Things to Teach My Son

I must be getting older. I want kids. I want little minds to mold – to make into little Dustins. I’ve been keeping this list for almost a year now and every once in a while I come back to it and pear it down and add something. It’ll never really be complete, but I’ll publish it for now, and will revise it continuously. Unfortunately I fail to follow many of these, but perhaps one day I will.

1. Do the dishes everyday.

2. Always carry a book. Patience is sexy and much easier with a book on hand.

3. Read everyday, read well, and reread as often as not. A good book read 10 times is more worthwhile than 10 mediocre books read once. And don’t trust anyone’s opinion that isn’t well read.

4. Don’t underestimate a pure mind and clean heart. Be innocent, but neither nieve nor ignorant.

5. Good and evil are real.

6. Don’t accumulate crap. Give away and throw away.

7. Don’t build friendships based only on a shared addiction or hobby.

8. Read magazines for news, not newspapers or television. Except of course Colbert and Stewart, if they’re still around.

9. New is not always better – be it books, art, people, and music.

10. Trust your intuition.

11. Be more afraid of not trying than of failing.

12. Write well. If you can’t write well you can’t think clearly.

13. Consider others as more important than yourself.

14. Play one sport well. Preferably basketball.

15. The goal of life is to grow your influence to love, not to grow the amount you are loved. Though the second will come with the first, most people get them confused, and that confusion is ruining the world.

16. Similarly, judge people (and yourself) by the objects and magnitude of their love, rather than who loves them.

17. Give credit where its due. Build up other people and don’t expect it back.

18. Being described as a “nice guy” is an insult.

19. This may not be a thing in 10 years, but don’t hipsterize your photos. Ever.

20. Don’t drink more than your boss.

21. Eat like a local and tip like an American. And if a street performer makes you pause, give him a dollar.

22. If you’re not confident, fake it.

23. Always buy the first meal.

24. Clean to good music, not to a tv show.

25. Take the stairs.

26. Nothing good ever happens after 2am. Go home.

27. Learn to say no.

28. Sit in the front of the classroom.

29. Don’t go to the gym more than three times a week.

30. Don’t sit down on a crowded bus.

31. They don’t care what you have to say until they know how much you care.

32. A good drink only needs one ingredient, sometimes two.

33. Support the vegetarians, and be one at least for a while.

34. Play guitar.

35. Change your own oil but leave your brakes for the mechanic.

36. It’s ok to wear the same clothes, but brush your teeth and change your underwear.

37. It’s ok to sing loudly while you drive, even with friends, and even on a motorcycle.


Switchfoot – Enough to Let Me Go

Do you love me enough to let me go?
To let me follow through
To let me fall for you, my love

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


I Hate Photography

Actually I don’t. But I’m frustrated. Like anything, the better you get, the more you realize how far you are from being where you want to be. The more you know, the more you know you don’t know. It’s the same with guitar. I would think I achieved a new level of wicked guitarist god-ness, and then realize I’m a chump.

This is a healthy process. Photography, like any art, is not the spontaneous result of God-given-middle-of-the-night inspiration. I often image songwriters accidentally penning masterpieces drunk or in some sub-conscious stupor. This has been, no doubt, the process of some geniuses – Dostoyevsky comes to mind – but it certainly is not the norm. Art is the outcome of a long process of self-doubt and courageous reinvention. Tomorrow I may be worse, but in a year I will be better.


Shadow Days


Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

People change everyday, for good or for worse. We can become more responsible or less, more compassionate or less, more understanding or less. It’s up to us, and those who influence us, to make the right decisions to nurture our selves into better people.

I must confess, I’ve had some troubled years in my past. I’ve had many sleepless nights, whisky soaked mornings, burned bridges, and broken hearts. But I’m glad to say that I think I’m coming out of those stormy conditions. Finally, I’m stabilizing. I turned 27 this week and realized that I’m very different from the person I was even a year ago, and very different from the 23 year old Dustin; I think I’ve changed for the better. Though there are many times I regret and many memories I wish I could forget, God can still make rubies out of mud. My shadow days help me appreciate the sunny, and understand those still there. Thank you to those who have stuck by me, believed in me, challenged me, forgave me, understood me, and saw the best in me even when I couldn’t. I am the product of the expectations of the people most important to me, and I am surrounded by some amazing people.

Cheers 27. This is the first time I’ve been able to say this in a while and I’m so glad I can: I think this will be one of the best years I’ve had in a long long time.


Dustin the Hippie

One of the things I loved most about the Steve Jobs biography is that it reaffirmed my belief that you don’t have to conform to the superficialities that culture tries to impose on you. For example, what is fashion and why am I supposed to follow it. My mother tells me that I can’t shave my head anymore as that’s what college children do. I just can’t wrap my head around that. What does the length of a man’s hair reflect about his character, integrity, and maturity?

On the other hand I’m beginning to sadly recognize that these superficial trivialities open doors for influence, especially on first encounters. One’s grooming or good looks don’t matter in the long run, but in an initial encounter they can be highly influential. For example, President James Harding was one of the most incompetent and dangerous presidents in American history, but many believe he was voted in based on his stunning good looks. He looked like a president. On the other hand, Abraham Lincoln, the best president, was lanky, awkward, and wore a stupid hat.

But Steve Jobs gives me hope. He didn’t shower. He didn’t change clothes. He didn’t furnish his house. He didn’t even wear shoes around the office. And then when was older he didn’t even bother to change outfits.


I’d Rather Design


I’d rather design than write this blog. I’ve redesigned this thing 4 times in the past 4 months. But now I’ve settled on this design and I will not change it… which means, I’m going to change it next month. Previously I was trying to convert my blog into my photography portfolio, but I reconsidered and am going to keep them separate. I’ll be setting up my photography portfolio up again sometime this month, somewhere else. Perhaps next month I’ll reconsider and bring the portfolio back here.

I’ve been working a lot on websites this past year and have begun to think that its quite important for a person to have an online presence. But not just an online presence, the right online presence. Facebook, twitter, linked in, and such each have their unique uses, but a separate website or blog allows a person or business to show a certain flavor of themselves. It’s their second face, and frankly, the face more people are likely to see more often. A website can show a style in the design – the colors, patterns, curves, and typography. It can show values in the content and articulation of writing. And best of all, it separates the nerds and modernists from the non-cool people. :)

Currently I webmaster the following sites: Seoul Eats, Seoul FoodKorea Human Rights Monitor, and currently I’m working on a new site for an NGO that houses and educates North Korean refugees. It’s nice that my basic web design skills have opened the doors to these great organizations. The downside, however, is that I stare at a screen all day instead of work with a team of people. But that’s usually how it goes. Practice and get skilled at something alone, in the dark, in your bedroom, and then one day people will want to work with you. It’s like playing guitar. No one wants to play with you when you suck; everyone wants to play with you when you’re John Mayer.

My next nerd venture: learn javascript. But damn, it’s hard.

Thought of the day: Writing takes articulation; articulation takes developed thoughts; developed thoughts take patience and silence; and silence means turning off the TV. Damn you TV.