Company Team Photo

If I had my way I might go around and take random photos of people, which is probably really weird so I have to patiently wait until coworkers like these ask me to take a team photo of them.

CA Actuarial Medicaid team

The past few months

Ever since I finished my last exam I’ve been meaning to blog. My last test was right before Halloween and was correspondingly scary. One guy who took it with me attempted a problem, crumpled up his written answer, tried again, and ended up submitting his crumpled sheet of paper.  The whole thing was tough and much different than our practice exams but I do think I gave the whole thing my best shot and I think I have a shot at passing. Anyway, the results don’t get released until mid January so I have a little while to enjoy not studying. If I do pass it would have been my last actuarial exam! I really really really want to pass.

Since the exam, Lauren and I have been watching Star Wars movies we got from the library (she hadn’t seen any of them), using our sous vide machine (it’s nice to just plop in the meat and forget about it for awhile), hosting a couple game nights with coworkers (where I learned how to use the sous vide machine), and doing everything but studying. It’s really nice. Marriage has been … well, I feel very pampered. Not in all the things she does for me. It’s just feels really nice to spend all this time with someone that really wants to be with you.

For Thanksgiving, we went up to the Bay Area and spent time with Lauren’s family and got to see some of our friends.



Before we went up I went around the house to take some photos of the place.  Here’s one of the kitchen, where we spend most of our time.


I should probably try using my wide angle lens more often.

Over this past weekend, Lauren and I celebrated our 6 month anniversary. We went to Naples, which is a city in Italy!  OK, we actually went to Naples Island in Long Beach, California, close to where we got married. I was still a little sick but we managed to walk around the area for the Christmas light boat show. The houses were all opened up for parties and family get-togethers that you could see right into them. They all looked like super nice, like something you’d see in a Pottery Barn catalog. We spent the night down there, visited the place where we got married, went to a neighborhood farmer’s market which was at a school, and ducked into the school’s basketball game (the purple team got crushed). I guess we were thinking what it’d be like to have kids in school and all. We went to this resort afterwards to hang around the area, play Carcassonne, and have dinner before coming back home. I think Lauren really wanted to take a trip somewhere over the holidays but our one night, half-anniversary excursion may have been it for this year.

Last Sunday, I was also on the radio!  You can listen to the broadcast here.  Lauren and I have been regularly trying to submit answers for NPR’s weekly puzzle and mine was selected! I got to play the Sunday puzzle with the hosts. It tried to prepare and wrote down all my responses word for word to the questions they normally ask guests (“How did you solve the puzzle?” “How long have you been playing the puzzle?”) so I wouldn’t stumble on my answers.  It ended out turning out ok but I was really nervous.  Maybe I thought it was like an exam all over again…

Uncle Paul and Auntie Lin

I see some of my extended family once every decade or so (give or take a decade), so it was surprising to get an email from my Uncle Paul and Auntie Lin to meet up for dinner this weekend, as they were in town.  They found me through the interwebs!  We ate at Thai town and we caught up on family stuff.  They gave me a couple photos, and one was an old one of my dad and family:

My dad is the man in black in the center
My extended family, with my dad in the center in a black suit. I’d imagine he’s 20 or so…

Lauren says she can see the resemblance but it sort of reminds me how my brother used to look. They also gave me one of their family:

Extended family
Coincidentally playing a game Lauren and I bought a couple months ago: Splendor!

After getting home, on close inspection, I realized they’re playing the exact game Lauren and I just purchased a couple months ago. Splendor! Maybe it’s in our genes… I wonder if one of them managed to get a monopoly on the red tokens just like I did.

A new camera

I’ve been contemplating the notion of what my life would be like if I got a new camera.  Maybe the photos I took at my coworker’s baby shower in the darkened restaurant wouldn’t be so grainy with a larger sensor.  Maybe I could transfer them over wifi to my phone and post them immediately!  Maybe I woudn’t have to attach an intervelometer everytime I wanted to take multiple shots on its own.  Maybe I could touch the screen where I want the camera to focus!  Maybe my low light shots would be sharper with in body stabilization!  With so many things to contemplate, I had to make a spreadsheet.  And scour the web for sample photos, and watch video after video on various cameras and jot down DxOMark ratings for various cameras.  The XT1s, the a7series, the OMDs, the new GX8…  on paper they all look really cool!  But I don’t know, they are all kinda pricey.  And I’d have to get new lenses for some of them.  And I’d have trouble justifying spending money that’s essentially Lauren’s.  And maybe they’d lose their charm after awhile.  And maybe I just need to get better at taking photos.  And do I really need more photos of Lauren and me?  And shouldn’t I get back to studying?  I guess it’s going to be awhile before I get a new camera…





I turned 38 recently.  Lauren took me to this place where you were locked in this room for 45 minutes and had to get out by solving puzzles with the other people in your group.  I was pretty clueless most of the time but was able to figure out what the words over the door meant and we were able barely escape with a minute and a half to spare!  There was this kooky guy in our group that made the whole experience really fun since he was, well, kinda kooky.  He was so kooky that I thought he was hired by the place to enhance the experience, but it turns out in the end he was an actual kooky guy.

Afterwards Lauren took me to this really nice restaurant near Malibu in the mountains.  It was an outdoor restaurant, a country kitchen type of place with all these kids running around in the middle of their meals as they had all these lawn games everywhere.  It was really nice place to spend a relaxing Sunday evening and we ended up playing shuffleboard, carving a chicken (one of their entrees was a whole chicken), and taking some more photos.



I’m one years old!

One of these days I’m going to branch out and start taking photos of something other than the same two people.  But until then…

Wedding Photos

We got a whopping 800+ photos from our wedding!  I figured 10% is a pretty good proportion to leave on the web for possible posterity.  I must have listened to Ed Sheeran’s song, Photograph, a half kazillion times while sorting through these photos.  It was on repeat.  I’m addicted to that song…

It’s not a carburetor

I know I know I know I know I know!  I got it!  I figured out this week’s NPR Sunday Puzzle!

Name part of a car.  Drop the fifth letter.  Now reverse the order of the last three letters and the result reading from left to right will name a major American city.  What is it?

I guess the chance to be on the radio is pretty slim but I’m still excited to have finally figured out one of them!  Maybe it’s better if I don’t get picked and embarass myself not knowing any of Sunday puzzle answers .  It would be like 11th grade social studies all over again.

Re: hello world!

My site moved to this new webhost.  I should probably upload my old entries but whenever I move to a new place I like a fresh, clean start!  Mmm, love that generic white and gray smell…

Here’s a photo of my hot wife (the fleece blanket was way too warm and we had the a/c turned off) and some guy in glasses doing a puzzle which we picked up at Disneyland.

Our “quiet room”

We did the puzzle in our “quiet room.”  We wanted a room in our house to be free from distractions, to read or ponder life’s great questions, like why are do all the sky puzzle pieces look the same, or why did I buy a Puzzle Roll Up when all it is is a plain piece of felt.

Library Cards

We got library cards! Last weekend we visited the Calabasas library after church and decided to get library cards. I checked out this children’s book which was on display, and Lauren got a few audio books including Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. I studied a bit for my next exam this coming October while taking breaks reading. I haven’t checked out a book for a really long time and it felt like growing up visiting the library, seeing the community announcements and reading programs. I think each place we visit around the neighborhood, Lauren and I wonder what it’d be like to grow up and raise kids here. I suppose it’s unavoidable, after the home purchase and all the box unpacking. It took several overflowing recycling bins of boxes and a trip to Goodwill but we’ve finally manged to unpack most of our stuff and put them in their proper places. A lot of the stuff we’ve got as wedding gifts has already come in handy, from the blender (made a green smoothie this morning) to the pots, pans and measuring cups (first cooked meal: congee) to even the ice cream maker (Lauren made strawberry ice cream yesterday). I’m told after awhile we won’t use the ice cream maker much, but Lauren does like her ice cream…

Anyway, after finishing up most of the leftover unpacking last weekend, we did more exploring and drove to El Scorpion Canyon Park and walked along the trail. I remember hiking here with Nick some odd Thanksgiving and we had hiked a few miles before turning back. I’m not sure how far the trail goes but Lauren was in sandals and couldn’t walk too far. We heard lots of frogs croaking in the stream below and we just stood there together, soaking it in, before we decided it was getting dark and turned back.

The last six months

I guess a lot of things have happened since my last post! Back in mid-January I was notified I passed my seventh actuarial exam. One more to go!  Lauren took me out to a French restaurant to celebrate and it felt nice to be done with studying for a bit (I plan to take my next exam in October) which was good because I was super busy with other things. Particularly wedding type things.

I wanted to paint each of my groomsmen a painting related to how I remember each of them, as a gift. To be honest, it did cross my mind whether I could paint something for each guest too but that might have stretched my skills a little further than what I could handle in that time frame…

Photographing with Kevin
Working with Allen
Playing poker with Nick
Driving with Ed
Eating with Vincent

Lauren and I ended up hiring photographer couple Nataly and Art Lemus and taking engagement photos with them. We were thinking of taking the photos around the Larchmont area, where Lauren and I would walk around a lot, but we opted for a more natural setting, Topanga Canyon State Park. Lauren appreciates nature and the photos turned out great.

One of our first photos
Taking our … next steps. Ba dum bum.
Just walking in the park dressed up like you normally do
The shoes were Lauren’s Christmas gift to me
The jacket I was wearing had some strechy lycra material. It came in handy.
The space was really nice. Never hiked there. Have to return.
We used this as our main entrance photo.


I had a hard time disguising the shirt folds underneath the sweater. Such is the pains of engagement photography.
One of Lauren’s ideas was to take photos in the grass. I’m glad we did!

It was really nice to not have to be behind the camera and set up a tripod and fiddle with focusing and camera settings! Lauren and I do the tripod thing quite a lot and we tried to take some photos ourselves back in March at Descano Gardens in Pasadena. It’s a really nice place to visit, and neither of us have been there before.

Pretending to be walking somewhere
Making up after a quarrel
I tried a shot where I was holding her. Unfortunately her skirt was too high. This will have to do.
We had a number of photos of us on the rocks. They were all blury except for this one. Curse you auto-focus!

Earlier this year, Lauren and I were driving around LA thinking of places to live and although initially we were wanting to rent (to test out areas where we might want to buy), we quickly realized that renting in LA was going to be expensive and it may be beneficial to buy in the long run. Then we quickly realized that buying in LA would be pretty expensive too. So we tried to balance price, commute, and schools (finding two of these things is easy; finding all three was impossible) and narrowed it down to three different areas (Valencia, Northridge, West Hills) before settling in at a place in West Hills. Signing all the papers and forking over a large chunk of change was a bit overwhelming, but it felt good to find a place we could call home for now. And of course we couldn’t close escrow and enter our house for the first time as home owners without setting up the tripod for a photo-op.

New home owners!

May, the month before our wedding, was busy. We finished the bulk of the home repairs and refinishes. She finished most of the wedding preparations/decorations/flowers/vendor arranging/programs. And we went to four weddings – two of my groomsmens’, our small group leader’s, and one of Lauren’s high school friend’s. Two of them were back to back the same weekend! It was really exciting to see our friends get married and the feel of each wedding seemed different. I guess you notice stuff like the feel of each wedding when you’re planing your own. We traveled a lot for each wedding and for Vincent’s we got to go up to the New Hampshire area where we’ve never been before. It was beautifully green up there much different from the concrete landscape of LA, and we even got a chance to go up the coast of Maine before we left. I had a lobster roll for the first time at this place. It was delish.

Ed got married!
Vincent and Libby’s wedding day. It was pouring!
My first lobster roll. Or rather, Glasses Theo first lobster roll.

I remember constantly asking Lauren, what if we lived in a place like New Hampshire. A place more secluded and less crowded and less smoggy. I think we both like the idea but I suppose a change of scenery has never been a reason for us to move in the past. I guess it’s always been school or job related. We have friends and family moving to NYC and South Carolina and that’ll be a big change in landscape but I suppose they’re also motivated by a job.

So after we came back from our wedding travels we started putting the last touches on the wedding. I assembled our cake topper, cut mattes for our photos, and did a last minute borders for the photobooth and ceremony program.


Cake topper design
Cake topper design
Photobooth baner
Photobooth baner
Program border
Program border

Aside from a few art projects, Lauren did pretty much everything. The day before our wedding, seeing all the family and friends together during rehearsal, I just felt really happy to see everyone all there in the same place. I also felt tired. I never knew getting married (compounded by home buying) could be such work! Sorting through who would do what when and how was mentally exhausting even though Lauren was doing most of the heavy lifting. But at the dinner rehearsal, when there was nothing left to do, I felt just happy to be sitting with my groomsmen and having a meal. Considering they’re all a healthy drive or a plane ticket away, that doesn’t happen too often anymore. Anyway, we eventually called it a night and I went back to my hotel room I was sharing with Nick, who shined my shoes for me that night!

My family and hers met for lunch for the first time before rehearsal.

I didn’t sleep a lot the night before my wedding. Maybe a few hours. I was thinking about all that might happen the next day. People I’d see and things that we didn’t plan for. And my thank you speech. I’ve spoken at a number of weddings and some of the speeches turned out ok, but most of them were filled with so much awkward pauses and awkward silence and awkward phrasing that I’m a bit self conscious about them. It felt a little weird to be so nervous on a day that was supposed to be a celebration but I was.

I got up early and one of her bridesmaids gave me a gift and letter from Lauren. It was a wooden wrist-watch with an engraved backing, “You got me – Lauren, 6.13.15” from this song we used to listen to. I had brunch with Kevin, Ed, and Nick, and Kevin suggested I write her a card to thank her for the gift so I drove to Target, wrote the card, showered, dressed, and got ready for our first look in the hotel courtyard.

I was crying so much before our first look. My father-in-law-to-be texted me to breathe.
Credit: Kevin P.
Going to our photo shoot. Credit: Libby G. Libby G, sounds like a rapper’s name.
Finishing photo shoot. Credit: Libby G.

First smooch. Credit: my father in law, I think.
Philly friends!
First dance. No fancy twirls. Maybe we could have worked on it more :). Credit: Libby G.
Me and my lady and my best man and his lady. Credit: someone kind enough to use Libby G.’s phone.

I remember feeling so thankful the rest of the day, mainly for having someone that would promise everything of her to me. (I felt like I was going to cry at the altar the whole time so I’m guessing I’ll look like I’m frowning in most of the photos.) We said our vows and I promised to love and be faithful to her for the rest of our lives. And then we took photos, ate food and cake, played games, and greeted everyone who came. Sort of. I’m glad I got a chance to say hello and talk to some people I don’t see often, but most everyone else I hardly got to talk to, and it didn’t help that I awkwardly called someone by the wrong name. My thank you speech went ok. Like most of my speeches, it was generally outlined in my head. I got to say 80-90% of what I wanted to say, so I suppose it could have been worse :).

We remembered we didn’t get a chance to take a photo of the sign in front of our venue so that night Vincent’s wife, Libby, took one of us

It wasn’t as hauntingly scary as it might look

Of course, I had to try to suggest we return to take one ourselves the next morning. Out with the tripod!

Heart trapped … it will change the way you love!

The sign references this riddle game Lauren and I used to play (and make fun of since some of the riddles are absurd and overly difficult).

On Sunday we had brunch with some out of towners and then spent time at Terranea resort walking along the ocean-line and having a nice dinner there.

It was really nice to see east coast friends for the last time.
One day old marriage

We left for Catalina Island by ferry on Monday. The entire trip was incredibly relaxing and not having wedding or house things to attend to was really nice. Our hotel room was one of the most comfortable I’ve been in with it’s own jacuzzi (which we made good use of every night), and it was nice to just lounge around the beach area playing Carcasonne, our favorite board game.

Playing our favorite game in our favorite hotel room. I did win but unforunately she had one less meeple the whole game which I failed to distribute at the beginning. So I guess that makes me a big cheater.
We rode this big 50s bus on a tour around the inland parts of the island. A lot of dry desert but we did get to see some bison.
The bison on the island are all thirsty …
We visited an animal sanctuary for kids. There was an injured bald eagle there.


On the bus tour they had a rest stop at the airport in the mountains on Catalina. We took this photo there.
Right before ziplining
On our last day we rented a golf cart and went to the Catalina Gardens and took a more scenic route on the way back.
At Catalina Gardens
Psst. The winner was on the right.

We decided to spend our last full day of our honeymoon on Friday at Disneyland with Vincent, his wife, and his aunt and cousin. We hardly waited for any of the rides using Vincent’s Fast Past Strategy and all the Disneyland staff congratulated us on getting married with our cool pins.

With our fancy pins riding Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
We always like It’s a Small World
Two recently married couples posing before trying to find a spot for the 60th Anniversary parade.

Like most trips to Disneyland, it was a big workout for our feet and calves which were satisfyingly sore the next day.

Phew!1 So that’s the last six months of my life. The last six months of wedding planning and house buying. The last six months of traveling and celebrating. And the last six months of being single! I’m a married man!

[Slideshow credit: Sarah L.]

1I now feel like I have to take a vacation from writing all this about my vacation.