Year: 2016

Letters on Tues(Thurs)days – Departures

Dear Wilton, The shift in delivery from Tuesday to Thursday has been unintentional. With the holidays coming up, my schedule has been packed full, both inside and outside of work. In many ways holidays, especially Thanksgiving and Christmas, are about reunions and returns, however I wish to take up the topic of departures. It is the opposite side of the same coin; to return and reunite means that you are departing from somewhere, some place you currently are. Therefore, it is not necessarily an unrelated or opposing topic. Finally, I am sure it is a poignant topic for you, as our family returns to Taiwan after 20 years abroad. It is always hard to imagine leaving a place for good, or even for a few years. You might not know it, but bonds are easily developed and can quickly thicken. Like roots, they hold you in place and they want to hold you in place. Yet, you will find as you approach and finally go into your twenties, departures become more frequent. The bonds you develop …

Letters on Tues(Thurs)days – A Travel Plan Without Plan

As the rain encroaches… Dear Wilton, As you know I went to Panama last week for four days for a short Thanksgiving vacation. It was a surreal experience and here I am to discuss the trip and my planning (or rather the lack of) as a metaphor. No matter how much you plan, life always have something else in mind – not that I was big on plans to begin with. Fortune, good or bad, will always lead you somewhere, whether you want to be there or not. The decision to go can be considered spontaneous, but I have known that I was going to Panama since September. Though, to keep in that spirit of the spontaneous, I neglected to plan anything. This type of spontaneity has been a big part of my travels since college: spontaneous road trips, flights, visits. What made it different this time is that I did not even look at any points of interest until the day before. Even then, all I found where places to go but not how to …

Letters on Tuesdays – Thanksgiving

Mom and Dad, circa 1988? Dear Wilton, In light of the recent world events, it is a good time to reflect on something more positive as Thanksgiving is here. Perhaps, to you, it is just a prelude to a long winter holiday. I remember those days when I was your age. Thanksgiving, as an American tradition, held no meaning for our family. However, since coming to the States and having spent several Thanksgivings with my dear friends and their families who hosted me, I learned that it is indeed a good thing to have a day set aside to reflect on the positive. Every year, every day, every second something can easily go wrong. Sometimes it can go so wrong your life depends on the next move you make. So, it is because of this exact unpredictability and fragility that we should celebrate gratitude. I will keep it simple today. Let us remember to thank those who came into our lives. Let us reflect on the beauty of the natural world and all the positive …

Letters on Tuesdays – Seeing the World

Dear Wilton, We have been very privileged. Remember to thank mom and dad. Our parents never really stopped us from exploring the world around us, though sometimes it definitely made them uncomfortable. They were not passive either. Indeed, you can recall the numerous times that they took us on vacations to different countries in an effort to broaden our worldview and our horizons. Travelling and seeing the world take on different meanings as you grow older. As a kid, I was fascinated by the physical differences of all the places we went. Every place looked different and felt different. Some, like Singapore, was hot and humid. Others, like Thailand, was more rural and resort-like. Still others, like Japan, was highly technologically advanced. I was focused, always, on the present moment and present location. Slowly, however, I began to become more interested in the fabric that makes each place unique: history, environment, people, culture, etc. Perhaps the change was driven by my own interests in history and biology, further developed by my pursuit of an anthropology …

Reimagined 3016

The world was wicked. They burned the ground and slowly chocked everyone and cooked everything with pillars of invisible smoke. One day, a tribe decided they must call the rain to wash the air and wash the land, so the rain came and never stopped. The water rose and rose, slowly and steadily ate the earth. At first the water was so foul, everything that touched it died. People tried to run and tried to hide but there was nowhere to go. Water became everything, drowning everywhere. Even the tribe that called the rain vanished under the water. It was many suns before the water went away. There was a woman. When the rain first came, she took her son to a mighty mountain that was the only place that was to be spared from the water. It was in the East. When they started climbing the mountain, a landslide blocked everyone behind from following them. The woman and her young son found a hidden valley, full of animals who escaped and full of trees, flowers, and plants. …

Letters on Tuesdays – That Friend You Hate to Love

A young man on his journey to make “F-you money”. Another one of my successful brothers from college. Dear Wilton, I have been very fortunate to have met and made friends with many great men so far in my young (somewhat, but probably not to you) life. As a kid, you have met many of them: Charly, Chicco, Michael, Ivan, Dan, Hien, Rambo, Nathan, and the likes. Most of them, it was a smooth ride to friendship from common interests and backgrounds. Other friendships, and perhaps you have experienced this, grew out of competition and contentious relationships. You know the old Chinese saying, “不打不相識” – unless you fight first, you won’t be friends. That literally sums up my friendship with Dan. To me, he is brazen and witty, sometimes callous, sometimes caring, but more often than not, a huge thorn in my side with his stinging banter. If he was a superhero, he would probably be more along the lines of Deadpool or Flash (but probably less comical) than say Thor or Batman. Yet, as much of a …

Analyzing Density Bonus Developments in the City of Los Angeles

On February 22, 2016, I started the GIS Specialization Course with UC Davis through Coursera. For those of you who have paid attention, I have started the final course of the specialization: Geospatial Analysis Project. As with other Coursera specializations, this is a Capstone project that is the culmination of the previous courses. For this project, I have to propose, design, analyze, and present a geospatial analysis project from start to finish. This week requires the creation of my project proposal, which is as follows (if any of you have suggestions on data sources and/or analysis, please feel free to comment): What is Density Bonus? Density Bonus is a program through which a developer can apply for a project with a unit density greater than that allowed by the current land use zoning, as calculated from unit floor area and floor area ratio (FAR). In exchange for the higher density, the developer must set aside a certain number of units to be affordable: this is by restricting the rent levels or sale prices to targeted income levels …

The Bus (in America)

It’s always darker in here. There are days without light. Even those loud colors are subdued on the upholstery. Then there are the bangs, shocks and impacts, direct hits of the road rattling up backs and spines. Rain dampens the floor with sun baked crumbs, gums and who knows what left behind, left forgotten. — The morning swell through the doors of untold routines and responsibilities. These weary eyes and ears time for signs to disembark. Yes, all is trapped, on routes dictated by stops. Outside the window, single passengers throttle by. It struggles to navigate the sea of more nimble cars. It struggles to maintain a timely pace. — Waiting could mean five minutes or twenty, with a near miss. Sometimes, a short sprint is required. It doesn’t wait. A suit and tie is rare among sweaters and hoodies, just as an unwashed shirt always lingers in the corners. It’s a decisive non-decision, collectively by those whose only way to get somewhere, is trapped together with some bodies. – Fu Lien Hsu Oct 27, 2016

Letters on Tuesdays – Until A Basket to Reach Into

Dear Wilton, Though we are thirteen years apart, as siblings growing up with nearly identical upbringings, we have many similarities. You grew up surrounded by the very books your sisters and I read. Over the years, I have seen you develop a love for reading through them. Like me, you are captivated by books and we have voracious appetites for the written word. I am certain it is because our books give us wings, wings to fly into foreign and imagined lands. The written word can easily become magic in a young mind. The written word relaxes us and takes us places where our worries become thin air and where our fears are replaced by a character’s. There are untold amounts of joy when I see you engrossed in one of my old novels. I can imagine you going through the same emotions, the same questions, and the same challenges with each book. Though it pains me to see  you having less care for the physical conditions of the books than I, for many were still in …