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A moment of clarity during Mahler’s 9th symphony

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I had an incredible (and unusual) experience tonight at Davies Symphony Hall, where I went to see the San Francisco Symphony play Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 (one of my favorite pieces of orchestral music). I’ve seen it performed live a few times; each time, it’s moved me to tears.

Mahler’s 9th symphony ends in adagio—in the softest of fragmented whimpers—and as the last few notes whispered into existence, I suddenly had a moment of incredible clarity. All of my senses converged into absolute sharpness; I could see, vividly, every detail of the orchestra—the position of every stand, chair, instrument, player—and hear every tiny little creak of audience members trying not to move in their seats. Every bit of my brain was oscillating in perfect harmony, and I finally truly understood the meaning of the word, clarity.

It only lasted a few seconds, but was a moment I will remember for a lifetime. Thank you, MTT and the members of the San Francisco Symphony, for the wonderful performance.

As a side note, I now wonder if some people are able to achieve this sort of clarity during their normal, day-to-day lives. I can only imagine…

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 4 comments » | May 7, 2011 01:22:33

Steve Jobs’ Stanford 2005 commencement speech

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I finally watched the commencement speech Steve Jobs gave to Stanford’s graduation class of 2005—it was an excellent speech and is worth 15 minutes of your time. Watch it now! :)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Mar 2, 2011 23:44:20

“This is my husband…”

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MY WIFE at holiday party

Pam and I went to her company’s holiday party tonight, and for the first time in my life, I was introduced as someone’s husband. It felt perfectly natural (awww — feel the love…).

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 5 comments » | Dec 18, 2010 01:52:48

Mawwiage

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I have a new ring on my finger! Elopements rule.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 12 comments » | Dec 16, 2010 01:30:31

Photographers: when do you give away work for free?

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a humorous copyright violation

As a photographer, I am constantly asked for free images. Every day, I respond to upwards of 5 requests for free imagery from a diverse array of entities including individuals, non-profits / conservation organizations, companies, buildings, and other organizations.

Some photographers get angry when they are asked for free work, but I do not. If the request is ridiculous, I find great humor in the situation, but if it is a serious request by someone who has really thought things out, I will reply honestly.

The most recent request was to “borrow” images for some sort of company event, and compensation was to have my name visible next to the prints. Dave, a good friend (and successful artist himself), wrote commentary about the situation after I mentioned it.

If they pick up/drop off, you’re visibly credited w/your contact info and there’s a lot of traffic it could be good exposure.

In theory, I agree with his statement, but I’ve had enormous prints mounted in the lobbies of some of the biggest buildings in San Francisco for months, and do you know how many leads they generated? Zero. Even with my name, a biography, and postcards placed somewhere near the prints, they generated no leads. (read more »)

Palm Beach, Florida | link | trackb | 8 comments » | Sep 21, 2010 07:21:36

A calming of the heart

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I slept 12 hours last night and woke up to a calm day overlooking a mangrove forest in Papua New Guinea. I walked outside and took a seat on the elevated patio with a cup of instant coffee and a book (well, a Kindle), and immediately felt a slowing of the heart rate and a deep, relaxed and complete breathing that was surprisingly — and depressingly — novel.

It occurs to me that a good life goal is to put myself in a situation in which I am able to feel like this regularly. The last few months have been such a whirlwind of activity that I forgot what it means to relax.

Eastern Fields, Papua New Guinea | link | trackb | 7 comments » | Nov 23, 2009 19:19:50

The heart

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I had pretty much forgotten what it was like to miss someone so much. It’s nice to have that part of me back again. (more, if you login here and look into the past)

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 9 comments » | Feb 5, 2009 16:24:30

Shark conservationists and racism

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When is everyone from the white/western anti-shark-finning crowd going to realize that their efforts are going to amount to exactly NOTHING if they continue to be racist?

Obviously, it’s just the bad apples that are like this — you know, the sheltered urban folk who have never actually been out to see what they are fighting against. Do a bunch of fundraisers, and you’re going to save the world.

When someone talks about “the Japanese” or “the Chinese,” I’ve already tuned out before they finish the sentence. No amount of educating the western world is going to change what is going on out there (concerning shark-finning, I mean)1, and alienating the target audience by being dimwitted and racist is common.


  1. Obviously, voting with your wallet works. But in this case, their wallets are getting bitter, and ours, smaller. 

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 6 comments » | Oct 29, 2008 12:30:56

Another late night

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On far too many nights, the last thing that goes through my head as it sinks into my pillow is, “You’re STUPID. It’s SO LATE.” Believe me — I’d much rather be on a more normal schedule for someone so far past college age. I feel better when I go to sleep early and get up with the sun in the morning (although I suppose it doesn’t matter as much in this cave I live in now).

Still, late evenings do present the ideal working environment. North America is sound asleep, and Asia and Australia have finished their work days, leaving me only European correspondence to contend with. I receive nearly no email between midnight and my bedtime, which is normally between 3-3:30am. No email. No IM conversations. No phone calls. No distractions.

Tonight, I’m listening Renée Fleming and doing pre-press work in CMYK land. Du bist die Ruh’ just came on, and it’s five and a half minutes of pure inspiration. Tomorrow when I wake up to 50 morning emails, I know that I will regret yet another late night. But for now, it’s just fine.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 4 comments » | Oct 16, 2008 02:21:33

An unfortunate preoccupation with the sun

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Since I moved into my new cave, I’ve been obsessed with light and the position of the sun. For a period of a week, I spent an hour a day browsing light therapy and 5500°K lighting products. I even bought some, and have asked a designer to look into huge light panels for the wall (preferably LED to avoid any further baking from heat given off by generating light).

It’s a good thing I’m located right in the middle of everything here in San Francisco. I’m driven out of the house by hunger nearly every day, and luckily, summer days are long,and it’s almost always still light when I venture out. I’m glad that I’m getting a good dose of natural light every day, even if I am not getting much of it when I sit here in front of my computer.

Plus, I’m isolated here, and it’s really the only time I get to see people. I guess people watching is better than nothing.

My personalized Google homepage has adapted to my new obsession, and the entire right-hand column is now full of statistics on celestial bodies and time. Since I can’t tell where the sun is from inside here, I guess I’ll have to rely on the interwebs.

So… yeah, I love my new place. But it has its drawbacks.

San Francisco, CA | link | trackb | 3 comments » | Aug 8, 2008 13:49:27

Pingtung Grandma, a long time ago

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my grandmother, more than 70 years ago

My father just sent over a photo of my grandmother from when she was in her teens or early twenties, back when Taiwan was still occupied by Japan. Because my Dad is young among his siblings, I never knew Grandma as anything other than an old woman. We also didn’t share a common language, as she didn’t speak Mandarin — and I barely do.

I have regrets that I didn’t attend her funeral last week in Taiwan. I’m not sure that it was the right decision to lead the Bahamas expedition instead.

Dallas Airport | link | trackb | 2 comments » | May 28, 2008 09:42:44

Never believe anything you read

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I was in the Bahamas last week, and want to comment on a few articles that popped up over the past few days about a tiger shark eating a dead body in Bahamian waters. Check out these three news articles, below:

  1. Shark Consumes Drowning Victim (The Bahama Journal)
Mr. Archer explained what happened when the search team tried to retrieve the bodies from the water on Sunday. “We were able to bring back the three out of the four bodies. The shark literally took the body right out of the C.I.D. diver’s hand. They had to leave the water and come out and sit on the boat for a while to wait for it to leave,” he said.

This is totally bogus, but it does sound pretty cool to have a shark take a body away from a rescue diver. I don’t know who the C.I.D. are, but they weren’t the ones that recovered the bodies, and the shark didn’t take the body “right out of the C.I.D. diver’s hand.” (read more »)

Palm Beach Airport | link | trackb | 5 comments » | May 28, 2008 05:33:51

My grandmother passed away

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My grandmother passed away peacefully at 3:03 pm, May 12th, in Ping-Tung Hospital, Taiwan. An aunt and my mother were with her. She was 94 (1915-2008).

The funeral is scheduled on May 24th in Ping-Tung, and I’m not sure if I will be able to attend. I’m supposed to lead another shark expedition between May 20-27, and have mixed thoughts about whether I want to go. After talking to Dad, Wendy decided to go. We weren’t particularly close to that side of the family when we were growing up, but I do think it would be nice if the entire family were together in Taiwan to see her put to rest.

I have to decide tomorrow. Logistics would be very difficult, and I hate to back out of something that I am scheduled to lead.

Palm Beach, Florida | link | trackb | 2 comments » | May 17, 2008 22:37:47

Everything is broken

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When will things start to get better?

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 1 comment » | Mar 20, 2008 10:12:41

My uncle…

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My uncle passed away this morning. I am amazed by the speed at which his body failed him. The past week has been dominated by an extreme sense of helplessness and sadness. (read more »)

Waialua, Oahu | link | trackb | 2 comments » | Feb 14, 2008 16:10:27

State of things

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Between contractor hell, planning a move (its timeliness contingent on hell freezing over), sudden trips (leaving tomorrow for Hawaii for a few days to shoot waves), botched vendor dealings (the lens I need for the aforementioned trip didn’t arrive on time, and neither did the other stuff), future expedition planning, photo contest organization (DEEP Indo deadline is in 3 days), general Wetpixel support, and recent family trauma (uncle diagnosed with leukemia), I am poised to be pushed over the edge by whatever comes next.

News of family sickness is hard to take. Cyn came over today, and is dealing with something similar. Neither of us seem to be directly affected (yet) by what is going on in our respective families, but the pain comes in waves. Speaking with my mother, for example, nearly made me cry. I could hear the pain in her voice, and I couldn’t stop thinking that she was going to have to be the one to tell her parents that her youngest brother has leukemia (the speed at which one becomes nearly debilitated is something I almost cannot believe). It is like a shadow over everything I’ve been doing for the past day. The only thing in the list above that really matters is my uncle’s condition, yet I spend my time ticking through the TODO list that never seems to end.

Going to Hawaii to get away for a few days will probably be good for my sanity.

You are probably thinking, “But you just came back from a vacation!”

Oh yeah. This sort of work is supposed to be fun…

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Feb 12, 2008 20:33:09

Fragmented

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Why is it that I feel so unfulfilled? I wish I could take all the things I do and wrap them up into just one thing.

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Jan 15, 2008 22:18:12

The perfect gift

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You know what I hear a lot around birthday/holiday time?

“What do you get for the guy who has everything?”

I’ll tell you what I want: a call every once in awhile, and maybe a hug.

That would do just fine.

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Jan 14, 2008 01:34:08

Pingtung with Grandma

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photo of my grandparents when they were young(er)

We spent a day in Pingtung to visit my 93-year old grandmother on my Dad’s side. Each year, we are amazed at how sharp her mind still is; normally, she sits in her chair downstairs and talks and talks about all sorts of things the entire time we are there. This time, however, things were different. (read more »)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | no comments » | Dec 29, 2007 07:48:06

Weekend update on social networking

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I attended two 1st year Korean “Tol” baby birthday parties over the weekend, which were both a lot of fun. I’ll post photos, soon. Parties and gatherings are great, but they are tough to schedule at the moment because I’m swamped trying to both catch up with life stuff and get the 2nd issue of Wetpixel Quarterly out the door. It’s 3:30am, and I just finished what I had to do today.

Earlier today, I was thinking a bit about the social-networking applications that I use (Twitter and Facebook, mostly). (read more »)

Oakland, CA | link | trackb | 5 comments » | Dec 3, 2007 03:42:09
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