olimay: (Default)
Today I learned my friend Adam passed away.

I met him when I when I was volunteering for an event called Singularity Summit, back in fall of 2009. I'd parked a few blocks uptown of the event venue, the 92nd St Y, in Manhattan. I had a bunch of food for the event. Adam helped me carry a big tray of cookies that a volunteer's grandmother had baked on a whim.

I don't remember exactly what we said that morning six and a half years ago. Probably shook hands and introduced ourselves. Probably chatted talked about the event, talked about how we knew everyone involved. Memory is unreliable like that. But I can't get it out of my mind, real or fabricated. How bright that morning was.
olimay: (Default)
I just got back from lunch with my friend Angela. We ate at Shanghai Bun, which we've eaten at a bunch of times, and provides pretty decent and authentic Shanghainese fare. Angela is Chinese but is really enthusiastic about stuff that falls under the American stereotype of Chinese food. She likes General Tso's and fried rice in particular.

"I'm apparently a bad Chinese person," she said once, referring to the time her parents visited her in D.C. They went out to a Chinese place that she thought was pretty good. "They were just clearly disappointed. It was just not up to their standards."

Angela's birthday just passed this Thursday, and her Dad's birthday on Monday, so she came all the way down from Boston last night to celebrate with her parents and also take a few things from their house in West Windsor back up to Boston.

It was pretty refreshing to hang out. Angela was one of only really two friends I have around these parts--friends who are not also friends with my brothers. Zarrar got his approval to return to Yale a few months ago, and had been living in NYC, anyway, closer to his work. Angela left for her MFA program at Emerson as August was coming to the close. It was the middle of my trip to Minnesota.

The stack, bundle, or heap of unentered receipts still in my wallet attests that I haven't really recovered from drive out to Minnesota. It's not as though I've really recovered from 2013, 2012, or even 1998. The receipts form only the newest layer of the newest stratum of personal backlogs.

Minnesota--I like Minnesota a lot, and I'm glad Bryce is out there. It's not as diverse as the East Coast (and there's little way it could be as diverse as the school district that Zarrar, Angela, and I grew up with) but it's more diverse than I expected. And it's not a complete, made up generalization that people there are friendlier and a lot more laid back. They're focused more on living, and less on superficial achievement--was Bryce's characterization, which I think works all right.

It makes sense why my mom's family settled just fine in tiny Brownsdale, Minnesota, coming straight from the Philippines. The climate and the typical hair color (more blonde people in one place than I have seen in my life) were different. But the openness, friendliness, and expectations of politeness work just fine. And the folksiness! Filipinos can be folksy to the max, and that worked just fine in that tiny, tiny town. I'm the eldest grandchild on my mom's side, and before my cousins were born I grew up with the coming to America stories. My Uncles and Aunts racing snowmobiles, the kids being in the July 4th parade, getting snowed during the heavy winters and having to climb out the second floor window to get to school (Neil Armstrong high school--best name.)

I'll have to write about our actual Minnesota trip (and my crazy solo voyage back) some other time. There's too much to say.

I do wonder what it'd be like if I uprooted and went there for a while. The Twin Cities is a pleasant, affordable place to live, especially around Dinkytown--and of course I'm saying this as a person with by crazy preferences.

But my trajectory is probably taking me elsewhere. In a couple months, back to NYC--a city with less of a reputation for friendliness, folksiness, or affordability. If I don't end up staying, it's probably off to a different hub of happening things, a different gathering place for misfits of the world.

Angela just celebrated her 30th, and just about everyone else in my graduating year is due for the three decade stamp if they haven't gotten it already. I'm up in--what? Nine weeks? Eight weeks? It doesn't register a bit. Most of my social world--my brothers, my cousins, our mutual friends--are all much younger, still going through college.

My friend Jerome ([livejournal.com profile] meanfreepath) gets to wait for next year, but he's getting married three weekends from now. I'm really excited, except for two things. One: I'm showing up for the special event still obese, and I hope the nice-fitting tux I've ordered will smooth things out. Two: dinner table small talk with some people. But I'm only just a little unexcited. I get along with Jerome's crowd just fine; I used to visit him every once in a while during his days at Swarthmore.

It's really just: time is going by so quickly. What did I do with it? Will I think the same thing come December? Will I have finances and logistics lined up to move back to the city?

The main thing I've got to figure out is income. I'll need a new job, or some other way of getting a paycheck once I move. The app I've been working on the past year and a half is going to be in the App Store soon, but I think of it a really basic, not so impressive thing. It only dragged on this long because I struggled so much with organizing and directing my attention. I want to be able to present some other portfolio pieces.

And do I actually know this stuff? My boss tells me that I must be an expert by now, in some areas. I wouldn't call myself an expert at all. iOS 8 came out, and there are still some developments from iOS 7 that I haven't really internalized. The scope of my preparation is overwhelming.

Thus comes the urgent quest to establish a system to help me compensate for my attentional challenges and train me to focus. Thanks to my friends, I've been exposed to what seem to be the best-in-breed when it comes to productivity techniques. They are great tools that work miracles--when you get them running. Your state of the art appliance work wonders, if you can get it plugged into a reliable electrical outlet, and can ensure that the vermin don't chew through the damn power cord.

It might not help that I've had the itch to be able to write lately. That's different from having the itch to write; the latter would imply that you enjoy the actual process. I don't assume that much.

Hearing Angela talk about what she's doing in her program was encouraging. I've been trying to write for fifteen minutes, maybe half an hour when I'm generous. Junk usually comes out. Angela has to spend large chunks of her days doing prewriting so she can get ideas for her poems. Then a few more days reworking the poem so she can present it to the workshop.

That kind of longer term working and reworking has become pretty alien to me at this point. The last ten years, aside from a few school papers, my model of writing was typing for a while, and agonizing, typing a bit more, setting the permissions, then hitting POST because it's 3AM and if I ain't gonna put it up now, I ain't never gonna.

I used to think that even that dose of pacing and hand-wringing was too much. I've yet to acknowledge, across the board, that things don't only just time, they take whole days, whole months, whole years, whole decades sometimes. I don't suppose I'll have accepted this once my thirtieth rolls around, either. I just hope I'll be too distracted to worry.
olimay: (Default)
We went to an all you can eat Korean BBQ today. It was my favorite all-you-can eat place I can remember. I ate a lot, like everyone else, and that took its toll when I pushed forward with going to the gym. A lot of food in the gut is not a good combination with exercises where increasing abdominal pressure is necessary.

How I ended up going: I was originally just dropping off Marlon at the train station. We were late in leaving, so I drove him 25 minutes to Edison. Along the way, we started talking about PUZZLE, our shared tabletop RPG campaign setting. We stopped at a Rite Aid so he could get cash. He kept asking if I wanted to join and I kept saying no. When we finally arrived, we were still talking. I walked him to the front door and finally gave in.

I felt rather unpresentable the whole time, wearing my sleeping sweatpants. I didn't even have my hat, and my hair was a mess. The place and all the workers were all so proper and nice looking. So were the mostly-Korean families who made up the other clientele. No one in our rowdy college student party-of-ten really cared.

When I got home I had to take a a nap. I woke up with about 90 minutes before the gym closing. Once we got to the gym, we had less than 45 minutes. I made it through squats: 260lbs for the work sets. I'm 5lbs below my all-time personal record of 265lbs for 5 reps. That'll be next Tuesday. The gym was closing, so I'll have to go back to the gym tomorrow to do the overhead presses and deadlifts.

On the way home, Marlon was talking about a friend of his who is on crutches from a running injury. Runners get injured a lot. A lot. Barely anyone gets injured in weightlifting, in comparison, even looking at relative frequencies. It makes sense that people engaged in intimidating activities--such as poking each other with swords or lifting massive amounts of steel and iron with their bare hands--would spend a lot of time making sure it was really safe.

The benefits of strength training are enormous compared to running, too—especially for geriatric populations. Bone density, mobility, strength through normal range of motion, muscle mass to stave off ataxia, and increased output of human growth hormone.

Strength training is something everyone should do. Men and women, young and elderly. It seems to improve the quality of life of most sedentary, non-athletic people more than anything else. Instead, everyone looks to running or dancing for exercise to improve their health. I suppose yoga is pretty good too. But yoga isn't going to as good a job protecting you against osteoperosis.

Here are some videos of elderly people doing deadlifts.

Strength is valuable for these people. They use strength every day--to lift groceries, objects around the house, maybe their grandchildren. Strength lets them get up out of chairs and up stairs without significant strain. They have a better shot of not getting critically injuries when they fall down--and with more strength, they'll fall down less. I think it's a hell of a lot more useful for most folk than being able to run 6.21 miles really slowly.

This 92 year old can deadlift more than I can right now. I'm inspired.

My goal isn't to break records. It's to be that strong when I'm that age. At least that much—secretly I'm hoping for a 300+ deadlift (and with conventional not sumo!)

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