Monthly Archives: December 2015

Goodbye 2015!

Goodbye 2015, and hello 2016! I swore I’d write one of these retrospective posts a year ago, so here it goes.

I did some traveling this year, largely for either work or weddings. In 2015, I attended the weddings of Rica & Jon, Tim & Roz, Jazz & Dom and Siena & Andy. My mom also cashed in on taking a big birthday trip and we went to the Galapagos as a family. I apparently took 22 days off from work. Yay unlimited vacation policy.

Places I’ve Been:
Manila (ish), Philippines
Boracay, Philippines
Hong Kong
Las Vegas, NV* (two trips, one work and one for GP Vegas)
Portland, OR*
Quito, Ecuador
Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Guayaquil, Ecuador
Dallas, TX*
Austin, TX*
Sacramento, CA
Pasadena, CA
New York, NY*
Boston, MA*
* Work trips

In 2015, I resolved (whatever that really means) to do a couple things:

  • Sleep more: I’m a much nicer person with enough sleep. Also more functional. This one took me a while to figure out — I was totally fine on 5 hours of sleep a couple years ago, but I’m not anymore. I think it’s because I do more work at work, not old age.
  • Exercise more regularly: With lots of help from Shamiq, I now have a regular workout schedule — MWF are lifting days, TTh are cardio days. Unfortunately, I’ve done less climbing this year than I’d like. Something’s gotta give.
  • Dress like an adult: Less dinosaur t-shirts & hoodies to work. I’ve mostly succeeded. I’m not even sure where my dinosaur hoodie is anymore…
    Read more books — I started to notice that my already short attention span was deteriorating from reading Facebook posts and Buzzfeed lists.

Books I’ve Read: (55, assuming I can count)
Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande
Moth Smoke by Mohsin Hamid
Landline by Rainbow Rowell
The Blood of Flowers by Anita Amirrenzvani
Bangkok Daze by William Sparrow
Fear of Flying by Erica Jong
The Spiral Staircase: My Climb Out of Darkness by Karen Armstrong
Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism by Naoki Higashida, K.A. Yoshida
Go It Alone! by Bruce Judson
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
18 Minutes: Find Your Focus, Master Distraction, and Get the Right Things Done by Peter Bregman
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War by Lynsey Addario
The Wind Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami
Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross
The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz
#GIRLBOSS by Sophia Amoruso
The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
Twelve Years a Slave by Solomon Northup
All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd
The Divergent Series (all the books… 1-4.5?) by Veronica Roth
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
Mortal Instruments Series (1-6) by Cassandra Clare
Creative Confidence by Tom Kelley & David Kelley
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman
Maze Runner Series (1-3) by James Dashner
The Idealist: Jefferey Sachs and the Quest to End Poverty by Nina Munk
The Challenger Sale by Matthew Dixon
Heads in Beds by Tomsky Jacob
The World Until Yesterday by Jared Diamond
Heather Wells Series (1-4) by Meg Cabot
Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
The Collector by John Fowles
Every Day Is For the Thief by Teju Cole
Emperor of All Maladies by Siddhartha Mukherjee
Station Eleven by Emily St.John Mandel
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah Harari
The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu & Ken Liu

Another exercise in concentration — finishing by knit & crochet projects (without buying more yarn)
Finished Objects – Knit + Crochet: (17)
3 Bicycle Wheels hats (gifts for Jonny, Yama and Shamiq)
Orzhov gloves for Shamiq (my own pattern)
Crochet hexagon baby blanket (gift, made up a pattern)
freeform-ish Triangle shawl (gift)
3 crochet pot holders
grey knit hat (color block, no pattern) for me
grey knit hat (triangles, no pattern) for Shamiq
shades of grey (ha) crochet shawl (no pattern)
Habu lace scarf (no pattern)
black and brown Cupido Cowl (adapted)
Herringbone Cowl (adapted)
short-row hat for shamiq (no pattern)
Song of the Sea Cowl (merry christmas, mom)

Annnnd that’s 2015. I’m sure there’s other stuff worth that may be notable, but this feels awkward enough so I’ll stop here.

Omakase! (Pictures + thoughts)

Last Saturday, I had dinner at Omakase. We did the Yamato Omakase: 2 appetizers, 2 sashimis, 12 nigiri, 1 yakimono and 1 owan.

I didn’t take great notes (or photos, really) while eating, so my descriptions are pretty vague…

Ball of fish over rice. One mouthful of nom.

Smoked some-sort of fish (trout, I think?) marinated with tomatoes

Sashimi! with fresh wasabi. Lobster on the right.

Japanese abalone with abalone liver sauce. These abalone are much more flavorful than the abalone I’ve had recently at other Japanese restaurants. Also, wonderful sauce. Even when eaten off of chopsticks.

Lobster and geoduck sashimi. I really like geoduck sashimi. I wonder if I can do this myself at home…

akamatsu, black sea perch

hokkaido sea scallop. zomg, I generally don’t like scallops, but this one was all sorts of creamy and delicious.

hirame something cured with kelp. (Japanese fluke)

alaskan wild king salmon. i love salmon, and this one was amazing.

golden big eye snapper. This one was torched a little bit before serving. I’m not a huge fan of skin-on nigiri

Marinated tuna. Pretty good. Fatty but not super fatty.

Hokkaido uni with house cured ikura (over rice). I found the ikura a little salty, but the Hokkaido uni was amazing — no fishiness at all, and very creamy.


puri. lightly smoked wild yellowtail. interesting, and smoky. (surprise)

aji. Japanese horse mackrel. Skin on, not a huge fan. A little fishy — good, but not my type of fish.

Japanese mackrel with caramelized sugar. Once again, not a huge fan of skin-on, but the caramelized sugar made this bite really interesting. And it magically paired pretty well.

otoro, slightly torched. NOM NOM NOM. How can you go wrong with otoro? Additionally, I really liked the slight sear — made it seem even more fatty.

tamago. A soft and custardy tamago — much lighter than most tamagos.

Wagyu beef, brocollini, japanese mayo, peppercorn sauce and truffle salt. I was so excited to eat this that the picture is a blurry mess. It was, not surprisingly, delicious — but a slightly too-large portion for me, after all that fish. I couldn’t handle much more rich food.

Lobster and mushroom broth. I don’t think I had reasonable judgement at this point in the meal. I would have preferred a lighter broth at this point.

Overall — the food was great (Even for the types of fish I generally don’t like) and it was a fun experience to sit at the counter and see the chef in front of you prepare your food. However, for $200 a person, I think it’s a little steep. I’d happily do the shorter menu ($150) if I could pick which nigiri. Sign me up to eat the salmon, tunas & uni again.

Noodler’s Ahab + Zebra G Modification

Like many other fountain pen enthusiasts, flex pens are something I want… but can’t quite afford. (Or don’t feel responsible spending on, anyway.)

So, with many helpful pointers from YouTube videos and Reddit, I did it! It worked on first try.

Here’s what I did:
1. Pulled out the original nib + feed from my Noodler’s Ahab
2. Jammed in a Zebra G, lining up the first groove in the feed with the cut out on the side of the nib (I also tried a Nikko G and a Tachikawa G, neither fit. The Zebra G was by far the easiest to fit in)
3. Slid the feed+nib far enough such that the nib reaches the line where the Noodler’s nib ended
4. Heat set the feed

If you look into the barrel of the pen, there are two sides — there’s the side where the Noodler’s nib fits, then there’s the side that has a little extra plastic. Each side is approximately half the barrel. I found that I initially positioned the nib and feed such that the Zebra G was where the Noodler’s nib was, the pen would write great, but the nib touched the cap, leaving me with little puddles of ink in the cap. I then repositioned it so the nib was on the side with the little plastic rim, and the nib no longer touches. However, it was impossible for me to get it in on this side before the initial heatset — so this may have to be a two-step process.

And some pictures:

Initial Victory!
It writes! Taken right after the initial heat set, it wrote easily right away. Ignore the crazy person writing in the background — I was so surprised I got it working on first try.

Two days later
Two days later, you can see the nib touches the cap — leaving a constant blob of ink. The pen is filled with Diamine Evergreen, but the nib’s corrosion is clearly discoloring the ink.

Four days later
Four days later — I can no longer wipe off the rust, you can see it’s starting to set in along the slit. Pen still writes great though. After taking this photo, I re-heatset the nib after rotating it (and the feed) 180 degrees, and now the nib no longer touches the cap!

Five days later
Taken this morning (five days since) — it takes a couple strokes after the pen has been sitting for several hours to get to normal ink. At this point I’ve probably written 7-10 full pages of Spencerian practice with the nib.

So far I’ve been tucking it into my (makeshift) pen case and carrying it around in my backpack with my other regular-use pens (currently two Esterbrooks) and it’s been leak and problem free.

EDIT/UPDATE: January 3

I replaced the nib last night. I wrote with it for a bit, then began to notice that it wasn’t producing a fine hairline anymore. So I got about a week and a half out of it.

Here’s the nib before I pulled it out — both the top and bottom are rusted. There was also some ink+rust gunk in the feed.

nib last night

The part of the barrel that touches the nib also seems permanently rust-stained — last night was pen cleaning night, so here are the parts of my Ahab and a Metro.

pen cleaning day!

I popped in a new nib this morning (and J Herbin Violet Pensee) and it wrote right away. Seems to be a little more prone to leaking — I’m not yet sure if that’s the ink or the way I positioned the nib.

Ridiculously Rich Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

Adapted from Serious Eats

3 ripe bananas, mashed
1 cup sugar
3/4 egg
1/4 cup melted butter
1 1/2 cups flour, half whole grain, half normal
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Heat the oven to 325F and line your loaf pan with parchment
2. Mix all the wet ingredients, then add in the dry ones. Then fold in the chocolate chips.
3. Bake for an hour, or until a tester comes out clean. (Took me exactly 1:05)

This banana bread came out ridiculously moist and buttery. The whole wheat adds a bit of a nuttiness and the chocolate chips add… well, chocolate. Will make again. And again.

Song of the Sea


I finished my Song of the Sea a couple days ago. I used a single ball of Cascade Sock Yarn (75% Merino Superwash and 25% Nylon) in Navy.

The pointy edges on the right side are from me aggressively blocking it. Perhaps I shouldn’tve done that… Overall though, I think it turned out very pretty and I’m happy with it. It’s going to be a Christmas gift soon!