Category Archives: Winter/Fall

BAD Coffee Changed My Life — Kinda Not Really

Now that I work a 9-5 job I find myself shlepping to work in the morning like a harpooned whale coming to shore, desperate for some kind of energy. Luckily, where I work we always brew a cup of drip coffee plus we hide a Keurig in the pantry for the office workers only. For the past few weeks I’ve been fine with the drip coffee as it satisfied my rudimentary needs.  But my discovery of the Keurig was like finding a new drug dealer with even better shit. One day we ran out of Keurig K-cups so my manager bought more: Don Francisco and some caramel crap from Starbucks. Being that I know NOTHING about coffee I was like, Starbucks?! SWEET!

And then I tasted it…

 

Was it just me or did this coffee taste like rancid asshole? Like seriously, I felt like I was drinking paint thinner with cream. It was painful to drink and I started to wonder, damn, should I just drink the crap we serve in the pot because I was MUCH more satisfied with that! My curiosity shot out of the sky like a set of fireworks over the simple fact that coffee could taste that different. After only a few days of research and several Youtube videos later, I settled on a lovely new piece of coffee machinery:

The Chemex.

2 parts artistic masterpiece and 2 parts chemistry equipment the Chemex is a simple device that brews a lovely cup of coffee while gracing your kitchen with timeless beauty. With an easy-to-clean design and ultra thick paper filters you allow your coffee to retain essential oils while keeping out the bitterness. After brewing my first batch this evening I can honestly say that it tastes just like a cloud would taste: light, smooth and absolutely free of any bitter taste. I wish it were morning already because I’m totally excited to make another cup or two.

Now the question is: with this better brew, how the hell can I go back to drinking the stuff at work?

Fuck.

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My Love-Hate Relationship With Trying To Be Healthy

I have a serious love-hate relationship with trying to be healthier.

“Woo! Fruit bowls again? This is just… GREAT! It’s so Great!”

On one hand, I love going to the gym. My inner BRAH comes out and with my metaphorical shades on, I can pump away at the weights and feel myself getting allllll kiiiiiinds of gaiinnzzzz. Though I do feel incredibly guilty about staring at myself in the mirror at the gym for much longer than I should, I feel relieved that everyone else does it so…. WEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

However, I hate to say it, but I absolutely miss eating good food. Not even because I don’t have the funds to eat pork belly fried rice and Korean BBQ every week, but I actually crave the hell out of the good bad food. Oh yes, dear, I’m talking about fast food. In the middle of the night, 3am, wired on Facebook and Buzzfeed, there is nothing better than going out for a late night Whopper-run.

“Gotta get my MACROS!”

A warm toasty bun, crisp onions and lettuce, thick and yummy mayo, DAYUM! Too good! And although I’m enjoying this more fit version of myself, I won’t lie, I need to have my good bad food every now and then. So then I thought to myself, “Ranier, what exactly are you gonna do about it? How can you get ripped but still eat your weight in juicy, heavenly burgers and pizza?” Simple: I change my expectations.

Now, hear me out: this might sound like I totally am succumbing to the allure of french fries and pork belly — which I kind of am — but it’s also a realistic approach to my diet and exercise regimen. You see, my body has seen a degree of peaks and troughs and I always seem to jump from one moderate lifestyle to the next. I’ve tried eating breakfast consistently, I’ve tried running for hours, I’ve tried high intensity interval training and many, many years back, I regrettably wheeled my teenage body around a crummy ab roller.

I CAN FEEL IT ALREADY!

I‘m 23 and if I intend on building up my body and finding a method that works, I need to be realistic about what I can do and more importantly, what I can sustain. I’ve tried limiting my body from any fast food or pizza and believe me, in the same way that confiscating a Japanese man’s hentai as punishment will only intensify his desires, I too have desires that simply can’t be avoided. As a result, I’ve been on a quest to determine the right breakdown of how often I can eat shit food, good food and workout, all while maintaining a fit physique and more importantly, my sanity.

But in all reality, this is probably just a very, very, very elaborate excuse that I’ve tricked myself into believing just so I can allow myself to eat Weinershnitzel whenever i want.

“Dude! Dude! Calm Down!…. I’m bulking!”

WHATEVER, BRAH.

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Bulging Biceps and The Failing Economy: How Fitness and Finance Go Hand-In-Hand

I’m seated at the incline bench at the apartment gym with a sleeveless shirt on and a pair of dumbells in my hands. As I curl the 15lb weights, squeezing tightly on each rep with a slight turn at the top, I look intensely not at my form, but at my arms in the mirror. I can see the lateral and anterior deltoid muscles separate and my insides grin with joy as I keep curling and keep squeezing. The pain of my set is masked by the pleasure of seeing my body change in ways I couldn’t imagine. Needless to say,  I felt like I was “makin’ some gains.”

Had you spoken to me a few years ago and shown me this clip of myself I would have never believed I could succumb to — what I would have called at the time — such “douchebaggery.” To me, going to the gym and lifting weights was just about the corniest, most vain and useless activity known to all bro-kind. Devoid of any semblance to the kind of body a true 22 year old should have, I was content with my flabby yet still magically mediocre physique. I guess you could say I was chubby-skinny. But amidst the hamsteak of a midsection that capsized my body, I held a rather reputable bank account for a part-time student working at the mall.

Clocking in at around $40,000 a year, I was in an economic state of happiness for my age. My girlfriend and I ate out every day, shelling out at least $40 a night on dinner, not including tip and the other expenses for the day. We ate at Michelin starred restaurants every special occasion and had accumulated a check list of nearly every good restaurant within the vicinity. In other words, I paid good money to achieve that hamsteak of a midsection.

But alas, those days are over. Without a job, I can no longer retain that lifestyle of buying cameras every week and delicious meals each night. On the flip side, I can fit into my old pair of jeans without straining thanks to my slimmer physique and much, much slimmer, if not anorexic wallet. In some ways I do feel happier with my life and in others not so much. For one, I feel great about my health, both mentally and physically, and I have a greater appreciation for the little things in life. Things like cool weather on a hot summer day or a fresh pack of polaroid film. These are the things that preoccupy my happiness nowadays and I’m content with it.

Unfortunately, contrary to Seal and Croft’s 1972 hit, summer breeze can only make you feel so fine and then the reality of unemployment hits and you could give a fuck about the jasmine. Given all my free time, I’ve had a moment or three hundred to think and I came up with a puzzling question: why is it that my happiness seems equivalent to the days when I was making more money? Are my bicep curls and decline bench presses actually giving me more happiness or is there something else going on? What is it about being FIT that makes life better, or at the very least, more tolerable in this economy?

You see, I’ve noticed a rise in popularity with the term FIT. Now, don’t get it twisted: FIT is not about losing weight and it’s not about getting big muscles like Ahhhnold’. FIT, according to what I’ve been hearing from around the social networking block, is about overall strength and crafting “the best YOU, YOU can possibly become.” It’s all this “a better YOU” bullcrap that sounds like something you should do more and talk less about. In laymans terms, a FIT person is more interested in becoming slim and strong as opposed to bulky or model-thin.

Within the past several years, I’ve noticed a HUUUGE wave of people talking about getting FIT, becoming FIT and living the FIT life. So what’s the deal? Here’s my take: During a booming economy you have busy people doing busy work in their busy jobs. After they get off work and have a few hours to spare, they might head to the gym and bust a few calories on the treadmill while taking in a few fist fights on Maury Povich on the big screen. In a steady economy, health and physical fitness is calibrated through simple exercises, gym memberships and the ability to order the healthy food options at the local takeout restaurant.

But as the economy crushes deeper and deeper and we start to see ourselves and our neighbors lose our jobs, we are also faced with the challenge of prioritizing our priorities. We have no work so we need to find it. We spend our time applying for job after job and eventually we hit certain road blocks. We can’t get this job because we don’t have this experience. We can’t qualify for this position because we haven’t experienced that experience. It’s depressing. So, what do you do?

You lift.

With the advent of the FIT movement, we can now get shredded and sexy by doing cheap exercises with little to no equipment, using our own body weight, or by purchasing *cough*torrent*cough* the latest Shaun T DVD. It seems like FIT is not only the cool and trendy option, but also the cheapest. Then if you combine that with the I’m-too-poor-to-buy-food-but-that’s-okay-since-i’m-on-a-calorie-restrictive-diet diet, you will see even MORE gains!
WOO!!!!….

hoo?

As corny and motivational-speaker-esque as it might sound, going to the gym truly is one of the last institutions we can rely on for results. No longer can we trust the weight of our professional and academic accomplishments to pummel our way through victory. Instead, we can only hope that if we lift more, slim down more and get stronger, we can bicep curl our way into a new position. I can become a better me and together, we can become a better us. Jobs will come pouring in and health, wealth and prosperity will come crashing down on us like the economy once did 5 years ago.

There is no escaping the realities of the job market. It is the dreaded last rep on the bench press — the one that you look up at and say to yourself, “shit, I ain’t even gonna try.” As our deltoids separate and the fat between our thighs sucks into itself, all that is left is our confidence. We build it up in the hopes that when an interviewer breaks it down, we can endure, still hungry enough to take on one more rep and one more set.

I guess the real lesson is that, in the end, whether you’re looking for happiness in the form of separated lateral and anterior deltoids or on a plate of steak frites from Bouchon, it all comes from within yourself. We fermented this discontent from within ourselves and it is up to us to extinguish its flame with our own contentment. So if you find that happiness in your slim belly or on a plate of juicy pork belly, be sure to recognize it, enjoy it and let it waft through your soul like that sweet, sweet summer breeze.

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Why Do We Grow Apart From Our Families?

"Screw you, dad! I'm gonna sniff coke whether you like it or not!"

I have always been baffled by people who hate their families. People
who openly discuss their hatred towards relatives, siblings and parents
were categorized (in my mind) as poor souls in need of a warm hug
while discreetly being handed a pamphlet on “How To Love Your
Family: Even If You Don’t.” In Asian culture, you sorta have to tuck
that underneath your crying pillow while you vacuum those angry
tears right back up your slanted eyes. So why, for the life of god,
Buddha, or spaghetti monster, do we grow apart from our family?

For most of us growing up, our family is a collection of personalities
that we carry with us. Our nagging mother, our neglectful father, the
teasing brother, and the distant sister. This all-day breakfast club of
humans, linked only through DNA and a rooftop, are forced to endure
each others bullshittery as you fight and clash your silly little lives
together.When you think about it, it’s quite an astounding miracle to
see so many families close together despite their crater-sized differences.
But what happens when we grow up?

As we get older, the lines become thinner, and the personalities replace
the titles. In other words, our annoying mother slowing becomes the
annoying woman, and the neglectful father transforms into the neglectful
asshole. We start to see them not as blood related family members, but as
people. Our minds start to separate the two and we start telling ourselves
“wow… I actually dislike this person for who they really are.” Before, you
had no choice. You lived with all of them your entire life but now that you
have a piece of independence, you can choose who surround yourself
with – not them.

In case you’re wondering, this isn’t really happening to me – not really.
Yes, the lines are getting smaller and smaller each day, and the
personalities have resurfaced like a washed up corpse upon the beach, but
it’s not as bad as I depicted. However, I do feel a shift in my emotions.
Before, I always told myself that I could never move away from California,
let alone the bay area. But now? Now I see myself living freely and happily
in the bustle and haze of New York, or even in a cozy apartment in Japan
as I eat warm Ramen and drink hot tea with my lovely girlfriend (hopefully
fiancee by then.)

Maybe this is just a trait of age, or perhaps I’m becoming a bigger and
bigger asshole. Either way, the concrete pavement that I’m jogging over
is slowing starting to erode, and I’m in dire need of some change. Perhaps
I’ll take that trip to New York, or possibly (and more realistically) my
lovely San Francisco. Whether it happens now or it happens later, I feel
the inevitable steam rolling its way and I can hear that train a’ comin’.
The only thing left to do is cherish the time I have in this city, hug it out,
and open up that little pamphlet of mine.

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Filed under My Life, Revelation, Winter/Fall

It Is Way Too Early For This: I Am NOT A Morning Person

There are two types of working people on this earth: the early-to-risers that zap to the beat of their alarm clock,
and the nocturnal zombies that horde through mazes of internet at night. I am, as with most of the men in my age
group who have access to Call of Duty and XBOX Live, the latter. I am the one who you see posting status
updates at 3:00 A.M in the morning while the foggy glaze over my eyeballs swirls and swirls. However, I’ve
been living a double life for the past month.

I recently sold my car some time ago and to make a very long story short, I am now on-call to help taxi my
oldest sister to work on weekday mornings at 7am. Let me get this straight: though some of you might
consider 7am the hour to be jettin’ out the front door, I see it as the hour to be flying through a mega mall
with a laser beam attached to my biceps while floating hamsters throw rainbow tacos at me. In other words,
I am passed out and lost in another cooky dream.

But not today my friends. Today, I slugged out of bed like a wounded Bubba Gump as I threw on a robe and
looked out the cold and dreary apartment complex.

Who the hell is up at this obscene hour? What tormented soul puts themselves through this crap? I understand
that some individuals must wake up at this time for their job, which I totally understand, but my confusion is
with people who choose to wake up early, as if the freshest and most fragrant part of human life must be picked
clean in the wee hours of 5 a.m.

I‘ve never been drunk thus I’ve never driven while inebriated, but I can imagine that driving while
half-awake is just the same. I loop in and out of consciousness as the swaying of my car rocks me like a baby.
Then there are those momentary dips of darkness where you crawl under a bridge and pop comes the light.
“Solar Flare!”

After I drop off my sister, I take a mental conquest to truly figure out: who gets up at this hour, and why? The
world is perfectly fine in about four more hours! Come back to bed, broski! Snuggle snuggle my little cholo! The
bed is cozy and here, we only sleep on the cool side of the pillow. So lay back, relax, and let the dreams of flying
and lasers begin!

Realistically speaking, I know that some individuals just prefer that time of day. The world can’t function without
these lose– caring and dedicated folks. I mean, who else is gonna pour that cup of coffee at the diner? Denny’s
hasbrowns don’t make themselves ya know! The world needs you early wakers, and they also need us wonderful
night owls. But on the question of “Who is up at this hour?” I found my answer driving up beside me – literally.

In comes Mr. Rich-Asian-Guy driving a $130,000 Black Audi R8.

Whatever… I don’t even like driving fast! :)

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Filed under Blind Fire/Shooting From The Hip, My Life, Out And About, Rants, Winter/Fall

We Survived The 2012 Apocalypse! + The NEW New Years Resolutions!

For as long as I’ve lived, I’ve always been quite the skeptic. Santa Claus? No way. Ghosts? Can’t happen. Spirits
and the after life? I doubt it. Yet for some reason, I always found the concept of the Apocalypse to be quite
intriguing and to some degree, believable. Now hold on a second Mr. Hawking, before you strike out my last
sentence with that piece of virtual chalk, I would like us to enter a world where we believe that the Apocalypse
was actually an imminent truth. Let us slip into a cozy and transport our minds to a time where the world would
actually end on a specific date and time.

Think about it for a minute. If the world were to end at a set time, how would the human race react? Would we all
sit around a garbage can fire, hold hands and cry? What would we do? Who would we hold during those final
moments of existence? A speech teacher once told me that during the attack on 9/11, the civilians who were in the
Twin Towers were faced with two options: die in a slow, giant burning ember, or fall through the sky like a comet.
Sadly, many did choose to jump out. But you know what the interesting thing was? My professor said that when
people were jumping out windows, they looked for the nearest person, held their hand, and jumped together.

Sometimes I think of the rapture because it puts my life into perspective. It forces me to ask myself “if I knew
the world would end, what would matter to me during that last breath of oxygen?” Once you get in that trance
of “wow… what if the world really DID end?” you start to remove all of the tedious things you think you care about.
Stuff like laptops, Call of Duty points, Fendi handbags, and college degrees. Remove them all, keep cutting, and
what do you get?

Clarity.

When you reduce the pot of problems and needs in your life, you’re left with a stock of few things: loved ones,
happiness, and self-fulfillment. That’s really it. Take this bit of info and really apply it to this new year. Stop
creating retarded New Years resolutions which are too often based on your desire to look like a Bowflex
commercial model, and make a meaningful resolution this year.

Hooray for surviving another Apocalypse! Quick, queue the random dancing black man who I saw at Costco!

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Filed under At The Mall, Blind Fire/Shooting From The Hip, Olivia, Out And About, Rants, Winter/Fall

What If I Worked At The Food Court? + My Feelings About Working In Retail

A few weeks ago as I was walking through the food court on my lunch break, a man from the “Japanese”
restaurant was handing out samples of Teriyaki chicken to people passing by. I picked up the piping chunk of
greasy meat and shoved it into my mouth. Just then, a peculiar thought crossed my mind: what would it be
like to work in a food service job? Better yet, what would it be like to work at the local food court?

I wonder what it’s like to be in that position. To work in a place where all you do is one thing, and one thing only:
serve a single type of food, over, and over, and over again. In my mind, the monotony of this type of labor must
kill your brain cells in a slow yet explosive rhythm. I mean come on! How many is too many burger flips before
your go ape shit on your customers whilst chucking frozen patties at their screaming faces.

“Quick! Somebody call the mall police! A crazed Asian man is tossing frozen patties of death at
the children! Paul
Blart, where are you?!”

But maybe it isn’t that bad. Maybe for some, it starts to become so routine that you start doing your job out of
sheer reflex. Maybe the Subway Sandwich artists become so engulfed in the… erm… art?… of making sammiches
that they simply make it without even thinking (or looking?!) On goes auto-pilot mode and zip! Eight hours go
by and you’ve successfully dipped 436 corn dogs, all while curling up inside that corner of your brain where you
go to escape.

I‘m thankful that I have the job that I have, but in some respects… I’m starting to feel that sense of monotony. As
of now, my job is one that rewards me for my ability to sell an already manufactured idea. To me, that’s not good
enough. To me, I want a job where I will be paid to create my own ideas, and my own concepts. I want a job where
my position is of my own, and I am the specialist. I don’t want anyone to tell me how to do it, or why I’m doing it
in the first place. Call me ignorant, or egotistical, or immature, but in my mind and heart, I know how much I’m
worth. I know the capabilities of my brain and the impact that I want to create in this world. My potential is much
too large to fit inside a simple cash register. I cannot, and will not be quantified by numbers, or sales figures.

Call me crazy, but I am one of those lunatics who thinks he can change the world… and I will.

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Filed under At The Mall, Blind Fire/Shooting From The Hip, My Life, Revelation, Winter/Fall

Revelation #1: My Understanding Of The “Real” Meaning Of Photography

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to fully understand the true beauty of photography. Most people (including
myself at one point) get so bogged down by megapixel count, ISO capabilities, and creative filters that we forget
the true purpose of the photograph. The purpose isn’t to take gorgeous, detailed shots with blown out
backgrounds and perfect lighting, nor is it a contest to see who can generate the best, most “liked” image on the
interweb. In it’s purest, most simplified form, photography is a tool used to capture memories.

That is it.

A few weeks ago, Olivia (my girlfriend) and I drove up to Oakland to visit my brother and his boyfriend James’
house. After a hearty meal of corned beef, potatoes and cabbage, they took us to The Alameda, a small island just
ten minutes away from their home. We strolled through the thick cold Northern California breeze, and sipped
teas and peppermint hot chocolates while walking our three little dogs.

During this time, I found myself in one of those “PHOTOGRAPH ALL BEAUTIFUL THINGS!” mode – which I did.
Now, I did get a handful of shots, but in all honesty, some of them were just… okay. None of them blew my
brains out like a loaded double barrel shotgun.

As I sit back in my bed looking at these shots, I wonder: how much did I miss out on by gluing my eyeballs
to that camera? Was I too busy trying to capture memories on camera and not enough time actually
experiencing them myself? I look at these shots and I feel… disconnected. It’s as if I were never even there; as
if I watched Olivia, my brother, and James experience these events while I floated in the air like a wandering
thought.

Thinking about this actually makes me sad…

Looking at this photograph makes me especially gloomy. My girlfriend, the woman I’m deeply in love with, who
is photographed within arms length actually looks lonely. I’m not even holding her hand…

So what can we do to cut down the time in front of the glowing screen and more time experiencing the memories?
Well, for starters, I can tell you that owning a nice point and shoot (like my X10) makes it very convenient to
snap a quick shot without gunning down your subjects with a giant DSLR. The quiet nature of this camera seizes
the photographic moment as swiftly as James Bond’s silenced handgun snips the neck of a Russian terrorist.

However, the final a-ha moment in learning how to reconnect with your subjects is to stop worrying about
perfecting all aspects. Who gives a fuck if your shot is shaky, and grainy, and non-photoshopped? Does it
really matter? Step away from your technical side and shoot from the heart. Shoot because you feel like
you’re stealing a piece of life – not because you want a Facebook thumb up your egotistical ass.

In the end, you will either understand this or not. But one thing is for sure: our ties to technology may have
simplified our lives in ways we never expected, yet at the same time… it has removed us from the experience
of experiencing our life. Our one and only life…

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Filed under Blind Fire/Shooting From The Hip, My Life, Olivia, Out And About, Revelation, Winter/Fall

Kevin Osmond Photography: Winter 2011/2012 Video Shoot (Behind The Scenes)

Why am I so dumb? I can’t believe I forgot to blog about this video. For the shoot,
I actually drove out to San Francisco (an hour drive), spent hours in the studio
doing video, and a couple hours in front of the screen snipping video clips to make
this awesome creation. But hey! Think of it as my present to you. This is the latest
fashion video that I’ve done, and boy oh boy is it swell. So check it out while drinking
hot chocolate, or simply enjoy within the comfort of your empty room while wearing
absolutely nothing at all.

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Filed under Details, Featured Fashionista, Men, Models, Photoshoots, Scenes From, Special, Videos, Winter/Fall, Women

En Vogue (HD Video): The Fashion Video You Didn’t See

This post – the very one that you are reading right now – shouldn’t even exist. As a matter of fact, I’m still
debating about whether or not to hit the publish button. The truth is: sometimes, the work you put it in
doesn’t live up to your expectations. You wanted pearls and gold? Well too bad – you’ve got a handful of rocks.

However, I decided to post the video because I WANT you to see my screw ups. I WANT you to see that
I’ve messed up, and that I’m trying to improve. I WANT to look back at this and think “Good job, idiot –
now make another video, but do it 400 times better!”

While Driving To The Fashion Event, “En Vogue…”

As I was driving to the San Francisco Auditorium, a van made an (illegal) right turn while I was going forward.
Just then, I smashed onto the breaks, and BAM!… Nothing happened to my car, but why did my car made a
thud? As I look down, I see that my camera has smacked against the dashboard. Frantic to see if my equipment
was okay, I noticed that the body had remained untouched (hooray for my 7D!) but the lens was completely
(for lack of a better term) f*cked.

So there you go. I had an hour and a half till showtime, and the only lens I brought was completely busted.
What next? Oh, no biggie! Just walk 3 miles to the nearest camera store and rent a new lens! So off I went,
came back, sweaty as hell, and I still managed to get some pretty good shots.

But it didn’t come as a surprise that, although my borrowed lens was nice (50mm 1.4), it did not feel right. I
wasn’t used to using it, which is why there is a significant amount of camera shake. But alas, here is the video:

**Don’t forget to watch it in HD (720p)!**

You see… I wasn’t planning on posting the video because personally, I found a lot of screw ups in the
editing and shooting of the video. I mean, it’s still a good video, but it’s definitely “C” quality work. And as all
of you know, an Asian can NOT have a C!

In the end, what really pushed me to not post this video was not myself, but actually, the people around me.
Sometimes, no matter how much work you put into things, the people you work for just won’t appreciate it.
They’re the types that value quantity over quality, and in the end, you’re just another brick in their one toned
wall.

But no worries! I have bigger and better things to come. Till then, happy shooting :)

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Filed under Fashion Shows, Rants, Scenes From, Videos, Winter/Fall, Women