rocketfuel / film photos

After a year or two of shooting film intermittently (and not very seriously), I finally got all of 6 rolls developed. Film development is now quite expensive ($74 for 6 rolls?!), but the results are always worth it. I forgot that I shot two rolls of film on the Olympus XA4 in Banff while I was there in June - one of the rolls came back this time, but the other roll of Ektar is still in my freezer (!).

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I also got a few rolls back of B&W and Superia 400 from the Contax G1 and the 28mm lens. I forgot how much I love the feel of pretty much every photo from the Contax. It's indescribable.

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I had been contemplating selling the Contax kit, but I'm pretty much convinced now that I'm shooting this thing until it dies.

never mine / website updates

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Hello hello! My website was getting a little dated so I did a color change, removed some old pages, and made two blogs. From now on, personal posts will remain here, but I'll be writing more about the books I'm reading over here. In the last month, I have read The World is Blue by Sylvia Earle, American Catch by Paul Greenberg, The End of the Line by Charles Clover, Everybody Lies by Seth Stevens-Davidowitz, and Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. I am trying to distill all the knowledge and write something coherent soon. In the meantime, here are a few pictures from around the neighborhood. We had our first snow in Boston on Saturday! Still hate the cold, but at least it's pretty for now. 

terraform / frustrations, questions

I feel like every blog post starts with a realization of how much time has gone by since I last posted. I've been trying to write for a while now, but life can be...overwhelming, and I find it difficult to write unless I have a clear direction. 

I've been working full-time for more than 2 months now. I like my job, so it's actually what happens after work that stresses me out more than my 9-5. 

As I mentioned in my previous post, I started a personal learning project about food. As someone who grew up vegan for health reasons, awareness of food was necessary. I was often on the outskirts of food culture, and was able to observe habits that were so drastically different than mine. My mom conducted a lot of research about diet and health as I was growing up, and, whether intentionally or not, also developed more sustainable living habits that I accepted as standard (ie. eating local/organic food, avoiding plastic waste, recycling carefully, reducing material consumption). I never thought I was "environmentally friendly" - I took AP Environmental Science in high school and enjoyed it thoroughly, but it was really just another class to me. I don't think, in retrospect, I became passionate about the environment at all until I was confronted with a staggering amount of apathy and willful ignorance when I started college. 

I've been reading about fishing for the past five weeks. I don't eat fish, didn't know anything about fish, have never been fishing in my life, hate boats, and get really seasick. I have no direct interest in the ocean, but I wanted to learn more about the impact humans were having on the world. I learned a lot of fascinating things about the ocean, but my main takeaway was...how come I didn't know any of this earlier? And in general, how come I only know a small handful of people that are even interested in talking about pressing environmental issues? Why is caring about the environment an "interest" or "hobby", as if being invested in what is going to inevitably devastate the following generations of life on earth is the same as playing basketball or watching a new TV show? 

I want to blame individuals, but I can't. The societal baseline for caring is just too low. We pat ourselves on the back for everything, even actions that should really be the baseline. We refill our water bottles at the water fountain, where it kindly reminds us of the number of bottles "saved" from the landfills. Yes, refilling that bottle does replace a disposable plastic bottle, but why doesn't every bottle say "one more piece of plastic added to the landfill"? Why do we give out plastic bottles, straws, and cups in absurd amounts at every social event? And what's the difference if we collect reusable water bottles like they're disposable, anyway? Why do we feel good when we recycle, but don't really notice when we toss plastic into a trash bin just because it was closer? Society doesn't lead us to actually make a difference, it just wants us to feel like we're making a difference. 

I'm surrounded by amazing people who care greatly about an impressive variety of things. I went to school with people who were incredibly hardworking, passionate about technology, and left with dreams of making the world a "better place" (I use quotes here just because I think every person has a different definition of better). For many, that meant newer, faster, more reliable, more advanced technology. More innovation. I share many of my peers' passion for technology, and ways it can be harnessed to  better the lives of humans. I love well-designed products, cool tech, and I am constantly in awe of what humans are capable of creating and understanding. And yet, I'm also constantly frustrated, because in tech, sustainability is often a buzzword, used vaguely on websites to check a box and move on with it. Actually caring about the environment is delegated to hipsters and crunchy granola types (ie. Patagonia), or so my experiences have led me to believe. But the environment is the one thing that will affect all of us. No matter where you live, how much money you make, what you studied, or how many cars you own, whether you are religious or not... what happens with our environment will affect all of us. 

We are imagining and building the future, but blissfully ignoring it at the same time. I'm not asking for everyone to drop their jobs or personal passions and dedicate their lives to environmental causes - that would be hypocritical of me. However, I do believe that we can all spend a little bit more time thinking about the less glamorous parts of our future - pollution, climate change, ocean resource management, sustainable agricultural production, trash... We don't think about it because we're taught that humans are incredible, adaptive beings that can use our big brains to solve any problem we're encountered with. I think that's quite egotistical, but I can put some trust in it. Yet, I can no longer maintain comfort in that thought, because around me, there are very few big brains that I see working on these issues. 

These are issues that will (and already are) affecting our lives. These are issues that will burden the lives of humans for generations to come (if nuclear war doesn't kill us all by then). We imagine the future as such a colorful world filled with wonderful technology - we have no trouble talking about self-driving cars and fearing about the implications of AI, but we cannot forget about our physical planet. We cannot forget that there will soon be 8 billion people on this planet, each one fighting for food, water, infrastructure, and energy (and scrambling for the quality of living and rate of consumption that Americans have taken completely for granted). 

I think it's easy to think about the future and dismiss it as something to deal with later on, but it's important to realize how much can be at stake if we don't find viable solutions. If you love sushi, think about what it would be like if your favorite sushi no longer existed in the world, because the fish it came from went extinct due to poor fishery management. If you get really bad seasonal allergies, think about what it would be like when year after year, increased CO2 and longer spring seasons make allergies even worse.  What would it be like if our drinking water became a significant health risk? What would it be like if droughts led to a severe scarcity of water, let alone clean water? What would it be like to fear "once in a lifetime" type of hurricanes every year?

The future scares me. It's not really these "what if" questions that scare me, but the lack of people who are willing to think critically about these questions. I really don't know how to get people to care about these questions. We can talk about our future homes, how many kids we're going to have, where we want to travel, what kind of pets we want, our career trajectories, our retirement plans, but we don't talk about what we can do to make sure the world we're retiring in is the one we imagine. Why?

Maybe I'm being too pessimistic, too critical. I don't know. I would love to talk about this - please comment or email me if you have thoughts. 

no place in mind

Wow, I suck at writing regularly. 

Basically since August 29, I moved to Somerville, MA, started working as a design strategist at Altitude Inc, and became a sort of real life person. 

More interestingly, I started a food reading project! I'm planning on reading a food related book every two weeks for the next two years, which I will be writing about here

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youth / alaska + uncertainties

It's hard to believe that it's been a month since I returned from Southeast Asia, filled with excitement about everything that was going to change in my life. I went on a seven day cruise through Alaska with my mom and grandma, filled with absoutely breathtaking sunsets...

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I returned to Boston, expecting to start my full-time job, only to be faced with some hiccups and uncertainty. The future is still a bit uncertain, but I'm trying to make the best of it, no matter how internally stressful it's been. Channel the momentum and motivation I had for starting work into other things has been challenging, so I've been spending a lot of time learning about concepts that I find overwhelming. 

I read A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson, An Eater's Manifesto by Michael Pollan, and started reading Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Digital Cosmopolitans by Ethan Zuckerman. If anything, I get increasingly overwhelmed by how much I don't understand the world, but it's almost comforting to know that I could learn for the rest of my life and still not understand most things. Is that contradictory?

I've been thinking a lot about time, and how I probably shouldn't try to spend all of my time doing all the things I wish I could do. So here are some of the things I hope to be able to spend time doing and improve on constantly - in no particular order. 

  •  Guitar: I just upgraded my guitar from a Little Martin to a Taylor GS Mini! It was a pretty big decision, but I really enjoy the process of learning and practicing guitar. It's my favorite instrument to listen to, and it's incredibly rewarding when I can reproduce any sounds that I spend hours listening to. Since I do not sing, I play exclusively fingerstyle, and the 3/4 Martin was getting a bit cramped. The Taylor still isn't a full-sized guitar, but the slightly smaller size is nice to my abnormally short pinkies. 
  • Reading: I basically realized this summer that reading is the biggest life-hack ever.  Especially non-fiction - you basically spend a small, small fraction of time absorbing material that someone else spent years researching?? I'm trying to read books from different fields of (social) science - physics, biology, sociology, anthropology, psychology, etc. It's been a pretty rewarding process so far, and has been distracting me from the stress.
  • Cooking: I love food. Not just the eating part, but understanding the process, politics, history, cultural context, and science behind growing/cooking/eating it. I spent a fair amount of time cooking in college, but I'm looking forward to having a clean space to experiment with various veggie-based concoctions. 
  • Photography: SURPRISE! I actually want to shoot film regularly again. Cinestill came out with a C-41 home developing kit, which means it might be possible without (completely) breaking the bank. We shall see about this one. It requires quite a bit of activation energy, but there have been very few hobbies as personally rewarding to me as film photography. 
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That list is pretty much as short as I could possibly make it. I also wanted to design/sew a backpack, get into woodworking, get better at drawing, improve my graphic design/illustration skills, learn a bunch of card games, write more, etc...

This is why I need lists, and this is how I end up reading like six books at once.