R.I.P. Nicky February 18, 2017

I woke up around 8am this Saturday morning to a text message from my sister that almost instantly made me cry. She told me our family dog, a tiny chihuahua mix named Nicky, had died about an hour earlier.

Most chihuahuas are yappy and annoying, but Nicky was the most likable and friendly chihuahua I had ever known. She didn't mind being left alone. Some days she would hardly see much of anybody, but seemed to get on fine. All she really ever wanted from anybody was warmth. If you sat on a couch next to her, she would leave her blanket to get to the adjacent couch and make herself at home on your lap. If she didn't find you comfortable anymore or if you got up, she would scurry back onto her blanket.

Nicky had been given to my parents by an employee, who had five chihuahua pups. They got her for my brother, who named her Nicholas. Several years had passed before they realized Nicholas was, in fact, a girl. They shortened it to the androgynous Nicky, which made sense, but was only unfortunate in the way that it was similar to one of our aunt's names, Nikki.

My dad took the best care of her, and always made sure she had comfy towels, blankets, and beds to lay on. He had a wooden home built in the garage for her to stay warm in the winter. In her last year, she even had this house.

Four years ago, she met her best pal and my dog, Biscuit. By the time they had met, she was already an old lady who was stuck in her old, simple ways. Meanwhile, Biscuit was very much still a puppy; still spry, rambunctious and full of energy. They spent a lot of time together and ended up developing a sweet relationship where he was sort of like an annoying younger brother. Biscuit would lick her vigorously and bother her, which she would tolerate until she got sick of it and started yapping for him to knock it off. It was always ok for Biscuit to annoy Nicky, but when other dogs were around, Biscuit would vehemently defend Nicky, not letting other dogs get near her. Whenever anybody gave Nicky attention, Biscuit would get between them, desperately vying for their pets. Nicky never did anything like that, but she made it known she enjoyed your affection and being close to you.

My parents had never raised a dog before, so they didn't know that some dogs require teeth brushing. As a result, Nicky eventually had to get many of her teeth removed a few years ago. But this never stopped her from eating anything. Til the very end, Nicky ate voraciously, noisily, and well. Living in a supermarket, she was given absolutely anything and everything to eat, and was only ever aggressive and protective when it came to her food. Biscuit learned to be respectful of this, and never ate off her plate when he was done with his. She was, however, free to munch off his plate if she finished hers first. Also, I had taught Biscuit to do tricks, which we usually have him do before giving him treats. Nicky didn't know how to do anything, so she got them for free.

One funny memory I have of her was when my friend and I lived together in the house. We learned that she was not nearly as stupid as she looks. She looked very derpy in her old age because her tongue always stuck out and she was always licking the air. I had a couple of Dum Dums lying on the living room table. Somehow, she had gotten a hold of one and managed to unwrap it. My friend found her with a Dum Dum stick strategically lodged between her paws, gleefully licking it away.

Since by late last year, Nicky had developed glaucoma and was around 15 years old, my dad estimated she only had one or two years left. We knew her time was coming to an end, but it was much shorter than we anticipated. When I asked my sister and brother earlier this month if they could take care of her, I thought we had more time to deliberate over it. It was a very fortunate series of events that led my dad to taking Nicky down and my sister taking care of her during Nicky's last week. No matter how sad I get thinking about her untimely death, I will always be reassured that in her final moments, she had company.

It was also fortunate that my dad hadn't left SoCal at the time he planned, so he was able to drive Nicky back up to give her a proper burial in the home where she lived for most of her life.

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There were a lot of things that went wrong about my dad's burial plans that made the whole experience more lighthearted. For example, my dad had asked my uncle to dig a hole on a hill in the backyard, but my carefree uncle dug a hole in the wrong spot about 50 feet away on very flat ground. Worse, the "casket" box my dad had someone build for Nicky was at least double the size it needed to be, so we had to spend time digging a deeper hole.

In this photo, Biscuit is near the hole my uncle originally dug up.

In this photo, Biscuit is near the hole my uncle originally dug up.

The correct site where my dad wanted to bury Nicky.

The correct site where my dad wanted to bury Nicky.

I thought it was important for Biscuit to see and smell Nicky one last time. Whenever I brought Biscuit to the market or house with me, he would always dart inside to look for Nicky and lick her repeatedly because he missed her. I'm not sure if he was able to entirely comprehend the situation, but I think a little part of him did.

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But another part of me was doubtful because he still behaved like it was any other day.

Biscuit barking at / with the dog next door.

Biscuit barking at / with the dog next door.

I found it so funny and endearing that my dad wanted to bury her with Joss paper usually reserved for burning at funerals for humans. When I asked my dad about it incredulously, he responded with incredulity back, "So in her next life, she'll have money!"

We picked flowers from the front yard for her.

I don't know many people who would participate in, let alone initiate this kind of thing. But this is the type of person my dad is.

I am grateful for the opportunity to mourn our beloved Nicky.

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Thank you for being in our lives.


I walked around San Francisco one rainy day and was delighted to find an Italian man belting opera down Maiden Lane. It was so good that I initially thought a business was playing music from its stereo loudly.

Afterwards, I went up Slacker Hill, which is not for slackers.

SF Fleet Week 2016

My roommate convinced me to go to SF Fleet Week late last year, and I thought it would be interesting to photograph. But I wasn't interested in the air crafts at all. I was more in awe of the massive crowd that the event drew and curious about why so many other people were so enthusiastic about it.

One thing that I quickly noticed was that I was the only female among the camp of photographers by the Municipal Pier. This didn't bother me until I realized that the Asian man who pushed down on my shoulder so that I would sit down and he could see politely asked my male roommate to sit down without laying a hand on him.

In fact, this is how the conversation went between them:

Man: Excuse me sir, can you please sit down?
Roommate: Oh yeah, sure man.
Man: Thanks.

Why didn't I deserve the same treatment?


I'm A Writer

I've come to the realization lately that at the very core, I am a writer. I don't know if people like my writing. I don't know how many people read my writing or from where. I only know that there are only two occasions where it feels dreadful to write - one is good and one is bad. It is only painful in a counterproductive way when I'm not writing something I truly believe in. It is painful in a wonderful way when I feel the story needs to be told and I struggle to tell it well.

The Robbery

Who: My dad

Where: Over the phone.

When: January 2016.

What: The house where my uncle and our two family dogs were living at was robbed some time after I picked up one of the dogs. When my dad told me the house was robbed, I felt traumatized. I couldn't help but imagine that I could have been there when it happened. But my dad surprised me with his positivity.


Engagement Photos: Jojo and Laura

About a month ago, two of my good college friends asked me to take their engagement photos; a mountainous ask which I found both flattering and daunting, because I'd never done it before.

In shooting their photos, I found that the more I tried to direct them based on a shot list I had compiled (as an unseasoned engagement photographer), the more awkward they were. So, for the most part, these photos are of Jojo and Laura simply being their cute selves. It was a lot of fun capturing their relationship and sometimes making a mockery of typical engagement photos. I hope you enjoy these images too!

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First World Transportation Problems

This post is basically about my gripes with the transportation system in California compared with my experience with the transit system in Hong Kong. I used exchange rates for today, March 13, 2015, which was $1.03 USD = $8 HKD.

When I was in Hong Kong, I would walk (10 mins) or take the bus ($4.6 HKD or $0.56 USD) to the Mong Kok MTR, stay on for 5 stops ($11.10 HKD or $1.43 USD) to Central Station (16 minutes), then walk 5 to 7 minutes to work. I would read, play games on my phone, or people watch.

 Off-topic: I have to add that I was so much skinnier in Hong Kong despite eating excessively because I walked and took public transportation everywhere, and because of the humidity.

Since the CalTrain that connects with the shuttle I need for work now stops at Millbrae BART, I attempted to commute to work by train today.


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Type And Delete, Type And Delete

Hi there. Sorry to have abandoned you. I've been meaning to write here. I did a few times, actually, but I never pushed the publish button. But as I become more and more brave, I will write and put the publish button more often.

If you haven't heard, I'm a technical writer at a software company now, but still attempting to contribute to Forbes on the side. That's what journalism is for me at this point in time, a side thing. I writhed in guilt about it for a while, but since I've increasingly grown to accept that it is a conscious decision I've made, I don't feel so bad anymore.

There are no rules. Do what you think is right for you. No one knows what they're doing anyway. Even if they do, they've got to have luck on their side to make things happen, and she doesn't just hang out with anybody.

Anyhow, I'm busy going through my photos. Here's one to keep you entertained, for now. It was from my first trip to Big Sur this past fall. I found the birds hanging out next to the waterfall very amusing.

Oh, and check out my photos for NASA Social. I guess I did get something done.

Birds enjoy the waterfall at McWay Falls in Big Sur, CA on November 08, 2014.

The first of many, hopefully

I wholeheartedly believe that there's a reason why you meet everyone you do and that there's something you can learn from every single person. I call this thing you learn a "gem." From now on, I'll share some gems--starting with a story--that I've learned from random people I meet, most of whom I only met once and may never see again.

Who: Man who sat next to me on a plane.

Where: Can't remember exactly.

When: Sometime within the last 3 months.

What: He told me that he always encourages his kids to wake up early in the morning like he does, but they never do. Every day, he drives 2 hours to work and 2 hours back home. This shocked me, so when I asked something along the lines of, "How do you do it? How do you find the motivation to do that every day?" His response:

"You just have to remember who you do it for."

Design And Writing

I thoroughly believe there is a strong correlation between design and writing. I might be biased, though, since my best friend is a designer. Even though we have virtually opposing views on how to handle life situations, we get along really well because of our shared values. But I remember the exact moment when I realized that design and writing intersect: when I felt that both the writing and font used in an essay in Debbie Millman's book, Look Both Ways: Illustrated Essays on the Intersection of Life and Design was what made me laugh. It wasn't a book I would have flipped through if it wasn't lying around on my best friend's living room table.

With that said, I'm really enjoying through 5 Questions for 100 Designers by Yevgeny Yermakov.

A Moment Of Reflection With Larry, "Bucket Man" Of San Francisco

Do you see the smile on this man's face? It's genuine.

Can you read his face here? It's passionate.


A friend recently asked me to take some photos of Larry Hunt, who's known as "Larry the Drummer" and "Larry Bucket Man," for a project. Larry can easily be found in front of Old Navy on Market Street, nowadays with a shiny PDP drum set instead of buckets.

These photos are from the day I learned about how Larry regularly gets noise complaints for playing on the streets of San Francisco, but was invited by a Dutch packaging company to drum on buckets for a festival in Europe. There's an SF Weekly article about it here.

I love this city. The people are kind. The entrepreneurial spirit is...relentless, unwavering, resilient. But after Larry told us his story, my friend posed a rhetorical question to me that has been ringing in my mind whenever I look back at these photos: why did it take a foreign company to help this man out?

Take a moment to reflect on this: imagine if we all spent 2 minutes of our day or 2 cents from our pockets to help out someone like Larry every day. Wouldn't that move us all forward, even just a tiny bit? Wouldn't that be better than turning our cheek to these people?

Old Posts

I'm very sad that when I switched templates, my blog posts disappeared. Fortunately, they were cached.

What I've been into lately

March 10, 2014

Just wanted to share some of my favorite reads of late (sites with articles that immediately capture my attention and consist of meaningful material):

FastCompany - With four divisions, Fast- Co.Design, Co. Exist, Co. Create and Co.Labs, it's not hard to find an article you'd want to print out and post on a cork board.

The Next Web - It only took someone linking me to a single article here (sometime last year) for me to add it to my bookmarks toolbar. Their articles have definitely been striking a chord with me lately. I discovered for the first time today a feature they have that I haven't seen anywhere else--you can listen to the article via SoundCloud!

Paul Jarvis - I somehow stumbled upon his website, probably when I was researching how to build websites, and I've been a loyal reader of his newsletters ever since. I was immediately drawn to and engaged with the material he produces. Aside from providing useful advice and sharing his knowledge about doing creative work for a living, he is indeed nice (as I presumed from his writing alone) to boot--he's been very responsive each email I've sent to him to thank him for posting what he does or to ask him for some advice as a freelancer.

Do you have any sites that provide meaningful information worth putting on your bookmarks toolbar? Share below.

Why We're Here

February 5, 2014

I'd like to share with you a passage from a book I'm currently reading that's resonated with me these last few days.

One of the pleasures of talking to original thinkers about a matter as profound as the mystery of being is that you get to hear them think out loud. Sometimes they would say the most astonishing things. It was as though I was privileged to peer into their thought processes. This was a cause for awe. But I also found it oddly empowering. When you listen to such thinkers feel their way around the question of why there is a world at all, you begin to realize that your own thoughts on the matter are not quite so nugatory as you had imagined. No one can confidently claim intellectual superiority in the face of the mystery of existence.

— Jim Holt, Why Does the World Exist?

I personally think we are someone's cool project--we exist to demonstrate what we are capable of as a species and what we end up doing to the planet. What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

New location, new site

February 3, 2014

Two weeks ago, I moved from the San Gabriel Valley to the Bay Area to look for full-time employment and I have no regrets. These are some things I moved up for: a more efficient transportation system, advanced recycling program and incredible coffee.

Last month, I was excited to receive an email that my Sriracha article was going to be published in the February 2014 issue of Forbes Asia. It will be my first published article in a magazine!

As I learn to navigate my way around the Bay Area and add more to my portfolio, don't hesitate to reach out to me through any of the social mediums below or via email.