goodbye arashii!

I’ve decided to shut down! It was an amazingly long run, more than ten years on this blog, but I’m no longer prioritizing documenting life in this digital space and instead have been focusing on, well, just living. I guess it’s been a whirlwind of a ride from xanga to b2blogger and MovableType days and creating my site designs from SCRATCH, to WordPress for the last decade. And now creators and everyone in between are enabled to share more easily via Facebook/Instagram and all types of “social media”…

I think my favorite archive on this site is /photography so I’ll probably just make a shared album instead with my top 10? 50? 100? photos of all time. Send me a note if you want to subscribe!

Otherwise… take your last gander at my contribution of 1s and 0s. It’s been real valuable.

K bye thx!!!!!!

money diaries

Main Occupation: Senior Equipment Engineer
Location: Bay Area, CA
Salary: 125k
Paycheck amount (Monthly): $3200 ($2000 into my partner’s and my joint account)

Monthly Expenses, most split with my partner
Mortgage: $2800 per month
Internet: $80
Utilities (power and water): ~$60
Cell phone: $50 covered by my company
Yoga membership: $150
No car payments or debt.

On most Sundays, I go to the local farmers market for my weekly produce and fruit. I started doing this after moving to the Bay Area a few years ago, and am addicted. I rarely get produce from a supermarket anymore. Today, I bought a half flat of strawberries (finally back in season!) for $22 (from hands down the best strawberry stand), 18oz of blueberries for $14 (finally back in season!), one bunch of asparagus for $4.50, brown mushrooms for $4 (priced at $4.75/lb, I think $1/lb more than the whites, but I think they have more flavor), 2 small heads of cauliflower for $2 (75c/lb at the “sort-outs” bins), one bunch of kale for $2, 3 small Haas avocados for $4 ($4.75/lb), and one onion for 50c.

After my partner and I dropped off our groceries at home, we drove to Monterey for a friend’s wedding. We went early so we could hang out in the area – happily found free parking near Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch. Paid $18 for clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl, plus an extra 16oz chowder in a cup, plus one slide of garlic bread. The garlic bread was untasty and a waste of $1. After lunch we drove to Cannery Row (the wedding venue). Parked with the hotel valet ($10 for the entire evening, discounted for the wedding). We gave $150 for the wedding gift. The open bar drinks were sub-par, so a few friends and I went to the hotel bar for drinks. I paid for the second round – $51 with tip for 3 of us. At the end of the night we brought home one of the giant centerpieces home (probably worth $100!+, plus a vase).

Day total: $318

Went to Costco to fill up my gas tank. I drive a Honda Civic for economical reasons, and Costco gas is typically 20c cheaper than anywhere else. Well worth the membership! It was $3.79/gal for 11 gallons. I also dropped my car off at the Tire center for a flat tire repair. Since I bought my tires from Costco last year, the repair was free. While waiting for my Lift back to work, I bought an aรงai bowl and churro from the Costco food court ($6). The Lyft back to work was $9, and since I paid using a commuter card (company sponsorod) I gave a $2 tip. I didn’t eat lunch, but snacked on some “Simply Cheetos White Cheddar Jalapeno” which I got on sale last week from Target for $2.50. I ate a pint of strawberries and a handful of blueberries from the market. Later in the afternoon I took a Lyft back to Costco to pick up the car, another $9+$2 (not my money!). I taught my private yoga client in the evening, who pays me $75 per 75 minute session.

Day total: $72.19 – $75 = -$2.81

I practiced yoga in the Mysore room this morning. Membership at the studio cost me $899 for 6 months, but the studio owner has tacked on a free month because I travel a lot for work. Still, I’m not sure if the price of membership is justified if I only go 3 times a week. I was starving after practice, so I dropped by Noah’s Bagels and got a box for my coworkers for $15.50. I ate two Asiago bagels, my favorite. Apparently bagel boxes are $12 for all of April so I felt bad having not saved $3.50. Oh well. Skipped lunch because I was full of bagels, but had a pint of strawberries for a mid-day snack. After work, I picked up to-go dinner for my group of friends that get take-out and play board games every Tuesday. We got Indian food today -I paid and charged them on Venmo (yay points!). My Chicken Tikka Masala was $7.69, plus $1 for plain naan, plus a free plain naan for checking in on Yelp. After game night, I came home and made a batch of dark chocolate cookies. I used about 1.5 lb of chocolate chips from the bulk Sprouts (~$5/lb maybe?), three organic eggs from Costco ($7.49 for 24). I buy organic Madagascar vanilla extract, raw cane sugar, and non-organic unbleached flour in bulk from Costco, which is hard to price. I used 3 Tbsp Valhrona cocoa powder from Whole foods, which is about $20/lb. I messed up on the cookies so they weren’t up to my standards, and decided to give most of them away at work the next day.

Day total: $38.59

Ate 1 pint of strawberries and a handful of blueberries for breakfast. After a 5 hour training class at work, I ate in the work cafeteria, which is a rare occurence. Everything is priced per pound. I spent $5.69 on some pineapple fried rice, fried tofu, and chicken. After lunch I went to a secret break room that I know has free cereal and brought a bowl of off-brand Froot Loops back to my desk for snacking the rest of the day. After work, I taught my weekly public yoga class, for which I get paid $45 for a 75 minute class. I got home starving (as usual) so dinner was a pack of dried Chinese noodles (8 pack for $4), with some kale, mushrooms, asparagus, and seasoned bean curd (1/6 of a pack that was $5). People keep borrowing my yoga mats, so I decide to buy 2 more Jade mats (where I get a 40% discount for $85.47.

Day total: $92.41 – $45 = -$47.41

I had some chocolate cookies for breakfast. Mid-morning snack was some of those healthy cheetos, about 1/6 of the ($2.50) bag. Lunch was cauliflower rice, asparagus, and a small piece of smoked salmon that a coworker made and gifted to me a few months ago. I had the munchies in the afternoon, so I bought a bag of off-brand gummy worms for $1.94 in the company snack store, which is always a rip-off. They weren’t tasty because I’m used to Haribo, so I gave them to my coworker. Won’t ever buy those again. I started my period earlier this week, and I use a Divacup ($25) for convenience and to reduce waste. I taught my private Yoga client in the evening, who pays me $75 per 75 minute session. Starving as usual when I get home, so I wolf down about 1/2 cup of leftover brown rice, six microwaved frozen breakfast sausages I found in the freezer, and one fried egg ($3?). Dessert was about 1/5 carton of green tea Haagen Dazs, which we only ever buy on sale for $3.50 each.

Day total: $31.94 – $75 = -$43.06

Went to Mysore practice in the morning. On Fridays, we socialize a bit over snacks and chai. I left a few chocolate cookies in exchange for a thermos of chai, since I have to leave quickly for a dentist appointment. Dentist appointment semi-annual check up is free because of my company sponsored dental plan. Dropped by Kaiser afterwards to get bloodwork done, which I requested from my doctor. Preventative checks are free under my plan. I didn’t feel like working after I got into the office so I went out for lunch with a friend – we went to a popular new Hainan chicken place, “Chicken Meets Rice” and I got a $12.95 bowl. My friend paid for me because I was late, so I Venmo’ed him back. I forgot tax, but ignored it. In the afternoon, I ate some more pseudo-healthy Cheetos (still the same $2.50 bag). After work, my partner and I decided to get Japanese food for dinner – we spent about $88 after tax and tip: “splurged” on $5.50 amberjack and $12 uni sushi, $13.95 sashimi platter, $14.95 clam udon, $23.95 fried fish combo plate. We ate all of it which impressed both of us. Went home and slept at 9:30 because I was pooped and so full.

Day total: $100.95

I subbed for a public yoga class in the morning ($45 for a 60 minute class). Afterwards, I spend the day with my extended family to celebrate my mom’s birthday. A lot of free eating ensued for breakfast: half of a stale chocolate cookie from Dahlia’s Bakery in Seattle, 1.5 cronuts from Palo Alto Happy Donuts, 1 homemade tea egg. We moved on to lunch at Alexander’s Steakhouse, where my parents booked a private room for our large family party. They chose a $70 per person set menu, from which I ordered filet mignon. In addition to the set menu I got 2 gin and tonics, because why not? They had St George gin so I decided to treat myself. After lunch, we had 5 kinds of cake: one included in the set menu, then a burnt almond cake from La Patisserie (which didn’t seem as good as usual), a princess cake from La Patisserie, and a small opera cake and mousse from Alexander’s Patisserie. Skipped dinner and ran errands instead. I returned a pair of Rag and Bone booties that I bought from Nordstrom Rack because they gave me blisters. The cashier made a fuss because they were worn, but still issued the return for me for $155 back. I dropped by a local Thai massage place, where I paid $400 cash for a 6-hour massage package, then redeemed one hour. Went home at 9:30 with extremely sore shoulders and went to bed.

Day total: $400 – $200 = $200

Weekly total $$ spent:


Wedding ceremony and reception all done!! I thought it was a nice, simple wwedding. Relaxing and fun. Under budget! Stan asked me what my three tips for planning a wedding were. They are, 1. Prioritize yourself, 2. Will you remember it in 5 years? and 3. Don’t procrastinate.

Pics later! Honeymoon first ๐Ÿ˜‰

cloud’s rest

Omg apparently I am just going to be perpetually 1-2 months behind on documenting my life. But still worth it!!!

A group of us hiked Cloud’s Rest about a month ago. We found an Airbnb near Groveland and drove over on Friday afternoon after work. Arrived around 10pm, and ktfo’d. Woke up early (4:30am!!) to get to the trailhead at around 7am.

Something we were mentally prepared for but didn’t know the scope of, was the water crossing at the beginning of the hike. During the dryer days of the year, there are stones that cross a shallow lake. But after the heavy snowfall and rains, water level was still high in July. We hiked up our pants, held our bags over our head, and crossed. It was a pretty short crossing, only about 3-4 minutes, but the water was freezing cold!!!! I wore quick-dry shorts, and the water went to my hips. It was pretty fun, and a new experience. I found that my Merrill barefoot shoes do great in the water, and dry very quickly.

Basically, the entire hike was an ode to loving my shoes.

We all forgot bugspray, so we got annihilated by mosquitoes for the first and last few hours of the hike at lower elevation.

Because of the snow, we lost access to the trail a lot – much much help from GPS watches got us close to the route, though for a few miles we were just randomly trudging our way through pine groves on snowbanks. Pretty fun, and different than what I’m used to. The altitude put the hike on a whole other level of difficulty; it was completely unexpected for me. I’d take a medium-pace up a medium-hill that felt totally normal for my body, and then all of a sudden I’d be breathing really heavily and needing a break. Most of us were also nursing slight headaches the entire day as well.

We finished around 5pm, which was much, much longer than the expected time from Internet research. We had a lot of delays from the water crossing, plus a lot of breaks from being tired, plus the large group took multiple breaks a lot. We spent about 30 min-an hour at the top, where the sun was bright, no bugs, and a 360 view of Yosemite Valley.

Overall, it was quite fun! I think it’d be more enjoyable in the late summer, since most of it is shady. I’d definitely like to train for more at-altitude hikes though!

hawaii (jan 2017)

I forgot to post about Hawaii! And you know, if I don’t write about it, I’ll completely forget it ever happened ._. Photos are here!

We spent $4400 on the 8-night trip. $2000 on flights and car rentals, $1100 on activities like tours and ziplining, $575 on food, $80 on shopping (lol I bought a watch), and $620 on housing. This comes to about $270 per day for 2 of us, including housing but not including transportation. Definitely on the pricy side, but we did do a few expensive tours (stargazing, luau, ziplining).

We flew into Hilo and spent 2 nights there and the Grand Naniloa Hotel (Hilton). Then we drove to Kona for 3 nights, staying at an Airbnb. Then we flew to Honolulu for the last 3 nights of our trip, staying at an Airbnb.

Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 8.03.20 AM
Screen Shot 2017-07-18 at 8.06.46 AMThe time zones are weird in this Google Calendar export, but meh, close enough.

A few things differed from our planned itinerary:
1. We couldn’t find the Upper Waiakeia forest reserve, so we basically drove up a mountain and then back. We did see a few other waterfalls instead, and some lava tunnels.
2. We also skipped the Hot ponds, but I don’t remember if we did something else instead.
3. I didn’t realize that the Keaiwa Heiau State Park to see Pearl Harbor was actually like a 5 mile hike. We didn’t have time for that before lunch and other stuff, so we also skipped that.
4. I think we spent an extra half day at Volcanoes National Park, because we did the hike to the lava-ocean, but I don’t remember when or what it’s called…

Generally, I thought it was a pretty good plan. If anything, a bit too packed, but we were flexible to skip things and take naps. I was pretty tired throughout the trip, because of the very loud birds that woke us up at like 4-5am. If we were to go back to Hawaii, I’d definitely skip Honolulu, and would want to spend some time in Kauai. I really liked the lesser-populated parts of the islands, since it was just so tropical and culturally different. Lol, when we walked from our hotel to food in Hilo, there was absolutely nobody on the roads, and barely any sidewalks. We got some weird looks for being pedestrians.

Volcanoes National park was stunning. It’s such a different type of land. Some advice, which we were given but we ignored, is to access the Ocean from outside the park instead of inside. We came from inside the park, which meant we had a 5+ mile walk/hike through gravel and hardened lava rocks. It was not a great view, mostly just rocks for forever, which got old after the first hour. We heard that if you come from the other side, it’s completely paved, and you can rent bikes to take the path instead. Would do that next time absolutely for sure.

Other highlights: Hawaiian food, delicious and cheap poke, and ziplining. Can’t wait to go back! :)

mission peak… twice

Lol at the pain that accompanied this 2x hike. 2300ft elevation gain each time, so a total of 4600 ft gain and loss in 12 miles. Almost a mile of elevation gain total!!

Started at 7am, got to the peak at 8:15 (75 minutes). Got to the base at 9:45am. Started the second round at 10am, got to the peak at 11:45 (105 minutes). Got back to the base at 1pm. The second round was brutal – though definitely a significant part of the difficulty was a mental block and awareness that we literally had just completed the hike lol. But man, that mountain is steep!

Today is day 3 after the hike, and I’m mostly recovered already. The sorest part of my body was definitely my calves, though i felt it in my glutes and obliques (lol) as well. Full body workout.

Probably our last intense hike before our Yosemite trip in mid July.

black mountain/pg&e trail

~15 miles and 2400ft elevation. Took us 6 hours including a brief lunch break at a non-vista point. Kind of a mediocre hike… quite long, but no sweeping views or anything. I guess I’m not particularly excited about looking down at Cupertino and Alviso lol. The last couple miles were pretty tough, I think I should have had more sugar along the walk, I probably just burnt out. After the hike we went to Slider’s burgers for milkshakes and bison burgers :) deeelicious.

No blisters, but sore ankles, quads, and hamstrings. Next up: double mission peak!

woods trail

I forgot we did this already. It was short, but close by. Dogs allowed, and I found a wild daffodil on the side of the path that I took home with me ๐Ÿ˜‰ Seemed like this is a popular path for trail runners, and maybe a few other paths around? Road was closed so we couldn’t go any further though.