April Book Review

April 30, 2017

Even though my review writing is behind, my reading is not. I cut out a couple that were not even worth mentioning. 21/60

Stories of Your Life and Others – A book of short sci-fi stories that  was easily the best read in the last couple months. This book includes the short story Arrival was based on, and it was infinitely better than the movie.

We should all be Feminists – This book is what it is. I was a little disappointed because I wanted more, but that’s not so possible in less thna 100 pages.

Notorious RBG – There’s nothing not to like? Justice Ginsburg is an incredibly inspiring figure. This is a nice intro biography to her life and influence. Easy to digest and appreciate.

Boy Meets Boy – Easy YA fiction about high school relationships. Compelling characters in a totally bizarre but wonderful high school.

Born to Run – Liked this book surprisingly more than I expected. Ultra-marathoners are pretty amazing athletes and this book has a lot of good stories.

Dark Matter – Sci-fi about the existence of multi-verses. Fast paced story. But I generally find parallel universes in the same boat as time travel – at some point it gets really complicated and there’s not a good way to get your story back.

The Help – I’m about 8 years too late in reading this book. It is as great as everyone said and made for a very quick read.

American Born Chinese – I thought this was a nice graphic novel about being Chinese American. I found it a refreshing subject, view and medium of storytelling.

The Hike – I was not that into this book. I could not get past the feeling that this came out of those creative writing exercises where you’re given a bunch of unrelated objects and you need to write a story that includes them all.


The Partly Cloudy Patriot – a book of essays that were mostly unmemorable to me. I didn’t find them compelling or very relatable.


MaddAddam (Oryx and Crake #3) – Third book in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake series. I liked this story better than the second, but still nowhere near as good as the first. It’s difficult to read the same story a third time, just from a new perspective.

Career of Evil (Cormoran Strike #3) – Not much to say about the third book in J.K. Rowling’s detective series. I still like the characters and I’ll read more when they come out.

Symbiont / Chimera – Books #2 and #3 in the Parisitology trilogy. I didn’t love them. The plot moved along in both books but I kept feeling like there could be more. Still an interesting zombie book idea.


January Book Review

January 27, 2017

My reading progress for 2017 is moving along pretty well. 5/60

Legend of the Galactic Heroes – Highly recommend. English translation of a very popular Japanese sci-fi from the 80s (now a very popular anime, etc). I felt like it was a good blend of plot and character and politics. As the first of 10 books, this has set up a pretty nice stage for an epic space opera.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – This was a charming book. Less about crazy, more about being your own person.

Never Let Me Go – Disappointing.

The Nightingale – Two sisters in WWII France when the Nazis start to occupy. Both resist in their own way. Not a book I would have picked up if it was not a best seller. On the positive side – almost all best sellers are easy plot-driven reads.

Texts from Jane Eyre – Classics reimagined as text message conversations. Amusing but not amusing enough. The concept gets a bit old after the first few. Also, I have a huge gap in my reading knowledge consisting of all the classics. I never read them in school and I don’t have much interest in them now. So it’s possible most of the jokes were beyond my understanding.



January 3, 2017

Well, it’s the beginning of 2017 and I haven’t written a post in the last ten months.

I thought this was going to be a resolutions post – because new year and all… But my resolutions every year are the same, so it seems a little unnecessary.

Instead, this will be the start of writing here regularly. Let’s see how it goes.



March 6, 2016

The new year advertising has been getting to me. After seeing a lot of ads on Facebook, I decided to try a tea-tox. Which is essentially a detox plan fueled by special teas.

Because I saw a deal on Gilt making it pretty cost effective, I jumped in with little research as to why teatoxes have become so popular. That reason is Kylie Jenner. Yep, I jumped on the bandwagon for a fad started by a reality star.

The basic plan is that they give you an every day morning tea and an every other night nightime tea. The morning one is supposed to just give you an energy boost – something to replace your coffee. As a non-addicted coffee drinker, I think this tea was just perfect as a morning drink. People report a lot of appetite suppressent effects, which I also experienced. But I can’t figure out which of the ingredients in my tea is doing it.

The nighttime tea, however, totally different story. Luckily, my tea was very obviously called a colon cleanse tea. A quick peruse of the reviews details some folks getting bad cramping and other not so great side effects. Guess how this tea works. Laxatives.

Cue some serious googling on laxative use. My tea’s ingredient is Senna Leaf. Which seems fine to take as a laxative. But laxatives shouldn’t really be used for weight loss, even if they seem effective (my google search took me to many pro-anorexia formums which were just weird). Takeaway – it really shouldn’t be part of your “lifestyle”.

I feel ok that I tried it. And I do like the morning tea lot. But I’m also glad to do some research before actually jumping all the way in.


Oscar Jokes

March 1, 2016

Chris Rock made an Asian joke during his opening for the Oscars. And people are mad. Not mad enough that it’s making top headlines, but at least a few Facebook links.

Sacha Baron Cohen also made an Asian joke during his presenting at the Oscars. This seems to have been largely ignored.

What were these jokes?

Rock’s joke was about Asians being smart, which he brought home by bring three Asian children on stage as “PWC accountants”. Cohen, in typical Ali G style, joked “How come there is no Oscar for them very hard-working little yellow people with tiny dongs? You know — the Minions.”

So why is Rock making headlines and Cohen is buried in the articles are not mentioned at all?

Is it because the children? Children who clearly have some business agreement in place to appear on national TV for Rock’s hosting. Children who have rehearsed the marks they’re supposed to hit. Who got dressed up in costume for it. So if they’re victims – no more than other child actors who get crappy jobs.

Is it because Rock was making a statement? Is it because we expect more diversity from a minority? Is it because no one watched the Oscars long enough to see Cohen’s joke and now they’re just jumping on the headline bandwagon? Or is it because we accept that Ali G is offensive?

It all sounds like excuses to me. If you call out Rock for making a stereotypical Asian joke (one that is pretty well accepted among Asians – let’s be honest), but you don’t call out Cohen – it’s basically condoning racist jokes in certain situations. You didn’t trot out children to be laughed at – so it’s cool you refer to us as “yellow people”. You were obviously joking and not trying to seriously speak about diversity – so your racist joke gets a pass. Forgive me when I start questioning your ability to judge racism at all.

This to me is ultimately a problem because it makes it seem like a fluke. Chris Rock is just one bad apple in the comedian world. And I’m pretty sure we all know that’t not how it is.




new year.

January 1, 2015

Happy New Year! It’s that time again. To make resolutions and goals that inevitably get forgotten about four months later. But why not?

1. Read 60 books this year. This past year I finished 55, with 15 being non-fiction. I’m aiming to increase both numbers – 60 books with 20 non-fiction.

2. Handstands. Practice them. Consistently. 10 min, 5x per week.

3. Splits. Get ’em back (right and left). Practice center splits. Consistently.

4. Pull-ups. 15.

5. Volunteer. I want to make this every month, but let’s start with every other month for right now.

6. Drink water. Aiming for the 8 glasses a day.

7. Six pack. With the wedding this year, there will probably be some effort to lose weight. So if it’s going to happen, this is going to be the year.


diet update 3.

April 26, 2014

The end of short diet #1! Lessons learned.

Dairy – it was difficult to avoid, but my consumption definitely went down. I didn’t notice any difference in how I felt on an every day basis. But I do notice a HUGE difference in how I feel after eating significant amounts of dairy now. This has also reinforced my opinion that most people’s complaints about lactose intolerance are really just people who haven’t spent a lot of time seriously eating dairy. What’s the long-term impact? Given that I now feel significantly worse when I eat dairy, I may continue to avoid it. However, I seriously miss eating cheese/crackers and ice cream and anything with cream sauces…

White grains – this was just plain hard. I developed a love for farro and ate way too much quinoa. I have not really gotten on board with giving up my white breads and potatoes. There are just so many things I won’t give up eating for this to really have any long-term effect. Any noticeable effects? If anything – I don’t portion control when eating white grains. I can eat a million french fries or goldfish crackers or large amounts of pasta. And that feels terrible as expected. I don’t feel this way about vegetables. So this was mostly a failed experiment. But I have pretty much given up snacking on grains, which is a positive.

Weight – last month I reported a low weight that I’m pretty sure was just an off day. I’m now a few pounds up, which is back to my normal weight.

Starting in May – I’m going to 100% cut out sweets (candy, chocolate, dessert). This seems easy, but I think it’ll be a lot harder than I am expecting. As much as I like salty foods for snacks, I still eat a piece of chocolate or dessert a lot.




April 2, 2014

People often wonder how I handle traveling every week for work. But it’s easier than you would think. Traveling sucks if you do it rarely. There’s never any perks. You don’t get upgraded. You don’t get priority boarding. You don’t get TSA pre-check. You pay for checking bags. You often have to check your carry-ons at the gate. You pay for extra leg room. You wait in the customer service line for missed connections and canceled flights. I sympathize. That’s why I try to stick with my preferred carrier.

More than that, if you only travel rarely, bad experiences tend to stick in your memory. Only flew twice in the last year and once you got delayed (ps. delays under an hour don’t count)? 50% success rate sucks. In 5 years of traveling, I have only gotten stuck in a connection city 4 times and never had a lost bag. Sure I get delayed a bunch, but not nearly enough for it to annoy me – especially when it’s a weather delay. Who wants to fly through thunderstorms or land in snow storms? One other tip – look out the window next time you’re landing at a major airport and often you’ll see all the planes in the air lining up to try to land. It makes it more understandable if you ever have circled around before landing.

Anyway, after traveling so much, I’ve kept a list in my head of all the airports I like and dislike. It’s here.


book goal pt. 1

March 24, 2014

Been reading a lot lately. I’ve made a goal to read 52 books this year, with half being non-fiction. With all my long flights lately, it’s been pretty easy to stay on track. I’m 17 books down already. Here are the highlights.

Into Thin Air – First book I’ve read by John Krakauer (since I’ve always been hesitant to read Into the Wild). I was really thinking this book was going to be the inspiring, “make you want to climb a mountain” kind of book. I really had no idea about the expedition that this book talks about and how tragic it was. There is nothing in this book that makes me want to climb a mountain. But it is an incredibly compelling story. Fast read. Couldn’t put it down.

Unbearable Lightness – Portia de Rossi’s memoir of her time on Ally McBeal while she struggled with eating disorders and other issues. I find reading stories about eating disorders weirdly fascinating. It’s a level of crazy that is so unreal. Anyway, the end is really disappointing because the book was so good at describing her struggle and then just sums up her recovery in the epilogue. It makes it seem like fixing her problems was easy compared to having the problems, which I can’t imagine to be true.

Daemon – Techno-thriller (first of two books) about a self-sufficient program created by some genius, which is now taking over the world. I’m not technical enough to flat-out think “that’s impossible” so it was still a fun read. Except when the self driving cars get a bit too involved… Either way, it’s interesting to think how much in our lives is controlled by technology and how that could be manipulated.

Books that disappointed me:

The Gift of Fear – I’ve heard so much about this book and how great it is. It’s written by this security guy. But I found the book really repetitive and I think I just wanted more anecdotes and something more. Less self-help.

Requiem – Third and final book in the Delirium series (YA series about a dystopian world where love is considered a disease). Terrible. First, it totally skips the fact that the second book ended in a cliff-hanger. Second, it ends in the middle of a battle. What?!

Decoded –  Jay-Z wrote a book about his songs. I thought it was going to be as awesome as Ice-T’s book (that everyone should read). It was not awesome. It sounds like answers in an interview – very filtered.

David and Goliath – I liked Gladwell’s other books. There was just something about this one that didn’t hook me. Maybe I’ve outgrown my love of pop science.


diet update 2.

March 11, 2014

I can’t believe it’s been a month already since my last update.

It feels like it’s gotten better. But I think it’s mostly due to not thinking quite as hard about it and falling off the wagon quite a bit this past month. See, I started a new work contract in Cedar Rapids, IA. While I have nothing against Iowa in general, it has been pretty tricky trying to avoid grains and dairy and still eat a variety of foods. That being said, the lack of variety has also made my eating somewhat routine – which is supposed to be ideal for dieting. On a regular week, I can stop by Super Target or Hy-vee (I still find it interesting that every city has their own grocery store chain) to pick up lunch and snacks for the week.

Lunch: frozen meals; most often Amy’s and Kashi because they offer lots of protein, interesting grains and I can recognize all their ingredients. Portion control is still my biggest enemy. So while frozen entrees aren’t the best, they work pretty well for me. Also, they’re warm, which is key when it’s freezing cold outside. Maybe salad will make it back into the rotation once it’s spring.

Snacks: berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries), pre cut cauliflower/broccoli, sugar snap peas, apples, peanut butter and nuts. Keeping snacks to fruits and veggies is huge to me. Healthy mindless eating. If only these snacks could lean toward salty instead of sweet. I make up for it by having popcorn once a week.

That all is totally within my diet. But of course, I’ve been pretty lax on the weekends. Dumplings, ramen, pasta carbonara, Indian food for dinner, and sandwiches in the airport… At least I have successfully avoided the ice cream and other desserts I am always tempted to buy.

Results: Down 5 lbs!

Possibly just a fluke on the day I weighed myself. This is the lowest weight I’ve been in the last 5 years.