24 / misc

I turned 24 today, one of the first birthdays I've had unburdened by projects, work, exams, SATs, or AP tests in a long time. It was also the first birthday I've spent with my family since my 18th.

My family and I spent the weekend around Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo. We went kayaking, ATV-ing, and hiking, and also ate a lot of hippie vegan food and açaí bowls. I visited Hearst Castle for the first time, saw some peregrine falcons, tried to speak seal, felt an earthquake, listened to the new Vampire Weekend album, and downed a bag of kettle corn. I took a lot of film pictures on the Leica M2 and Olympus XA4, but those won't be developed for a few days.

Kayaking on Morro Bay!

Kayaking on Morro Bay!

Birthdays are quite arbitrary, but tend to provide some framework for reflection. A year ago, on my birthday, I went to dinner at Red Lentil in Watertown, MA with some very important people in my life. I ate a lot of cake, vanilla bean ice cream, and was excited for the start of an eventful summer full of New York trips, GRE flashcards, and bike-building. Three years ago, I stayed up studying for a manufacturing exam and had two exams and a project due on my birthday. This year, I'm grateful for quality family time, surprising and meaningful relationships, and California landscapes. I'm excited for a continuous process of learning more about the world, pushing on various facets of personal growth, and enjoying summer nights. I’m still processing a lot of the changes that have happened within the last 365 days, but I think one of the most fascinating things about life is its unavoidable propensity to move forward, despite how dire or unresolvable problems may seem at the time.

First time ATV-ing at Oceano Dunes near Pismo Beach, California.

First time ATV-ing at Oceano Dunes near Pismo Beach, California.

Short book update:

Endurance by Scott Kelly

I think this is worth reading if you have a particular interest in space... I found it a bit too dry, which was disappointing given how much content he had to work with. Still, the perspective of becoming an astronaut who spends a year in space is pretty interesting no matter how mediocre of a storyteller he is.

Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan’s Disaster Zone by Richard Lloyd Perry

This is one of the most emotionally-sensitive narrative nonfiction books I've ever read. I really admired what Perry was able to pull from the situation he spent so much time researching. A beautiful book about a heartbreaking tragedy.

Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist by Eli Saslow

Super interesting account of how the son of the founder of Stormfront distanced himself from the white nationalist movement after growing up at the forefront of it (and was, for most of his teenage years, expected to lead it one day) . The book can be quite disturbing at times, but did provide an insightful look into the ideology of white supremacy. Important read.

Question for you all:

Tell me some of your favorite birthday stories! Best birthday you ever had? Worst birthday you ever had? Strangest birthday you ever had?

are you okay?

Thank you Spotify Discover Weekly playlists.

New bike! It’s a singlespeed cyclocross bike from Bike Nashbar that I got during Cyber Monday sales for about 60% off. Very worth it. It’s the third bike that I’ve assembled now, and I love the process every time. I’m still getting used to the geometry, and it’s a bit heavy for a singlespeed since it’s a cyclocross bike, but I’m excited to go on real bike rides again. I swapped the 32mm Kenda tires for some Continental Gatorskins, and replaced the stock saddle with my Brooks Cambium. Everything else is stock for now, but I think the pedals could use some replacing, and maybe a different gearing ratio eventually. Will update with bike adventures soon. :)

thin (live) / colorado

Spent the last few days in Colorado with the family. It was a good blend of hiking/relaxing/family time, and I enjoyed it a lot. 

Some photos below: Experimenting with the slideshow because uploading each image takes forever. The main things we did were Garden of Gods, Pikes Peak, Cave of the Winds, and Paint Mines Interpretive Park. Other than a few thunderstorms, the weather was pretty much perfect. I took a lot of pics with the Olympus XA4 so there will probably be a second wave of photos at some point. Now...back to work...

what i need / nerd updates

New Ben Howard and this video made it hard to pick a song for this post, but this video gives me life and also this song is definite summer jams. Also it's Pride month, so this is more appropriate. 

And it's summer!! It's hard for me to fully grasp that the weather is actually consistently nice and my heating bills won't be more than $200 dollars anymore... This month has been pretty exciting overall. I finished my first project at work, which was generally rewarding. I definitely learned a lot about the design process and about my own working/learning style. I'm realizing more and more how much my personal passion matters to me in my daily work, which makes me feel like general design consulting might not be the place for me. I'm lucky to have incredibly supportive and caring coworkers though, so I'm still very much enjoying my current work environment.

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I went to New York City for Memorial Day weekend, which was a welcome escape from Boston. I always love visiting New York - everything feels so much more alive, and also the food is incredible (special note of love to Absolute Bagels and Buddha Bodai). It was nice to just walk around and feel life in the city, and also to catch up with some old friends. I finally went to the American Museum of Natural History as well, which made me think about my small existence in the universe. 

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Other than that, I've been cleaning out my apartment a lot and really thinking about what I want to do this summer. I have a lot of film rolls that I'm excited to develop - I recently trialed a Bessa R3m, which is a M-mount rangefinder camera made by Voigtlander. I got it from KEH new in box, but the metal shutter was a huge turnoff and I found it very jarring to shoot. That was a shame, because the 1x viewfinder and other mechanics/feel were quite delightful. I ended up returning it and scoring a Leica M2 on eBay for $600 after some crazy discount codes and things. It's supposed to be in working condition, but even if I have to send it for some repairs, I'm pretty psyched about it. I've had a picture of a Leica M2 on my wall at home since 11th grade. I cannot really afford true Leica glass at this point, so I'm waiting on a 7Artisans 35mm f/2 to hold me out. 

I have been shooting digital a lot less, which may explain the lack of photos in this post. I ended up returning the 0.95 aperture lens I talked about in my post from March. My Fuji kit only contains the 18-55 and 23 at this point. It's very functional, but even after all this time, I recognize that my joy in photography mostly comes from shooting film. I've been using the Olympus XA4 extensively, which is by far my favorite point and shoot camera. The 28mm view, easy zone focusing, and tiny size make it the best everyday carry camera I've found (and I've tried too many to count).

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I've picked up (or continued, I guess) more nerd hobbies and acquired a new mechanical keyboard. I got a cheap blue switch 60% keyboard (MagicForce 68) a few years ago because I'm all about the tactile things, but that thing is super loud and I wanted something I could potentially take to work or use in a busier environment. Since I'm all about compactness and efficiency, I opted for a 40% ortholinear keyboard. As you can see from the picture, this means the keys aren't staggered. I was a bit worried about typing ability, but I've had about a week to practice and am pretty much at my normal typing speed. It takes a few minutes to adjust when I go back to my work laptop, but it's been really fun programming specific keys and making new short cuts and things. This will probably make zero sense to the majority of people reading my blog, so I'll stop now. Brown switches are way nicer than blues though, fyi. 

Looking forward to...

  1. Haux concert! (Thursday)

  2. Colorado trip with family (Starting next Sunday)

  3. Summer nights and bike rides (ALL SUMMER)

  4. Leica repairing and refurbishing (Probably right before Colorado)

  5. Vegan sushi in Montreal (mid July)

  6. Visiting Grandma in Ireland (October?)

  7. Moving closer to home (Late October???)

lightning + gold

Found and charged up the old Zune HD this past week so I'm living with a healthy dose of throwback music right now. This song reminds me of senior year of high school.

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I went hiking the the Fells Reservation near Somerville last weekend. It was lot nicer than expected, considering it sits dead in the suburbs. 

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Otherwise, have just been cranking away in life. My current project at work ends at the end of the month, and I'm looking forward to a trip to NYC before summer really kicks in. I'll be going to Colorado Springs with the family in mid-June. I also found out that I was admitted to a 7 day agroecology class at Concordia University in Montreal! That'll happen in July. I'm very excited to learn more about the economics/politics of local food provisioning (and eating a lot of vegan sushi). Other summer goals include actually sitting down and learning DaVinci Resolve so I can start playing with video editing, biking a lot, practicing more creative storytelling, and taking more pics.

I have four rolls of film at the developing lab right now from a few recent adventures, and I'm excited to get those back. 

This was a very disorganized blog post but thanks for reading anyway!