Sunday, March 19, 2017

S/S 2017 | Wardrobe Planning

It's a bit odd to think about spring and summer when there's active snowfall and literal piles of snow and ice from a recent blizzard, but it's about time to think about what I'll be buying for the next few months.

In reality, this post was prompted by a recent shopping trip. I wanted to buy a shirt from Uniqlo, went into Uniqlo, and walked out with that shirt and a dress I hadn't planned for. It is a charcoal grey ponte dress with a flare skirt that is appropriate for clinic and any event where I need to look sharp. But still, it was an impulse purchase.

Summer in Boston is hotter and more humid than summer in the Bay Area. Basically, I am looking for linen garments. Read on for more information.
All from Pinterest, sources spotty. The black one is from Ovate

  1. A linen dress, or two - I prefer dresses for warm weather. It's easy to look good and feel comfortable in a dress. It's a single, simple garment. I tried on some linen dresses last summer and loved the texture and the way the fabric moved. For truly sweltering days, I can only really stand to wear dresses. Here is a collection of dresses I've found on Pinterest, but really, the quest for the perfect linen dress is difficult because (1) there aren't many linen dresses for sale and (2) I am fairly picky when it comes to dresses
  2. Dark red high-neck t-shirt, Uniqlo - I like this color on me and bought this to replace the dark red t-shirt I've demoted to workout gear and the unattainable Red Polo shirt of my youth. I liked the look of the charcoal grey and the light blue versions, but the former was out of stock and the latter looked nice, but I am still afraid of light colors
  3. Dark blue sleeveless linen shirt, Uniqlo - I wanted to get one of these last summer, but was unsure about all the bright colors. Maybe this year will be the year
  4. Drawstring shorts, preferably linen - I bought a pair of black linen shorts last summer and they served me well. I wore them maybe a bit too often so another pair seems like a good
  5. Other - already bought the charcoal ponte dress from Uniqlo; I thought about getting a lightweight jacket for spring, but realized that I will probably just end up wearing my autumn outwear or knits; also, I'll probably need to get some thin no-show socks as well. 
I've been wondering a lot lately about ethical consumption and how my own consumption fits in. I mentioned Uniqlo quite a bit in this post -- I've written a bit about the evils of fast fashion, and yet the majority of my clothes come from Uniqlo and other fast fashion-type companies with questionable ethical code and ecological impact. I tell myself that I actually don't consume a lot, and find reasons for the things that I buy.

At the end of it, I think I have reasonable clothing consumption habits, with plenty of room to improve. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

More thoughts on diary writing

Here is my second post about diary writing. The first one can be found here and concerns the practicality of the habit -- how I do it, with what, and how often.


I knew that this second post was going to be a bit more abstract than the first so I'm not too sure about the format. Thus, a looser structure is indicated.

Reasons why I write in a diary

I touched briefly on why I began writing, but not why I continued to write, and why I will continue to write every day, once a day, ad infinitum. To be honest, I don't have a concrete answer. It's become habit at this point where I feel discomfort in forgetting to write or not writing adequately. Writing at the end of the night unburdens me from the thoughts I've had that day. It's a conveniently private outlet for the daily stresses and emotions, which I feel could otherwise build up to unhealthy levels. At a more basic level, I write every day because memory is unreliable and writing things down helps me keep them.

I also like my penmanship, and use my diaries as a way to indulge myself there. I also recently bought a fountain pen and ink.

It's not journaling

And I get a bit defensive about that, in real life when people find out about this practice and internally when I see blog posts, YouTube videos, think-pieces, Pinterest posts, etc about journaling. It's a bit of an irrational aversion to the term, but I know that others may see these posts here and code my diary writing as journaling.

To me, journaling suggests deeper emotional content and creativity. A lot of journaling fads I've seen on the internet seem juvenile and hokey, but that's just me being judgmental about things that don't concern me.

If anything, I downplay my emotions in my diary and contrive to keep my entries restrained and cold. I can easily dissect my thoughts and emotions on paper, but seldom let emotions themselves guide my writing. Long story short, I still think I have issues expressing myself and being vulnerable in my diary, but that I really could benefit from taking the 'journaling' road of emotional catharsis. But then again, I do get some kind of catharsis after writing.

It's not meditation, either

Until I think about it.

I'm not really a follower of mindfulness or meditation or any number of techniques and products and self-help media that will help me achieve them. However, once I peel back the pretty social media influencer veneer, I see its value. I really think that setting time aside in the day to be alone with your own thoughts is important. Quiet time for reflection and self-awareness, protected time where self-centeredness and selfishness are mandatory.

For some people, meditation is the way to do this. For me, I need to write it down.

How has it helped me?

I don't know exactly. I have been writing in my diary since I was a teenager and don't know any other way of life. Writing about anger and interpersonal issues helps me prevent arguments and confrontations -- by the way, my cardinal sin of choice is, and has always been wrath. I think I'm a more even-keeled and disciplined person for it, but I have no way of telling that.

However, one thing I do know for certain is that daily diary entries help me identify my personality traits and flaws. I know myself fairly well. It's all written there.

I'm not enlightened

That goes without saying. However, I think that people may erroneously think that writing about yourself will make you a better person. I believe that I would not know myself as well or be as comfortable with self-criticism (or take self-criticism too harshly) if I didn't write in my diary, but I don't know if that has had led to distinct changes in my behavior or personality.

The Lord of Three Realms

The blog and the diary fill different niches and serve different purposes. The blog is a more longitudinal view of myself and my interests and was created explicitly to help me become a better, more advanced version of myself. The Lord of Three Realms as an imaginary entity lives at the end of the staircase of self-improvement. LL versions I through XIV may be distinct and show growth, but the daily variations in the writer are too small to appreciate or care about.

The next post

Let's talk about you instead

Friday, March 3, 2017

Preliminary thoughts on West Coast v. East Coast skiing

This title is a lie: I went skiing once last season at Heavenly in Lake Tahoe and once this season at Killington in Vermont. I had gone skiing a few times in my youth, but not nearly enough to have any authority on the sport. However, I like skiing, want to go more often, and have some thoughts on my different experiences at these two sites, and photos to share.

Beware! Garish colors ahead. I was evidently very heavy-handed with VSCO last year. I promise that the real blue of Lake Tahoe looks astonishingly vibrant in person.

Lake Tahoe, California and Nevada

Last year, I went on a week-long trip with some college friends to Lake Tahoe, northern California's favorite retreat for mountain time. The trip was a lot more than just skiing, with lots of bonding time and board games and such, but I spent three days skiing and want to return. My best friend's family lives in South Lake Tahoe, and a trip to their cabin after high school graduation (and numerous short trips to the Sierra Nevada in my life) made me realize that there are no mountains more like "home" to me.

Lake Tahoe itself

The thing about Lake Tahoe is that it is a massive freshwater lake and shining emblem of the American West in and of itself. Though I've shown its frozen shore, it is blue beyond imagination all seasons of the year and a natural draw for locals and tourists.

Hanging around at the frozen shore

Lake Tahoe sits at 6225 ft above sea level in the Sierra Nevada along the California-Nevada border. An essential part of my Lake Tahoe experience is altitude sickness -- childhood asthma, low O2 saturation confirmed by medical school -- shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, light-headedness. Oh yes, and nosebleeds.

Lake Tahoe is generally pretty dry, and not too cold, as my friends in t-shirts indicate. Though this year gave California far too much precipitation, the recent drought forced Tahoe ski resorts to use man-made snow on the slopes.

Looking towards Nevada

Heavenly is a huge resort. It's expensive, it's expansive, and it straddles the border. I started on the bunny slopes on the Nevada side, played around on the blue intermediate slopes, then took the trails to get to the California side.

Looking towards California out of a dirty gondola window

Heavenly base camp sits at 6255 ft above sea level, which is plenty high for me. I reliably get some shade of altitude sickness in Lake Tahoe, which for me presents as an intense, crushing pressure on my chest, difficulty breathing, light-headedness, and misery.

Pygmy trees! And Lake Tahoe, of course

I challenged myself to take the Sky Express lift to the summit at 10040 ft above sea level. The summit left me literally and figuratively breathless, and that peak, with its variety of very long intermediate runs, remains my favorite.

This place is beautiful

Right turn off the lift to get to California; left turn to get to Nevada. The altitude hit me the hardest on an agonizing flat stretch at >10k ft, which I unfortunately needed to suffer through to get back to my friends on the Nevada side.

Weird colors, but I had to play around with editing because the sunset was kind of strange

My friend below in the orange said that one of his first indulgent purchases after entering the workforce (engineering in Silicon Valley) will be a season pass to Heavenly. That won't be realistic for me, but it's a nice dream to keep in mind.

Unlike some of the snow on the slopes, this is the real deal

Killington, Vermont

Okay. I really liked Killington, but not as much as Heavenly. In short, the great thing about Killington is that the summit of its highest mountain, Killington Peak, is 4241 ft, substantially lower than Heavenly base camp at 6255 ft. I had no altitude effect and could happily ski the day away without thinking about how difficult it was to breathe.

It's cold in Vermont

The other thing about Killington is that the snow is all real, the wind is vicious, and the cold is unlike anything I've ever experienced.

The same snowboarder got in the way of both my photos so I had to do some suspicious copypasta to get rid of him

However, I thoroughly enjoyed the mountain, especially since there was fresh powder from a storm the night before. I also felt like I could get more out of the day because I wasn't having any trouble with the altitude and could breathe comfortably.

At the summit of Killington Peak

As fun as Killington was, it was substantially more crowded than I remembered Heavenly to be.

In short, the tough thing about Killington was how cold it was. My phone stopped working because I kept it in a very superficial pocket, but at the hotel, it claimed a high of 12 F and a low of -1 F, not even considering windchill.

A pretty trivial difference: there are no deciduous trees to be found in Heavenly. The transition between evergreen to barren deciduous trees was a good indicator of how far down the mountain I had gone.


All in all, this was a fairly brainless post to write, but I had fun skiing this year and last, saw beautiful mountains, took pictures, and my frost-nipped fingers suffered too much not to put them on the internet.