Subjective

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.
— Marcus Aurelius

Waterbeds

Big families are like waterbed stores; they used to be everywhere and now they’re just weird.
— Jim Gaffigan

Giving

Getting what you want is not nearly as important as giving what you have.
— Tom Krause

DIY

It takes half your life before you discover life is a do-it-yourself project.
— Napoleon Hill

Art & Tech

Art challenges technology, and technology inspires the art.
— John Lasseter

Alignment

So far this new year, I have only been in San Francisco for the first two weeks of the year. That time was spent furiously working on my new portfolio site, which many of you are now seeing for the first time. Welcome!

When designing this site, my goal was to effectively communicate who I am and what I do in one concise package. My previous portfolio site failed at that; I focused on coding the site myself rather than on the work I was presenting. To avoid that mistake this time around I used SquareSpace to build my site, which I highly recommend.

After I finished redesigning my site, I left San Francisco to stay with my family in LA for a few weeks. I struggled with the decision to go; it didn't make sense for many reasons, but I’ve learned that what makes sense isn’t necessarily what you are supposed to do.

My time with my family was fun, but also productive. We discussed creative ideas, planned for the future, and laughed a lot. When I realized my resume was severely lacking, they helped me create a better one. We are uniquely united in our vision for the future and will work relentlessly to see it manifest.

From the time I arrived in LA, things began to fall in place; opportunities began to line up. There is nothing like being in the right place at the right time for the right reason in the right season.

I’ve been saying this for a while, but I will continue to speak it into existence: It’s time to begin.

In–App Purchases

Does anyone else hate in-app purchases as much as I do? When used correctly, they are a welcome addition to the free–to–play model. However, I think the current pricing structures in most games are absolutely ludicrous. Or are people willingly shelling out fifty American dollars for a marginally better racing kart in Angry Birds Go?

Apple to refund at least $32.5M for kids' in-app purchases

Nothing to Lose

The story behind LOST is fascinating; it is truly hard–to–believe that it even aired with any amount success. I identify with Lindelof’s struggles as a young creative, but my biggest takeaway from this is that everyone involved built this with the attitude that they had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

The origins of Lost, as told by the people who made it.

Purpose

Design is a plan for arranging elements in such a way as best to accomplish a particular purpose.
— Charles Eames

Within

You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him to find it within himself.
— Galileo

I AM

I AM are the 2 most powerful words any human can utter. They can make, or break you no matter who you are. In a world where suicide and eating disorders are trending, I will do everything in my power to be the difference. The fight isn’t out there, the fight is in our own minds.
— Lissa Lauria

A New Foundation

At the end of 2013, everything came to an end for me. My web design internship ended mid-December and I needed to find a new place to live by the end of the year. I was a bit overwhelmed for awhile, but trusted that everything would work out. The night before I went home to Pennsylvania for Christmas, I was shown a sublet that I ended up getting. Almost all the places I’ve lived at have all come up at the last minute. I’m not sure if that says more about me, or San Francisco…

I am now living in the Sunset, a generally more affordable, residential area on the West side of the city, far from downtown. It is near Golden Gate Park and is conveniently close to MUNI transportation to get downtown fast, both of which I appreciate. Even though it is literally a living room that has been partitioned off by a curtain, it still is better than the place I lived for the last six months in almost every way. I will be here for at least two months, but probably longer assuming all goes well.

Going home for Christmas was a treat, to say the least. Catching up with friends and family was just like it has always been, as if we never left. I missed my pets terribly, and spent as much time with them as I could, taking way too many pictures of our cats, as usual. My mom and I had tears walking into our home. There is still so much love in the house my father built over ten years ago. It was designed for kids to grow up in, and now my cousins are the ones filling the rooms with laughter and squabbles like my siblings and I always did. It means so much to me and my family to know that legacy is being carried on.

I didn’t have as much anticipation coming to SF as I did the first time I flew out. Although still exciting, the city is now familiar to me. It is hard to leave a place of comfort for something unknown. That’s why not many people do it. When I first came out here, I was in search of a job. Now, I am finding my entrepreneurial spirit once more. I am pursuing freelance work in the form of contract positions and recurring work with companies, rather than doing my own work for small businesses. I think this will yield better, more immediate results than job searching. Perhaps it will lead to new connections or even a full-time job.

This past year was an exciting time for me; in many ways it was a turning point. This year, I am taking everything that I learned last year and starting over, again. In 2014, I am building on the mountains that I conquered in 2013. I’m convinced that this is the beginning of something great.

To Be Free

For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.
— Nelson Mandela, rest in peace

LA vs. SF – Also, Turkey.

In one word, I would describe Los Angeles as “sprawling.” It is just massive. Everything is so spread out and traffic times make it seem larger. There is a feeling of aimlessness here; there isn’t much unity that I can feel. I’m not sure what LA is trying to be, and I don’t think it knows, either. In many ways, it feels like the complete opposite of San Francisco.

If I was to describe San Francisco and the Bay Area in one word, I would say it is “concentrated.” Even though the Bay Area is geographically large, it is so densely packed that nothing feels too far away and you don’t need a car to get around. The high concentration of talent in technology and other industries gives the region a strong sense of purpose. The Bay Area is home to many youthful, like-minded, innovative people, which may explain why I’ve always felt a sense of unity there.

LA demands a completely different lifestyle than SF does. In many ways, LA reminds me of most of America; you have to drive everywhere you want to go, most places to shop and eat are chains, and the weather isn’t like SF’s, which is unique to say the least. Sitting in the car while family members drive me places makes me feel like I’m going back in time.

I’ve adjusted quickly to using public transportation. Sometimes I wish I had a car, but the expense and hassle is not worth it, at least not yet. I also detest long commutes and am not a fan of driving; it just seems like a waste of time to me. My mom asked me if I ever could see myself buying a car again. I didn’t even have to think about my response. I said “Yes, in ten years when it can drive itself.”

Ironically, I do like cars. I appreciate and am inspired by the design of beautiful cars, inside and out. My family surprised me with tickets to the LA Auto Show the day I got here for Thanksgiving break. My siblings and I had fun being goofy and trying the vehicles on for size.

The beach communities of LA, where my family is currently living, are beautiful. The beach brings a sense of unity, as does volleyball. Here, going to the beach to play volleyball is as common as going outside to mow the yard in Pennsylvania. It’s a hoot.

Besides playing some beach volleyball, this Thanksgiving break has been relaxing and much-needed. I was missing my siblings and mom, so it is great to spend time with them, even though we all miss our brother and family back home. We are all trying to find our way in this new land, but we have much to be thankful for.

I think that, no matter where you grow up or how humble you are, we all take things for granted. We grow accustom to things not changing. This is especially true of the places we grow up. People who have grown up here don’t think twice about going to the beach. I never fully realized how special it is to have a large backyard like my family did. Having any yard in SF is a treat, let alone a yard the size of ours back home; it’s like a park to these people!

I think that’s why it’s important to always be faithful stewards of what we have been given, no matter how great or small. We don’t know when we will be without something, and only then will we realize how much it truly means to us. That’s why being thankful is more than just a day to eat turkey. It’s a lifestyle.

American Optimist

The American, by nature, is optimistic. He is experimental, an inventor and a builder who builds best when called upon to build greatly.
— rest in peace JFK, 50 years later we still remember…

Never Looking Down

We are always running for the thrill of it thrill of it
Always pushing up the hill searching for the thrill of it
On and on and on we are calling out and out again
Never looking down I’m just in awe of what’s in front of me
— Walking on a Dream by Empire of the Sun

JFK

I have always felt that I’ve received a solid education of American history (and world history) up to and including WWII. However, the time period after that, approximately 1960-2001, has been sort of a vague cloud of mystery to me.

I reason that, because teachers always start with history way back at the beginning, they run out of time covering all the material and would breeze through recent history with less depth. It’s also possible that recent history is more prone to heated debate, controversy, and opinionated views because time has not decided who was right yet. It’s also possibly I didn’t pay close enough attention. Whatever the reason, I never felt knowledgeable of that time period, but I am slowly trying to learn.

So, I decided to watch the movie JFK with Kevin Costner. It is a long, slow-paced docudrama, but it was a revelation to me. It is strikingly relevant to our time, particularly with the controversy over the NSA. I am truly blown away.

Here are a few of the many powerful quotes from the movie:

"What kind of national security do we have when we’ve been robbed of our leaders? What national security permits the removal of fundamental power from the hands of the American people and validates the ascendancy of an invisible government in the United States?"

"Going back to when we were children, I think most of us in this courtroom thought justice came automatically. That virtue was its own reward. That good triumphs over evil. But as we get older, we know this isn’t true. Individual human beings have to create justice, and this is not easy because the truth often poses a threat to power and one often has to fight power at great risk to themselves."

"The truth is the most important value we have because if the truth does not endure, if the government murders truth, if we cannot respect the hearts of these people, then this is not the country in which I was born and this is certainly not the country I want to die in."

Perhaps the most powerful quote lies in the credits:

"Dedicated to the young, in whose spirit the search for truth marches on."