My Thesis

Before I begin this new blog, I felt that it would be important to list the reasons that I want to begin this site. My primary interest in creating this blog is to record my life as I begin my twenties, through pictures, and having written records of my day to day escapades. I feel like at this current point in my life, I spend too much time sitting at my computer playing games or watching videos and my hope is, creating this blog will help motivate me to get out and seek things that I think are interesting to write about or give my thoughts about. Currently, my interests include; Coffee, music, working out, eating healthy, fashion, reading, and programming. Some of the topics I’m currently planning on writing about include, reviews of some of my favorite music albums and why I enjoy them so much, some of my favorite meals, my experience and progress with running, clothing reviews, coffee shops that I have visited, and talking about new sci-fi books/shows that I’ve read/watched. I plan on including pictures that I’ve taken with all of my blog posts. I currently am using an original Canon rebel, that I’ve had to fix up a fair bit to get running again, but if I am really enjoying photography, then I would be more than willing to upgrade to newer and better camera. I hope that some of these topics I have included sound interesting to readers. I know that as I continue to work on this blog, I will adapt it to what I feel like I find interesting and fun to write and what will actually be worth writing about.

 

One of the primary reason that wanted to create this blog, was because I felt that I had lost most of my ability to put my thoughts down into writing in a concise and coherent manner. I am currently pursuing a Computer Science degree, which means most of my classes consist of programming, math and physics courses. All of which I am currently loving and am totally engaged in. However, I feel like I have been too many semester gone from a good writing class and have lost much of my ability to simply write my thoughts down. My hope is that in creating this blog, it will help me regain my writing skills, and challenge me to improve them.

 

Another major reason that I wanted to create this blog is to work on my programming. As a computer science major, I want to have a project that I can work on when I’m not busy with school assignments, and help keep my programming skills fresh. My hope is to keep this site mostly python and HTML based, but I’m sure that I’ll have to bring in some other web-development languages. Which as I’m writing this seems somewhat daunting a task, but I know will help me learn more about programming on the web.

 

Finally, I know that this thesis is pretty dry, but that was my goal. I wanted to have a good list of reason for motivate and focus myself so that I don’t completely lose track of why I originally created this website. Thanks for reading, this will be considered the “zero” entry to my first blog, and I will have my real entry posted within the week!

2018 – An update

First off, I want to apologize for my absence! My initial reaction is to make a list of excuses for why I stopped my posts, but to be completely honest, I’ve just been feeling lazy. Instead, I figured I’d give an update on what I was up to while I was gone this last month. I’ve had quite a bit change in my life in this last month surprisingly, I quit my job to focus on school, which has affected my obsessive coffee drinking, I’ve taken a break from heaving running, and have been focusing on weight lifting, and finally I’ve really gotten into audiobooks, which has meant that my music consumption has also gone way down. So far the start of 2018 has starkly contrasted where I was this time last year. To ring in my first post-absence post I wanted to talk about how I feel that these changes have affected me. I hope you enjoy!

The Coffee Shop

Leaving my job at the coffee shop was not something I did lightly. For as much I complained to my housemates about the small and petty interactions that are a common occurrence in any minimum wage customer-service style job, I truly loved working at the coffee shop. In total I had worked at Aptos Coffee for over a year and a half, with just about half of my total time there working as a shift supervisor. In my time at that shop I had developed a great customer base and an amazing group of coworkers who became some of my best friends. The coffee shop’s primary clientele was, for the most part, middle aged to elderly folks. This meant that the shop stayed relatively slow, with the exception of weekend morning, obviously. I worked almost exclusively as the weekend closing supervisor, with an occasional morning shift. I worked this position consistently, every weekend for just about a year. Which may seem that it would get old after awhile; however, I really enjoyed closing the shop. Unfortunately, in my last Fall semester at the community college I am attending, I was finding myself slowly losing motivation to go out, workout, and even at times study! Due to my work and school schedule I never got a full day off of school and work, and often found myself coming home late at night from closing the shop to finish my homework assignments that were due the next morning. With this Spring semester coming up, which included some of the toughest classes I have taken yet, with them being the last in their respective course series, before I transferred to a University to finish my degree. I was forced to make a tough decision: continue to get by in school with grades lower than the standard I hold myself to, or fully commit myself to my last semester at school and stop working at the coffee shop.

 

It’s been just about three weeks since I worked my last day. I also have committed myself to stop drink coffee temporarily. After nearly two years of always having free strong coffee at my disposal, I hadn’t realized utterly dependent I had become! I’ve been weaning myself slowly off of my caffeine dependence by drinking tea. Luckily, I haven’t been feeling too tired or feeling too many withdrawal symptoms savefrom some afternoon headaches. In these past weeks, I’ve also noticed how much my insistent coffee drinking was affecting my motivation and the clearness of my thoughts. In just these past three weeks I feel like I am much more cognizant of my schoolwork and am able to participate more effectively in my classes. I wish I had recognized how detrimental my coffee obsession has become earlier. I have also committed myself to give coffee up for Lent. I figure by the Easter I should have fully kicked my caffeine dependence. This is not to say that I will never drink coffee again, I really do love coffee and after Lent I plan on drinking it on occasion.

 

Workout mix up

At the start of the New Year I promised myself that I would finally start putting on mass. The primary motivation for this was because of a doctor’s visit last year, where I was informed that I was at risk of being to thin and it actually being detrimental to my health. This really came as a shock to me. I had always been proud of my ability to eat healthily and stay relatively lean. However, I needed an outside perspective to allow me to realize that I was trying to be too thin for my body type. Initially, I had a hard time accepting that if I wanted to feel better, I would need to put on some weight. It was,and continues to be hard for me to not be overly self conscious of my body. Nevertheless, I knew that if I wanted to stop feeling constantly fatigued I had to change some things. First off, I changed my eating patterns, now I try not to be overly concerned about the quantity that I eat. My main focus with what I’m eating however, is to intake as much protein as I can. Secondly, and somewhat sadly, I’ve decided to take a step back from my previous heavy running routine. In its place however, has been a focus on strength training which I have started to see results from already! I feel that the combination of these two changes will help me put some more weight on, and I’ve already put on about 5 lbs. I haven’t completely given up on running, I still do indulge myself on occasion to take a nice run down to the beach. This is a subject I feel like I will probably devote a whole post to in the future because staying healthy and active is a huge part of my life and I’m still trying to figure out how this new routine works best for me.

 

Music VS. Audiobooks

In the past year I’ve actually started getting more and more into audiobooks! I’ve listened to audiobooks for years now, through the Audible app, but recently I’ve gotten really into them. The books I’ve listened to recently include, The Goblin Emperor, 11/22/63(which was really great), Artemis, The Dante Club, and currently the first book in the Game of Thrones series. I am really enjoying A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin’s writing in combination with excellent narration by Roy Dotrice is extremely engaging. I get excited every time that I plug my phone into my car, or when I get to the gym to continue the medieval epic. Unfortunately, because of my current audiobook consumption, my music consumption has gone way down. While I am still very interested in writing more music reviews, similar to my Morning Phase music review earlier this year, they may not be quite as in-depth as that review was.

 

Once again, I would like to apologize for my absence. With this being my last semester of Community College before I transfer, there may be weeks where I am completely devoted to my school work and will put the blog on the back burners. I can guarantee that this blog is here to stay! Thanks for reading!

Relax

Welcome to my first photo gallery! Sorry it took me so long to get it posted but I’ve been out of town and I wanted my first gallery to be based on places near my home. My Idea behind this first set of photos was to just take some relaxing and pleasing pictures.

Enjoy! And remember to relax.

Right off the coast.
Monterey Bay coast trail walk.
Growing up in a rock bed.
Overlooking the cliff edge.
Probably my favorite picture of this gallery, if you look closely on the right, you can see a bench for perspective.
Sticking out like a sore thumb.
Silhouette for scale.
Man’s best friend.
Spilling over.
My travel companion.
FIN

Thanks for checking out my first gallery, I know that these pictures are really rough, but I’ll keep practicing.

Music Review – Morning Phase

I’m excited to start a new series of posts in my blog, as someone who constantly surrounds themselves by music I wanted to finally dip my foot in music reviewing, while also recommending some of my favorite albums. For my first music post, I decided that I would write about my favorite album and what it means to me. My first album review I will discuss Beck’s album Morning Phase.

Morning Phase was released in 2014, to much critical appraise, receiving a Metacritic score of 81 out of 100. The album won Grammys for Album of the Year, Best Rock Album. Meanwhile, lead single, “Blue Moon” was nominated for Best Rock Performance, and Best Rock Song.

Genre jumping and sonic lingering have not been American artist Beck Hansen’s style. In his last 5 albums, he has transitioned from alt-rock to electronic rock, to grunge garage rock, to country-folk and most recently to psychedelic pop-rock. While the first half of Beck’s musical career was based on absurdist lyrics and catchy choruses, such as his break out single all the way back in 1993, “Loser”, off of the album Mellow Gold. Beck’s first noticeable shift away from his bombastic hip-hop roots into a more mature musical composition was in his 2002 album Sea Change, which features a distinct shift into a much more melancholy acoustic sound. Which is one of the primary influences on the album I am reviewing today, Morning Phase.

Morning Phase, Beck’s 12th studio album, Beck ditches his iconic nonsense form of lyricism in exchange for more melancholy poetic lyrics. Instead of using his lyrics to guide his music, he employs his voice to help create an atmosphere to allow for his instrumentation to drive the tracks. While Beck is no stranger to singing, in this album he elongates his voice so that he can allow for his accompaniment to lead. “Unforgiven”, is a great example of Beck’s use of his slow, drawn-out vocals to give his slight synthed instrumentation more kick. Similarly in “Turn Away”, in which he instead slightly distorts his voice and keeps his acoustic strumming pure and unedited. Beck channels a more folk-inspired method of vocalization to help compliment and bring his instrumentation to the forefront of his songs.

Lyrically, Morning Phase, follows many of the same patterns that Beck’s, Sea Change, had established before it. These albums both express grief over a broken relationship. During the time that Beck was writing Sea Change, he had just broken up a 9-year relationship with his then, fiancé. The lyrics in Morning Phase, are similarly downtrodden, personal, and deeply melancholy. The song “Say Goodbye”, perfectly encapsulates the lyrical feel of the album, “ … She is gone, Somewhere else, I do not know, Time will tell, I will go, These are the words we use, to say goodbye”. Fans of Bob Dylan will definitely see parallels in Morning Phase, to the legendary singer/songwriter’s lyrical pattern.

In this album, Beck strips back his brash beats in exchange for a more traditional country and folk-inspired acoustic sound. A country like twang is something that many Beck fans may not associate with Beck’s long list of sounds, but what makes Beck such an interesting artist is his insistence on reinventing his own sound album to album. Instrumental highlights lie in tracks such as Country Down, which truly features his acoustic sound at the forefront of the song. The aptly named, Heart is a drum, uses a rhythmic heartbeat-like drum to guide the track. Several of the tracks also rely heavily on an atmospheric keyboard arrangement to give the tracks a sense another layer of depth.

This album treads the line between deep lyrical melancholy and musical warmth. Despite Morning Phase taking heavy inspiration from Beck’s previous album, Sea Change, he still manages to reinvent his own sound to create a brand new album. This album’s focus on long, extended vocals to drive acoustic guitar, mellow drum lines, and beautifully warm string orchestration really create a folk sound that challenges the genre to let the instrumentation to do the story-telling.

I hope you enjoyed my first album review. Music has always been a huge part of my life and is constantly being played in my house, (probably to the point of driving my roommates crazy). I’ve always loved talking about music, why I like it, what a song reminds me of, and what it means to me. This album has always meant a lot to me personally. I used to fall asleep to this album playing every night, and it was always a comfort to play in the morning while I was getting ready. I believe that part of the reason I have such a soft spot for this album is that it was my first exposure to a “breakup album”. I had never really bothered with gloomy or sad music, but I have always been a huge fan of Becks. So when he released the singles before the album, “Blue Moon”, and “Waking Light”, I was instantly captured. The album just had such a stripped back and acoustic feel which I had never really been exposed to and couldn’t stop playing. While, I totally acknowledge that this album is far from perfect, my intent with these music reviews is to highlight their strengths and why they hold a special place for me in my music collection. Once again, thank you for reading, I know I still have a lot to improve on, such as, not being able to really express how a song or album sounds, I’m trying my best and learning a lot! Any and all criticism is appreciated! Have a nice day.

Running and what it means to me

Preface

For my first post I wanted to write about something that I was passionate about, and would still create a fun and engaging article. However, I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself to write the best post that I possibly could, and somewhat came to the realization that it’s my first article, it doesn’t have to be perfect. While I will do my best to make every article interesting and worth reading, I’m just beginning and I still have a lot to learn about writing engaging blog posts. With that out-of-the-way, I hope you enjoy my first *official* blog post!

If you would have asked me what I had thought of running when I was in highschool, I would’ve told you running was for sucks and that I would be a swimmer for the rest of my life. However, as soon as highschool ended I quickly found myself in the awkward position where finding a pool to swim in was not exactly readily available. I was frustrated, I loved swimming throughout high school, I loved distance training and just spacing out during long sets and just being lost in my thoughts. For awhile, I just lifted weights with some occasional swimming whenever I could get into a the pool. It wasn’t long before I realized that I missed the feeling after a thorough cardio session. Begrudgingly, I decided I’d give running a try, who knows, maybe I’d like it!

Part of the reason I made the decision to pick up running was because a few years previous my Mom had run a marathon and that really inspired me to give “competitive” running a try. I had very little running training, despite a brief stint on my high school’s track team my freshman year, so I didn’t have running shoes. Instead, my first several runs I ran in some old Nike walking shoes, and quickly understood the reason for a separation between walking shoes and actual training shoes. So I picked up my first real pair of running shoes, which were not cheap! I couldn’t believe that I had just paid 100$ on a pair of shoes, I thought it was completely ridiculous, but now, I realize that it was a great investment, and after nearly two years, the shoes are still holding up great

I’ve always tried to convince myself that my running has been to train for a competitive race, but I’ve recently come to the conclusion that the reason I really motivate myself to go out every time is because I love being lost in my thoughts during a long run. During these moments I feel like my head is so much clearer than practically any other setting and it help me process and organize my thoughts and day-to-day life. However, this is not to say that I never have those runs where I hate every second of it. I recently took an extended break from running, because I felt that it was becoming to painful on my knees

and feet to continue on. During this short break, I actually lost a lot of my appetite and motivation to workout in general. I ended up losing too much weight during this time, and just felt bad, I wasn’t sleeping well, I was eating extremely sporadically, and infrequently. I wasn’t completely sure what to chalk it up to but realized that about the time that I started to feel horrible was about the time that I stopped running and tried to switch to prioritizing different workout regiments. So I figured, what would it hurt if I just tried going on a quick run? It was amazing, I hadn’t realized how much I had actually missed running. Soon after, I started running more frequently again, since then, my appetite has gone up, I have been sleeping much more soundly, and just in general feel like I have more motivation and energy.

I understand that to some, even just the thought of running is totally repulsive. The majority of my coworkers tease me about my running habit, but I wish more people realized all of the positive affects running can have. I know that getting into running shape at first is without a doubt the hardest part, but the payoff once you get there is totally worth it.

While I recognize fully, that I am nothing more than a casual runner, my goal for this new year, is to train to run a competitive race. Part of what I really loved about swimming in high school was seeing my times improving after weeks of hard training and dedication. My ultimate goal is to follow in my Mom’s footsteps and eventually run a marathon, while that is definitely a long distance away from the current running shape I am in, I know that I can do it.

Thanks for reading my first article. I really appreciate you taking the time to read my work. It’s not much now, but I promise, as I continue to do this, my writing will improve and become more organized. Feel free to leave a comment in the section below if you liked the article or want to talk about running, enjoy your day.