17 January 2019


I'm usually more excited than stressed for a move, but man this time its the total opposite. Not even thinking about Gus' fried chicken is much help. Also doesn't help that I've made a bunch of logistical mistakes that made life a lot harder (and myself poorer). Annnnnd there's an impending snow storm on the day of my flight "orz

See you later Toronto

09 January 2019


It has not been a good morning. I would've saved myself a lot of trouble if I just contacted my bank to change my address first.

I do feel revived after reading this manga. Too cute, so much feels uwwuuu. It's like a non-otaku version of this.

But here's part 2 of what I've recently made during winter break:

I also made another (canto??) variation of braised beef with potatoes, but alas forgot to take a photo.

08 January 2019

A System ver0

I originally had the intent to create this system in a super design-y way, and write the post like an ESP report. But alas that intention fizzled out. Instead I based version zero on what I knew already worked. Is it a lazy approach? yes. Is it likely to work? I believe so.

I also intended to have the system on a single platform for maximum integration and elegance. But after looking into a couple of platforms / trying to tinker things, it became obvious that it would be too much of a compromise. Since the purpose of each reflection interval (instantaneous, daily, weekly, monthly, and annually) are different, they would be better served by different medium.

Currently, I've chosen:

Trello desktop app for instantaneous reflection (captain's log)
I was really stuck on picking a medium for the captains log because I wanted it to sync between desktop and mobile, while also autofilling the current date/time. I could've followed Malcom (and others) and used workflowy, except I didn't want to spend money on another software that enables a keyboard shortcut to insert the current date/time. After some time of frustration, I realized I'm not micromanaging my day to need to see the timestamp of my logged thoughts, so I threw out the time/date requirement. Picking Trello was purely based on (relative) familiarity with the platform (I'm far from a power-user). The desktop app is quite nice as there is a keyboard shortcut to bring up card-creation, which is seamless enough for me to log thoughts as they come. My captain's log is a list within my "mission control" board. 

Trello for daily morning planning
The second list is "daily priorities". I'll add ~3 items every morning to give some focus to my day.
Typeform for daily reflectional night: 
I chose typeform since its pretty aesthetically pleasing. My questionnaire is H&C themed to be extra motivating :D There's a set of questions, mostly qualitative, about how my day went. The questions I gathered from the daily journals that people recommended in the GCI workshop, along with some YNCN practices. One pitfall, or at least I consider it a pitfall, that I wanted to avoid was excessive quantitative data collection. The advantage of quantitative data is that its easy to automate its processing and analysis, but at the trade-off of a rather restive field of view (arguable I suppose, I could always pick better metrics to track). But more importantly to me, automation is the literal opposite of being mindful, and thus defeats the point of reflecting.

Google Docs for weekly reflections
I'd like for this to be on Typeform as well, but their free plan is limited to 10 questions and the paid plan of $30USD/month is not worth its prettiness. The doc opens with the questions of "what was my most profound experience of this week", again to focus more on the experiential rather than quantitative data. I had a really hard time coming up with good effective questions, and ended up with 3 sections of "how I spent the week", "did I plan this week well", and "looking forward to next week". Who knows if I've actually picked good questions, will reassess after Q1.
Blog post for monthly reflections
Hurray public accountability! Blog posts are also convenient to retrieve for the annual review. Monthly reflections have 2 foci: stoplight progress tracking of goals, and prompting questions about how I spent the month. Also quite unsure about the effectiveness of these questions, but we'll see. My desired outcomes for this is to reassess the relevancy of a) this system, b) my goals, be critical of my progress and then realign my actions as necessary. 

??? for annual reflections
To be honest I haven't thought much about this. There'll be reviewing my performance on this year's goals. Setting & planning for new goals are also definitely a part of it. I also want it to be more of a discussion with other people. I also like to pick a theme for the year. Evidently, this paragraph is much more of free-flowing thoughts. 

To get side tracked even more, I have no clue how good my critical thinking skills are. The instances where I put in explicit effort to be critical in my thinking are my theses, but both of them didn't get much feedback on how critical I was. I got good marks...so that's reassuring but is that really a good measure?

Anyways going to cook dinner instead. 

07 January 2019

resolutions 2019 addendum

Absent from my "formal" resolutions are goals related to by hobbies. I didn't formalize these as much, since they tend to be more enjoyable and I feel it'd be detrimental to have a super formal system in all areas of my life.

  1. Low-buy: 10 new items in 2019, excluding jewelry as its a part of my closet that I'm trying to build up
  2. No fast fashion: attempt #2 at this, the key will be to just not browse their sites & stores
  3. Accurately record wear count: this is crucial data for assessing my purchasing strategy, closet performance and changes in preferences.

Nothing concrete aside from wanting to buy a tripod and L-bracket so I can easily take outfit photos XD I've also been more lazy and haven't been bringing out my camera as much, not sure if I want to do anything about this, since I am still documenting with my phone. 

  1. Set up pumidor and track interior conditions: it did not occur to me that coolers would not be on sale during winter. So will have to wait until I'm back to set this up. 
  2. No more buying pu-er for stashing: I absolutely do not expect my home storage to beat out vendor storage, so until that changes, I will only buy for drink-now pu-er.
  3. Two order in 2019: one will be some oolongs from Floating Leaves, the other will probably be from YS during their black friday. 
  4. Post what I drink more frequently: just a pretty photo and some thoughts, nothing like a review. The point is moreso a journal. 

  1. Ferment food: been putting off kimchi making for years, but let's try again! Also want my vat of sichuan pickles too. Will also finally buy a book on this subject (Sandor's? or maybe Noma?)
  2. Opera cake: and other time consuming pastries. Perhaps on a schedule of a project per two month. Undecided on whether to buy a stand mixer.
  3. Help out with garden at home: every other weekend?
  4. Go to the farmer's market before grocery stores: put my money where my thoughts are to support local agriculture and end up with fresher produce

06 January 2019

resolutions 2019

Here we go, via the GCI workshop:

1. Follow a weekly exercise routine
The resolution I make year after year, but I'm feeling good about following through this time. Will be finding people to keep my accountable (I actually never tell my parents about the times I do exercise because I don't want to get their hopes up and increase their nagging e_e ), blocking time out, and reminding myself with Done.

2. Establish a hair care routine & learn styling techniques
With hormonal acne mostly under control thanks to IUD, my next (and hopefully last) dissatisfaction with my appearance is my haphazard hair. It's relatively healthy (never dyed and only permed years ago) so I've been lazy and just leaving it be. Somedays it naturally looks good, most days not so much. I've already done most of my research on this, so now it remains to just try a bunch of products and practice curling my hair.

3. Improve quality of relationship with friends & family
My internal anguish as a severe introvert is simultaneously not wanting to socialize but wanting close relationships regardless. I do feel happy after hanging out with friends / fam, so really just gotta suck it up and get over my initial dread. I'm setting a monthly target of:

  • Meeting up with 1 in-town friend
  • Calling 1 out-of-town friend
  • Calling a family member every week
4. Increase professional credibility (aka the string of letters after my name on a business card)
This again breaks down into 3 sub-targets:
  • LEED AP certification by July
  • WELL certification by December
  • P.Eng by 2021
For the first two, some actions are to download study guides, block out one afternoon every weekend to study (and also daily quick revisions morning / night), and book the exams. For P.Eng, it's mostly recording my experiences so I can quickly fill out the forms. I'm putting off the ethics test until 2020, as well as actively trying to work on a Passivhaus project to keep my certificate. 

5. Build a diverse professional network
I haven't figured out a good way to maintain professional relationships, or how to follow up with interesting people that I meet at events. Actions for this goal are a) going out to events, focusing on engineering young professional and sustainable building; b) preparing questions / conversation points so to minimize awkward small talk; and c) reaching out to experienced friends on how to nourish existing connections

6. Can cough up a downpayment in 5 years
Here's hoping for a miraculously timed housing bubble crash & quick recovery right after. 
But actually this is just going to be a long grind. First action is set up budget, but am waiting until I'm back in Toronto to start on this. Actually, action zero is negotiate a good offer for when I am back. 

7. Lead a low-waste lifestyle
Currently I don't foresee myself ever hitting pretty-much-zero-waste, as it's just not a priority. But there are definitely low-hanging fruit lifestyle changes that I can implement to significantly reduce the amount of waste (the 20 effort / 80 results part). This is trendy in the lifestyle blogging world right now, so I will dedicate an afternoon to research & brainstorming ideas, and then implement 1 new idea per month. Will report back monthly on progress. 


Using the GCI framework, the above is module 1&2 of goal setting & planning, which frankly is the easy and exciting part for me. The remaining modules 3&4 of executing and reflecting needs a lot more work. One thing I realized through the workshop is that because I consider myself naturally reflective & self aware, I've avoided implementing a formal system to track and review my goals. It's like I'm at a B+ level and never had the desire to get to A+. 

So with my abundant free time until I'm off to Atlanta, I will craft A System to use for the year. Some initial scribbles:

05 January 2019


Okay I get why Jinjunmei is such an expensive red tea now. It is exquisite.

03 January 2019


Things I made in winter break part 1:

Cabbage & mushroom lasagna via Smitten Kitchen: a very hearty dish perfect for wintertime. Full of veggie so it's not total guilty inducing too.

炸酱面 via Amanda. I couldn't get the oil / water separation, but my sauce turned very glossy so I assume the intended effect was achieved. Overall I think it taste good, but I've literally had chinese style 炸酱面 once (in a restaurant beside the great wall, so I have doubts on how good that bowl was) so I have no clue if the taste is on point. The sauce is pretty time consuming to make, so definitely worth making a double portion to keep in the bridge, its very salty so will likely last a long time. Also I think it's worth chopping up pork belly rather than using ground meat, the crisp chunks of meat provide a very satisfying mouth feel.