While it is the most unflattering image of myself, it’s almost one of my favorites from my recent trip to the Philippines.

RAWR!  Click for Hi-Res!

RAWR! Click for Hi-Res!

Island hopping in the El Nido area is something I cannot stop gushing about.  It was life changing, it was beautiful, it was the most adventure I’ve had on a vacation, ever.  Some of the islands had simple names like “Secret Beach” or “Secret Lagoon”.  This was taken on one such island.  The small boat, called a banca (which resembles a waterbug, in my eyes) drops anchor in front of a tall, sheer island with no visible entrance.  You jump in to the water, swim towards the rock face….and just around the bend, there is a small gap in the rugged, grey cliff face.  It’s about half as tall as a man, and one must crawl on their hands and knees to get through.  But once you’re through….you see most turquoise water that ever existed.  Sea so blue you’d think it was photoshopped.  Coral everywhere, fish from every part of the rainbow there.  Trees, sand, a beach.  Another, deeper cave that you must swim to like you’re in a Tomb Raider game.

To say I loved it feels like an understatement.

See more entries to Sue’s “A Word A Week Photography Challenge: Gap” here.


Wind chimes at a wedding in Boracay, Philippines.  Click for Hi-Res version.

Wind chimes at a wedding in Boracay, Philippines. Click for Hi-Res version.

Some friends of my sister’s got married in Boracay, Philippines a few weeks ago.  Among the elaborate decorations at the Shangri-La, one of my favorites were the capiz wind chimes  hanging around the perimeter of the reception area.

Taken with: iPhone 4s.

One more wind pic I wanted to share!

Limestone island in El Nido, Philippines.  Click for Hi-Res.

Limestone island in El Nido, Philippines. Click for Hi-Res.

The islands of El Nido are made of limestone, with lots of really interesting shapes…particularly due to the wind and the waves.

Taken with: Canon Rebel T2i, 24mm f/1.4 L lens II.

More pics for Sue’s “A Word A Week Photo Challenge; Wind” can be found here.

Flat Feet VS Arched Feet: What I Look Like From Underneath

Me (left), boyfriend (right).

A very rarely seen side of me!

For some reason, when people hear I have flat feet they become concerned….as if it’s abnormal, and perhaps a painful condition.  But no, it’s really not a big deal.  No, I am not in pain when I run; I was born with flat feet, I grew up with flat feet, and my body knows how to carry itself very well with flat feet.  It does limit my footwear, however. The majority of Americans have arched feet, and unfortunately there’s a LOT of shoes that are shaped to give “arch support”.  THIS KILLS MY FOOT!!!  I can raise my arches at will, the way ballerinas practice, with no problem….but I can’t do that every day, 24/7!  That’s just not my body’s default state.  So having that extra “support” bump in a shoe is murder, like a dull knife driving up in to my foot from underneath.  When I buy shoes, I look at reviews that say “1 star, no arch support, returned immediately!” and then I know it’ll be a good shoe for me!  Converse shoes are awesome because they lack arch support – for me they are the ultimate in comfort.  Adidas, in contrast, almost always has “arch support” in their sneakers and it does make walking all day a pain in the foot.

Sometimes I wonder if arch footed people are the one who have it bad.  When I read shoe reviews of people complaining about lack of arch support, I wonder if maybe they need to strengthen their ankle and calf muscles?  How would they walk if they were barefoot, as Nature intended?  If being barefoot is painful (barring stepping on sharp objects, of course!), I think there is a problem….humans ought to be able to support their own weight, they should be able to move in comfort with what they are born with.  Then again, people are growing HUGE boobs nowadays and I always hear that’s a huge, literal pain too.  Although it’s debatable how natural that is – many say that the various hormones and medicines we give to our food and drinks causes women to grow bigger boobs….so that’s probably NOT a good comparison!

So I don’t know about all that.  But I do know that “80% of Asians are flat footed – more than any other ethnic group”, and that’s perfectly fine.  According to the internet, Black people also commonly have flat feet, but not nearly as often as us Asians.  I remember when the Vibram 5 Fingers came out, I excitedly got some – I LOVE being barefoot, and a barefoot running shoe sounded awesome! – but the front of it pinched in a bad way.  Upon returning it, along with 3 of my Asian male friends, the Asian cashier commented that he “Totally understands.  Asian feet are shaped different; a lot of the shoes here [in the US] just don’t fit right for us.”  I found it interesting.  It’s not one of the racial characteristics one normally thinks of in regards to Asians.

Inspired by and written for Sue’s A Word A Week Photography Challenge: Underneath!

Big Mistake: Taking My Precious…!

Grrrr!!! MY FRISBEE!

Jasper the Dog is one of the sweetest dogs ever; he never gets too rambunctious and never bites down when rough housing with a human.  He never knew how to play fetch till a few weeks ago, when his grandma bought him a squeaky frisbee toy!  Unlike his old frisbee, it had holes in the middle that he could easily chomp on to.  But other dogs liked his squeaky frisbee too, and the well-mannered gentle-dog  had to bare his teeth to defend his precious.

This girl would NOT stop coming after the damn frisbee!

Tons more pics in my Provincetown Flickr set!  This post is for Sue’s A Word A Week Challenge: Mistake.


Okay, maybe it’s a bit morbid, but I popped open the cap to my pills this morning and thought, oh, my breakfast totally fits the word “Bisect” from Sue’s Word A Week Challenge!

After freaking out last night about how my body is falling apart, and hasn’t caught a break for the entire 8 months of 2013, my sister calmed me down on the phone.  Did you know that doctors offices have an on-call doctor even when it’s 12am and everything is closed?  Because I sure didn’t, and I was so scared that my infection would get worse while I waited 2 days for my doctor’s office to open again.  The on-call doctor was understandably grumpy, but hopefully thanks to her I would be peeing blood and razors anymore.

I have no idea how I got another UTI.  There’s seriously a million reasons this time, and a large suspicion that it was because I slept without underwear one night, on a bed covered in dog fur, from a dog who had splashed around in green pond scum all day and didn’t get washed.  Sounds like a breeding ground for E. Coli or something similarly sinister, if you ask me.  Why did I think sleeping without underwear was a good idea??  I didn’t have to.  I chose to do that.  For no reason.  Boo.  :(

My big concern right now is how I can prevent the anti-biotics from wrecking my body once again.  I’m STILL trying to get my body’s flora to balance out, with probiotic pills and homemade organic yogurt.  Unfortunately, in the rush to get to the pharmacy before work (and I was already getting “emergency” work emails when I woke up), I forgot my yogurt at home…forgot my probiotic pills at home…and just took my black and white breakfast pill that will soon ravage my entire digestive track.  I just really hope this doesn’t mean I’m going to be bouncing back and forth between yeast infections and UTIs.  You know what also sucks?  Yeast infections are highly likely right before your period, because the drop in estrogen throws the ecosystem within your body off balance, and creates an ideal situation for yeast to grow rampant.  Then the RISE in estrogen after your period ends also similarly shakes this up and causes UTI’s to be more likely.

I’m torn about modern science.  It’s definitely the reason I am still alive, and it’s saved my life over a dozen times in the most extreme situations.  A thousand times in trivial situations.  But there’s no denying that the side effects of modern medicine can really make a person physically suffer to the extent that you start to wonder if it was really worth it at all.

A Word A Week Challenge: Vibrant

“What do you think, red peppers or green peppers?”  Asked my boyfriend, as we stood staring at vegetables in the corner store.

“I’ve never noticed a taste difference in them,” I replied.

He scrunched up his face.  “Really?  The red peppers are a little more sweet, and the green peppers are a lot more…vegetably.  Earthy.  There’s a big difference.”

Now that he mentioned it, he was right.  I never quite noticed before.  “Red peppers!  We already have a lot of green stuff, red would make it look a lot nicer.  Like it’s Christmas!”

For Sue’s photo challenge this week, I thought last night’s home-cooked dinner was perfect.  My favorite thing about Chinese food is how lightly you cook the vegetables!  There’s a small window where they turn BRIGHT and saturated with color…but leave it just a few seconds longer and you can overcook them to turn dark and almost brownish.  Hitting that sweet spot keeps the veggies nice and crisp when you crunch in to them.  Nutritionally speaking, because you only barely cooked them, they retain a lot of their vitamins :)  It’s less than what you’d get as purely raw vegetables, but honestly, I don’t like the taste of most raw veggies.

My boyfriend cooked this up, and it was the cutest thing ever :D  He was nervous and self-conscious about it, probably because I’m Chinese….he kept asking if it tasted ok, if he did it “right”, things like that.  And it tasted good!  I ate a lot of it.  But a few things did go wrong, some of which was just due to bad planning…so it’s pure accident, nothing I think he should be ashamed of.  The chicken wasn’t quite seared the way it ought to be (if one were cooking in a cast iron wok like we do at home) – the pan was ceramic and didn’t get hot enough before he threw in the meat.  It was a bit liquidy too, because of some sesame marinade that was on the chicken breast.  The vegetables became a little bit overdone and soggy…and this is the part that I don’t blame him for.  Neither of us remembered to do the rice concurrently >_<  So we left the stir fried food on low heat while waiting for the rice to finish, and the ‘sweet spot’ for fresh and crisp vegetables was lost.

Stir fry is my favorite “lazy” food to eat!  The longest part of preparing it depends on how fast you can chop, and you can pretty much throw in whatever meat and vegetables you have available!  It takes longer to steam the rice to go along with it.  My boyfriend doesn’t seem familiar with Chinese food, though he really likes Japanese, Thai, and all the other kinds.  I plan to take him to eat more of real Chinese food, not that take out crap…fingers crossed that he enjoys it as much as I do.

A Word A Week Challenge: Metallic [Armor]

Kingsguard (Jaime Lannister) armor!

Kingsguard (Jaime Lannister) armor!

(Link to the challenge topic, here.)

Armor is my most favoritest thing in the world to look at.  It’s my favorite section at the Metropolitan Museum of Art here in NYC.  When the Game of Thrones Exhibit popped up for the debut of Season 3, I went insane taking tons and tons of pictures of all the glorious suits of armor they had on display….and the weaponry, of course.  My company actually created the graphics on their exhibit’s “Blackwater Bay” interactive video game there, so that was extra icing on the cake :)  I didn’t put them online because of how gratuitous it is, but I’ve got them from all different angles, in close ups and wide shots and everything in between.  One day I’ll go to Europe and find another museum with even more armor, and fill up all my harddrives with metallic awesomeness.

They might not be the best photos aesthetically, but I love looking back at these for drawing and design reference.

Shoulder of the Kingsguard armor.

Shoulder of the Kingsguard armor.

Tons more pictures after the jump…
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A Word A Week Challenge: Face

I know this is a bit late, but didn’t want to completely miss out on this!  This is for Sue’s weekly photography challenge, seen here on her blog.

This was a tough one, since I have a bunch of fun faces my friends and family have made in the past year…

My younger cousin, and one of her many effortless smiles.

Another cousin on his wedding day, with an unfortunate cake-kiss…which needed a bit of context, hence the three pictures!

A proud father and his youngest daughter.

A grisly uncle, lost in thought.

Mother and son:

My older sister, putting on her face:

A loving couple, celebrating 50 years of never going a night without each other:

A kid at Christmas:

The face of most people you meet in the world, nowadays.  Head bent, cellphones up!

And of course….my boyfriend and his hobby of making silly faces:

Me and my boss:

And last but not least….a flabbergasted Jasper!

A Word A Week Challenge: Hat

I feel a little cheap using old photos instead of ones I took this week.  Does that count as cheating?  But I can’t foresee a situation where I’ll get to show off these hats again, so here they are!  Hats at a hat shop in Solvang, CA.  Me and my sister had a lot of fun window shopping, a lot more fun than I suspected a Disney-ish, fabricated tourist town would give us.  The cheese hat person is my sister, and I’m the one in the leather cowboy hat.  I still wish I coulda bought it, but really, what would I do in NYC with a leather cowboy hat…?  There was a lot of fun stuff there, and I seriously wish I could go back and do this Western/Civil War era photography thing.  Maybe I don’t specifically have to go back to that one, and I know it’s SOOO touristy but it sounds really fun to dress up and take photos :)  Speaking of girly things to do in Solvang, I am super spoiled by nail salons in NYC!  Did you know that to get a manicure there, it’s $40!?  Before tax and tip!!!  In New York the average price is $1 per nail (so like $10), they do a damn good job, they’re fast, and you don’t have to book 2 weeks in advance….and people say NYC is expensive….ha!

More pics below!

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Coincidentally, Cooper!


Such “elegant” running form!! He’s coming right at me!

While strolling the rolling hills of Prospect Park, dead grass beneath my riding boots and blue skies over head, an orange blur raced towards me.  The dog was closing its distance fast, running so quick I barely had time to snap this picture before he raced past me, unable to hit the brakes in a timely manner.  Shaggy orange-brown fur, a rounded, pitbull-like head, blue collar and hot-pink tag.  Hairy hobbit paws.  All signs said this was indeed my boss’ dog, Cooper…but his attitude was completely different than when we met in the office.

Instead of being timid and hiding behind things, this dog was running around, panting happily, licking my hand, jumping around.  Me and my boyfriend looked at each other, wondering…but no, it couldn’t be Cooper.  He was too active and happy.  The Cooper we knew was shy and scared of everything.  I took a few more snap shots and then we moved on.

His fur is a much richer orange than I was able to capture that day.

His fur is a much richer orange than I was able to capture that day.

Many many hours later, it finally occurred to me that judging a dog’s personality during off leash hours at the park was a silly way to tell if that was really Cooper.  Especially since I knew the real Cooper does get incredibly excited whenever he sees me.  He is shy, but Cooper learned to like me after the few times we’ve met, and always licks my hand and jumps around, even follows me at times (nothing compared to how attached to his master he is though!).

That was yesterday.  Today I went back to work and tentatively asked my boss if his dog had come to the Park this weekend….he said Cooper did; his mother in law walked Cooper there.  I showed the pictures and my boss flipped out!  On Sunday, his mother in law did take Cooper to the park and said Cooper was a bad dog – he bolted at some point and left her all alone for a while. As punishment, she leashed him for the rest of the day at the park.  Oops, sorry, Cooper!!!  I’m so surprised he recognized me from so far away though!  I did see he was with an older woman (wearing a hood), but didn’t take the time to approach and confirm Cooper was Cooper.  It’s very flattering he chased me to say hi :)  I wish I had more pictures of him, he’s a very photogenic dog….the daylight wasn’t too kind to anything at the park that day though, and my boyfriend had kept walking when we both said “It couldn’t be Cooper!”

Really made my Monday to finally figure it out!

One more thing – as I’m trying to force myself back in to taking pictures since my breakup last year….I thought it’d be good to try out some of the photography challenges online.  Kim from Tranquil Dreams has been doing the “A Word A Week Challenge” from this site and figured it would be a good place for me to start.  The challenge I started with was “Zoom” for the very first pic in this post.  I know it’s interpreted in Sue’s post as using your camera to zoom, but at the moment I just have a 24mm prime lens, can’t zoom!  So let’s pretend “zoom” means something zooming at me…haha.

Here’s 2 more (out of several other) new dog pictures I put in my Flickr Set.

Sunny The Dog

Sunny The Dog