End of 2012

This year went by particularly quickly. It is hard to believe that tomorrow begins the still-futuristic-sounding "2013". God...

This year, 2012, I moved to Washington, DC (technically Maryland) to start my first job out of school. On the professional front, I've been learning tons and am still doing my best to catch up on all there is to know. So far, they've been appreciating my work and how I do my work. And after about 11 days of vacation in New York this holiday season, I'm certain 2013 will be ever more exciting and ever more challenging when I return.

On the personal side, I can definitively say that I've continued to develop my world-view. I've strengthened the organization of my thoughts and personal belief system privately and quietly, like any good introvert should. With all the news that 2012 delivered us, whether good or bad, and with all the inane politics that comes from the goings-on of Washington, DC and elsewhere, I've come to realize that there are far more irrational, selfish, and idiotic people out there than I had hoped. Ask me directly if you care to know what I think about other things. Suffice it to say that: (1) people ought to have the freedom to privately do as he/she chooses so long as that does not disrupt or adversely affect the lives of others, and (2) people ought to know how and when to be a good person with a sincere understanding of personal integrity and moral obligation.

While I've always appreciate others' perspectives, this year, I learned not to entertain their bullshit. Back in April of this year, I tweeted, "If people spend as much time thanking and embracing their friends and family as they spend on God, the world would be a better place."


This year, I subscribed to paper delivery of the Washington Post. I created my first (and only) Photo of the Day photobook for the "POTD 2010" project. I visited both the Washington and New York auto shows. I visited countless DC museums, memorials, and landmarks too many times. I purchased a new bike and broke my single-day distance record, which now stands at 48.6 miles. I walked with the goal of 10,000 steps per day, a goal which I met most days this year. I've taken numerous free Amtrak trips to/from Washington and New York at the expense of my credit card award points. I visited Baltimore's Inner Harbor once, never to return again (Baltimore was a particularly bad experience).

I visited Europe for the first time ever, staying at two cities in France--Paris and Bordeaux. (Bordeaux was better.) Sadly, this was also my first (and only) non-Taiwan, international country; I intend to change that soon. I flew on the A380 for the first time and enjoyed a phenomenal economy-class meal on Air France. I twice went up to Ithaca from Washington for my sister's two Cornell graduation ceremonies, with the unofficial one in May and the real one in December. I visited Taylor in Pennsylvania and saw some real-life alpaca! I voted in the 2012 presidential election and in every single local election or ballot issue that was available for me to vote on in Maryland. I began a tutoring job more for the fun than for the supplemental income. I saw the Brooklyn Nets lose in a hilarious defeat against the Boston Celtics at the new Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn on Christmas Day. Etc.

Looking forward, I've got many things lined up for 2013. I'm going to rekindle my hobby of photography. I'm going to take my home-cooking to a whole new level. I'm going to read, and read, and read.

And while I'm not particularly fond of making New Years resolutions, I did come up with one relatively simple one. Don't eat easy, pre-packaged, store-bought foods. Obviously, this will eliminate a lot of junk foods that I cannot recreate on my own, including sodas, all sorts of sweet drinks, candies, macaroni-and-cheese in-a-box, and canned soups. I intend to eat from fresh, raw ingredients as best that's available. Of course, I can already see there'll be exceptions to this rule, including pasta, noodles, bread, and mineral water. But I'll come to it when I come to it.

For 2013, plan for the future, and live in the moment, and not through your cell phone. Happy New Year. I can't wait until 2012 is over. Oh man!

France Day 3: TGV, Bordeaux, St. Emilion

I found happiness in Bordeaux. It's quaint and much more "real" than Paris was for me. The TGV this morning was good but a bit less impressive than I had originally thought, but given that it's a much older high-speed rail system than most others, it was pretty great. It arrived 10 minutes ahead of schedule.

We took a small van tour to St. Emilion. It started with a visit to St. Emilion's catacombs and ended with a Bordeaux wine tasting of 6 reds, 2 whites, and 1 sweet. It was fantastic!

Today's photo shows where we and some of Peter's friends sat down at a café before heading over for dinner.

Quiche and other stuff for lunch. Salmon, foie gras, sweet peppers on bread (not all together) for dinner.

France Day 2: Versailles, Chinatown (First Attempt)

A few observations: I love how the sun doesn't set until 10 pm. And I hate how the trains and trams, etc. lack decent fresh air. It feels like there isn't any ventilation at all! There are several small windows though, but they're definitely inadequate. Finally, I like how fresh orange juice is a big deal here.

Today, we went to the Versailles chateaux and garden. We decided to rent bikes to explore the grounds faster, and it was probably the best decision of this trip so far.

On the way back, we went east to scout out the Parisian Chinatown without much success, missing the actual center streets by a couple of blocks. We will have to try again some time.

After some veal for dinner yesterday in Paris, I had some duck for lunch today in Versailles. I wonder what I should order (or accidentally order) tomorrow. A non-standard meat dish seems to be a trend so far. Let's see if I can keep it up. Fish in Bordeaux tomorrow, perhaps.

We need to wake up ridiculously early tomorrow to catch the TGV to Bordeaux! In retrospect, it might've been a little too early...

Finally, we did some groceries shopping and local food exploring in our local area. Baguette count is now up to 2.

France Day 1: CDG, Métro, Louvre

It took me a bit to figure out how to get out of the airport, but once
I did, the rest of the RER and Métro was easy to figure out. The food
on Air France wasn't more special than any other airline's food. Met a
snobby French couple on the plane; met a nice old American couple from
Florida while in the customs line. The Louvre is overwhelmingly huge,
and the building is gorgeously ornate. Paying a visit to Mona Lisa, as
required... check.

Sebeka Chenin Blanc "Steen" 2009

This week's wine is Sebeka's Chenin Blanc "Steen" 2009 (South Africa).

This is both my first chenin blanc and South African wine outside of class. It was a little too acidic for my taste the first night. But I'm trying it again a day later and I'm liking it a little more. It's noticeably acidic and very crisp. It's a little sweet and has a waxy texture to it. It's a nice citrusy wine. Good with seafood and white meats!

Day One of POTD 2012

I've been playing around in InDesign and working on printing a photobook for Photo of the Day 2010. It's made me regret not doing it for 2011. I plan to get back to working on this on-going project for POTD 2012. If 2010 was any guide, POTD 2012 should be pretty awesome.

Join me!