Photos from Seoul

I recently passed through Seoul, my first time in the country, and came back with a few photographs. Link to more below these few:

Seoul City Hall

Seoul city hall

Seoul Fall 2015 (5 of 32)

See more Seoul 2015 Photos
Published on November 24, 2015

Places to Visit in Seattle

On a recent trip to Seattle I had a limited amount of time so I wanted to fill it with all of the best things that I could find. I spoke to friends, did research online, and browsed through Yelp listings. This is a list of the places that I checked out on my visit, along with a brief description of each. If you are going to Seattle and your interests are in line with mine, this will save you a lot of time. I went through a little more effect when I made a Map of My Favorite Places in Berlin, but this is the quick and dirty version of that.

35th North: Local Skate Shop

A skateshop with personality, which stocks a large selection of shoes and apparel in addition to skateboards and skating accessories. Features some interesting local apparel. When I first came to Seattle I got a Sea Town locally designed and produced t-shirt here which I still wear. Good place to meet friendly people and members of the local underground scene. I came here to collect information on other places to visit while I was in town.

35th North on Yelp

Sky View Observatory: 73rd Floor View of Seattle

An amazing 360 degree view of not only the city of Seattle but much of the surrounding landscape including the North Cascades which is punctuated by Mount Rainier. $12 admission fee. The observatory opens at 10am seven days a week so the best time to visit is around dusk. Food and drinks are served here but they are overpriced and not worth it, so I would plan to visit and spend 30-45 minutes circling the observatory and checking out the view.

Sky View Observatory on Yelp

The Raygun Lounge: Gaming Society

A local gaming store with a particular focus on board games and Magic the Gathering. Features a number of weekly events and large tables to meet and play with new and old friends. There are some stand-up arcade machines here as well, including some rare one like Marble Madness. This place has the personal touch and a great location on Pine Street in downtown Seattle. When I visited the owner was working at the cash register, which is a good sign.

The Raygun Lounge on Yelp

Bauhaus: Hipster Books & Coffee

Your friendly neighborhood hipster coffee shop. Super fast internet, great service, and a comfortable atmosphere. Located just down the street from The Raygun Lounge and the Starbucks Reserve also on Pine Street. Inexpensive and great local place to visit. Get your coffee here and visit the Starbucks Reserve down the street to see the spectacle of their enormous roastery apparatus. If you plan on bringing your laptop and getting work done, try to get here early, before 1pm. People tend to set up and camp here all day long. The woman seated next to me was drawing with colored pencils for what must have been three hours.

Bauhaus Books & Coffee on Yelp

Cupcake Royale: Decadent Treats

Every city has one of these nowadays, but this is novel for me living in Asia. As you may expect, this place is decadent. In addition to cupcakes they have other baked goods and make their own ice cream. The cupcake that I would recommend is the salted caramel, which is evidently their speciality. All of the flavors I observed were some kind of variation of flavors that you would expect to see, like Lavender Vanilla. Before leaving Seattle I grabbed a cupcake from this place and ate it on my flight to Shanghai.

Cupcake Royale on Yelp

HoneyHole Sandwiches: Delicious Irony

A sandwich shop filled with pop culture references. Sandwiches with names like The Gooch, Wave Rider, and Big Smooth. These are heart-stopping, greasy, gluttonous sandwiches. Has a large selection of draft beers and is also located on Pine Street not far from Bauhaus, Raygun and the Starbucks Reserve. It’s probably not good for you to eat here on a regular basis, but it is a delicious place to get lunch while you’re in the area visiting other local places like the Starbucks Reserve or Raygun Lounge.

HoneyHole Sandwiches on Yelp

Seattle Art Museum: Downtown with a View

Packs a large amount of exhibits into a very efficiently used urban space. Easy to find with the Hammering Man sculpture right outside. The entrance is dramatic, featuring the exploding Ford Tauruses exhibit by Chinese artist Cai Guoqiang. Entrance is expensive at $25 but the breadth of the exhibitions is impressive – from Africa to Asia to Americana and Native American art.

Seattle Art Museum on Yelp

Starbucks Reserve: Mother of All Starbucks’

The largest Starbucks in the world. They serve food and wine here in addition to coffee, but the most interesting part is the on-site roastery where they process their Starbucks Reserve beans. These elite beans are shipped to Starbucks locations around the world and comprise less than 1% of all Starbucks coffee beans. Each staff member inside the reserve is a certified coffee expert and they are anxious to talk about coffee and answer questions about particular bean types or the roasting process.

Starbucks Reserve on Yelp

Olympic Sculpture Park: Seaside Modern Art

Large, dramatic sculpture pieces dot this grassy area along the water just a few blocks from downtown Seattle. There’s a lot of modern architecture around this area and the Space Needle will be just behind you as you look out onto the ocean. Conveniently, there are dozens of modern art pieces that also serve as seating for you to watch the sunset.

Olympic Sculpture Park on Yelp

Big Picture Cinema: Indie Film Cave

One of the best theaters in Seattle, which features an enormous lounge and bar area to hang out in before the film starts. They serve food here but also have a full bar and wide selection of draft beers. Interestingly, they offer the option of ordering drinks before the showing which are delivered to your seat during the film. Located underground in the historic Belltown neighborhood. Big Picture only shows a single film at once and the screen is not very large, but the atmosphere is intimate and personal. This place is easily preferable to chain movie theaters.

Big Picture on Yelp

Pike Place Market: Seafood Vendors & Tourists

One of the most well-known tourist attractions in Seattle, but absolutely worth visiting. The best time to visit the market is in the early morning when the market is in full gear and seafood is being thrown all over the place by the hundreds of vendors who gather here daily. There’s a park just next to the market which is a great place to sit down and eat seafood or a sandwich picked up in the market.

Pike Place Market on Yelp

Shorty’s: Pinball Dive Bar

Located in the Belltown neighborhood next to The Crocodile and a late-night pizza place called Rocco’s, Shorty’s is a dive bar which specializes in pinball machines. The back room features a dozen of them packed into a small room, where patrons drink pints and try to beat high scores. Frequently features pinball tournaments with cash prizes and there are some more traditional arcade games in the front room. You will see a lot of neck tattoos here.

Shorty’s on Yelp

The Crocodile: Live Music

A fantastic performance venue in Belltown – the 9:30 Club of Seattle. One of my best memories from Seattle was seeing Lido, a Norwegian singer and producer, perform here along with a Brooklyn-based band called Brasstracks. Inexpensive and crowded when there are performances. I also visited when there wasn’t a performance and it wasn’t worth the time – check this place out when there’s a show happening.

The Crocodile on Yelp
Published on November 6, 2015

Photos from Seattle

Some photos from a trip to Seattle two weeks ago, with a link to more below:

Seattle Fall 2015 (40 of 54)

Seattle Fall 2015 (24 of 54)

Seattle Fall 2015 (7 of 54)

Seattle Fall 2015 (27 of 54)

See more Seattle 2015 Photos
Published on November 6, 2015

Photos from Halloween at Dojo

This halloween led up to the hype. Last halloween was great, but this one was better. My only regret is that I didn’t come up with a better costume: there two other people dressed as Chinese street cleaners also.

Dojo Halloween (7 of 58)

Dojo Halloween (17 of 58)

Dojo Halloween (37 of 58)

Dojo Halloween (46 of 58)

See more Halloween 2015 Photos
Published on November 6, 2015

Song of the Day #187: Money

Lido – Money

Last week when I was in Seattle I caught a Lido show at The Crocodile in Belltown and it was an amazing show. Having only known Lido as a music producer, I didn’t know that he was such an accomplished musician at the age of 23.

Check out Lido on Youtube for some fantastic live performance videos, including a few with a full orchestra.

Published on October 30, 2015

What’s New: October 9th

Recent Music

A number of new albums have gone into my listening rotation over the last week:

  • Lana Del Rey – Honeymoon
  • The Weeknd – Beauty Behind the Madness
  • Big Grams (debut EP from Big Boi & Phantogram collar)
  • Run the Jewels – Meow the Jewels
  • Arcade Fire – The Reflektor Tapes
  • Drake – What a Time to Be Alive
  • Emancipator – Seven Seas

The biggest surprise among these albums has been The Weeknd, which is what I would describe as dark R&B. It is dark in a similar way to Lana Del Rey, eschewing the glossy, over-produced sheen of mainstream music in this genre and replacing it with an underground electronic music crossover vibe. Most of the songs are about sex, drugs, and partying, tinged with bitterness and heartbreak. Sonically, the production is slick and is reminiscent of this collaboration between Usher and Diplo a few years ago. In 2015 it feels like R&B is headed in an entirely new direction.

One of the most anticipated recent album releases is Meow the Jewels, a remix album of songs from 2014’s Run the Jewels 2, one of the most critically-acclaimed rap albums of the last few years. The concept behind the remix album is to bring a collection of excellent producers (like Just Blaze and The Alchemist) together to remix the RTJ2 using cat sounds. Here’s one song from that album, accompanied by an off-the-wall music video:

Recent Articles

  • China: The Anaconda in the Chandelier – Not an article that was published recently, but one that remains highly relevant and was brought to my attention yesterday. Compares and contrasts censorship and surveillance in the Soviet Union during the Cold War with modern day China. The parallels may be less than you imagine, with China engineering a much more sophisticated and psychologically effective system.
  • China’s Nightmarish Citizen Scores Are a Warning For Americans – The ACLU published this article this week, describing the much talked-about upcoming credit system in China which goes far beyond measuring personal financial prudence. This kind of a system makes a lot of sense for China, but the relationship between that system and one that may eventually appear in the United States does not seem far fetched. Like China’s Golden Shield project which caused a lot of uproar, it’s conceivable that this system could be abandoned before it’s scheduled to be made mandatory in 2020.
  • ISIS Makes Gains in Syria Territory Bombed By Russia – Between Russia taking a stand against opposition forces and refugees flooding Germany, Syria has suddenly become one of the most-discussed countries on earth.
  • Taking the ‘Smart Drug’ Modafinil Made Me Love Work but Hate People – Interesting first-person perspective on modafinil, the mental performance-enhancing drug which has become increasingly popular over the last two years. I have a few friends who take this stuff on a regular basis.

New Apps & Tools

Pause: Stress Relief on iPhone

This week I was introduced to an app called Pause by a friend, developed by ustwo, the same design group that made MoodNotes. I haven’t used it extensively but the concept and principles behind the app are fascinating and it is worth checking out. For now it is exclusive to the iOS App Store and costs $1.99 which is a paltry amount for something this well made. In a word, I would describe the experience of using it as mesmerizing. Here’s a video describing Pause and describing the development process, along with a link to the app below:

View Pause in the App Store

Habitica: Gamified Habit Tracking

This is an updated and improved version of a web-based called called HabitRPG which has been around for a few years. In this latest iteration, it is vastly updated and adds a lot of new functionality along with a greatly improved user experience. It’s available on iPhone for free and it’s available at for free as well.

View Habitica in the App Store
Published on October 9, 2015

Book Review #27: Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451Fahrenheit 451 is about fire fighters of the future who do not actually fight fires, but seek and destroy books. In this future society where books are illegal, everyone is sedated by mass media on television. But living within the docile crowd of ignorant masses are small pockets of underground, literate intellectuals. Fahrenheit 451 is about a fire fighter protagonist, Guy Montag, joining the literate underground and being awakened to the truth.

Recently I am fascinated by classics like this, 1984 and Brave New World. Each of these describe a dystopian future with many prescient details. Times change, but in so many ways, the struggle remains the same. The individual spirit fighting against the machine designed to crush it.

The postscript of Fahrenheit 451 eloquently describes the contemporary significance of the book:

“Sixty years out, Fahrenheit 451 has come to symbolize the importance of literacy and reading in an increasingly visual culture, offering hope that the wonders of technology and the raptures of multimedia entertainments will never obscure the vital importance of an examined life.”

Modern Day Parallels

Mechanical HoundFahrenheit 451 was written over a period of three years, beginning in 1950. At the time televisions were not common yet Ray Bradbury’s vision of the future of media is startlingly prescient. In 2015 we are on the cusp of entering into a new era of immersion, with consumer virtual reality devices like the Oculus Rift coming soon. But even 60 years ago, there were signs that literature was going to be blown away by visual media like movies and television.

One of my favorite literary devices in the book is the mechanical hound: an eight legged autonomous robot designed to hunt and kill fugitives. It is a terrifying symbol of the technological superiority that the ruling class has over would-be rebels like Guy. Its modern equivalent is certainly the drone, quietly patrolling the skies like a mechanical hawk.

Favorite Passages

Books bombarded his shoulders, his arms, his upturned face. A book lit, almost obediently, like a white pigeon, in his hands, wings fluttering. In the dim, wavering light, a page hung open and it was like a snowy feather, the words delicately painted thereon. In all the rush and fervor, Montag had only an instant to read a line, but it blazed in his mind for the next minute as if stamped there with fiery steel. “Time has fallen asleep in the afternoon sunshine.” He dropped the book.

Do you see why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life.

You could feel the war getting ready in the sky that night. The way the clouds moved aside and came back, and the way the stars looked, a million of them swimming between the clouds, like the enemy disks, and the feeling that the sky might fall upon the city and turn it to chalk dust, and the moon go up in red fire; that was how the night felt.

He turned and the Mechanical Hound was there. It was half across the lawn, coming from the shadows, moving with such drifting ease that it was like a single solid cloud of black-gray smoke blown at him in silence.

Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you’re there. It doesn’t matter what you do, he said, so long as you change something from the way it was before you touched it into something that’s like you after you take your hands away. The difference between the man who just cuts lawns and a real gardener is in the touching, he said. The lawn-cutter might just as well not have been there at all; the gardener will be there a lifetime.


This book is daring, subversive, and scary. It correctly predicts advances of future media with startling accuracy. The seashell that everyone walks around listening to in the book works exactly like an iPod. Eliminates the outside world allowing listeners to only hear things which validate and comfort their own beliefs. Guy Montag’s wife Mildred is constantly fixated on a television which occupies an entire wall in their house. I have that in my living room.

This book was written to say: this is what the future looks like, if you let it. In my opinion, there was no stopping these developments. As a society we will take the red pill and go further into the rabbit hole of technological immersion, with little resistance. We each have a personal responsibility to acknowledge and cultivate our own individuality by educating ourselves.

One of the touching messages in this book is that literature has “stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment.” This is an inspiring way to think about the texture created by the knowledge and experience captured in literature. It rightly challenges the idea that I have long held that reading literature is not as as worthwhile as non-fiction. The highest degree of human expression is not fueled only by knowledge but by passion and the individual spirit which challenges the status quo and to a degree rejects orthodoxy.

As Guy Montag says: “Burn them or they’ll burn you”


4.5 Stars

Fahrenheit 451 on Amazon

Published on October 6, 2015

24 Hours in Changsha

Last week I went to Changsha to play at a music festival called Xiangjiang. A short trip of just 24 hours in the Hunan capital city. Some photos from the afternoon and evening there.

Chongqing Fall 2015 (3 of 146)

Chongqing Fall 2015 (2 of 146)

Chongqing Fall 2015 (1 of 146)

Chongqing Fall 2015 (4 of 146)

Chongqing Fall 2015 (8 of 146)

Chongqing Fall 2015 (6 of 146)

Published on October 5, 2015