Hot Pot with Joe and Jho

Justin and Joe in front of our first hot pot dinner together.”

It’s great to see these two back in town. It was fun hearing their tales of travel. Both Justin and Joe have been wandering around the world for the last couple months and their stories are pretty inspiring. They have endless tales of meeting new people, blazing new trails and getting occasional food poisoning. I’m hoping to have them over again so they can share more.

Dinner at Octavia with the Expa Squad

Photo of some of some folks from the Expa squad enjoying dinner at the chef’s table.

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve posted–I just wanted to take a second to thank Expa and team for inviting some us out for dinner. It’s great to get away from the office and just hang out with folks. Also, thanks Belinda for setting it up, as always. ^_^

The Minimal Life

A photo of my room in Bernal Heights SF.

I mentioned that I live a pretty minimal life… but I wanted to take a moment to actually show you what it looks like. Pretty much everything I own is in this room, right here. If you live in San Francisco, you know that this is the norm.

I’ve been doing this for about 3 years now, in exchange to build new products from the ground up and learn from the people around me. It’s kind of like college again–I live with roommates, I have a tiny little personal fridge, and I get around on my bike. There are some days I can’t believe I’m nearing 40 years old.

I definitely want to get a house at some point, but I need to make sure that my overall plan aligns with Annie… so I’ve put that on hold for a minute. I’m going to continue saving up for it, and when the time is right, it’s going to be amazing. I’m really looking forward to that day.

I miss having my own couch, TV, and extra room. But then again, I don’t miss having tons of stuff to worry about. For example, I miss driving around my Porsche 911… but it’s nice not having to worry about payments, insurance, personal property tax, expensive maintenance, etc. I also don’t have to worry about my other people dinging my car–yes, these were silly things that kept me up at night. Also, I don’t lose things anymore and I’m way more organized. Having less stuff and less space just forces me to keep everything folded and stowed away.

But it’s probably time to make a little compromise. I think I want to get a car again… I think that I want to explore a little more beyond the city limits. Yes, it would be fun to have a nice toy for the weekends, but I think I need something a little more practical. I’m considering a SUV or something I can camp out of. I’d like to take more trips to Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, Sonoma, and all the national parks with redwood forests. I’d like dust off my fly fishing rod and give it a shot over here. And, I’d love to just drive down highway 1 just to enjoy the view and snag a couple of astrophotography shots.

I’ve got a couple of cars in mind, but I’d like to get some recommendations. Anyway, more on this soon.

Starting Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu again

It’s been well over a decade since I’ve trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ). I’ve always wanted to start back up again–when I trained, it was a big part of my life… not just the martial art, but the way of life and the people around me. I actually still keep in touch with some folks that I used to train with. As much as people knock on Facebook, I actually enjoy seeing their updates.

I’ve been ramping BJJ back up again over the last 3 weeks, and I can say that I’m sore and out of shape. But it’s true what they say, it’s like riding a bike. There are several go-to moves that I still have, and it’s fun to catch people off guard (no pun intended). It’s coming back quickly, and I’m hoping that I can keep this up for a while.

Anyway, I wanted to share 3 points in this post:

1. I miss the people that I used to train with.
If you’re one of my old comrades reading this, I hope you’re doing well. I’m reminded of the good ol’ days as hit the mat again. One of the people that I miss the most is Mark Smith. I used to train with him and his son, Ian. Mark passed away a few years ago, and I still find myself emotional thinking about all the times we shared together. I don’t talk about it much, but he was the one that got me to join his school–I didn’t realize that it would have so much impact on me. As I roll with folks, I’m reminded of all our good times talking about martial arts, watching UFC and training together.

2. I need to find my identity outside of work.
I’ve found myself living a minimalist life in San Francisco. I’m proud to have downsized my life, living with less, spending less, etc. The only problem with minimalism is that I the majority of my time is focused on work or growing in my career. I’ve found that most of my conversations somehow gravitate back to work or a project that I’m building. Don’t get me wrong–work, design and my team are a huge part of life, but sometimes it’s probably consumed me. Like any addiction, too much is not healthy. BJJ is bringing back a part of me that I’ve needed for a long time. I’ve had a chance to activate my mind in a different way, forcing me to be creative, observative, and most of all, inspired. I think this is the first of many things to come to extend my network and I’m hoping to tap into a new source of creative energy.

3. Humility is one of the most important lessons.
The act of tapping (a submission), is a way to communicate with your sparring partner that they have reached check-mate. Once you tap, you start over again. While the goal is not to get submitted, it’s part of process. If you don’t tap, you don’t learn. There’s a deeper meaning, and I think this is one of the most important lessons that I’m reminded of. If you want to learn, you have to be willing to tap. It’s how you build muscle memory and defensive tissue so it can avoid it next time.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve got for now. While I love BJJ, it comes with a cost. I’m pretty bruised up, sore and exhausted. But my spirits are revitalized. If you’re in SF and you want to train, hit me up.

My New Favorite Gear: The 26oz Yeti Tumbler

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26oz Yeti Tumbler, in black

I’ve been looking for a container to transport my smoothies and cold drinks when I ride around SF. I stopped by REI this weekend and picked up a Yeti Tumbler, and it has become my new favorite piece of gear.

It reduces temperature change by using a vacuum between the metal layers. This is not a new concept by any means, but they seem to have perfected it.

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Expensive, but it could be the last cup you ever use.

The Tumbler costs $40—which is expensive for a container—but it does its job. I thought I was going to use this exclusively for transporting drinks, but I may just use it as my daily cup. There’s a part of me that wants to get another one as a backup. Heh.

The things I love about the design:

  • The handle is simple and has no gimmicks. (Less things to break)
  • The build is stainless steel and feels durable.
  • The dimensions are comfortable to hold.
  • The wide opening makes it easy to drink and refill.

Anyway, if you know me, you know I love cold drinks. I had ice water in it from last night, and when I checked it this morning…it barely melted! ❄️

28oz Yeti Tumblr on Amazon

Weekend Design Session with James and Juan

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Jamming with James and Juan at Expa.

It was cool jamming with these guys this afternoon. Their passion for design is just infectious, and I feel I’m learning a tremendous amount from this group.

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Setting up all the fonts now so I don’t have to do it again later.

As much as I want to jump ahead and design new features on Input, I actually have to take a step back and clean up our sketch files and really look at the entire system. Since we’re redesigning everything, I’m taking the time to set up everything—the fonts, the spacing, the symbols, and the asset naming. The future is looking brighter.

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Juan doing some amazing illustrations.

I’m hoping I can keep the system as simple as possible. It’ll evolve over time, but I’d like to stick to a foundation that we can build on top of for the years to come.

By the way, I’m really looking forward to reading this tomorrow:
Design Systems Handbook

And I’m currently watching a YouTube video of John Vino designing live. It’s pretty cool to watch his process.
Live UX Design with John Vino