Reflecting on 2011


Random Observation/Comment #268: Life is not about finding meaning, it’s about making meaning.  Today should be an improvement from yesterday and this year should be the best year of my life.  “Always forward.” Quote of the year.

Last year, I: visited Puerto Rico, Las Vegas, Munich, Schliersee, St Kanzian, Vienna, Barbados, and Russia; started a zipcar rental to do one-day ski/hiking trips; became President of Toastmasters for Credit Suisse; appointed Committee co-chair for Credit Suisse’s photography club; purchased a D5100 and a 35mm F/1.8 prime lens, thus leading to becoming a go-to event photographer for Credit Suisse’s internal events (covering close to 20 now), regular portfolio photographer for friends (modeling or headshots), assumed family photographer during reunions, holidays, and birthdays, and press/event photographer for Guest Of A Guest; started yelping and foodspotting in March 2011 and became a Yelp Elite 2011 within 2 months; wrote 100+ reviews on Yelp and Foodspotted almost 300 dishes; revamped and migrated this blog; completed 3 months of 30-day challenges allowing me to do 55-60 push-ups in a row, stretch to touch the floor, and 350 crunches in a row; reorganized my new room downstairs; created a physical map of all the places I’ve been around the world; started a system for documenting all the random items I’ve collected from events from my life so I can save them in an organized/archived series of clear sleeves and notebooks; went to a cave expedition; saw a Green Moran in a submarine; played at 3 table tennis tournaments and started to get much better from going to Spin almost 4 times a week (love for the BH Tenergy 64 and FH short pips); finished the first 6 chapters of Hylourd comic book – Ryan is up to page 13 in sketches; Became a godfather with my namesake to live onward (which really didn’t take much effort on my part); participated in zombiecon and santacon; played live action Dungeon and Dragon sessions with my Dragonborn Warlord; learned some pigeon Russian; started more side-project ideas for the company, but none of them seem to have all my attention since I’m trying to finish writing this book for her. Oh, yes, and I’m back with her.

2011 was the year where I caught wind of an early quarter-life crisis.  It wasn’t because I had too much free time at work or the work wasn’t challenging enough – it was about giving back to the world and maintaining steady growth.  I spent much of my time re-evaluating my life and finding interesting side projects that would expand my networks and finally bridge the gap of earning some monetary rewards with my hobbies.  Everything revolved around motivation and inspiration.  I wrote when I felt I had something to say and networked when I found some cool events to attend.  As work became more Business-As-Usual, my life pushed forward in strategic development and design.  I studied for exams I didn’t need to take and took on tasks that didn’t even belong on my to-do list.  I drove forward because … why not?

Due to the inspirational uplift from Dana LaMon’s speech, I have adjusted the tradition of my year-end reviews (2010, 2009, 2008) to group my goals, aspirations, and dreams by my Desires.  The Fantasy ones are still going to be separate because they don’t fit under any desire – it’s just cool:


  1. I want to be a good son, brother, friend, partner, and contributor to this world
    1. Goal:  Reconnect with at least 3 people you haven’t spoken with every month.
    2. Goal: Do something nice and out of your convenience for someone
    3. Aspiration: Show love and help where possible.
    4. Aspiration: Meaningfully keep in contact with as many people as possible.
    5. Dream: Live a truthful and honorable life.
    6. Dream: Stay true to all promises made.
  2. I want to influence a community with a product, message, purpose, or even just a comment
    1. Goal: Continue yelping, foodspotting, and restaurant reviewing.
    2. Goal: Maintain blogging at a consistent pace, expanding on subjects such as photography, technology, gadgets, and table tennis.
    3. Goal: Have 50 friends use a photo I have taken of them as their profile picture.
    4. Aspiration: Create a well-known blog that encourages contribution and facilitates meaningful conversations
    5. Dream: Make a living traveling, eating, and writing.
    6. Dream: Share this knowledge from across the world
  3. I want to be more productive with my time and finish more projects that I’ve started
    1. Goal: Finish comic book.
    2. Goal: Finish Love with an Expiration Date.
    3. Goal: Help Happy Palette succeed.
    4. Aspiration: Get an MBA.
    5. Aspiration: Make my first million before I’m 30 years old.
    6. Dream: Only work for DigiWeave.
    7. Dream: Own a house I’ve designed.
  4. I want to be a more effective communicator through telling stories, speaking multiple languages, and conveying ideas/concepts concisely and with gusto
    1. Goal: Earn CC in Toastmasters.
    2. Goal: Learn to write better in Chinese.
    3. Aspiration: Conduct seminars on a particular passionate topic.
    4. Dream: Speak 7 languages (English, Cantonese, Mandarin, German, Japanese, Spanish, and Russian) fluently.
    5. Dream: Give a TED talk.
    6. Dream: Get on the Colbert Report.
    7. Dream: Earn DTM in Toastmasters.
  5. I want to always be healthy and active
    1. Goal: Get six pack abs.
    2. Goal: Reduce alcohol intake to 2 times a week ($3 happy hour at spin doesn’t help).
    3. Aspiration: Beat Edmund in Table Tennis or 2000 TT Rating
    4. Aspiration: Train and compete in a physical type of -athalon
    5. Dream: Live a long and healthy life with all of my health problems resolved and not genetically passed over
  6. I want to understand more about the world
    1. Goal: Speak with old friends from around the world.
    2. Goal: Continue to diversify my food palette.
    3. Goal: Connect with more people around the world through couchsurfing
    4. Aspiration: Travel to at least 50 countries (currently at 21).
    5. Aspiration: Travel to all 7 continents (currently at 3).
    6. Dream: Travel to space.
  7. I want to slow down time in as many ways possible
    1. Goal: Keep diary updated.
    2. Goal: Keep writing about things that matter.
    3. Goal: Keep telling stories so they can be told again.
    4. Aspiration: Learn a photographic memory.
    5. Aspiration: Publish a book about my life.
    6. Dream: Look back to any point in time and smile.
    7. Dream: Live without regrets.
    8. Dream: Live forever through the legacy you leave behind.

Fantasies: (All new sorts of ridiculousness from the last year)

  1. Defeat Voldemort in a face-off dual of wands and magic
  2. Win the Quiddich world cup
  3. Be a member of the Avengers or the Justice League
  4. “Lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster”
  5. Be the lone sniper with unlimited ammo and food during a zombie apocalypse
  6. Be a protector of the universe for the Green Lantern Corps and form anything with my imagination
  7. As the God of Thunder, I wield a large hammer
  8. Have a 4-digit IQ from a drug that opens your mind and makes all possibilities limitless
  9. Dream within a dream within a dream to live out my life becoming its own architect
  10. Make noodles for a living, but then become the chosen dragon warrior kung fu panda
  11. Fight through the 7 evil exes to be with the girl of my dreams (accompanied by manga/graphic-novel-like effects)

As always, Health and Happiness, my Friends…

~See Lemons Look forward to 2012