2020 Resolutions

When I revived this blog in 2019, I did not expect that I would be able to keep it up until the end of the year. (There was a lull shortly after I started working and then as I changed directions, but for the most part, I was posting regularly.) Looking back at my posts, I’m glad I documented my adventures in reading, eating, and traveling as the months went by.

2019 was eventful, and I’m sure 2020 will be, too.

Now that I’ve closed the books (with last minute additions—see here and here) for 2019, I decided it’s time to focus on making 2020 another year to remember. In my quest to document my ideas and adventures, I came up with some resolutions to keep the flow going.

  1. Post content on a regular basis, preferably once a week.
  2. Post content about professional or personal growth once a month.
  3. Post content about travel once a quarter.
  4. Finish reading books already on hand before buying new ones.
  5. Jot down daily thoughts and plans on my journal.

The travel content resolution is a bit conservative, I admit, but trips, even weekend ones, involve reservations, schedules, budgets, etc., all of which need to be coordinated with others. On the other hand, the journal resolution is a bit aggressive for me. I’ve never been one to commit to writing thoughts down daily, but I think it would be a great way to memorialize my year. It should help that I am now trying out a customized journal, so I’m not bound to one format or structure for the rest of the year.

I’m super excited to see how this year goes.

Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper

This one is another book from the pile of unread books I’d accumulated over the years. I bought Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries in New York back in 2017 and finally read this at the end of 2019. So here’s a familiar sounding remark about my latest read: I can’t believe I didn’t read this sooner. (I am currently on a book-buying ban—I make exceptions here and there, particularly for nonfiction—so I can focus on reading the books I already have.)

Reading this was fun. Like the dictionary, it wasn’t instructive (or meant to be); it was descriptive. I wasn’t expecting to bookmark anything on this book, but there were some anecdotes that jived with my humor that I wanted to make sure I could easily find them in the future. Here are two fun pages: 133 and 199—check them out.

Perhaps another reason I am partial to this book is that I have always enjoyed reading and writing. I also used to have very strong opinions about grammar, but I eventually grew to appreciate how language evolves and with it its words and grammar. (Although I have finally accepted the existence of “irregardless,” I still avoid using it like the plague.) It was interesting to read about how the evolution of a word’s definition is captured by lexicographers. In a way, they’re historians.

Something that took me by surprise was that people actually take the time to write to dictionary editors to express their opinions. Wow, people read the dictionary? As it turns out, the answer is yes, and these people’s opinions must be heard. Even lexicographers must read and address angry emails. Imagine that. But there were some friendly neighborhood emails, too (there were a bunch of interesting comments about “irregardless”). As with every industry, there are a handful of thoughtful people that write in out of goodwill. (To these people—thank you. Your words are always a breath of fresh air.)

Finally, there was something about Kory Stamper’s writing style that captured my heart. I found it quite charming, as if I was reading a fairy tale or something. Everything flowed so well that I found myself reading through the night, and let me emphasize that this is the only nonfiction book (by far) that I have chosen to read over sleep. I enjoyed it that much. Eventually sleep got in the way, but don’t let that invalidate my praise.

Overnight in Mabini, Batangas

A few weeks ago, my friends and I drove down to Mabini, Batangas for an overnight trip. It was only a two and a half hour drive from Metro Manila, so there was not a lot of planning needed for the trip.

Side note: I’d forgotten how easy it is to do an overnight trip to the beach in the Philippines. Oh, yes, there’s Ocean Beach in San Francisco, but the water is cold and the waves are strong. Maybe somewhere in SoCal? But that’s another ~6 hour drive away. On the other hand, Batangas just south of Manila, and Subic north. (La Union is a little farther up, but I hear it’s an easy trip there as well.) And weather permitting, the beach is warm throughout the year. What’s not so easy: finding a weekend when everyone is available.

My friends and I rented a small place by the beach. It had a fully functioning kitchen and a porch with a nice view, which made for a nice stay. I spent a lot of time on the porch because I love a nice ocean view. I was up early the next day, and I watched the sky change as the sun rose. As for the beach on premise, well, it was rocky. This didn’t bother us so much since we had planned to have a boat take us to a neighboring island in the morning.

(I’m pretty sure) we went to Maricaban Island. The shore was rocky, but this time the rocks looked interesting: they were charred—was there a volcano nearby? Or maybe I just haven’t seen enough nature in my life.

My friends and I found a nice spot at the beach, laid down our blankets, and …fell asleep. On the boat ride back, we stopped for a bit to take a swim in slightly deeper water (not the real deep water—just far enough from the rocks). It was a pleasant swim. The water was warm, the waves were not strong, and it was easy to float in the water. (There were also life jackets on the boat just in case.)

Long story short we didn’t do much. But the trip was so refreshing! It was nice to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. I’m looking forward to more of these. It’s good to be back.