September

#245 Ceviche

01 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I am a huge fan of ceviche. In between the fresh flavor of uncooked fish and the meatiness of cooked fish is cured fish.

The citrus was a bit strong on this one and I would’ve loved to add a bit more jalapeño heat. The fish texture came out great, though. I’m glad the guys at Newman’s recommended going with the snapper.

This also paired up pretty well with my leftover tortillas from yesterday, though some corn tortillas would’ve been nice too.

#246 Eugene Emeralds

02 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Congrats and good luck to the Eugene Emeralds on their playoff run, and a really good season after all. I’m glad we got to make it to a few games this year.

One of our marriage goals was to make it to four different Emeralds games, and we closed out the season with our fourth one. If I had to pick a favorite, I’d go with puppy night against Hillsboro a couple weeks ago.

#247 NEEDTOBREATHE

03 September 2016 // Bend, Oregon

On the unofficial last night of summer, we got to hang out at the park by the river with what felt like the entire city of Bend and watch a few really great bands put on a really great show.

There wasn’t a bad act in the lineup, but NEEDTOBREATHE was the headliner and so they brought some serious oomph with them on stage. I’ve heard from lots of people that they’re good live performers, and those people were right. Lately, I’ve been all about the song Happiness… the lyrics of that chorus telling me I wasn’t made for the simple life… that resonates the way a meaningful song does.

It’s all for you, in my pursuit of happiness.

#248 Sisters

04 September 2016 // Sisters, Oregon

So glad we were able to spend one of our last weekends of the summer in Sisters.

Food plus hikes and mountains plus campfires with roasted s’mores and garlic. Yes.

#249 Labor Day Weekend

05 September 2016 // Sisters, Oregon

Lets talk about this past Labor Day Weekend. Was it the best one of my life? I can’t really remember a past Labor Day off the top of my head, so probably!

We spent it sitting on this patio for hours and sipping chardonnay with coconut custard pie. Also, visiting Bend, camping at Sisters, listening to good music, roasting garlic by campfire, discovering amazing poke at Safeway of all places, and hiking to lakes.

This was a memorable summer. Lots of good. Lots of hard stuff. Lots of learning. It’s been a while since I’ve learned this much about myself. I’m glad we got to give this season a proper sendoff.

#250 Liberty Update

06 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Time to update our friends on one major bucket list item of ours… funding the rescue of a North Korean refugee.

One of our marriage goals is to raise $3,000 to fund the rescue of a refugee from North Korea to get safely out of China and into resettlement in the U.S. or in South Korea. We wanted to do this within our first 1,000 days of being married and we decided to make the year of 2016 our phase one. Raising the first half, or $1,500.

I’m happy to announce that this phase is complete and successful… and it’s all thanks to a ton of our friends and family who have helped contribute to our donation page or attend our various fundraising events that we’ve done. Here are some of the ways we’ve gotten to the amount so far: Everybody who pitched in $15 at our murder mystery party last Halloween, all those who helped give when we ran our half-marathon in May, everyone who paid at our charitable carbo-load the night before, lots of birthday gift donations on my birthday, and setting aside small portions of our paychecks.

Hats off to you! Now it’s time for phase two.

We’re about to launch a new fundraising page for the year ahead and you can see that it’s basically the same goal as last year. $1,500, or the second half of the rescue! We’d love it if you could give us a nice little boost to kick things off, and we’ll be brainstorming some other fun fundraising things we could put together soon.

#251 Beautiful Ruins

07 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“The smaller the space between your desire and what is right, the happier you will be.”

–Jess Walter

Man, I loved this book. It doesn’t end with a pretty bow and leaves room for life to be unexpected and difficult, but it does end with optimism, hope, and redemption, which I wish I could say was true of more books I read. Beautiful is in its title and the book lives up to the adjective.

The storyline jumps… a lot. From Italy to LA to the Pacific Northwest and London. From the sixties to World War 2 to a year or two ago or a script that exists outside of time. The characters are well defined and mostly likable. You wonder how a story can give so much of itself away so early, but still have more places to go as you read on. This book and Homegoing were my two favorite summer reads.

#252 Glenwood with GCF

08 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Maybe it’s the place, maybe it’s the stage of life, but when we first moved up to Eugene, Deanna and I had a much harder time finding community than we expected. There was a lot of meeting people, “we should hang out” exchanging, with nothing ever really happening.

A few years later, we really value the friends we’ve made here and the bonds we’ve formed. We are far more thankful for the community we’ve managed to grow into over time. There are times in life where you meet people right and left and times where that happens way more slowly. Either way, though, you’ll always need people.

#253 Chicken Inasal

09 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Chicken adobo isn’t the only Filipino chicken dish worth knowing. Chicken Inasal is the regional dish of Iloilo, and for a roast chicken recipe, good execution makes all the difference. The meal itself is kind of simple… chargrilled chicken marinated in a blend of spices. The marinade blend is what sets it all apart, though.

The end product should be a flavorful anatto and lemongrass chargrilled chicken. Neither of those two ingredients are very beginner friendly, but their flavors are amazing when used well.

After I plated this, I decided to amp up the chargrilled feature by throwing it under the broiler for a bit. It charred the skin and improved the texture, but the first version was the more photogenic dish.

#254 Hellgate

10 September 2016 // Grants Pass, Oregon

One of the most fun things I’ve done since living in Oregon was going on the Hellgate jetboat ride. I’ve heard so many people who’ve done it talk it up. Rightfully so.

The jet boat goes thirty-six miles down the Rogue River and into Hellgate Canyon. It’s a lovely and scenic ride with the wind in your face and waving hi to all the fishermen.

After reaching Hellgate Canyon, we spun around to a boat-in only restaurant where we got bottomless mimosas, and a pretty full breakfast. Because what better way to wrap up a nice boat ride than with brunch?

Then then Hellgates open. Unfortunately for anyone who overindulged at brunch, the jet boat ride back is a bit more of a thrill ride. The captain steers the boat over as many choppy waters and into as many spins as they can manage. Everyone gets wet. Especially the guy in the first row who was celebrating his 75th birthday.

So much fun.

#255 Inasal Tacos

11 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Sunday afternoons are for no-rules. Alright, there’s one rule. Nothing that feels like work, and just spend time with people or doing inspiring things that birth new ideas and energy.

Today’s inspiration came in the form of Emiril’s Amazon show and looking through the pictures and words in what might be my new favorite cookbook. Oh and a nice can of passionfruit juice.

Feeling pretty inspired after that, I put together my leftover chicken inasal with some spicy papaya salad to make yet another Filipino style taco.

#256 Summerbier

12 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

With summer coming to a close a little too fast, I went to go buy up some of my favorite limited release summer beers before they went away and became impossible to find. Here are my top three from this year, all available in cans.

Oakshire Cucumber Belgian Ale – Not so much of a sour that it turns into a pickle beer, but a perfect mix of everything that’s in its name. It’s a summer afternoon beer, and I prefer not to have it with food, since it’s got an interesting taste of its own.

Anchor Brewing Meyer Lemon Lager – Much like the Cucumber Belgian, this is also a beer that hits the spot after a long day. It’s a mellow lager, which means it can kind of act as an afternoon session. The amount of lemon is just right.

Mazama Brewing Mosaic IPA – Hey, something from Corvalis that I like! And an IPA that I like! This is all kinds of unlikely. The hops that go into this beer are actually pretty flavorful and not bitterly repugnant. This isn’t an exclusive summer release, per se, but that’s when I think it goes best.

#257 Candied Jalapeño Cornbread

13 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I seem to have a little knack for cornbread. I never made it prior to this year, but I’ve gotten some pretty happy feedback each time.

If that’s the case, I thought I should step my game up with candied jalapeño cornbread. Jalapeños plus sugar plus patience.

It was a success! And Deanna made some chili so it was a double win.

#258 Garden City

14 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“We need to learn to embrace our potential and our limitations. Because both of them are signposts, pointing us forward into God’s calling on our life.”

–John Mark Comer

This was a good book to read as I look to re-enter the job market. Job hunting, to be honest, is one of my least favorite things to do.

Garden City offers a broader perspective on the role of work, the role of rest, and the bigger idea of working towards the reinvention of the world. I appreciated so much of this outlook on how as different as one person’s responsibilities might look from another person’s, all are part of the world being restored.

What I appreciated was how this book affirms how all jobs can be potentially significant when it comes to this task. It isn’t just the humanitarian, the political leader, or the child surgeon who gets the privilege of being part of changing the world, but really, almost all jobs and roles play a necessary role.

I’m also challenged by some of this book because I definitely have jack-of-all-trades tendencies, and Garden City explains very well why it’s important to do something well and to be dedicated to it. I’m definitely wired to be an experiencer, but deep down I agree it’s important to hone a skill to develop.

#259 Trivial

15 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Another pretty good trivia night in the bags.

I’m calling shenanigans on the trivia master’s use of Wikipedia for info, though.

#260 That Kinda Day

16 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I know that based on my social media posts, one could easily believe I live a problem free life, driving fancy sports cars and sharing mimosas with my famous rapper friends without a worry or care. It’s a good life, no doubt, but here’s a humble reminder that it isn’t all gold flakes and tiramisu.

I spent most of today trying to put out a fire, helping a client get his urgent email back up and running after some web work got a little out of hand. I was in the office all day until I needed to go pick Deanna up from work and it felt like one thing after another. Unfortunately, this also meant Beignet had to wait on the patio for me to get home for an unusually long time. I took her to the dog park and when I got back I was ready to do absolutely nothing.

It was a long day with lots of surprises I wouldn’t have wanted, but somebody wise once said that once you realize the sets of problems other people face you would gladly accept your own. I think it might’ve been Lil’ Wayne. Sorry I couldn’t take your calls today, pal.

#261 Thor’s Well

17 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This summer went by fast and slow. I saw some really difficult moments within my family but fell in Love with simple weekends with Deanna more and more. I seemed to go somewhere every weekend and yet I felt like I stayed home the entire year. This was the summer that contradicted itself entirely.

It’s over now, and it’ll take a while to get my head around everything that happened in the past few months. I do know that I’ve learned quite a bit about myself. These things will help me make better choices in the upcoming year when life gets a total makeover and when I’ll probably have to make more than one tough decision.

1 – I learned that I place an extremely high value on experiences. It’s really hard for me to be just satisfied with dissecting an idea with textbooks and theories, I need to actually try stuff out and do things. That means I have to find out what endeavors are right for me by trying out a variety of things and discovering what doesn’t work. Knowing that helps me be more patient with myself when it comes to figuring out what I want to do and more gracious with myself when things don’t go right.

2 – Related to that, I have an unusually high amount of energy for doing things and for variety. Doing the same thing all the time sounds like a death trap to me, and it takes zero effort for me to start planning my next idea. It’s been really important for me to learn this so I can be careful not to wear out other people around me, since few people are built with a similar energy. Knowing this has helped me be more compassionate to those closest to me, and has made me conscious that I need outlets for that energy.

3 – I thrive when I’m connected to a cause, when I can use my energy to get other people fired up for something that I sincerely believe matters. Times in my life where I’ve done really well have been when I’ve had a cause pretty centrally positioned in my life– North Korea, kids in South Africa, working at an autism center. I’ve put an incredible amount of effort this decade towards trying to find a role that fits me well that allows me to pour that energy into. That project still isn’t complete, but learning this has helped.

#262 The Fix Up

18 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I’ve come to love cutting back on the things I own. Taking old clothes to be donated. Giving old books away to friends or selling them at Powell’s. I swear to you I didn’t just find out I’m dying. It’s just better in so many ways to own just enough… not more and not less.

I’m sure I’ll always have a few things I’ll accumulate quickly. The bookshelves will replenish themselves soon and it’s hard to say no to a useful kitchen gadget. I’ve spent most of my adulthood so far pretty low-budget, so I turned into an excellent scavenger. Hopefully I can keep up these new habits though for the benefit of other scavengers.

I got to spend a good amount of time today tidying up and I’m quite pleased with the look of our living room.

I don’t know when this change happened but I’ve come to love the look of my space when it’s all cleaned up and neat. Growing up, I was kind of a messy kid. Now, having a house with everything squared away feels weirdly energizing.

#263 Last Week Off

19 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I have this week off, more or less. Some errands and odd jobs and freelance projects to tinker with, but mostly a week off.

Stopping myself from doing too much work this week. I can do this so easily when I start to get spare time. I like to take on a bunch of projects, and sometimes having nothing to do for a week gives my brain too much space to start taking on even more projects.

My goal right now is to not let that happen. Weeks like this don’t come by very often.

#264 GCF Welcome

20 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Spent some time welcoming new grad students onto campus. Here’s some of the things this week making me happy.

I’m loving the show Galavant. I don’t think I’ve laughed that hard at a TV show in a long time.

I love Rover. The Airbnb of pet sitting. We needed to find someone for Beignet this weekend while we’re in Austin. I hope to get myself listed there as a dog walker soon enough!

I loved watching the Marlins play for the first time on Monday since Jose Fernandez’s death. By now a bunch of people have seen headlines and replays of Dee Gordon hitting a home run on the first at bat any one of his teammates took after the tragedy, but watching it in real time was unbelievable. By far the most emotional oomph and heart I’ve ever seen out of a game, personally, and I’m glad I gave this a watch on Monday night. We all could do with some reminders of how human we are.

#265 Jeremy Visits Eugene

21 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

A visit from Jeremy wouldn’t be complete without taking him to get his shots.

#266 Andrew Pham

22 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Heads up, Eugene! If any of you are looking for a piano teacher or if you need somebody to play for you or accompany you at some event, Andrew Pham is your guy!

He and I got to take some headshots together to update his site and they are coming together.

#267 A Tale For The Time Being

23 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

“Life is fleeting. Don’t waste a single moment of your precious life. Wake up now! And now! And now!”

–Ruth Ozeki

This book. I’ve been mesmerized by it since reading it. I’m completely fascinated by the amount of invention in the idea of this book and the amount of vividness in the way it was executed.

Ruth Ozeki essentially wrote herself as a character, interacting with another character she invented. Oftentimes, this book hardly feels like a work or fiction and you genuinely feel like you’re with Ruth, reading the discovered diary of Naoko in Japan. It feels like all this is happening just off of Vancouver Island in real time, as you read, which is quite a feat. There are more magical elements like disappearing pages, alternate futures, ghosts and superpowers, and yet it still feels realer than some biographies I’ve read.

The character voices in this book were so vivid and likeable. There are some horrific moments, but also coming to terms. This book straddles between timelines, fiction and nonfiction, magical realism and naturalism, darkness and light so quickly. Overcoming duality seems to be at the center of these stories and they accomplish their goal. There are some heavy themes in here, but if you like fiction that provokes some thought, I can’t recommend this enough.

#268 Oregon Ducks

24 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

I’ve had the perk of getting Deanna and I into games for fifteen bucks the past couple years, but this will be our last season to take advantage of that.

Unfortunately our five game sample size gives us a losing record.

W vs. Colorado, 2014
W vs. Georgia State, 2015
L vs. Utah, 2015
L vs. Washington State, 2015
L vs. Colorado, 2016

Always leave things better than you found them. I love this idea. Sadly this won’t be the case with Ducks football. We came in during their best season ever.

Anytime Marcus Mariota wants to take a gap year from the NFL for grad school is fine by me.

#269 Joy Worship

25 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Over two years ago, Deanna started telling me that she wanted to get involved with a worship music team. She’d never really done it before, except for a little stint with a college gospel choir. She just felt real strongly that it was something she was being pulled towards. When she told me this we just moved to Eugene and hadn’t even found a church up here yet.

On Sunday she supplied our church’s music team with some female vocals. It was basically Sister Act.

Sometimes, you know that you’re called to do something but then you have to wait a while. Don’t rush, don’t quit. Just stay ready

#270 Grad School: Last Round

26 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Today, I started my very last quarter of grad school. Ever feel restless with your current life? I do.

I wish I could say that I was a little more excited for the term. To be honest, though, I’m feeling pretty ready to be finished with school and ready to be working full time.

I look forward to have a job that involves helping people more directly- not to say you can’t through academics, but that’s so not the way I’m built. Lately, I’ve felt a bit like a bench warmer when hearing people describe their jobs- especially ones where they get to work directly with people. Even when I hear about their really stressful situations, I remember how restless I get with theories and theses and I get a pretty bad case of put-me-in-coach!

At the end of summer, I came super close to ending early to take a job I would have loved and given my all. And it didn’t quite work out, so now I’ve got an anticlimactic feeling going into the term. But I know the reminder I need.

The way to get to where you wanna be starts with giving the present your very best.

I have ten weeks to do as good of a job with my current work as I can possibly do. And even if it’s not an apparent high stakes situation, I’ll have students to help learn about the world… and who knows what any of them might do with that knowledge. These ten weeks are ones I’ll never get back once they’re finished, so I’d better make them count.

Contentment can be a challenge for me, but it’s important to learn. But if I can learn some things about it over the next ten weeks, then it’ll be time unwasted.

#271 Beef Tenderloin with Garlic Horseradish

27 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

This week’s challenge dinner was a little bit labor intensive. Prep took a bit longer than usual. I sacrificed a pepper grinder in the process. And it was all worth it.

These two items paired together beautifully. I don’t know which component I liked better, the tenderloin or the garlic horseradish. Considering that one’s a meat and the other’s a sauce, I guess that says a lot about how well slow roasted garlic and horseradish meld… not that this is any surprise to me. Those are two of my favorite tastes.

I didn’t really nail this dish. I slightly overcooked the tenderloin and reducing the cream for the sauce got really messy. But it was still so satisfying in spite of all its flaws, meaning it’ll be really worthwhile to gain some mastery of it.

#272 Short Haired Dee

28 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Deanna bet on the Ducks this weekend and had to cut her hair all off.

Kidding.

She did cut off about a foot though to donate. Stylish and charitable!

Deanna now looks the way she did when we started dating, and that’s the circle of life pretty much.

#273 Texas Sized Pregame

29 September 2016 // Eugene, Oregon

Leave the dog at the sitter– check.

Pack up more books than you have days on this trip– check.

Phils cap to take care of morning hair– check.

Coffee, coffee, coffee– check.

Just had a fully loaded Thursday and still found some time to pack up the Osprey.

Onwards to Texas, amigos. Got a 2 AM start to the day’s journey!

#274 Marble Falls

30 September 2016 // Marble Falls, Texas

“That scene still haunts me. The explosion and then five minutes. If only I… If only I… and then the capsule hits the water, it’s all over. Then you realize it’s all the same– five minutes, five days, 50 years. It’s all the same, for it’s over before we realize…. It may be the last time… stop, appreciate the blessings you have. ‘If only I could’- you still can, you’ve got today.”

–Rabbi Berger

The New York Times ran a really interesting piece on Rabbi Kenneth Berger this week. The Rabbi gave a Yom Kippur sermon the year of the Challenger Explosion that contained the above quote, reflecting what it would be like to stare at death from five minutes away. Only a few years later, in 1989, the Rabbi and his wife experienced exactly what he preached about, being killed in a plane crash over the Midwest.

Time is a crazy thing. This year I’ve had to say goodbye to two family members who’ve lived very long and full lives, and yet they felt too short. I’ve had to wait and countdown the weeks until grad school is finished, and that feels like forever. And all while this is going on, I’ve got no idea how much time I’ve got left.

Something about life’s brevity and uncertainty gives it so much value, and it gives today so much value. There are nights where it’s tempting to want to go from one errand to the next, connecting the dots into the next day. You’ve only got so much time to do that before you don’t get to anymore. Not with the people around you right now. Not in the place you’re in right now.

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