Summer 2021

My vision board. I probably will make some changes.

My plans for the summer. I just finished Spring semester at my college. I have a few more things lined up to accomplish this summer. I have to finish two more college classes, Introduction to Chemistry and Intermediate Spanish II. I want to practice watercolor consistently. I signed up for a sprint triathlon. These are my three objectives for the summer.

This would be my official last semester at Lonestar College. All I need is this chemistry class to receive an Associate’s degree. Science is not one of my strengths. I had to withdraw from chemistry in the Fall 2020 because my grades were so bad. I would like to blame the teacher or the online teaching format, but that’s nonsense. It was my fault for not putting the sufficient effort for the material. I want to be more accountable for my life and the things that happen as a result. Is this what becoming an adult means? I will do my best with the time I have. I will tell you my grade when I finish.

The second section of my summer semester is Intermediate Spanish II. Recently I was thinking of taking a break from Spanish and study another language. Although, I am not comfortable in my current level. I can travel, order, have conversations, even follow shows and movies with subtitles. I would say my level is good enough. If I’m tough on myself, which I am. I have a below average to mediocre level. I wonder if I ever will be satisfied with my Spanish level? Is there an end game with language learning or does it turn into maintenance of learned languages? Regardless of these questions. I am going to keep going. Would you rather speak 3 languages at a basic level or one foreign language at a high level? I choose the latter. The depth over breadth argument. This is a side of language learning that a autodidact beginner never really encounters until they are fully invested in their target language.

Watercolor. I always loved the feeling of the medium. Something about the freshness of how the paint and dried water mixed, which made it beautiful. If I want to get better at something I have to practice, especially without a teacher. My plan is to study the art form. So far, this is what I have discovered for me. 1. Proficient drawing skill is vital 2. I must consider composition. This means I have to frame the picture within a square that is pleasing to the eye. 3. A pencil outline is necessary for beginners. (I hate this part, it takes too much time.) I would like to post my research on this blog. I have so much more to say on this subject.

On my vision board I have a square for a triathlon. I was going to give it up. Then I thought about it. I didn’t even try. I didn’t even attempt it. Why kind of person doesn’t even attempt something to set out to do? So I’m going to do a Triathelon on July 25, 2021. I have to train, which is the hardest part. The consistency of training is the difficult. As I write this, I have less than a 30 days to prepare.

I will give everyone an update on my progress with my objectives when the summer is over. I’ll let you know my grade, and my strategies for chemistry. How I my Spanish level is doing. Once I complete my triathleon, I will give my review.

Some of the art I did from the last few months.

Thank you.

Hello, again.

Here is a caricature from one of my favorite artist. Kosuke Miyagi. Follow him @kosukemiyagi

It’s been awhile. I have seasons or moods when I blog. But really, I should continue to write and create regardless of my mood or location. The world has really gone to another place since the beginning of this year. I choose not to write or comment too much about my situation, much less the current events of the world. Really I need to write/create for my own piece of mind. Even if it is wrong. Most of the time I take in the news and it just depresses me. There’s no place to put my opinions, frustrations or thoughts.

My plans were derailed this summer, like most people. I was planning to travel to Europe with the money I earned from Spring Break. The lock down happened during that time. So that money never came. So I’m here in Texas for the summer. Which I would rather not be, but I have to adjust and adept. Like Jocko Willink would say, “good”. I gained about 10 pounds since quarantine started. I made a plan to get in shape.

So what will I do for the rest of the summer. I have some classes on Udemy, an educational website, that I will start for a head start on the classes I will take in the Fall. Statistics, Chemistry, and Psychology. This is a strategy, I think I need to take. I have hypothesis that I am not naturally good at school. I have a concept in my mind that I have to catch up, and I’m not as quick as other students. It could be mental flaw, but what negative can come from getting an introduction to one of my future classes. Besides a bit of money and time, I will have a basic understanding of each subject I undertake with Udemy, which will further prepare me for the Fall Semester. Which brings to an important college question. Are you taking the class to learn? Or are you taking the class as a requirement and your goal is to pass?

I am the kind of person where I want my cake and I want to eat it too. Also as an education major, I would be a bad teacher if I wasn’t a good student as well. I want to learn. I have to change my mindset, I have to be curious, and I have to think critical. Especially when analyzing why are these classes necessary? How are these teachers teaching? Are they effective at transferring information? Are they engaging the students? There are so many more questions.

SPANISH

My Spanish was the one thing that improved during the quarantine. Before the quarantine I signed up to Lydia Machova’s Language Mentoring program. I felt so good that I signed up twice. There is so much to learning a language that I actually experienced during this time. You have to put in a lot of hard work when learning a language. Most Youtube polyglots don’t actually show how much consistent work they put in. My second time in the program I wasn’t as consistent with the weekly goals or activities. I had my own goals. I concentrated on reading, comprehesion, and grammar.

What I’m reading now. The Nasty Bits by Anthony Bourdain.

Review of Goals 2019

Here are my goals for 2020.

Let’s review what I did well and what I failed at.

  1. Recover from my ACL Surgery
  2. Pay off debt
  3. Travel and save money
  4. Volunteer more
  5. Spanish Level. Increase.
  6. Draw, Paint and create more
  7. German level B1
  8. Korean Basics
  9. Be stronger
  10. Try Rock climbing
  11. Go to sleep at 10pm, wake up at  430
  12. Buy work truck
  13. Paint watercolor.

My first goal of the year started with recovering from my ACL surgery. My second surgery on the same knee. January of 2019, I had surgery. I spent the next 3-4 months walking with crutches, then with a cane, and now I walk with a limp when it’s cold outside. When I’m fully warmed up I can do most of the things I did before the surgery.  The doctor said I can slowly return to Jiu Jitsu.  Jiu Jitsu brings me so much happiness to me. I will have to start slowly.  I’m very excited about this.

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I also listened to David Goggins’ book, Can’t Hurt Me, and it really motivated me.  I have to search for ways to really push myself outside my comfort zone and grow.  I want to keep growing mentally and physically.

My debt is about the same.  I will have to make a plan and stick to it.

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I traveled to Cuba, Scotland, and Spain. I traveled but I wish I saved more money. Volunteer more.  I volunteered a little bit.  I joined the Houston YangGang.  I volunteered when I could and showed support when Andrew Yang was in Texas.  I volunteered at the Edinburgh Festival. For 2020 I wish to do an activity more consistently.

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I returned to Edinburgh in 2019. It was a great experience. 

Increase my Spanish level. This was my most consistent goal.  I’ve had an italki tutor since March.  I had a lesson every week minus holidays and when I traveled. I also went to Spain to improve my Spanish.

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I really appreciate having a job that I enjoy and co-workers that I get along with.

Did I draw and paint more? I went back to a former occupation of drawing caricatures for tourists.    I miss being around artists.  I miss drawing.  It felt good to make art and make people laugh.  I also want to increase this as well. The next Pancakes and booze I want to put in six pieces.

Improve German B1. I’m shelving this goal. I just don’t have enough motivation.

Korean Basics- I’m shelving this goal. I want to return to Korea and have a better experience.

Be stronger. This goal was very vague. I did become stronger though. I need to get specific with what I want to accomplish.

Rock climb- I’m shelving this as well. I have Jiu Jitsu now.

Adjust my sleep schedule. At times I was good at this. Then I fell off.

Buy work truck. This is a long term goal.

Watercolor more. Yeah I started.

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I want to get better at drawing and water color this year as well. 

 

 

 

Move forward

I’m in this cross roads in life.  I should either get a job or go back to school.  An unalterable fact is that I’m going through physical therapy for my ACL surgery recovery for the next 6 months.  I had to decide fairly quickly so earlier this week I went to my local community college and applied.  It is fairly daunting to go back to school, especially being 34, but if you put all the anxiety behind you everything will work out.  I took a pretest for my basic college skills.  Basic math and pre-alegebra, English reading and English composition.  I did horrible at math and English composition.  I understand that I suck at math, I hated it in school.  But English!? It’s my mother tongue.  I also write constantly in my journal, text, letters, and postcards, but rarely on this blog.  It’s honestly something I avoid trying to be good at, or even average at, because I didn’t need to write well in any of my jobs that I’ve had. (Navy Eval writing doesn’t count.) Regardless of my skills I need to improve on these subjects if I want a better life.  Not just to be good in school or avoid remedial classes.  If that is the result I will accept it.

I bought a cliff notes my review book and I’m going to read some English writing books I had on my book shelf.  My test is in 11 days. I’ll be using this blog to be an experiment of sort for my writing improvement.  I thank everyone and anyone who actually reads my writing, I know I should proofread and organize my thoughts better.  I don’t do it well because I never really was taught how to write a blog.  I usually type in a stream of consciousness way.  The way I usually write letters, postcards, or journal entries. 

I have this feeling that school gives me a new excitement for life.  A new chapter.

 

A year in Texas

I realized that I still auto pay for this domain. I couldeither cancel it or continue blogging. I’m going to continue blogging. Despite not keeping up with this. I’m going to start again. Its one of those new year resolution things.  I want to write more.

I moved to Spring, Texas about a year ago. Before that I was on a 6 month tour around the world.  My year in Texas consisted of going to welding school and training Jiu Jitsu. My Jiu Jitsu knowledge improved but my athleticism decreased, because I became  efficient with my movements. I finished welding school with a base knowledge of pipe fitting. I’m still very green in welding but I have a gig fabricating furniture. When I’m working in the environment it feels good to apply what I learned and use my problem solving skills I learned in school. More on this subject to come. I kept studying Spanish but I feel I didn’t progress very much without italki lessons or consistent speaking practice.  I still have travel debt from that year of travel but I do not regret one second of it. I have 2019 and the rest of my life to pay off that once in a lifetime experience.

A few of my 2019 goals.

-Recover from my ACL Reconstruction surgery. Yes, I tore it again. I will be taking a break from Jiu Jitsu. During my recovery I will still be learning and improving my game.

-Apply the Jim Rohn’s 70-10-10-10 rule. I’ve been lying to myself saying that I know how to handle money.  I really don’t. I have to educate myself on the subject.  It’s something that I must do if I wish to become wealthy.  I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one that can improve the way they handle their finances.

-Volunteer More and donate to 10% to charity. I probably won’t blog too much about this. I think people want to show people that they volunteer instead of actually volunteer. Sort of like being a tourist and taking pictures of cool places.

-Spanish. As soon as I get consistent money I will continue using Italki. I want to read more books in Spanish.

-Make Art. Eventually I’m going to go back to finish art school. I’m older, wiser and a seasoned adult.  I know if I put my mind into something I’m going to do it.  First, I have to create and get my skills up.  I have to build a portfolio and learn to paint in watercolor and acrylic/oil.  My Gi bill expires in 2032.  Expect more art posts.

-Go to sleep early and wake up early. My goal is to go to sleep at 9pm and wake up at 430-500am. The Rock does it, and he accomplishes a lot.

-Blog consistently. Obviously.

That’s it for now.

Moved to Houston, Texas 2018

I moved to Houston, Texas.  What inspired me to move to Texas?  A year ago I said I would come back here.  The people I told that too probably didn’t believe me.  Maybe I didn’t believe myself.  Nonetheless, I actually did move to Texas.  It’s still weird change for me.  It was the only way I can see my life continuing.  My life in the Bay Area was stagnant.  I was living at my parent’s house, working and Jiu Jitsu, no real forward progress in life.  It was nice to spend time with family and see my friends, but something wasn’t right, a little off.  I accrued lots of debt from traveling and working as a line cook or barista wasn’t cutting it.  I thought that I better move and start a career so I can carry on with my life.  The only plan I had was Texas.  I researched the school, GI Bill compatibility, welding career salary, cost of living in Texas, Jiu Jitsu school and support system.

I train at Maven Jiu Jitsu in Spring, Texas.  I met the instructor, James, on Guam while I was stationed there.  I felt the quality of his instruction is unparalleled to what I have seen in my years of Jiu Jitsu training.  He is someone who really thinks deeply about the subject.  I’m excited to learn and understand Jiu Jitsu on different level.  The school has fairly young ranks of white belts and a few blues, but that doesn’t stop the place from being a great gym to train at.  My friend, Kevin, whom I also met while I lived in Guam had moved to Texas to train with James.  My time in Texas will be a life experience that I will never forget.

I enrolled in welding school in Houston, Texas.  My tuition is being funded by my GI bill I earned from my enlistment in the Navy.  I will graduate 9 1/2 months from now as a welding specialist with pipefitting.  I finished my first week.  My day is school, Jiu Jitsu, rinse repeat.  I should explain a little bit more about my life but this will be all for now.

 

Day 80. Seoul, South Korea Again

Seoul is the only place I visited twice on this trip.  That is fortunate because this time my  long time friend Carolina is visiting me.  I was able to spend more time with Yun-Jin too.  Carolina and I hung out with Yun-Jin, Yun-Min, her older sister, and Catherine, Yun-Min’s room mate.  The second experience was just as memorable as the first.  I am thankful to have a guides that know the language and show me around.  The generosity of strangers continue to amaze me on my journey.

Catherine, Yun-Jin, Carolina, and Yun- Min

We went to Incheon to visit Yun-Min and she took us out to eat at a seafood place. It was delicious.  Koreans know how to eat.  Carolina and I asked if this was a special occasion kind of meal.  They said no, this is how they normally eat.  I love that idea.  We went to the beach and looked for oysters.  We also grabbed coffee/ice cream.  Then they showed us the Incheon China Town.  Hearing a little bit of the history of Incheon and Seoul was sobering.  A divided nation that has indefinite time frame of when they will rejoin, if ever.

Fish Ice Cream. Don’t judge the taste by the wrapper.

The next day Carolina and I went to Hongdae and ate American breakfast.  That was what I wanted to eat.  I really enjoy a big breakfast.  There’s a satisfying feeling when I can eat eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns and pancakes.  We went to Lotte world after that.  Lotte world is basically the Korean version of Disneyland. That was what Carolina wanted to do.  It was an interesting experience, they basically compacted an American sized theme park in a mall in the middle of a city.  We ended the night with eating Korean BBQ.

Korean BBQ with Caro

On the last day we went to eat sashimi at the Noryangjin Fish Market.  I would like to say it is a unique experience to eat fresh fish straight from the fish market.  There are many places in the world where this is possible I think.  But this is Seoul.  The experience was one of kind.  We ate an assortment of fish, shrimp and sea urchin(uni). Like most meals I’ve had in Seoul it was accompanied with Soju and beer.  We were stuffed from all that food and decided to walk it off.

Fresh Sashimi for lunch

Yun- Jin took us to her school,  Seoul National University. Carolina and I compared the feeling of being in an American College and Seoul National University.  We were seeing not as much school pride as US schools. You know ever third student you see walking by has a sweatshirt or shirt of their school name. I’m all for school pride but it gets over the top at some schools, i.e. Stanford, Cal.  She showed us her graduate office, where a couple of other master students were working on their thesis.

Yun-Min got us tickets to opening night at Jamyung-go, a Korean Opera.  I have never been to an opera before so it was a first for me.  There was an orchestra, set design and a full cast of costumes.  It played for only three nights. They had English subtitles for me on a screen above the stage.  Carolina speaks Korean say she probably followed along better than me. The story is about a magical drum that warns the city if invaders are approaching and the division of two kingdoms trying to reunite despite the opposition of inside forces.

Like most countries on my trip I say that I will return.  I really mean it for Korea.  I plan on learning Korean and planing my next trip back to Korea after my world tour.  It maybe because of the culture, a certain someone or that I didn’t train Jiu Jitsu there. Either way I had a memorable experience that I wish to have again in Korea. I recommend Korea to everyone.

The church group took a group picture with the leading lady. Jamyung-go

Day 69. Seoul, South Korea Part I

I enjoy stories.  I believe every good story has a great beginning.  The origin of how Yun-Jin and I met has an interesting start.  We met in Spain on the Camino de Santiago.  The first time I met her was in an albergue in Pendueles, Spain. We had just finished dinner and the table started singing songs from the different countries they were from.  There was Germany, Colombia, Poland, and three old Spanish pilgrims recited a dirty song in Spanish.  Then when it was her turn, she beautiful sung a Korean song and won the prize of another carafe of vino tinto.  She, of course, shared the prize with rest of the table.

 

Yun-Jin and I in cool looking ponchos.

We ran into each other the next day on the Camino.  We walked together that day from Pendules to Po, I think.  It was a long day.  But it was full of adventure and learning from each others story and history.  There was scattered rain along the path.  At the end of the day we walked close to 8 hours.  An ice cream truck pulled up to the albergue and we bought ice cream. We enjoyed the fact that the day was finally over, while enjoying our ice cream.  I have heard shared adversity and overcoming it brings people together.  I think that its true because we both recall that day vividly.

 

We ran into each several times, obviously, because we were going to the same place.  I took different paths some days and walked at my own pace.  During the last part of Asturias and all the way to Santiago, we walked together with Thomas, from Germany.  It was mostly just of the three of us.  It was an interesting crew.  Rasmus, a pilgrim from Denmark, said we reminded him of the Harry Potter Crew.  I’ll take that reference.

 

A Korean picnic on top of a mountain.

Fast Forward to seven months later.  I’m on a Jiu Jitsu/ travel world tour.  I choose to stop in Seoul to visit Yun-Jin.  Food, hiking, and adventure were on the itinerary.  It was an amazing experience.  After getting over the initial language barrier and metro system I was able to really take it in the culture.  Especially when you have a guide. It was a busy week of activities and trying new food.

 

Some where in Yeoeuido-Dong.

 

We did many activities while I was there.  I have to summarize a lot of it. We walked around Myeoung-Dong and had ramen at a very old restaurant.  We hiked up a mountain to a Buddhist temple where they fed us lunch for free.  We took a bike ride to Yangsae-Myeon and stopped by a strawberry farm.  There was a night where we just ate chicken, drank beer, soju, and rice wine.  We saw Guardians of the Galaxy 2 in a really fancy theater.  Afterwards we ran into a music festival in Yeouido-Dong.  There were many food trucks and we sat by the river eating poutine and steak while drinking Mojitos. It was a great week. I’m very thankful I had a local guide to take me through the city.

The wall near Dongdaemon.

Currently I’m in Guam.  I will go back to Seoul for three days to finish my time in Asia.  I will reunite with Yun-Jin again and my long time friend Carolina. More to come.

How to get to Seoul:

Incheon International Airport (ICN) Bus 6002 can take you to Hapjeong station for $10,000 KRW.

A “Korean” picture for the memory.

 

Day 60. Valparaiso El Fin.

A month in Valparaiso, Chile.

I spent a month in Valparaiso, Chile.  I did a work exchange at a hostel.  I worked in exchange for a bed and some food.  It was actually a lot easier than I thought, despite everything being in Spanish.  It is said that Chilean Spanish is difficult to understand because they talk to fast and they have different slang.  I got along fine though. Before Chile I spent the prior month backpacking through Peru.  It was too fast for me, a week here and a week there.  I found this gig through, Workaway, check it out. I have another gig in August in Scotland.  It was great to relax and not have to worry about traveling.

 

Cerro Bellavista

Valparaiso is the cultural capital of Chile. There are 42 hills, cerros, in the city. There are many incredible murals all over the city.  It has one of the three homes of famous Chilean Poet, Pablo Neruda. It used to be one of the premier ports in the 1800s.  With the creation of the Panama Canal.  Its stopped receiving as many visitors.  I saw a video that showed the city and immediately I wanted to visit the city.

I don’t know who this artist is but I dig the character style and colors.

Red Bull Valparaiso Abajo

 

Me, Hernan, and Lucas

Who I met.  The first people I met were my co-workers, Hernan.  He was the manager of the hostel.  He was very friendly and welcoming.  I learned a lot about Chilean culture from him.  Lucas, a young Brazilian kid, who is from Sao Paulo.  He is traveling all over South America.  He will be in Chile until July.  Pierre, a French traveler, who is from Marseilles.  He has a travel visa for a year.  He left to travel south after a week I arrived.

Pierre made crepes as his last meal with us.

What I got from the experience. Traveling slow is a much more enjoyable experience.  I was able to spend more time to meet people and learn about their culture and country. One of the traditions at the hostel was to have lunch together with all the workers.  It will be something that I’m going to miss.  I believe breaking bread with strangers is one of the best ways to get to know people. The last lunch I had with Hernan and Lucas, I made Filipino chicken adobo.  I believe knowing how to cook is an essential adult skill.  I’m thankful for living on my own, it helped with my knowledge around the kitchen.

My last lunch with the guys. Food brings people together.

I had a lot of down time to train Jiu Jitsu, read, cook, walk around the city, enjoy a  wine tour and take in the Chilean culture.  I will miss the weather, empanadas, murals, food, wine, and speaking spanish but not the terremotos.  I will go to South Korea for a week.

The view from La Sebastiana.

 

Travel slow.

Day 41. Valparaiso

One of my favorite parts of my stay.  Eating together with my Hostel. 


I finished Christian Graugart’s book this week while working reception at my hostel. One take away from the book is that it’s easy for me to be self conscious of my skills and compare myself to other purple belts around the world. By the end of my trip I will roll with over hundred different strangers from countries all over the world. It’s ridiculous to compare each other. We walk our own Camino, our on path.

Cerro Concepcion.  Looking down.


I have to enjoy to process, the journey.  With the example of the Camino.  The most enjoyable part was the day of walking.  The getting up early and packing your bag.  The walk by yourself or with people.  The evening meals with other pilgrims. Those are my favorite memories.  When I got to Santiago, the final destination. I got this meh feeling.  That’s it. I was just sad that it was over.

“If you’re an asshole when you start out and you’re an asshole when you get back,”- Yvon Chounard.

I spend most mornings going for a walk and exploring the city. I sit at a cafe and I write in my journal.  It’s very meditative.  I enjoy this slow pace of travel.  I’m reading a lot more. I have time to really immerse myself here.

 I trained last Friday at Gracie Jiu Jitsu on Pedro Montt.  Which is the picture above. Samir was the Black Belt. He is very welcoming.  First time back since my URI(Upper Respiratory Infection). I rolled mainly with Nico, a purple belt who is competing in a tournament the next day in Santiago. He submitted me many times, with many different submissions.

Currently reading: The Portrait of Dorian Gray.

I will try to blog every week.