The life of the soul is not knowledge, it is love, since love is the act of the supreme faculty, the will, by which man is formally united to the final end of all his strivings – by which man becomes one with God. -Thomas Merton


50 Things from Sept ’13 – Sept ’14

I was reading through a blog I like called Alien’s Day Out and noticed she had made a list of “101 Things to Do in 2013”. I felt inspired to do the same, and while it’s not the new year, the following is my list of to-dos in the following year. Some are frivolous such as “swim in the ocean” and some are obvious stretch goals like “read through the new testament in Korean in a year”. But I think they’re all possible, and will be a good reminder for me of my goals for the following year.

By the way, I’ve started reading the new testament in Korean, actually a “Korean-for-kids” bible, and it’s taking me almost 30 minutes per chapter. I’m currently at Matthew Ch 5. My goal is a chapter a day.

This list will be kept on the right pull out folder of this site and I’ll cross off the items as completed.

1. go hiking once a month ( /5)
2. lose weight every week until 165 ( /5 misses)
3. travel to a new country
4. get a dental check up
5. run a 10k race
6. watch the sunrise
7. blog at least once a week ( /5 misses)
8. try a brand new cuisine ( /3)
9. go camping in a tent
10. watch videos ( /20)
11. juice fast for more than 10 days
12. read at least 2 books a month ( /2 misses)
13. take a personal spiritual retreat
14. enjoy a fire
15. go on a road trip
16. organize music library
17. organize photo library
18. get noticeably better at guitar
19. fast from alcohol for a month
20. throw an awesome party
21. make new close friends ( /3)
22. invest in constructive relationships
23. have lunch with an old friend ( /5)
24. go to everland!
25. go to the dmz
26. read through the bible cover to cover
27. get conversationally fluent in korean
28. go for a run at least once a week ( /5 misses)
29. set up websites for non-profits ( /3)
30. do unpaid photography projects ( /5)
31. go one week without TV
32. go snowboarding
33. sleep under the stars
34. swim in the ocean
35. cook everything for a bomb dinner party
36. send snail mail to friends ( /5)
37. journal every week ( /5 misses)
38. reread a favorite childhood book
39. go to a cat/sheep cafe
40. watch 10 documentaries
41. work out at least 3 times a week ( /5 misses)
42. go to a sporting event
43. explore 5 new places in seoul ( /5)
44. start a podcast
45. decorate my room
46. ask someone out of league on a date
47. make an actual photography portfolio website
48. redesign this personal blog
49. wear a suit for no reason
50. read through the new testament in korean


Read Read Read

My new years resolution this year is to read a book a week. On new years eve I was having a drunken conversation with my brother in law (technically my sister in law’s brother) and I was complaining that I feel like I’ve stagnated in my mental development. I hadn’t felt particularly encouraged or challenged in quite a while. I then realized that I hadn’t read a book in nearly three months. Somehow, in the extremely indolent time post grad school I had also forgotten to read. Wonderful.

I’m on track this year so far and will try to post at least once a month with the books I’ve read along with a short description and review.

I’ve just finished:

Malcolm Gladwell – What the Dog Saw: And other Adventures

Malcolm Gladwell is a genius and one of my all time favorite authors. This book is a collection of essays and so can be jumped around and/or left in the bathroom for casual perusal. Gladwel sees the same puzzles we all do but actually quests out to find the answers. For example: Why does one brand of ketchup dominate a supermarket shelf while there are dozens of mustards? Answer: read the book. Haha.

One of my favorite chapters is the one the book is named after “What the dog saw”. Gladwell meets and analyzes my hero, the dog whisperer, Cesar Milan. He concludes that its Milan’s extreme confidence, as shown through extremely subtle body movements, is the secret to his super powers. He expands on this by quoting research where people can predict the competence of professionals by watching 2 second video clips. I think it was a previous Gladwell book where I also read about another study in body language and how every minute body language detail is responded to by another’s body language. Unknowingly our bodies continuously act and react to each other multiple times per second. Fascinating. This is why confidence is so sexy, because it bleeds out of our bodies, and there’s no real way to fake it. Body language gives you away.

Barbara Demick – Nothing to Envy

The most fascinating and heartwrenching book I’ve read in a long long time. I’ve been interested in North Korea for at least 10 years, but this is the first book that has introduced me to the everyday life of North Koreans. Most books focus on security or human rights and skip the culture of normal citizens. What a tragedy.

As a correspondent for the Los Angeles Times in South Korea Demick extensively interviewed defectors living in South Korea and in the book tells their stories from an intimate perspective. The stories are terribly fascinating and focus not only on tragedy. There are love stories as well. I had forgotten that prior to the 1990s North Korea was a relatively decent place to live. Actually until the mid 1980s it was better off than South Korea and lost its power and economy only in the 90s. It is the only country in the world that went from a developed country to a black hole.

Which leads me to my next book, because I want to know… what the hell happened in North Korea? I know they were propped up by the USSR and China, but what exact economic policy blunders were made that caused the 90s fiasco? My next book is The Impossible State by Victor Cha.


George Orwell

A scrupulous writer, in every sentence that he writes, will ask himself at least four questions, thus: What am I trying to say? What words will express it? What image or idiom will make it clearer? Is this image fresh enough to have an effect? And he will probably ask himself two more: Could I put it more shortly? Have I said anything that is avoidable ugly?


Blue Valentine

I feel like men are more romantic than women. When we get married we marry, like, one girl, ’cause we’re resistant the whole way until we meet one girl and we think I’d be an idiot if I didn’t marry this girl she’s so great. But it seems like girls get to a place where they just kinda pick the best option… ‘Oh he’s got a good job.’ I mean they spend their whole life looking for Prince Charming and then they marry the guy who’s got a good job and is gonna stick around.