Blog

Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

The kids are back in school

San Francisco Unified School District is back in session for Fall so just when you thought traffic couldn't get any worse around here, out comes thousands of parents driving their young ones to school joining in on all the fun. 

Must. Be. Nice. Right from the start of elementary school onwards I either walked or took the bus to school. Granted the grade school I went to was a 10 minute walk up the hill, I bet you parents of today would drive their kids to school given the same distance. Wasn't crime much worse back in my day? My immigrant parents were to busy at work earning money to stay afloat in this new country of ours to care. 

I don't begrudge them an ounce. 

If I had kids I'd drive them to school too, no matter how short the distance. I probably won't let them roam freely until after puberty. You should all thank me then for not having kids and therefore not contributing to the traffic calamity. It isn't just highways that gets jammed up: on my usual commute bus there are tons of parents, who otherwise can't afford to drive, taking their kids to school. Good on them indeed but the buses are packed enough as is. 

You'd think the transit agency would add more buses when school is in session, but that sounds way too logical for SFMTA. They can't even get enough drivers to fulfill the usual quota! On my route there definitely is not a bus every 8 minutes as prescribed in the official schedule. Far too often I encounter 20 minute(!) gaps between buses during rush-hour, and those days are the worse. 

I'm looking forward to returning back to night-shift next week so I can take the bus at 1 in the afternoon and it'll be empty as can be. Until then, this week is one of the very few times I really miss having a car. 

 Perhaps I should try biking to work...

Perhaps I should try biking to work...

'Crazy Rich Asians' tops the movie charts

Crazy Rich Asians is the number one movie in America, taking in over $26 million dollars over the weekend. Good job to Warner Brothers for carving out a release date that didn't coincide with any other traditional "blockbusters", because $26 million is but a drop in the bucket for the likes of a Marvel super hero film. Apples to oranges comparisons aside, I'm supremely happy to see Crazy Rich Asians get so well received and a certified critical and financial success.

No thanks to me because I will not be seeing the movie until this Wednesday. Why so late? Because a friend of mine did not return from her European vacation until late into the weekend; usually I'd watch it without her but she's the only person I know that has read the novel so the whole point was to see the movie together. Is it difficult to wait a few additional days after having already waited a few years for this film? Yes, it really is, because as per usual the Internet doesn't help. 

It actually behooved me to watch Crazy Rich Asians during opening weekend because that's the most important measure according to the studio. Being the first major studio film with majority Asian cast in 25 years, there's a ton of future possibilities for the Asian-American community riding on Crazy Rich Asians. By failing to see it this past weekend, I did a major disservice to my people. 

You know what though, my brother went to see it. I'll enjoin my intentions with his actual contributions and count that as one package. The fact Crazy Rich Asians outperformed even the highest of expectations in the box office lessens my guilt considerably. 

So does this mean sequels? Kevin Kwan did indeed write two more novels to the series, and Netflix had offered him a three-picture deal that was ultimately rejected. I'll have to see for myself what sort of changes they've done in the adaptation to film, because the second book largely hinges on a crucial plot-point concerning the main character Rachel. If that is missing from the movie then I don't see how a sequel can be done, assuming basis on the second book China Rich Girlfriend.  

I shall see on Wednesday. Excited. 

 Here we have the SF MOMA in its natural habitat. 

Here we have the SF MOMA in its natural habitat. 

On the 'Crazy Rich Asian' movie

As soon as I finished reading Kevin Kwan's Crazy Rich Asian, I immediately thought that it'd be great if it were adapted into a movie. Fast forward a few years later and it's the opening weekend of said movie this weekend. I've been eagerly waiting for it since the project was announced almost two years ago, and I cannot wait to completely obliterate the film for any deviation or omission from the book.

Kidding not kidding; what do you mean Astrid is a Young and not a Leong

Anticipation for a good nitpicking session aside, the Crazy Rich Asian movie is getting massive buzz for being the first major studio-backed film to star a majority Asian cast: 25 years since The Joy Luck Club. 25 years! If you thought African-Americans had it difficult with representation in Hollywood with the #OscarsSoWhite controversy, Asian-Americans are might as well be invisible. I'm still waiting for the first Asian-American cast member to feature on Saturday Night Live, a show that's been airing for four decades.  

So it's a great occasion, and if you are any parts Asian at all we owe it to our culture to support the Crazy Rich Asian movie, because it must succeed: Hollywood simply won't tolerate its failure. We know the chance is high if Crazy Rich Asian bombs at the box office it'll be another 25 years until the next movie with an Asian cast. That's just how it works and has worked. 

I'm especially happy for the people who are moved to great emotion in seeing Asian representation on the silver screen. Personally I grew up watching Asian movies and television shows so the issue of "representation" was never a big deal for me, because I easily recognized myself in the media I was consuming. That said I greatly appreciate what Crazy Rich Asian symbolizes for many Asian-Americans, and I hope the movie opens the floodgates for many more art projects by Asians to come to the mainstream. 

A quick shoutout to Justin Lin and his seminal Better Luck Tomorrow. It wasn't a major studio film, but it was the first American movie that I saw proper representation: Asian characters as every day people I know, and not the usual kung-fu fighting or submissive damsel. Crazy Rich Asian bows its head to Lin's achievement. 

 Early morning setups are always fun and drowsy. Good thing there's catered breakfast which means an abundance of coffee. 

Early morning setups are always fun and drowsy. Good thing there's catered breakfast which means an abundance of coffee. 

Will I get bored with an 911?

I was listening to The Smoking Tire Podcast and the topic came up about dissatisfaction with a car once you've finished building it up. Most people are in love with the journey of modding a car into their vision but once it's completed they instantly get bored with it. What they then do is sell the finished project and start a new one, a never-ending cycle where the joy comes from the process, not the results. 

Or perhaps the euphoria from the results is amazingly fleeting. 

As I've written before, I don't modify my cars because A. I can't afford to and B. if I wanted to make my car better I'd rather buy a better car instead. That said I think the sort of fleeting happiness with a car does apply to my situation: I've yet to keep a car for longer than three years. It's not the most significant reason, but I'd be lying if I say a reason why I sold the WRX STI and the ND MX-5 after it wasn't due to being bored. 

So then what constitutes as my "journey": the part where all the fun lies? The saving up process may be excruciating but it's also rather enjoyable: each cross-off on the calendar and each paycheck into the bank account is a hit of dopamine as I get ever nearer to actually making the purchase. Researching on a car is immensely satisfying, too: reading up on all the details and peculiarities of a particular car is one of the best parts of the entire experience.

I've been holding off on doing that for the 911 I plan to buy because it's still nearly a year from fruition, though you can bet I'm massively looking forward to achieving encyclopedic knowledge on the 991.1 GT3. 

Of course nothing can match the utter high when the car is bought and I'm bombing it down a mountain road, listening to the symphonic wail of the engine. I guess things gets a bit wanting after that as my eyes would wander off to what's mew and different. 

And the GT3 is to be my 'Forever Car'?! It's certainly possible I too will get bored with an 911 within a few years of buying one and then sell it for another car. We shall see if old patterns and habits can die; I seriously would like to break the streak; it would take something incredibly special (and absurdly expensive) indeed to be objectively better than a GT 911. 

 Don't go chasing. 

Don't go chasing. 

A bridge collapse in Genoa

 Photo: Reuters. 

Photo: Reuters. 

What a horrifying image. 

A bridge deck collapsing while I'm driving on it is just about my worst nightmare (thank you, fear of heights). Every time I travel across the Bay Bridge or the Golden Gate Bridge, images of the road-deck utterly falling into the water would always momentarily flash across my mind. This is partly why I never leave the house on weekends.

The above horror is the scene in Genoa, Italy, where a heavy storm caused one of the bridge towers to collapse. It's weird seeing actual buildings underneath the bridge, and in the picture towards the rear those sure look like apartment buildings. I understand land is immensely dearer in Europe than America so it's probably out of necessity, but it's still crazy. 

You cannot pay me enough to live in a house built underneath a bridge. I don't care how unlikely bridge failures are: I'd never get a good night's sleep in those conditions. This particular bridge got knocked over from a mere wind storm! You'd think it'd be engineered to withstand way worse than that: Italy is an earthquake-prone country after all. 

And what of the situation here in America? Many experts agree our infrastructure is crumbling and in dire need of repair, but both parties of congress have continually kicked the can on properly funding such needed endeavor. I hate to say it but it's going to take a catastrophe similar to this one in Genoa (dozens of people dead) in order to get any action from the federal government. 

I just hope I'm not on that bridge. 

 

A productive weekend

I'm proud to say this past weekend was much more productive than the one before. I somewhat successfully avoided the Youtube blackhole and got some proper work done. There were two specific moments where I was at the crossroad of action or inaction and happily I chose the former. 

First of those tasks was putting together a new photowalk article on the Presidio Main Parade Grounds. I'd already edit the photographs a few weeks back but have been procrastinating on posting up the content. Saturday afternoon rolled around and I was desperately close to forsaking it to yet another week. Just as I was ready to watch more Youtube video, I opened the folder containing the pictures for a bit slight peek and then momentum surprisingly took over. Next thing I knew I was hours deep into composition and editing the article.  

The forward progress and dopamine hit of accomplishment must have spilled over to the next day because on the agenda was changing the oil on my father's car. Once again I was dangerously close to letting it slide to the following week until I thought about how awesome it felt to finish the photowalk post on Saturday and it'd be lovely to experience it again when I'm done with the oil service. The sun was beating down (one of the rare sunny Summer days in San Francisco) but out came the tools and half an hour later dad's Toyota Corolla is filled with fresh golden-colored motor oil. 

It's interesting indeed how completing a task begets positive momentum for the next. Just as laziness tends to breed further lethargy, I want to constantly feel good and productive so I keep on executing tasks one after the other. It's a continuous game of "what's next?" One thing I'm super proud of this summer is the consistency in writing my daily blog posts Monday through Friday every week. 

I've had a incredibly busy day at work today yet here I am at home spending the half hour or so typing out these words. I could easily not do that and watch videos on Youtube, but I mustn't break the streak; because I'm done writing this post now and it feels wonderful. 

 Freshly buffed and squeeky clean. 

Freshly buffed and squeeky clean. 

Driving withdrawal

The withdrawal symptoms are particularly strong today. 

It’s been over two months since I’ve sold the ND Miata and went car-less, and overall it’s going great. The amount of podcasts I’ve been able to listen to on buses and trains is stacking up quite nicely, which makes me wonder why I didn’t listen to podcasts in the car back when I drove all those years. 

And some days I really miss the driving, especially the sheer sensation from piloting a proper sports car. Playing Assetto Corsa on the simulator makes for a convincing and fun facsimile, but there’s no replacement for the G-forces exerting on the body and the wondrous smells of machinery assaulting the nose. 

There’s also the singular joy of taking in a car’s design language when it’s parked stationary, as if it’s a museum showpiece. Particularly early weekends with a fresh mug of coffee; those are the best. 

I’ve still got some 10 months to go before I can safely plop down the money for whichever 911 GT3 should present itself as a suitable dance partner. The discipline that’s being required of me to be patient is immense, especially since I can at anytime forsake the Porsche and buy any one of a myriad of sports cars (the Shelby GT350 I mentioned yesterday) and be done with it. 

That would be the easy way out, and I probably wouldn't feel good after the novelty wears off.

It's truly 911 or bust

 The campus is a veritable jungle. 

The campus is a veritable jungle.