Yurts and books.

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I’ve always had trouble reading fiction. Reading is often informational and a source of personal growth for me so I’ve had a tendency to reach for non-fiction books on my down time.

Reading non-fiction for me had made a lot of sense because it’s very relevant to my everyday life. Just take a look at the titles of the books that I’ve read recently:

But recently I’ve been thinking that it’s about time I read outside of my comfort zone. I felt like I was missing something because I didn’t know how to read imagined worlds and stories. Or at least I didn’t have the patience for it. I could watch movies and TV shows, but I couldn’t sit down and read. I think a part of it is that other forms of media are more attractive compared to a book:

There is no team of brilliant and vaguely sinister engineers, cooking up ways to get you binge reading. There is no auto-play technology frictionlessly delivering you from one chapter of the novel you’re reading to the next. There is only you, alone in the silence of your room with a chapter break before you and your phone cooing at you from the dresser. No one could blame you for putting “The Count of Monte Cristo” back on the bedside table where it spends its days. Maybe, like a long-forgotten glass of water, it will evaporate of its own accord.

Why You Should Start Binge-Reading Right Now
Just the idea of a vampire running a suicide hotline was enough to engage me. There are bits and pieces of familiar vampire lore in the book, but the rest of it was unexpected and new to me. It’s basically about a vampire who took it upon himself to give advice because of his old age.

I appreciated that the book had a mix of both humor and dark themes like rape, murder, and, suicide. (Not for kids!)

Anyway, I guess I’m just happy that I’m starting to get into fiction. Next up on my queue is The Quelling.

Andrea and I stayed at a yurt in Connecticut last weekend to get out of the city. We mostly slept in and enjoyed the sound of rain falling on the tarp.

We stayed at a farm that had Scottish highland cattle roaming around. They were very cute.

Community. Prom. Philippines.

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I’m starting to love it here in South Philly. I’m really feeling a sense of community since I moved. Last week I split my WiFi (now paying only $15/month!) and compost bucket with my downstairs neighbor.

It’s also incredibly easy to find community-based activities around the area like cooking classes and volunteer work.

Design Work & Visualizations.

I recently wrote about my design process for redesigning a form at work, and I also did some visualizations on global warming.

Speaking of global warming, there are so many issues going on in the world that it’s super easy for me to get overwhelmed and end up not doing anything, so I thought maybe I could at least I could focus on climate change. It seems that governments have the biggest impact in this issue so I’ve personally been using 5calls, GovTrack, and ResistBot to contact state officials and congress, and I’ve started to donate 1% of my monthly income to organizations that advocate for policy change ($1,080 per year):


Andrea has been planning and preparing a prom-themed fundraiser for the non-profit organization 12PLUS, and a few friends and I went and had a lot of fun!

Unfortunately Andrea and I didn’t get to go on the photo booth together so here’s us being bums the next day.

Philippines & Singapore.

I’ve also started to plan my trip to the Philippines and Singapore because I’ll be leaving on May 28 to June 25. It’s coming up! I won’t be able to text, but you can reach me on Telegram or WhatsApp!


I moved!

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So I’ve been packing my stuff into boxes all week, and I’ve finally moved into my new place and unpacked! It feels like I’ve been preparing for this for a while now, and I’m glad it’s over.

Two things I did differently this time: I got the boxes for free by asking grocery stores and liquor stores, and I also hired movers to move everything for me. (Definitely worth hiring people!)

Other than that I also got to write about my design process at work. I wrote about redesigning forms.


Moving, Maps, and Food

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Hey there!

I’m currently prepping to move to my new place. It’s a lot cheaper than my current place because it’s a lot more residential than commercial.

I’m excited to be saving around $600 a month! I’ll be moving on May 4.

I’ve also been writing about data visualization on my blog recently looking at my own public transit data and the city’s biking data. Here’s a video of me presenting at my co-working space.

I’ve also been making a lot of food recently, and my favorite has been paella and gochujang mushroom bowls. They were surprisingly easy to make and I didn’t get tired of them at all.

I also had a little fermentation club with a few buds. One taught how to make bread, one pickling, and I taught how to make yogurt.

And that’s it! Hope you’re doing alright.


A Tour of Philly + Making Dumplings

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I miss how incredibly easy it was for me to stay in touch with people on Instagram.

I could snap a picture and tell people where I was, what was doing, and how much fun I was having. Of course, the downside was that everyone else did the same thing.

Whenever I used the app, I would feel anxious and inadequate because I couldn’t help but compare myself to other people. I also felt drained because I somehow believed that I needed to keep up with strangers on the Internet who were always doing new and exciting things. And as time went on, I gradually ended up equating my self-worth to the number of “hearts” and “likes” that I got on my posts. The more hearts I got, the more I felt like I was succeeding in life.

It was bad.

I didn’t get much sleep either because I would mindlessly scroll through that bottomless feed for several hours past my bedtime. But now that I’m not on social media, I’ve been thinking about how I could maybe use e-mail (I know!) as a non-addictive way for me to update friends and family.

I hope it’s alright that I added your e-mail in this newsletter. You’re free to unsubscribe, filter, ignore, or archive as you please!

Cousins Visit Philly

Paige and Danica came over for President’s Day weekend to visit and get a tour of Philly. We were all over the place, hopping on virtually every available SEPTA transit!

  • Reading Terminal Market
  • Mütter Museum
  • Amalgam Comics
  • Atomic City Comics
  • Free Library Of Philadelphia
  • Magic Gardens
  • Eastern State Penitentiary

Mütter Museum

I had never been to Mütter myself, so it was interesting (and a bit nauseating) to see all sorts of medical oddities and history like enlarged colons, rare skeletal disorders, cysts, and civil war era medicine.

Eastern State Penitentiary

Steve Buscemi’s voice guided us through the penitentiary as we listened to the audio tour on our headphones. The place was designed to “inspire penitence, or true regret, in the hearts of prisoners” and influenced other prisons in the US. Not only did they talk about the history of prisons, but they also explain the causes of today’s mass incarceration.


Andrea and I made dumplings from scratch! Well, except for the wrapper. The filling had pork, shiitake, carrots, and cabbage, and it filled around 80 dumplings. I had a few failed attempts at making the dumpling, but it was surprisingly easy to get into the groove of things.