made me realize even more that those memories and experiences — those moments to remember — truly shape who we are. I also thought a lot about the question the wife asked at the end of the movie, “Is this heaven?” I don’t think that heaven can truly exist on earth, but if you surround yourself with good friends and family I guess it can start to be like heaven on earth.

time and money

So let’s do something different today. I will start today’s post off with a mathematical proof.

Haha just kidding. I don’t honestly believe this equation’s conclusion that girls are evil. OK, that’s a lie. I do believe girls are evil, but not for the reasons stated in this equation. (I believe both girls and guys are evil– that’s fair right?) The problem I have with this equation is the premise that time equals money.

Recently I’ve been hanging out with some of my old coworkers from CalPERS. I heard through them that my old team lead had retired. I thought for a while whether I wanted the job. I’m pretty happy with my current job– I like the work that I do and I have a lot of freedom. The only real problem I have is the pay. I made a lot more money at CalPERS because of all the overtime. Where I work now, there’s really no opportunity for overtime. I mentioned this during a conversation with one of my old coworkers. Here is his exact response, which I’ve pasted verbatim from the google chat log…

“But dont forget: Time is your only unrenewable Resource”

I never really thought about it before, but he’s right. Time is nonrenewable (apparently unrenewable is not a word but nonrenewable is). We can always work for more money, but we can never add a day to our lives, all we can do is manage our health to try to prolong our life.

This week a good friend of mine asked me to be a pallbearer for his grandmother’s funeral. His grandmother had lived to the amazing age of 98. My friend said that it made him realize that life is short. 98 years is not a short life by most people’s measure. 25 years is short. 27 years, 28 years, 31 years– those were short lives, lives that were taken away early by accidents, asthma, gastric cancer, lung cancer. That’s the other thing I’ve come to realize about time. It’s uncertain.

And so to revise my old coworker’s advice as a reminder to myself-

Don’t forget: Time is nonrenewable and Time is uncertain.

Things I’m thankful for:

  • Good advice and reminders from friends
  • The time that I’ve already had