Getting Over Another Bout of Writers’ Block

Once again I have slacked in blogging. Everything online now seems like you have to post it in order to manage your personal brand, which is exhausting to me. This is not one of those posts. I’m just going to write about a memory that I had, and how it was jogged, and how it still relates to how I feel today.

This is a powerful song by Bob Dylan when he was recording gospel music. Listen to it if you can. It’s called “Pressing On.”

Now, I’m not much of a gospel music listener, but this song is powerful and I’d grown up hearing my parents listen to it.

One day back in late 2007, my time as a volunteer was winding down. Most of my close friends had left the country. I was still there. I woke up one morning and groggily turned on my computer to check email and hit play in iTunes. And this song came on. And I started crying.

At the time, I was in the dumps about my friends not being around and soon leaving the beautiful nation that I’d come to call home. But the song was my encouragement to keep pressing on. I knew it would be tough, but as the same time, I knew I could eventually be able to get through it all.

Fast forward to today, this afternoon. Again, I find myself sitting at my computer. This time, I’m sending out job applications. I’ve been unemployed for months. Once again, I’m in the dumps. And I listen to “Pressing On.” A few tears rolled down my cheek. I know I’ll get through this bad time and on to something new and better. In the song, there’s a line that says, “Shake the dust off from your feet, don’t look back / Nothing can hold you down now, nothing you lack.”

I’ll keep pressing on. And when I’m past, I’ll shake the dust off of my feet and won’t look back.


2012: The Year I Became a Runner

Summary of my running accomplishments in 2012.

I started running with the intent to improve my aerobic performance for badminton. However, at this point in my life, running has taken over as the main sport in my life. And this past year, 2012, is when it happened.

In the latter half of 2011 I started casually jogging around a track that was across the street from my office in Saigon. On my first day of running and walking, I wasn’t sure if I could complete one lap of 250 meters. However, I surprised myself and was able to do it.

It took me six months to work up to running 5km nonstop. On February 23rd, 2012, I finally accomplished this feat, the day before my 29th birthday. On February 27th was the first time I timed my run and started recording times and distances to track my performance. I continued tracking times and distances for the rest of the year.

So here are a few stats from the data in 2012, the year I became a runner:

  • Total recorded distance (actual higher): 492 miles (792km)
  • Longest run: 13.2 miles (21.3km)
  • Fastest time: 7:30 per mile for 3 miles (~4:40 per km for 4.8km)

As we’re getting into this new year of 2013, I’m happy to say that I’m going stronger than ever. I’ve registered for a half marathon here in Eugene, and I’m thinking about running the Seattle half marathon at the end of the year as well. My goal is to run a full marathon in 2014.

I’ve gotten this far with the support and encouragement of numerous friends and family. Thank you; you know who you are.

Tics of Twitter

I never really used Twitter much before moving to Saigon in 2010. Before that, Twitter was mainly my medium for updating my Facebook status from my old (and decidedly un-smart) phone via text message. Over a couple years in Saigon, however, I came to rely on Twitter as a place to get recommendations on where to find things and how to get stuff done. One specific example is this: In the midst of one workday, I felt like a turkey sandwich. Don’t know why, but I just felt like one. I posted that thought on Twitter, and a few people got back to me about where they’d found decent turkey sandwiches in Saigon, and that evening I had a turkey sandwich for dinner.

Being in another country and culture, Twitter was a way for us expatriates in the city and the nation converse with each other about our ups and downs and where to find a decent hamburger too. It was pretty nice tool for a place with no large online resources and a culture where a substantial amount of getting things done relies on who you know.

With an above average number of intelligent and tactful users, Twitter for expatriates in Vietnam was great. And when we learned that we would be moving to the U.S., I was hoping to find a place in the Twitter community in Eugene, Oregon too. I started out by following a few folks I found through searching, including a few local companies too, but there is a completely different attitude regarding Twitter in the liberal Northwest in the Land of the Free.

My takeaways so far have been this: There are a lot of people who call themselves “social media experts” and seriously just flood Twitter with posts, retweets and links so that it just clogs up my flow and I can’t stand it. Being in a university town, there are lots of college students on Twitter too. Let’s just say that I’m glad I didn’t have Twitter when I was in college, otherwise my silly moodiness would’ve been captured forever by the Library of Congress. The local companies that I tried following just further flood Twitter with links and stupid questions in the lame attempt to “engage” people through this medium.

What was a very helpful tool in a foreign land is exactly the opposite in the land where it was invented. There seems to be a purposeful effort to not engage with others on Twitter without ulterior motives and I have yet to find a community of users even slightly like what I experienced in Vietnam. Oddly enough, I now use Twitter to keep up with people in Vietnam more that I use it to find out what is happening around me locally.

So there you have it. A common online service which became immensely helpful as I explored the largest city in Indochina has become basically a tool for keeping up with those awesome users back there who initially drew me to Twitter in the first place.