10 April 2016

Eat Your Heart Out: TPE Night Markets


If you live a late night lifestyle like I do, Taiwan’s night markets are essential eating for you. Most of them are open until midnight or later and they have all the delicious foods you crave while taking that disco nap. While I didn’t explore every night market in Taipei, I went to a lot of them. Trying to do a must-eat list of any night market is beyond the scope of this post but I wanted to highlight some favorites items. If you’re looking for fancy photos and nice reviews, you’re looking in the wrong place. I was there to eat, eat, eat.

My basic M.O. was to walk along and collect everything I wanted, and then sit down at a soupy noodle place to eat everything. Some of my staple foods at night markets: fried chicken, guava, fried squid, aiyu jelly or grass jelly drink, pan fried dumplings, maybe an egg fried rice if I’m feeling rice-y. And if I’m around any tofu pudding 豆花 I have to get it. I can eat a lot at one sitting, despite appearances. Nothing disappoints me more than when a partner-in-eating takes three bites and then declares that they're stuffed. Really?!

Here's my other post on late night and non-night market foods I liked: TPE Eats. And if you're don't want to read a thing, just check out the Foursquare list I made.

Ningxia Night Market 寧夏夜市
This was my go-to night market for late night dinner or a snack. The main drag is pretty short but filled with delicious foods. While the fried food selection tends to be lacking, there's a little bit of everything here, even if most of the stuff isn't top notch. Still, it's an easy in-and-out option, with a slew of shaved ice and dessert places. Sometimes I would swing by Ningxia right after dinner elsewhere, simply for dessert.
  • Boneless Milkfish @ 李家香無刺虱目魚 : This delicate fish soup is light and delicious. Perfect to wash down all the other stuff you just gorged on.
  • Sesame Peanut Mochi Shaved Ice @ Linji Mochi 林記燒麻糬 : One of my favorite desserts in Taiwan, although when I took friends to it, half of them weren't as enthusiastic. I don't care, this giant mochi ball concoction is a winner.
  • Sweet glutinous balls 湯圓 and sweet tofu : There’s actually two stands right next to each other on the right side of the street, and they serve similar but slightly different items. Pick your poison, as it were.
  • Thai fusion @ 泰味鮮 : It's more like Taiwanese food with Thai flavors, and good for some staple rice and noodle items.
  • Pig liver soup @ Yuan Huan 圓環邊蚵仔煎 : Most people come here for the oyster pancake 蚵仔煎 but I don’t mess with that stuff so I come for the liver soup.
Raohe Night Market 饒河夜市
This is the night market that many people cite as their favorite. The main reason is that it's got a huge selection of food and with just one long street, it's easy to stroll down. Of course, if it's crowded, which Raohe most often is, getting through just one side can be a chore.

Ciyou Temple 慈祐宮 sits at one end of Raohe and is a nice "wow" moment if you're bringing friends. Note: I tend to skip the wait for the famous Fuzhou pepper bun, or hujiao bing 胡椒餅, because the line is always so long. But if you've never tried it you should get it at least once.
  • Okonomiyaki @ Fukushima Yaki 福島屋圓圓燒 : There's two okonomiyaki spots but this one is better. Look for the yellow awning, the two dudes slinging it, and the round portions (as opposed to the square version).
  • Oyster vermicelli @ 百年老店 : There's a lot of rice vermicelli around, of course, and you might be intrigued by the line at the various Ah-Chung Flour Rice Noodle spots. But this tiny stall at Raohe is delicious and I'd recommend getting the oyster vermicelli, the meatball soup, and the rice. [Can't find a link to this place, so not sure if that's the name. Consult the photo.]
Shilin Night Market 士林夜市
The most touristy and biggest night market in Taipei. Shilin is often a shit show. But there's a ton of shopping there, multiple alleys and avenues to explore, and you gotta go just to go. For most of my time in Taipei I avoided Shilin except when friends visited because I didn't love any of the food there.

Then I discovered the best cold noodle place in all of Taipei. Exclamation exclamation! Now, I've had a lot of cold noodle places -- after hours, for lunch, in my dreams -- but this one is seriously the best. Something about their peanut sauce is just way better than the other cold noodle spots. Sure, Shilin is a little far up there but the Jiantan MRT drops you right off at the entrance and shockingly, Uber-ing there is pretty cheap, like NT150 from Zhongxiao Xinsheng.
  • Cold noodles @ 好朋友涼麵 : They only serve cold noodles and egg drop soup but what a combo. This was my last meal in Taipei right before I left. I weep for how late I discovered these noodles. The name means "good friend" and it's very apt. Farewell friend, farewell...

Shida Night Market 師大夜市
For three months I lived right in Shida night market so I’m pretty familiar with it. Even still, there’s a ton of food I haven’t tried there, and even something pretty well-known, like the salted water chicken I didn’t try until my last week in Taiwan. There’s too much stuff to go over in detail but my go-tos were the scallion pancakes (not as good as one in Dongmen, but serviceable), the gua bao 割包, saying hello to the noodle robot, lu wei 燈籠滷味, and the breakfast spot when you go to class at 10AM (or when you come back from Chess at 5AM),… The list goes on. But below are some highlights.

Also, Roboppy has a list of her favorite places to eat in Shida and covers quite a lot of ground, so you should take a look. Actually Robyn is dropping incredible posts about everything Taiwan recently, so go check out all her Favorite Things Taiwan pieces.
Lehua Night Market 樂華夜市
While this night market is quite a bit further away, out to the east by Dingxi MRT in New Taipei, I really like it. For one, it's expansive, with a variety of foods and shops to look at. Also, I've only got one recommendation here, which makes it a super special spot...
  • Thai papaya salad @ 官記泰式涼拌木瓜 : The story goes that this guy used to be a gangster (and I believe it) but is now slinging papaya salad. It's a husband-and-wife team and there's always a huge line because he makes the papaya salad one by one. You'll see why it takes so long once you get there. (Tip: Be careful when ordering because even the mild spicy is crazy hot.) I've only ever had this dish twice but I've gone to Lehua four times to look for it -- it's often closed. This papaya salad is fucking great and I kind of just like watching him make it. Maximum effort for maximum papaya. 
And of course there's a whole bunch of other night markets in Taipei but these were the ones I frequented the most. I went to Tonghua a few times, walked through Datong once, cruised the very traditional Huaxi one, including the weird and sort of scary Snake Alley. When we were very young I remember going to Snake Alley and thinking how cool it was, but now it's basically dilapidated and freaky. Some interesting turtle specimens in the tanks though!

05 April 2016

Eat Your Heart Out: Taiwan

When I first got to Taipei, it was a joy to walk around and randomly find wonderful places to eat. The problem was re-finding a spot. Enter Foursquare/Swarm. I highly recommend downloading both apps and using Swarm to check-in and Foursquare to look for food. While Yelp is in Taiwan now, it's still relatively new and I find a lot of places not on it still.

My entire eating guide for Taiwan is available as a Foursquare list, if you wanna just follow that: Eat Your Heart Out, TPE Edition. As you'll soon realize, fifty-percent of my food consumption is noodles. And here's my other post about favorite night market foods if you wanna take a look.

Late Night Options
While there's always the old standbys for late nights -- 24-hour beef noodle soup, Chinese breakfast joints, 小李子 for congee, cold noodle spots, slurping 7-Eleven instant noodles while sitting on the curb -- I've discovered a few places that are open later than usual and worth the trek. No surprise, Taipei is a night owl's eating paradise.

Also take a look at Thousandth Girl's breakdown of late night eats before you dive into mine because Steph breaks it down pretty accurately. As usual.

  • Chubby noodles @ Gao Jia Silver Needle Noodles 高家莊米苔目 : Open from 7PM till 5AM. There’s basically only five things on the menu here and the standout is the chubby noodles, but you’ll want to order a bit of everything. Note: Seating is outside.
  • Fried fish, plus everything @ 阿財虱目魚肚 : This place doesn’t even open until 10PM, and it stays open till 5AM. I love a variety of things here, from the fried fish to the clam soup, to the fried rice. Mostly it's a nice step up from other late night basic eats. The only downside is that oftentimes there’s a long line.
  • Noodles @ Matsu Noodles 四鄉五島馬祖麵店 : This place is open late, depending on location, and has a variety of noodles plus some fried chicken and nice sides to set things off. Plus there’s a plastic bin of hard boiled eggs right in front, which is the sign of a in-the-know establishment.
  • Seafood congee @ 嘉義鮑魚海產粥 : Now this was a true hidden gem, also another open until 5AM. This place serves individually stewed pots of congee filled with fish, shrimp, oysters, and other assorted seafood. It's a wonderful remedy on a rainy night.
  • Dim sum @ Sweet Dynasty 糖朝 : I don’t mess with much dim sum in Taipei but Sweet Dynasty is open until 2AM and useful as it’s just above Omni night club. Warning: They seem to run out of the popular dishes late at night but if you’re in a pinch for dim sum, this will do.
  • Cold Noodles @ Deluxe Noodle 劉媽媽涼麵 : If you go clubbing in Xinyi then you’ve probably been here. Cold noodles and egg drop soup served outdoors. Open from 10PM until 6AM. Classic. Also, there’s Chen’s noodles 陳家涼麵 nearby, but I hugely prefer this one.
  • Noodles and lu rou fan @ 芝香雞肉飯 : Another post-clubbing staple, this spot is located right across from Taipei City Hall MRT so it's very convenient, and open until 6AM on most nights. Similar rotation of cold noodles, lu rou fan, and egg drop soup.

In General

  • Beef noodle soup @ 濟南牛肉麵 : Everyone has their own favorite beef noodle soup place. This is mine, right by Zhongxiao Xinshen MRT and family run. My grandmother has been going to this place since she was young. The secret's in the broth, which has all kinds of extra complexity over the normal beef noodle soup broth. (Don't confuse this for 七十二牛肉麵 directly across the street.) My usual option B for beef noodle soup, although in a totally different direction, was 林東芳牛肉麵.
  • Yakiniku @ 弍兩日式炭火燒肉 : My Malaysian friend’s parting gift was to introduce me to this cheap Japanese BBQ spot. The decor is worth half a star but the food is delicious and the prices outrageous. There’s an all you can eat NT399 option but we could never even eat enough to get to NT399 so we just ordered plate-by-plate. While they have a lot of things on the menu, after multiple tries we basically just stuck with the beef slices. So freaking cheap and good! This spot is the gift that keeps on giving.
  • Wonton noodles @ 奇福扁食 : Located near the Dongmen MRT, my classmate put me on this and it quickly became a staple restaurant for me. A quick bowl of wonton noodle soup, what's not to love?
  • Sausages @ 紅花大香腸 : The one I frequented was at the entrance of Tongan Night Market and it was the best sausage I’d ever eaten. There are a lot of sausage vendors at the various night markets but this one was just simply above the rim.
  • Octopus noodles @  Tainan Way 臺南味 : I covered this already in my post about slurpy things, but I’ll put it down again because the octopus noodles are just that good. Plus dumplings!
  • Soba @ 2½ Months Soba 二月半 : Also covered in the previous post, and worth repeating.

31 March 2016

Paradise City


In mid-March we took a trip to Boracay, island paradise. Boracay has crystal clear turquoise waters and incredible white sand beaches that stretch for miles. Unlike some other beautiful places, Boracay really does look like its Google images. I’m not a huge beach vacation person -- I live in San Diego -- but Boracay is undoubtedly the finest beach I’ve ever seen.

With that out of the way, I’ll spoil my own review: Don’t go! Yes, Boracay is incredible and warm and lovely, with a wide range of enticing daytime and nighttime activities, but it’s also incredibly overrun with tourists. Like Chinese and Korean tourists. Like bajillions of them. Like there are so many that the street solicitors have been trained to yell at you in Chinese/Korean if you look Chinese/Korean. So if you enjoy getting accosted by people trying to sell you things every twenty feet as you stroll around, by all means, go to Boracay!

I’m not here to do an in-depth review of Boracay, as there are plenty of blogs and websites that can help you do that, but I’m here to jot a few things down. Both to preserve my own memories and to link to in the future when I suggest to friends “Hey, don’t go!” But if you must, here are a selection of enthusiastic reviews to check out, the sweet to my spicy.
Getting There
The easiest way to get to Boracay is to fly into Manila and then grab a local plane to Caticlan. The harder, but much cheaper, way is to fly into Kalibo and then take an hour-and-a-half bus ride to Caticlan (which is what we did, not altogether by choice). If you can afford it, fly into Caticlan and save yourself the headache.

Let’s stop here and address my number one issue with going to Boracay: Flying there sucks. My friends already warned me that flights were regularly delayed and I had planned long layovers in both Manila and Kalibo to insure we would catch our flights. Well, we missed them. Mainly because Air Asia is a piece of shit and delays were six hours on the way in and then a cancelled flight on the way home. Basically I had to repurchase passage on Philippine Air and spend the night at Manila airport. And from what online reviews tell me, Air Asia is notorious for this, and fighting for money back is a long and agonizing process.

Other than the extra twenty-four hours of travel we had to take to get from Taipei to Boracay, it was a breeze! I’d recommend upgrading to a nicer bus if you go from Kalibo to Caticlan, as riding in roomy, and air-conditioned, comfort was only 600 pesos, about thirteen U.S. dollars. Most websites quote prices for super cheap vans, but I’m old and can’t deal with that. Also, be prepared for fees everywhere: the jetty for the ferry, the airport, there’s just fees fees fees.
Where to Stay
The first question to ask yourself about Boracay is if you want to party or not. If you do, staying near Station 2 is probably the best. All the bars are there, the nightlife is there, and it’s hopping at night. If you’d prefer a little luxury and some quiet, the bougie people stay at Station 1. Personally, I preferred to stay at Station 3 because it was both quieter and not that expensive. As it turned out, Station 3 was perfect because the beachfront was way less crowded with people, boats, and lights. While it may be a bit sleepy, the walk to Station 2 is only ten minutes away.

Also, Station 3 is where a lot of the ocean activities take off from, so if you’re gonna do all that stuff, it’s super close. We ended up staying at B Pod Hotel for about $85 a night. I also looked hard at the Current by Astoria, which was slightly more expensive and much bigger (and looked more impressive from the outside). But B Pod was cute and worked out just fine. And again, their beachfront was mostly empty which served me just fine.

For the more offbeat, you could stay on the eastern side of the island, on Bulabog Beach, which houses most of the kitesurfers. I didn’t get to check out this area but it seemed to be a laid back spot. Also, my friends recommended staying at Spider House, which is way up on the north-west side of the island, and overhangs the ocean. It’s beautiful, and looks incredible, but I’m glad we didn’t end up staying there because it’s more remote and it would have been a trek to go to Station 1, much less Station 2/3. Also, while Spider House’s bamboo treehouse look is pretty cool, there wasn’t much to do there. Granted I was just there for an afternoon. But if you want to sit up high and take selfies with the rest of the guests, go for it.
Fun in the Sun
There really are a ton of things to do in Boracay. Well, if you like water. If you don’t, I don’t know why you’re here. All the vendors offer the same things: scuba, kayak, snorkel, glass-bottom boats, banana floats, parasail, island hop, standup paddle, zip lines, ATVs, mermaid swimming, etc. While we initially went there with the idea that we wanted to try a few things — such as the intriguing helmet diving — we ended up just doing two things: renting a private boat and parasailing.

For my money, if you’re with some friends and going to drop 700-800 pesos each on a group island hopping slash snorkeling trip with six to eight people, just shell out the 2,400 pesos ($50) and rent an entire boat. It’s way nicer to have your own space, you feel like Poseidon, and that’s for four or five hours of cruising around. Note: There’s a lot of extras on top of that though, such as entry fees for Crystal Cove if you want to go there, snorkeling fees, rental money for snorkel masks, and even little kids demand money if they give you a hand stepping onto the boat.

After renting a private boat the first day, that’s all we wanted to do, so we ended up doing that twice. The only other thing we did was to go parasailing, which was pretty amazing, even for fifteen minutes. I’m afraid of heights but parasailing is like a dream. It’s not exciting or scary at all, and it’s impossible to keep a smile off your face while you’re basically flying.

I heard there’s awesome cliff diving at Ariel’s Point, but I’m not into jumping off high things so we didn’t go. But a few of my friends said this was their favorite thing to do. Goody for them. Hard pass for me!

Night Life
I wish I knew. Actually, no I don’t. The last thing we wanted to do was to party with slammered tourists. Call me old but if I’m gonna party I’d rather do it elsewhere. If there was a all-night beach party with some Bieber and Taylor, I would have reconsidered, but the only parties we saw were small things on the beach or clubs trying to lure people in. No thanks.

One of the live musicians at dinner did an acoustic cover of "Return to Pooh Corner," which is my number one all time jam, so that was nice. And all the drunk people sure looked like they were enjoying themselves, as I desperately tried to side step away from them.

What to Eat
Hell if I know! The food in Boracay was A-plus disappointing. I went to the Philippines to eat Filipino food but I forgot that we were basically in a resort town so the food was mostly Western. While things weren’t super pricy or anything, the selection was less than inspiring. Basically the highlight for me was eating tosilog and tocino every morning, and other than that the food in Boracay was not happening. Unless you like pizza, of which there was a tremendous selection.

D Mall, located in Station 2, seemed to have a lot of (Asian) restaurants but the much talked about D Mall was basically just a glorified strip mall as far as I was concerned. If I had been inclined to explore more, I would have gone off toward the main road for local eats. We took a few meals at Treehouse Beach Resort's bar, mostly because it was open late.

One spot we did check out, on the recommendation of my friend was D’Talipapa, the fish market. You need to take a tuk tuk to it, maybe a five minute ride, and the market itself isn’t all that large. What D’Talipapa did have is a shit ton of seafood vendors. You could get just about anything, and everything was absolutely fresh. And expensive! I mean, maybe you shell out for lobster back home but I’m (a) not a huge seafood person and (b) not into $70 lobster, so we didn’t buy anything. Aside from purchasing the actual food, you also pay the nearby shops to cook and serve the selections for you. Note, the fishmongers are super aggressive. And they all speak Chinese! Not like just a few simple words here and there, like the vendors by the beach, but pretty complete sentences and phrases. "你想要什麼? 龍蝦? 龍蝦"

The lone culinary highlight was going to Real Coffee and Tea Cafe for their famous calamansi muffins. Not because the muffin was that great, even though it was good, but Real Coffee and Tea was an oasis of calm, overlooking the beach and lofted right above the boardwalk. Nice. In general, let’s just say that after five days in Boracay I hadn’t eaten any lumpia, pansit, or adobo, and I was ready to get the hell out of there for some real food back home.
Overall: A++ beach, C+ everything else
Boracay is beautiful, but the secret is out. Everyone is there already! Not even that, tourists flood there from other parts of Asia and while it may be interesting to see the usually mild mannered Chinese and Korean tourists on spring break, it was not for me. My Filipino and Filipino-American friends all recommended Boracay (altho not unanimously, with some suggestions for Cebu or Puerto Princesa) but I reported back to them with my so-so time. Mainly from all the extra travel I guess.

Also, I just don’t like going to a place where everything is so distinctly for tourists, and all the locals are there to make money off of them/us. It's like you're just defensive all the time as you go everywhere, and I don't enjoy feeling like I have to bargain because it feels sort of terrible to haggle over someone’s livelihood. "Take advantage of me, I’m here to suck away one of your country’s natural jewels, I’ll pay 125% of what you ask!" is sort of my attitude. I guess these type of trips are just not for me. Boracay was a beautiful resort town, and if you want some breathtaking photos to show people back home, it's perfect.

My main pro tip for anyone planning to go is: bring a local! If I had gone with my Filipino friend, who took AMR and George last year, I'm sure my experience would have been very different. So next time I go for the whale sharks. Or maybe I'll just stay home and watch Discovery Channel. Or just re-watch this Blake Lively versus shark trailer for The Shallows over and over again.

04 March 2016

2043

Listening to: Grimes, Art Angels, the entire album. And also watching all her accompanying videos. Start with "Kill V. Maim."

We just wrapped up 12 Monkeys, the TV show on Syfy, now Netflix. In the series, James Cole (as played by Pyro from the X-Men movies) is tasked with stopping a biological apocalypse that dooms the world in 2017. He starts off about thirty years from then starts hopping backwards in an attempt to stop the plague.

At first, I was concerned that the show wouldn’t compare to the movie — which I loved to the point of almost obsession. However, after finishing the first season, I almost like the TV series better. Blasphemy, I know! Sure, there’s no Bruce Willis, or Brad Pitt, or Terry Gilliam’s mad genius around but the extended TV format allows this 12 Monkeys to bring in more characters and sub-plots. Some of the side pieces felt a bit dragged out for no reason and there are currently too many new characters around but by the last three episodes of Season 1, I was already anticipating the start of Season 2 in early April.
"Where are you right now? Somewhere warm? Safe? Next to someone you love? Now what if all that was gone, and the only thing you could do was survive? You would, right? You'd try. You'd do things, horrible things. Until you have that last thing you have left: yourself. But what if you could take it back? All of it. A reset switch. You'd hit it, right? You'd have to. Even if you didn't want to. Because sometimes the choice isn't even yours, it's fate.”
-12 Monkeys Season 1 Finale Review: May the Circle Be Broken-
Back in college I sat around theorizing a lot about what was really happening in 12 Monkeys. The Internet was around then but it wasn’t yet the repository of fan theories so it was left to us lone idiots to puzzle out what had happened. It’s the kind of thing you do in your twenties I guess. “We need to figure out what is happening, and if it makes sense!” A good time travel movie is catnip for anyone trying to prove their intellectual prowess. Sidenote: If you want to get into a serious time travel movie, try Primer by Shane Carruth. The post-movie deep dive can go on forever for that one. All the charts and graphs and explanations, it’s wild.

Non-spoiler spoiler alert for 12 Monkeys, the movie: Basically I thought that no matter what happened, James Cole’s mission would be a success because each successive failure could just be fixed the next time around. I assumed we were just watching one version of Cole’s journey. And if there were a 12 Monkeys sequel or something that he would eventually save the world. Of course, that’s not accounting for the fact that Cole might die or that the time machine could run out of power. Both of those factors means that there aren’t an infinite amount of jumps available to fix things.

And let’s make this entire post monkey-themed. We also recently saw Zootopia, which opened out here before the States. My friend who saw it said simply, “It’s going to be huge.” After watching it, I have to agree. I don’t think I’ve giggled so much through a movie since Cloud With a Chance of Meatballs 2. Zootopia is whodunit set in a world where anthropomorphized mammals rule the earth. Minus the humans. And any primates. At the end of the movie I was just listing animals that weren’t in the movie. Like dogs, and cats. And marsupials. It’s hard to disagree with leaving monkeys and man’s best friend out of the movie — they already get enough shine — but if you’re going to use some more obscure animals like a Fennec fox, why not go all out and use cool mammals like a platypus or something? Anyway, go see Zootopia, it opened bigger than Frozen and if there was a good song attached, it would probably dominant the airwaves too.

Last thing, Vainglory, the iOS game I pushed last year, is still in my daily routine. They recently released a special map and character skins to coincide with Lunar New Year. Included with that was a new character, Ozo, who is basically like the Monkey King-lite, but this version carries around a giant golden ring as a weapon. It’s a dragon ouroboros, which also coincides with the name of my fantasy football team: Hungry Hungry Ouroboros. A big life decision was if I should purchase this Ozo character and fulfill my destiny.

I mean, do you believe in fate or not? Happy Year of the Monkey, I guess.

15 February 2016

The First Day

I used to keep a journal, almost daily. For more than a decade I had a digital journal, locked behind anonymity and passwords. Then, maybe four years ago, I stopped. As with everything, it was a trickle at first, and then I found myself updating life by the quarter: January through March, followed by April through June, etc. Or I'd backdate, and capture the general occurrences, but lose the day to day interactions.

Enter Day One, a Mac and iOS journaling app. My friend Brandon introduced to me late last year and since November I've basically been able to maintain a daily log of events. It's all a part of my efforts to re-enter the writing world. Step one: It doesn't matter what I'm writing as along I'm sitting down at the computer putting some words out. That was my thinking anyway.

Ironically, the only reason I've been able to keep up with Day One is that it's available on my iPhone. Plus, it's pretty. And there's a part of met that likes to not miss a day as the entries pile up. Basically I just log what I did that day, who I saw, anyone I talked to, real boring mundane stuff. But now that I'm back in the habit, I'm hoping to start real journaling again, about feelings and thoughts, and that kind of thing.

Wish me luck. If you're wishing you could keep a journal but could never make it happen, pay the money for Day One. It's worth it and it'll make you feel accomplished at the end of each day. Update: A new version of Day One came out, the oddly named Day One 2. This is a full rebuild, and is half price at $4.99 for iOS and $19.99 for Mac. I've found that the program works best with both pieces, however pricey.

Ideally I'd have separate journals for daily stuff, private life stuff, a creative journal, and a work journal, but that's just too many. I'm gonna try to make more full fledged entries and try to encompass everything in one. Keeping up with your life is a job in and of itself isn't it?

Along with starting to keep a journal again, I've started reading Heidi Julavits' The Folded Clock: A Diary, also a recommend from a friend. I paid a whopping $14.99 for the Kindle version, which was greater than the price of the paperback. So far it's been great and I highly recommend.

02 February 2016

Backwards, Forwards


So there's a new jonyang.org. Or rather, there's a new site that jonyang.org forwards to. Before it used to come here to this very Blogspot, but now it goes to a Tumblr. The basic motivation is that I’m trying to streamline my online presences and I wanted a forward facing site that wasn’t directly my blogger. So yeah, jonyang.org now redirects to jonyangorg.tumblr.com. Note my super cute Chanrio avatar!

Also, no new posts are going up there, but there is a new newsletter available for infrequent updates: jonyangorg Tiny Letter.

I had been hoping to revamp everything and do away with “jayang” altogether, replacing public usernames with the more available and visually appealing “jonyangorg.” But that could require a little too much work since I’ve committed to “jayang(21)” for too many things already. In the past, “jonyangorg” was personal and “jayang” was public but now I’m hoping for “jonyangorg” to be public and “jonwow” to be personal. If all this stuff sounds meaningless to you, you’re probably right, but I’ve seriously devoted lots of thought to this topic recently.

There’s nothing I like better than busy work that results in nothing productive so I may still redo everything to fall along the org and wow naming conventions anyway. Godspeed.

Along with that, I’ve been mildly seriously contemplating a name change. When George went in for her married name change, she was told that her first name actually wasn’t “Georgette.” Shock! Instead our legal names are still our Chinese names and she would have to file to change her first name along with her last. Well, that means I’m not even a “Jonathan” on anything official.

With the association of “George and Jon” likely to be further and further removed from my life, I feel like I have this golden opportunity to rename myself. The power of a memorable can’t be estimated. There is no mistaking “Wait, which Choncy is that?” There’s only one Choncy. That’s I want, unmistakeable identification.

If I’m to make my way in this world, I’ll need a more unique name. Something that will stick with people. Everyone has like five Jons in their life. (Not to mention there’s a L.A. based grocery chain named “JONS.”) In addition, I’m sick of fending off the more Google-able actors, ophthalmologists, kinetic companies, and infrastructure managers that push me down on Internet searches. There are too many “Jon Yangs” in the world and maybe it’ll be easier for me to achieve localized fame if I can just become a different person.

It would still be nice to have some consistency though, so I wanted something that would still start with J and would be unisex. Unhelpful polls of my peers have produced this list: Jorge (haha, um, no), Jamie, Jinx, Justice, or my camp name Juicebox. You should see the eye rolls when I suggest “Jessie.” So far my only preferred option is “Jamie."

A list of famous and relevant Jamies: Lannister, Chung, Foxx, Lee Curtis, King, Lynn Spears.

The bad news is “Jamie Yang” doesn't really get much further up on the uniqname scale. Nor does “Jami Young” or its alternatives. Back to the drawing board I guess. For now I’ll just remain as the same regular person you’ve come to know and love. Name change pending.