Long-form blog posts and editorials. Topics cover both personal and the world at large. 

And all that good stuff - 2011 reflections

As another wondrous year winds down to an end, it is time once again for me to write my insanely long year end reflection blog post to commemorate the glorious year that is about to end in less than eight hours as of this writing (hello run on sentence!) 

First things first, this time of the year is all about people planning their New Year’s resolution to better themselves as a person for the year ahead. Now, I can easily beat the dead horse in rambling about how most resolutions go to die when the second week of January rolls around, but that defeatist attitude is apparently not welcome at a time like this, so I shall not. 


Instead, I will brag about the enormous success that was my own New Year’s resolutions for 2011. Granted some may call it cheating to only have THREE resolutions to keep, but whatever, do not lay the blame on me for being actually responsible enough to set goals that is somewhat achievable. My advice is instead of having a list of resolutions a mile long (think I saw on the social networks someone working on a list of 50+ (!?)) and being satisfied you will only hit a few in the new year, have a few that you know the likelihood of achieving is great, so that when you do succeed in all of them, it is a much greater satisfaction.

Anyways, here are the thee New Year’s resolution for 2011 that I victoriously accomplished: 

  • 1. Blog consistently
  • 2. Be able to read Korean script (한굴 hangul) at normal speed
  • 3. Stop being lazy - most of the time

sidebar: if you think I am just pulling these out of my ass, I kindly refer you to my  blog post, in which all of the above was proclaimed.

Allow me to elaborate further. If you are reading this right now, you would undoubtedly know that this is a my personal blog. For the year 2011, I wrote a grand total of 42 blog posts (and my posts are not short by any stretch of the imagination). While this may not challenge the output of blog articles of my previous years (a post a day was pretty common back in my Facebook notes days), when accounting for the amount of work and other stuff I had to do, overall I am pretty satisfied with 42 blog posts for the year. Of course I aim to break that record next year (2012 New Year’s resolution #1!)

I happen to have another blog - my photography blog, and that also got updated frequently in 2011 with pictures and articles related to my photographic endeavors. So it is indeed fair to say the 2011 New Year’s resolution of blogging consistently have been quite successful.

As for reading Korean script at a normal pace (I feel like I must reiterate, this is read and read ONLY, does not mean I understand it completely), well it was a just a natural growth process as I continued to watch Korean tv shows. The more I watched, the better I got at it. For sure I could have just completely ignore the Korean and instead read the Chinese subtitles that accompany the videos (Chinese subtitles because my brothers and sisters over in the great nation of China sub the shows usually by the day after it broadcasts in Korea), but why rob myself of the educational opportunity if I don’t at least attempted to learn the orignal language of shows that I watch every week all though the year?

Sidebar: the best thing about Asian television programming as compared to American is that there are no such thing as reruns. There is fresh material and new episodes week after week. Makes you think what kind of bull shit it is that you need to wait months between seasons of shows (or even when they take their usual holiday breaks throughout a season’s run). 

The caveat of “most of the time” that was stipulated in the stop being lazy resolution was that old habits are indeed really hard to die. My entrepreneurship teacher always say that entrepreneurs by nature are lazy, so with that obvious flawed logic I take with me the entitlement that I can be lazy once in a while and everything will still be completely alright. Of course the resolution was to stop being so lazy that it will be impede me in whatever I was trying to accomplish, and on that front I think I did pretty okay. Though It is incredibly hard to quantify and show just how not lazy I was in the year 2011, merely spewing off a list of accomplishments would seem highly narcissistic. But alas resolutions are ultimately for the person himself, so my own satisfaction in a non-lazy 2011 shall suffice.

My emotions in regards to my 2011 New Year’s resolutions can be best summed up by this well known internet meme: 



Like most people of my generation (the most awesome generation for sure), I am a big part of the whole music fanaticism and how music is my life kind of thing. 2011 saw my iTunes library swell past the 12,000 mark. While that pales in comparison to the true music packrats of the world, I am still young so eventually I will be in the league of those people because as each year roll past the collection will only swell further.

Having 12,000 plus songs at my finger tip (not in my pocket, because my old 5th generation iPod can’t possibly hold that much songs, even if I compress them to hell) makes for a great personal juke box for the man cave, but that’s about it. I honestly would be lying if I told you I actually listened to each and every song (some haven’t even got one play!). Out of the 12,000 plus songs, only about 1,400 of it gets into the regular rotation. 

Since this blog post is about reflecting on 2011, how to do it for music? Well this year I discovered the wonderful app that is Last.fm. It allowed me to keep track of all the songs I have played for the the entire year, no matter on my Mac, iPod, or iPhone. This newfound convenience and power allowed me to discover just which songs throughout the year have been most played. If music connects with the feelings of a person like we all think it does, then the most played songs of 2011 ought to reflect pretty darn well the overall vibe of my 2011. So here is my top 10 most played song of 2011:

Just a whole mess of K-pop, two Chinese songs, and surprisingly an American song made it to the top spot.


2011 was a big year for my photography “hobby”, as I easily doubled the amount of the photography I have done in all the past years combined. One big factor was that I finally finished all forms of schooling (for now) back in May so half the year I was much more freed up to pursue photographic endeavors (I mainly do landscapes so having time to travel to different locales was a must). The other big factor was my work. Since March I have been doing marketing stuff for this eco-friendly stationery company called O'BON. There were numerous opportunities at work to utilize my photography skills such as product and model shoots.  

Unfortunately, for much of this year I had to use the same amount of kit I started the year with. I was so hoping I would have a new camera body and few more lenses to mess around with by now. But the whole can’t find a job in this economy for recent college graduates really screwed up the financial situation. But a photographer must soldier on, and by no means was what i already have crappy equipment (I do own the best lens money can by for my particular kind of Canon DSRL). But next year I do hope to save enough money to get at the very least a new (and better) camera body (New Year’s resolution #2!). 

I did get a new lens this year - finally getting a prime lens to go along with my walk around zoom (if you don’t get it by now, a prime lens is one that does not zoom). A new Sigma 50mm prime lens will do wonders for me in low light conditions and most importantly, portraiture! Sadly I did not get this lens until December, and have only gotten the opportunity to use it on one assignment. But I am very excited for the things I will do with it next year. Most of the stuff I have been shooting so far have been landscapes and objects, and I really hope to branch out to shooting people (the only time where it is absolutely okay to shoot people is with a camera. Oh right, New Year’s resolution #3!).

For 2011 I also did the most popular project amongst photographic hobbyist - the 365 challenge. As the name suggest, I must take a photo a day, every day for one whole calendar year. On paper it sounded like a piece of cake, but the discipline required to actually remember and continue take a picture a day was way more than I have ever imagined. Many a days I was dangerously close to forget taking a picture (a few 11.59pm shots was shamelessly accomplished). Hard to imagine that today will be the last day and the end to the project.


I am incredibly happy that I did the 365 challenge, because now I have a set of 365 photographs to look back on and reminisce about the song and dance of 2011. Those set of photographs really becomes sort of like a year book compilation. That is exactly what I plan to do with the photographs - make a book out of them. As I continue to do the project year after year (yes, the project will continue on indefinitely until I physically cannot shoot photos anymore), I will have a bookshelf full of year books, chronicling my life. 


This year I finally completed my undergraduate education from San Francisco State with a degree in business entrepreneurship. It was perhaps one of the proudest moments of my life (yet) standing up there on stage during the entrepreneurship commencement celebration, giving my thank-you speech. A culmination of two years of the hardest schooling I have ever gone through absolutely paid off in the finest of ways. Most important of which I have a circle of great entrepreneurship friends that I know will keep in touch and hang out with for the longest of time, sharing battle (and success!) stories.

The goal of the entrepreneurship program at SFSU is for everybody that is tough enough to graduate from the program to start their own business. While I still have aspirations of attending MBA graduate school (partly to appease my ultra orthodox Asian parents), I have decided in 2011 to start my business anyways. Because there will most likely be a two year gap between undergrad and grad school, it seemed prudent to start the business now, at an extremely small level, and grow it up slowly but surely. And since my business is mainly photography, I have the ability to keep it on the side and not cost me an exorbitant amount of money. Thus, junction industries was born in 2011.


The ultimate vision of junction industries is to be a digital media company, spanning photography, videography, digital design, and music. But of course that is many years ahead in the future. For now the main focus is photography, as that is that one thing I am most brilliant at (not to mention it is still a one man show at the moment). Like I said, the company will grow very slow and steady from small to hopefully someday enough of a size to fit in a warehouse loft. For now, it is just a photography blog, and a registered .com domain name. At least no one can possibly steal the name from me (knock on wood). 

As previously mentioned, 2011 was a big year for my photography in terms of volume and skill advancement. I also happened to monetize a few projects, and sold a few prints as well. Overall it was pretty satisfactory, because the goal since graduation in May was not to start making money with my photography, but rather doing as much of it as a I can and improve, without the barrier of school to take precious time away from me to do so. But I do want to start monetizing more and more projects and sell quite a few prints next year (New Year’s Resolution #4!). 


Can’t reflect on the year without my favorite past time (of all time) - sports. I am an avid fan of my local sport teams, especially the San Francisco Giants. 2010 saw them winning it all by taking the World Series Championship, thus for 2011 there was a large amount of expectations for the team to do well and challenge for the title once again.

I have never gone to as many baseball game as I did during the 2011 season of San Francisco Giants baseball. I am too lazy to count right now, but the number of games went to is easily above 20. Anytime the tickets was reasonably cheap, it was to the ballpark I went. For baseball there is nothing quite like being at the park and watching it live (gives some modicum of truth to the traditional 7th inning stretch jingle), and now that I have gone to so many games in a season, I will never go to any less per season for the rest of my life (when possible.)  A very special shout out to the small group of friends that joined me in the fabulous entertainment that is Giants baseball. Let’s do it again in 2012 (New Year’s resolution #5!)

Unfortunately the Giants did not fare so well in 2011. The pitching was still absolutely fantastic, but the offense was just too anemic to give them enough support to win games. The lost of Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez turned out to be unrecoverable, and towards the end of the year half the team was on the disabled list one way or another (What will forever be known as Black Tuesday). The Giants scored the least amount of runs in the National League, and missed the playoffs after winning the whole thing year before. As a fan it was a really sour note for me because the potential of the team was so great (and tangible, not just some made up hope of a fandom). 2011 season was a spectacular failure, and the great pitching was wasted. 

Still, going to so many games at the ball park was just awesome. Even when the team loses, the margin was so close that the games were for the most part always exciting. 

On the other hand, 2011 was a great season for the San Francisco 49ers, carrying with them a 12-3 record (and NFC West Division title) to the new year as one of the top Super Bowl contenders. It was a complete turn around from the previous decade of losing. New coach Jim Harbaugh was the final piece to the puzzle of a team filled with so many talented players that just needed proper guidance. I was never one of those people that railed on quarterback Alex Smith, and am happy to see him doing so well this season. NFL football Sundays have not been this exciting as they were in 2011 for the longest time.

Nothing like 49ers football in glorious high definition to highlight the weekend. Because unlike last year, I did not go to a live game this year. Hate to say it, but the 49ers’ stadium at Candlestick Park is an absolutely dump (it is the oldest football stadium in the league) and not a pleasant experience (world famous Candlestick weather patterns). No need to pay expensive tickets to see a football game when I get a better view from my couch at home.


If there is one thing I take away from 2011, is that the the four pillars of family, friends, person, and work must all be in balance with each other. Meaning you can’t afford to neglect any one of them for the sake of another. I don’t think one can be happy that way, at least not at the stage of life where I am at. Sure you can solely concentrate on one aspect for a significant amount of time, and in some ways you should (some of my pals trying to start a business haven’t got the choice but to invest all their time into it), but please make sure you make it up to the other areas in due time. Especially your family. 

Anyways, 2011 was the best year of my life. That is how it is suppose to be right? I am at the point of my life where every new year should be the better than all the previous. The Chinese have saying during new years - 新年進步 which loosely translates to how you should improve with a new year. That is what I strive to do in 2012 and all the other years beyond it (insert joke about end of the world).