24 September 2015

Great Books by Great People

Alright, so I’m in New York, have been for a few weeks, and while there’s lots to cover, let’s start with my timely arrival that enabled me to hit a few book events. All exciting stuff, so see below.

I’ve been following Alex Kleeman’s blog, technicolor.org, since maybe 2002. Like back when blogs were barely a thing. Technicolor was an all-time favorite and I pushed it on as many people as would listen. Alex’s writing was just so amazing (and she was super young), and I knew she would, at some point, be a writer. Fast forward to 2015 and here we are, Alex's debut novel, You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine. I slipped into her reading at Asian American Writer’s Workshop last week and it was like my online life just collapsed in on itself. Kinda wild. Anyway, go read Alex's book, I’m saving it for my airplane ride back to Taipei but you can get started on it today!
I met Dhonielle one night in New York years ago, as she was in town visiting with our mutual friend. Twenty-four hours later we had canvassed the city and stayed up forever, and that set the stage for the first YA writer friend I had! Dhonielle and Sona met while doing their MFAs at the New School and their debut novel just released, Tiny Pretty Things. It’s about three dancers at a Manhattan ballet academy and all the behind-the-scenes drama. Since I was in town, I jetted to the Brooklyn Book Festival to see their panel but it was so jam packed that I couldn’t even get in. Overcapacity!

So I guess I was there in a support capacity, but you know, outside — hanging out with Sona’s husband, Navdeep, also a writer! Regardless, Sona and Dhonielle have a whole slew of things coming out so I’ll have the chance to catch them at other stuff soon. Also, the super duo launched Cake Literary last year, a book development company with a decidedly diverse bent. The world of YA is lily white for the most part, as we know, so it’s kind of amazing to have fellow authors of color who like, get it.

Actually, while I’m here in the YA world, jetting from San Diego to New York meant I missed Cindy Pon’s book launch for her new release, Serpentine. It’s set in the same kingdom of Xia as Silver Phoenix and Fury of the Phoenix and there’s also a follow-up coming!
And finally, yesterday I went to my friend Sam’s book release for her one-woman play, Lydia’s Funeral Video. I saw Sam perform Lydia’s Funeral Video a few years ago in San Francisco, and it’s literally amazing. If that’s possible. I thought last night’s event was actually a performance but as it turned out, it was just the book release. I wish there was a way for you to see Sam do the play, but if the next best thing is the book format, that’ll do.
Basically all this going to book stuff makes me feel like I need to be back in New York. There’s just so much shit to do here, and the people, the people! Of course, I should probably also get back to writing something. Heck, the long discussed project I wrote for Sam’s Kearny Street Workshop class I took in 2009 is still waiting for me to get past the proposal stage. What’s the gestation period for a writing project? Infinity right? So I'm on the right track?

06 September 2015


Listening to: Charli XCX, “Need Ur Luv” and Carly Rae Jepsen “Run Away With Me.” Summer pop struts, one featuring a saxophone. Also, the new Carly Rae album is ridiculous good.
Today’s Surf Report: Scary waves, low standing up to tumble ratio, Jon couldn’t make it past the breakers. Knocked silly multiple times, the end. Generally speaking, when I speak about “surfing,” it is of the web variety. But every once in awhile, usually in August, I take to the outdoors for my surfing.

You grow up in California and don’t surf and people are like shocked. I’m sorry, none of my friends growing up surfed okay? Like literally nobody. Even though we lived so close to the beach. It wasn’t until a summer in our mid-twenties that we got together and started learning. I never got really good, truth to tell, any good at all, but it’s fun to sit out there on a board, the ocean all clear around you, even if nothing is happening.

We always go to 11th street in Del Mar, which involves walking down across train tracks and then down this semi-steep dirt cliff. The first time we went it was scary but now it’s more mundane. It feels cool actually, to walk to a “secret” spot. The good thing about 11th street is that even though the beach is sandwiched between the touristy areas of Torrey Pines and 15th Street, the intimidating access point keeps it unpopulated.

Every day I’ve been checking the surf report and really, I have no idea what “overlapping pair of primary SW-SSW and secondary SSE Southern Hemi swells hold. Meanwhile, small shorter period WSW and SSE tropical swells mix in, along with minimal NW windswell.” Hah, ooookay. All I’m looking for is what the air and water temperatures are. The past couple weeks it’s been high seventies and low seventies, respectively. Having such warm water is pretty glorious. I’ve even been able to consistently catch a few waves this summer, so maybe I'm finally getting the hang out of it! Surfing: Five out of five stars.

What does suck is post nasal drip. Like if you get tossed around a lot, which I did the past two days, your head fills up with seawater and then an hour or two after you exit the beach a waterfall comes out of your nose. No warning, nothing, it just comes right out. It’s not snot or anything gross, just seawater that’s been lodged in your brain. But it’s still quite the experience. Nature’s Neti Pot I guess? Also I got flipped around so much today I gave up after half an hour, went ashore, and then found seaweed in my shorts while eating lunch two hours later. Whoopee.

I don't know how I just saw this right now, orcas chasing a speedboat. I'm so behind it's frightening.

The other thing I’ve been doing besides finally going outdoors — I’m still pasty, just less so — is getting my photo situation fixed up. I remember years ago when some tech people were saying that photo management was going to be the next big thing. And boy were they right! Ever since all the Internet goliaths announced their photo management solutions, I’ve been researching and debating which one(s) to use.

Before I just imported everything into iPhoto, sorted stuff into event and yearly folders, and left it at that. I had some Flickr accounts too, mainly as legacies. My photo collection felt like a nice mix of historical documents and useless fodder, but now with camera phones it's tipped way over into “too many shots of everything” territory.

Yeah, I still pick out the stuff I want to share for my personal moblog but otherwise all those photos just sit on the computer taking up space. And space, and space, and more space! I moved everything off to an external drive last year -- 130 gigs of photos stretching all the way back to high school -- but I knew that was only temporary. Enter iCloud Photo Library. I’d been waiting for a new computer (the old one barely opened that huge of a Photos file) and faster wifi to implement my photo plan. Da-dun, the big day arrived this weekend!

Well, turns out that shoving 57,250 photos to iCloud takes awhile. So the dream continues. In the meantime, here’s my photo solution:
  • Paid $3.99/month for 200 GB to use for iCloud Photo Library
  • Use Google Photos, unlimited setting, for cloud backup
  • Have everything on two externals too, one that goes with me, one that stays at home
I’ve discovered that one backup is not enough. Those in the know suggest two backups of everything, like two offline and two online. So a total of four. That means I’m actually behind. And I thought I was already paranoid. I pretty much believe in having backups for everything, up to and including friends. I mean, the most paranoid billionaire in literature, S. R. Hadden from Contact, essentially made a backup of The Machine so that when it blew up, he had another waiting for Jodie Foster to ride through some wormholes. Pretty genius. So yeah, back that shit up!

Oh, and I started clean with my new laptop. Instead of porting over all my old settings and programs from my Macbook, I started super fresh. New laptop, new life right? It took most of a whole day to get everything right but as I discovered, the most time consuming part was my Mac Mail folders. It’s embarrassing but I generally still rely on offline Mac Mail to do my email organizing. Even though I imported most of the important folders, I know it’s time to take my email habits straight to the Gmail interface. Hello IMAP, good bye POP.

The latter half of this post brought to you from my future android body. Let the cybernetic takeover begin.