18:54 PDT - September 17th, 2016

So, this is some embarrassingly geeky nonsense but I was falling into a pit of despair a week ago and visualizing a scene from Neon Genesis Evangelion helped me climb out.

When I’m struck with sadness or depression, it comes on most strong in the mornings. My brain greets the day with some of the most terrifying and cruel thoughts and I replay these emotions over and over. The thought of getting out of bed seems impossible. I can lay there for hours just stewing in a deep regret.

I was feeling a particularly acute sadness this morning, not the usual fog of depression but a sharp pain in my chest. A thick black void deep inside my rib cage that robbed me of my perspective.

A trick I’ve learned is to give myself permission to rewrite my nightmares and to rewrite them poorly. I dreamt I fell down a hole? Well now there’s ice cream at the bottom and it’s delicious. A dream where everyone abandons me? Turns out they were there all along and we lived happily ever after.

With this in mind, I rewrote my despair. The black void became an unearthly floating sphere that suddenly grows solid. Cracks appear and then an arm bursts forth. A powerful being emerges and starts screaming in terror; it is my refusal to to suffer in silence. Its limbs twist and stretch and tear the sphere apart. They radiate with a cautious orange light and they grow… its arms become my arms, its legs become my legs.

It feels like something new but, at the same time, something I’ve always possessed. It feels scary, in a good way.

The visuals felt so familiar to me. It was only a few days later that I realized I was stealing from NGE.

How to tap on an iOS 10 notification

13:32 PDT - September 8th, 2016

I just installed iOS 10 on my iPhone 6 and I’m so confused trying to figure out how to activate a notification. Here’s how:

  1. Wait for a notification to come in
  2. Swipe right on the notification
  3. Unlock as necessary

If you swipe but don’t correctly touch the notification, you’ll end up on the Spotlight page (with the search bar at the top). Just swipe to get back to your notifications and try again.

Criminal Minds and Government Digital Surveillance

08:40 PDT - June 6th, 2016

Look, I’ve watched a lot Criminal Minds. It’s a police procedural with a host of misfit characters that make up a family of choice. It bounces from extremely dark crimes to cheesy character moments and it does earn some genuine moments at times.

The show’s premise is that they’re a crack team of FBI profilers chasing serial killers. They get a case, they draw upon their vast knowledge of behavioral analysis to come up with a profile (white, male, 40s, divorced, etc.) and then use super tech analyst Penelope Garcia (Kirsten Vangsness) to narrow it down to a list of a single suspect and usually get to them right before they commit their next murder.

What’s interesting is that the show started in 2005 and is still on the air now and a lot has changed in the world, especially with how we view digital surveillance and the authority of the police.

This show does not care about the Fourth Amendment (except the one time they waited for a search warrant on a house), especially in the digital realm. Garcia will use every database, phone, GPS, and computer to find out everything about the victims and their attackers. They always narrow it down to one person and it’s always the right person and it’s always justified. Sometimes they will kill the suspect and it’s always justified.

The show basically presents the ideal world of the Patriot Act. The cops are always the good guys who always make the right decisions. The bad guys live right next door, ready to perform unimaginable cruelty.

Garcia even explicitly invokes Edward Snowden at some point (I think it was the 10th season?) but they never question if it’s right that the government is capable of such omnipotent digital surveillance.

I’m doubtful as to whether the show is even able to say anything against the surveillance. It’s so firmly rooted in how they wrap up every episode. The best they could do is maybe catch someone else who is abusing their power but they wouldn’t be able to question their own authority.

Compare and contrast to Person of Interest, a show from 2011 that I just started watching. It’s about two vigilante heroes, basically a super genius and a CIA-type working to stop murders every week. The genius built a government surveillance system that listens to everything and identifies terrorist threats but there’s a catch, it also identifies smaller violent threats that it has to ignore because the government is only interested in the bigger fish. So these guys take it upon themselves to prevent these lesser crimes.

It’s a less violent show but you could argue that it’s more cynical. Or maybe just more realistic. They acknowledge that the system is broken, so they work outside it but the show also acknowledges that our heroes aren’t moral authorities either.

Perhaps it’s not fair to compare the two shows, Criminal Minds is more monster-of-the-week police procedural. I’ve only seen a little about Person of Interest but it more of a genuine crime drama with some cat-and-mouse between our heroes and the One Good Cop in the city, Detective Joss Carter (Taraji P. Henson). But I’m curious to see how, a nation obsessed with cop shows will evolve in response to the growing concern about digital surveillance and privacy.

Back to New York

11:55 PDT - May 5th, 2016

It’s been six years since I was last in New York and it shouldn’t be surprising that a city of 8.5 million people feels so different.

Last time I was staying with a group of Australians in a spacious apartment in Korea-town, the Empire State Building loomed outside my window. We were starstruck tourists determined to visit every landmark and live the fantasy of living in the Big Apple.

Now I’m staying at an upscale hotel a block away from Central Park. I’m sharing the room with an American, we’re both quietly poking at our laptops, taking time during the slow parts of the afternoon to gather energy for nights of going out. We’re accessing a different part of the city, more of the expensive shows and bars.

Perhaps it’s because I’ve lived for so long in America now. Or, more likely, it’s because we’ve gotten so comfortable with our money and access that we’ve earned throughout our twenties. New York feels like it will always be here and there’s no urgency to try and understand it or live out its promises in the span of a day.

Thirty-One Years Old

11:59 PDT - January 3rd, 2016

This time last year I was still in Hong Kong, hiking the city streets and visiting temples. Meeting relatives that I have long forgotten from my childhood, from my time living in Australia.

Man Mo Temple

I look at this photo of me and mother and I want to ask, “Who was that boy then?” I still have this need to see myself as a child. Maybe it excuses certain things that I expected to have by the time I was thirty. I was supposed to be married and living in a house now. First child on the way or already here.

I don’t need those things right now, I don’t ache for them. But I expected them. I feel entitled to them. I feel everyone else expects them.

But I’m actually great. 2015 is the year I started coloring my hair. Which doesn’t mean anything and also means everything. Whatever it’s just hair. But it’s grown more personal to me over time. It stands as a symbol for the part of me that I want to show off. It represents the change that’s happened to me in my transition to my thirties and it serves as inspiration to come out of my shell more.

I’m afraid to hope for anything in 2016. Outwardly, I want that steady relationship and I want safety and I want the good stuff to stay the same (and the bad stuff to stay silent). Inwardly, I probably yearn for a lot of things I didn’t know I wanted or I’m too afraid to even think aloud. I want exercise. I want to feel healthy and vital. I want this year to feel better than all the others before it, with no qualifying language. I want a change at work and be surrounded with coworkers that I love and work that I’m fired up about. I want to be terrified to give my heart to someone. I want an apology from my dad. I want to wake up somewhere else and cry about how far I’ve come.