30×30 Day 21

On my windy back roads drive home from mountain biking this afternoon, I passed by a couple ladies waving at my car. I stopped to see if they needed help.

“Sorry! We thought you were someone else!”
“All good, I just wanted to make sure you were okay.”
“Aww, thank you so much!” Instant smiles.

It was interesting how many considerations I had to make in what amounted to a second, to decide that stopping to check on them outweighed potential risks.

Related to my ride today, Aaron caught a ride with me to the start location, and packed a cooler of drinks and snacks for me and my friends to enjoy after. It was a wonderful post-ride treat.

This 30 Days is great. Three weeks in and I’m noticing other people’s active contributions.

Elephant Adventure 42: Procrastination

Soo… it took me 2 months to do this “weekly” exercise. Procrastinate much?

In this time, I’ve noticed categories of things I procrastinate on:

  • Open ended tasks, in which there is no right answer. Making slides, writing reviews, having difficult conversations.
  • Selling things. I have an inherent fear of misrepresenting something in the transaction, and don’t enjoy taking people’s money. (That sounds SO weird. What on earth is wrong with me?)
  • Inconsequential things that could be better, but don’t bother me enough. Like dusting. If there’s a bit of dust on something, I can’t see why it matters whether I remove it or not, and I won’t do it until it reaches a point where I’m annoyed.

I was partly joking about procrastinating on this Adventure. I’ve actually been processing it on and off these last two months, and would not have collected the points above in a single week.

The idea that sticks with me the most in the book’s discussion is that if you procrastinate on something, it hangs over your head, and only gets worse with time. Just do it and get it off your back.

Having said that, I understand that an objective understanding of something doesn’t always translate into action. People are complicated.

Elephant Adventure 43: Your Tongue

30×30 Day 20

I stopped by REI this morning for a few things: a return, an exchange, and pickup.

When I arrived at the customer service counter, there were two employees there, working on something. They didn’t seem particularly interested in customer service.

Finally, they wrapped up their various tasks. One of them assumed her position at the register and gave me the next-in-line look. (I was the only person in line.)

Up until this moment, I’d been assessing the situation, had resolved not to jump to any conclusions or take anything personally, and to give them the benefit of the doubt.

I greeted her with a smile. “Good morning!”

I explained all the things I was there for. She was objectively helpful, but I found myself wondering if customer service was the right job for her.

I went off to find my exchange item. When I returned, I kept at it, drawing her into non-transactional conversation with positivity and cheer.

When we finished, I thanked her by name. She had a grin on her face from ear to ear, and before I could wish her a good day, she wished me a great one.

This, I can truly call an active contribution.

I may not be able to change the world in one fell swoop, but I can help make it better, one interaction at a time.

30×30 Day 19

I was last one out at the end of taiko make-up class tonight. I spotted a pair of abandoned socks under a chair. Though I wasn’t sure if they belonged to a classmate, I decided to grab them, knowing it would extra effort to find the owner in a class I don’t normally attend.

Caught up with one of my classmates in the parking lot. Turns out they were his socks. Reunited!

30×30 Day 18

I had a magical 90 minutes free for lunch today. It was beautiful out, and I decided to walk to the local food truck park.

I thought about just taking off. I’m much more comfortable just doing my own thing. But I had teammates in the office, and I thought they might like to have a walk as well.

I invited them to come. They said yes, and recruited more people.

Six of us enjoyed a nice walk, some outdoor time, and a chance to get to know each other better.

Getting over my introversion has been really rewarding.

30×30 Day 17

In my current role, I often find myself with nonstop meetings from the moment I arrive at the office through the end of the workday. It took me a while to adjust to this, context switching every 30-60 minutes and not having any tangible output (code) to show for it.

I’ve since settled in to this new normal. I realize that I contribute not in code, but in making bigger picture connections, mentoring others, and helping us build our team.

I had trouble coming up with my active contribution today, so I looked at my calendar and replayed the day in my head.

  • Went to work early to help work out details for a colleague’s project.
  • Volunteered and showed one of my team members how to do something black box mysterious to them.
  • Helped another team member understand their infrastructure, and how to gather that information.
  • Pitched in with production support to let one of our SREs focus on his project.
  • Mentored a colleague from a different part of the company.

This was all optional. I could have postponed the meeting, not volunteered, not answered in detail, not pitched in, not taken the time to be a mentor.

I could have not done all those things, but we’re stronger as a whole because I did.

30×30 Day 16

At taiko class on Tuesdays we unstack a bunch of chairs for our stuff at the beginning of class. At the end of class, I always help restack them.

Leave no trace.


I’m still trying find an o-daiko position that works for me. How far apart do I stand? How far back do I put my right foot? How much do I arch my back? Not comfortable yet. Far from it.

Some adjustments and reminders from sensei this past Sunday:

  • sink down for power
  • the bachi strike in a semi-open flying V (not parallel like in chu-daiko)
  • my hands are a good several inches from the daiko when the bachi contacts the drum face
  • strike the middle of the drum face or higher

My classmate had a helpful comment during the break. I’m so busy trying to figure out big things like stance and arm motion that I haven’t paid any attention to my wrist. I think a lot about my wrist in chu-daiko; when I move I want everything to flow.

In o-daiko, I’m probably still doing awkward stabby motions. I really have no idea. All I know is, I’m not flowing… yet. I’m super grateful for the feedback.

This week’s class incorporated acoustic modulation by striking different parts of the drum face. Again, this is a lot for me to process. But I get it, and it’s an interesting challenge.

Also, more showy arms! And more yelling. Some of the yelling is part of the piece. There’s also just straight up AHHHHHH!!! because omigosh my arms feel like they’re going to fall off.

Ching Ming

Spring has sprung! Spent a week in Boston visiting my folks post-thaw. I happened to arrive the day after Ching Ming. The next day, we went to pay our respects to my grandfather and great-grandmother.

I do it out of tradition, but really I believe that visiting a grave is for the living, not the dead. It’s a time to remember.

Things I remembered about my great-grandmother:

  • She was gentle.
  • She helped take care of me and my sister for years while my parents worked.
  • She had stylish glasses.
  • She was frugal.
  • She unknowingly stole ice cream from the Scooper Bowl every year, stocking her freezer with “free ice cream from the park” for when my sister and I visited.

In retrospect, I feel bad that I wouldn’t eat some of that ice cream because I was picky. I’m pretty sure she ate the ones I rejected, to avoid wasting food, whether she enjoyed them or not.

Things I remembered about my grandfather:

  • He always greeted us with “hola”.
  • He would study every new toy we showed him to see how it worked.
  • He liked to drink Chinese tea and read the newspaper.
  • He had a yellow canary that he found in the parking lot at work. I can still whistle its song.
  • The time he took me to Boston Common when we first moved to the US. I was afraid to cross the street and he said (in Chinese), “Don’t be afraid, if a car comes I’ll stop it with my foot!” I truly believed that he could.

Dad told us a little more about my grandfather’s (adopted) father on the way back. It wasn’t clear to me where he was born, but he grew up in Peru, and spent most of his life there. According to Dad, he had a Peruvian wife and family in addition to my great-grandmother and grandfather back in Hong Kong.

When he got old, he moved to Hong Kong and lived out the rest of his years with my great-grandmother. Dad says he spoke more Spanish than Chinese. I seem to recall from past stories that he either suffered from dementia or a brain injury. I don’t remember which, and even though I’ve met him, I don’t remember because I was too young.

I learn a little more about my family’s history each time I visit. How much more is there?

30×30 Day 15

Choosing in a moment of annoyance not to complain, because that complaint was not actionable, and would only have added negativity to the world.