2009 recap

Greetings family, friends and curious internet surfers!

This year has been quite a big one for me, and I had ambitious plans to send a newsletter along with my Christmas cards detailing what I've been up to in 2009. After all, I figured I would have nearly seven months of free time after graduating in early May, and even counting after finishing the bar in July, I'd have a full five months before starting work. Of course, we all know how time flies, so without any further adieu, here is my year in review!

Big events:

- Law school graduation (May) - It was a great three-year run, but I'm definitely ready to move on!

- Business school graduation (June) - An equally great two-year run, and I don't think I could have lasted a third year!

- Took the bar (July) - Easily the hardest test I've ever taken.
- Moved back home to Pasadena (August) - I wasn't sure how things would work out once I moved back home, but now there's no question that I'll miss spending time with my parents and eating home-cooked food every night.
- Passed the bar (July) - Whew! Thankfully, my ten weeks of studying 6-10 hours per day, 7 days a week, paid off!

- Moving to San Francisco (starting December 28) - Now it's time for me to start the next leg of my life, and I'm very excited that I'll be back in San Francisco after a four-year hiatus. Although I'll miss my parents, this means more time with family and friends in the Bay Area (including my nephew Matthew)!

Places I went:
This was a pretty big travel year for me, as I wrapped up grad school and went on a plethora of trips.

Bahamas (January) - Long weekend in Freeport with the Kellogg Rugby Football Club. Although we lost our match, we escaped the fiercest storm of the winter, and plus I got a mohawk!

Wisconsin (February) - I tried my hand at snowboarding in the Midwest, and the rumors are true. It's flat out there.

family of 4 on MP
Peru (March) - Had a great trip with my parents and younger sister visiting Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca during the first half of my spring break.

Los Angeles/San Francisco (March) - The second half of my spring break included hanging out in LA and SF. I got to see my nephew, baby cousins and also the World Baseball Classic championship game at Dodger Stadium!

Durham, NC (April) - Traveled once again with the rugby team for the Duke MBA Rugby World Cup and left as the winner of the loser's bracket (losing only twice to Columbia)!

Auburn, CA (May) - Lauren and I ventured into California gold rush territory north of Sacramento for Amy and Brett's wedding.

Per Se Mosaic
New York, NY (July) - While taking a short study trip (we still put in at least six hours a day in our hotel room), Lauren and I went all out and treated ourselves to a no-holds-barred, decadent and truly memorable meal at Per Se. Gerald, thanks for getting us the reservation!

Pasadena, CA (August) - Not technically a trip, since I was moving back home, but I did make it in time to attend Mark and Erin's fun wedding.

Korea (September) - Toured Korea with the Andys, as we went all around Seoul (including the DMZ area) plus took the train down to Busan where we hit the beach and sampled the local sefood - including live, raw octopus!

China (September) - From Korea, I flew to Shanghai, where I hung out with a bunch of school friends. Apart from Shanghai, I climbed Huang Shan with Howard and Matt, and visited Shenzhen and Hong Kong with Jack. Plus, along the way, I got to see a bunch of old friends from Berkeley.

Australia (October) - For the next big trip, Lauren and I went down under and traveled the length of the eastern coast of Australia, traveling to Sydney, Brisbane, Cairns (Great Barrier Reef), Melbourne and Adelaide.

Seattle, WA (November) - I've wanted to take a domestic train trip for a long time, and I finally made it happen with a 35-hour train ride from Los Angeles to Seattle. I was accompanied by Dave, a law school buddy, and we also got to hung out with a few other friends in Seattle, including my old fraternity big bro and my younger sister's best friend.

Arizona/New Mexico/Texas (November) - In lieu of celebrating Thanksgiving at home, I took a bus trip with my parents and grandmother to visit the American Southwest. We made it out to White Sands, New Mexico, as well as Carlsbad Caverns (also in New Mexico), passing through Phoenix, Tucson and El Paso.

All in all, it's been a whirlwind year for me. It seems like just yesterday that I was ringing in the new year, and now I'll be going forward with my new career in just a few weeks! I've been horrible with my blog these past few years, but updating it regularly will be one of my new year's resolutions, so please feel free to visit the site next year to see what I've been up to.

Happy holidays, season's greetings, and best wishes for an incredible 2010!




the clique


left to right: Blue, Paulina (Blue's wife), McTater, McDrake, Jennifer (Dalbert's wife), Dalbert and Yusaku


mike wu, esq.

I passed! Now to catch up on nearly half a year's worth of postings. I'll try my way to work backwards: Seattle -> San Diego -> Australia -> China -> Korea -> Graduation

passedthe barwoot


seoul food

My first full day in Seoul, and Andy and I have spent it just hanging out, and eating whatever we choose. There's been a lot of fried goodness so far, both sweet and savory. The other Andy gets in late tonight, and then I'm hoping we are gonna scarf down some meaty eats!


to seoul!

It's been incredible living at home this past month since the bar exam, but tomorrow I depart for my first real bar trip - three weeks in Korea and China. I've never set foot in Seoul, where I'll be exploring the country with two law school friends (Andy and Andy) and then traveling to China, where I'm hoping to meet up with a bunch of different family and friends in Shanghai.

I haven't been great updating my blog recently, but I can sum up the past month pretty easily - family, friends, food and Warcraft. I don't think I've done anything that fall outside of those four categories.

I'll try my best to update from Asia, as I'll have my handy new little (actually TINY) netbook. Hopefully I can get as much updating done real-time, as I leave for Australia one week after I return from Asia.


all done

Aside from shipping a few boxes and some bathroom and kitchen cleanup, I am all done and wrapped up here in Chicago. Definitely sad to leave, but I'm really looking forward to moving back to California!

Also, I'm all done with the bar, which is very awesome! A lot of people had told me not to worry and the bar really isn't that bad, but I was still pretty worried. I would agree that the exam was not that difficult, but it's still probably the hardest test I've ever taken. The only reason why I think it was OK was because I studied like nuts this entire summer - 6 to 10 hours every single day for nearly two months prior to the exam. Anyways, I'm saving my celebration for November 20, when the results come out. Let's hope I pass!



I'm starting to have serious doubts about my ability to pass this bar exam :(


like and dislikes

I really like Freaks and Geeks. I just finished Disc 3 of the series, and my feelings are mixed. I'm happy because I really like the series, but sad because I know it'll be ending soon. Too soon. If you haven't watched it yet, I suggest you go and check it out. Especially if you're a cheesy romantic nerd at heart (which I am).

I really hate studying for the bar. I was feeling prepared and up for it, up until last week, when I started feeling some slight pangs of stress. I think it may have been caused by my lack of studying while I was in New York though, as I'm feeling slightly better now that I am back in the mix of studying everyday (including have class Saturday and Sunday this weekend!).


photo project

I've been wanting to start my own photo project ever since reading about the 1000 Portraits project on Flickr. Here's what I've decided on: I will photograph all food that I consume for the next week. Basically, any non-liquid that goes in my mouth will be photographed.

I think this has a few consequences. First, I think I'll probably be less inclined to eat really crappy junk food since I know it'll be kept in the photo records (likely). Second, this may drive me to eat food that will be more fancy, since I know it'll get photographed (less likely). I have a feeling that it'll be a pretty boring set of photos of just the same old food I eat all of the time. Sadly, I don't eat at places like Per Se all of the time (or even infrequently).


glowing rectangles

For the 4th of July, my friends Andy and Andy hosted a little BBQ, which unfortunately got rained out (rain on the 4th!! What's up with that Chicago?!!). Anyways, we had a great time inside Andy's apartment and while I was there (feasting on bacon-wrapped, cheese-filled hotdogs and Korean BBQ tacos), I got to check out Andy's 23" widescreen LCD monitor. I'd been thinking about getting one ever since I first saw the deal on CNET's Cheapskate blog for a $179 24" new monitor.

I decided to pull the trigger yesterday (only $139 with the eBillme rebate!) and it got me to thinking about an Onion article about staring at glowing rectangles. In addition to the LCD monitor, there's definitely a part of me that really wants a Kindle as well. That got me to thinking about all of the glowing rectangular screens I own and use:

- TV
- Lenovo Ideapad
- Macbook
- PSP 2000
- Nikon D40
- Casio Exilim Z850
- Canon SD1000
- Blackberry Pearl
- iPod Nano

I wouldn't say that 90% of my time is spent staring at these, but I'd say a good 25% minimum, and maybe even more...


per se

I finally made it! In my opinion, Per Se was my best dining experience so far! Other near comparable dining experiences are probably Alinea, Gary Danko and Michael Mina. Of course, while I was in NY, I also visited some old favorites, plus another new place that had been on my list for a long time - Burger Joint.

Per Se Mosaic



Nothing too exciting yesterday. I stuffed myself during lunch at David Burke's Primehouse, with their three course $20.09 lunch. I opted for their gazpacho, dry-aged burger and some delicious dessert I forget the name of. In the evening I met up with some of the rugby grads at Northside Grill out in Wicker Park. We were thinking about going to Violet Hour, but it got vetoed as too expensive and too romantic for a bunch of dudes.


dodgers vs. white sox

Thanks to LSU's stellar performance in the College World Series, I was lucky enough to get a fabulous pair of tickets to the Chicago White Sox game last night against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Sadly, the Dodgers didn't show up the last time I saw them at Wrigley Field, but the team had a great game last night, with the hitting and pitching both showing up - finishing with a 5 - 2 win.

In anticipation of receiving my wide-angle lens, Sigma 10-20mm, this week (it came in today!), I borrowed a friend's wide angle, a Tamron 11-17mm that didn't autofocus with my Nikon D40. Even without the autofocus, I think the pictures came out pretty well.

With my 18-55mm lens:

Two shots with the 11-17mm manual focus lens:



busy thursday

For the first time, I'm falling behind with my BarBri homework, mainly because of grad week and other obligations this week. It's been a great fun-filled week though, and definitely worth falling behind a bit in my studies. Last night, I made three stops:

Joanna's surprise party - Joanna's husband, Mike, organized an awesome surprise birthday party for Joanna. Happy birthday Joanna!

Avec - Lauren's friend Ed is in town, so we decided to take him out to a favorite Chicago late night restaraunt. As usual, the dates were awesome, and I love their focaccia.

The Violet Hour - After dinner, we made our way to Wicker Park to The Violet Hour, a hidden Chicago speakeasy. Although the drinks were pricy at $12 each, the ambience was great and the drinks themselves excellent.


This product kills me. I kind of want to get it.


summer catchup

Looking back after five post-graduation weeks, I've actually had a pretty good summer so far. Given all the catchup, I'll just try to list what I've done so far.

Sun Wah
I've been meaning to check out their Beijing Duck special - $30 for duck served three ways: with buns, as a soup, and as a fried rice. It was actually pretty legit with huge portions, but probably not as good as anything in CA.

Charlie Rose interviewing Karl Rove and James Carville
Even more protesters than the Gore event, but at least there were way fewer annoying hecklers interrupting.

Deepak Chopra @ Kellogg
I haven't read any of his books, but his speech about the role of leadership in building global prosperity was pretty interesting.

Dillo Day 2009
The Decemberists play a free concert in the Northwestern campus.

Cubs vs. Dodgers
Dodgers lose this game, and leave with a 2-2 split with the Cubs.

Rugby Banquet
End-of-year banquet at Timmy O'Tooles for the KFRC - greatest club at Kellogg!

Rugby USA vs. Wales
Over 6,000 in attendance at Toyota Park to see the Eagles play Wales (and unfortunately lose).

Urban Belly
No pictures, but this place was tasty, albeit a bit pricy.

Printer's Row Lit Fest
No purchases this year at the book fest. I'm saving it for SF's Big Book Sale.

Kellogg Korean BBQ - Boo-il Galbi
This was part VI of a recurring Kellogg event, each more wild than the last. Unfortunately, I drove to the dinner and had to leave early before the craziness commenced.

I didn't eat as many ribs as the first time I went, but this time a group of us camped out in the middle of Lincoln Ave. with some cheap store bought beer and just enjoyed the evening.

Wells Street Art Festival
Although I wasn't planning on making any big art purchases, it was still nice to take advantage of some relatively nicer weather to walk around and then stroll back home via Lakeshore.

Whirlyball with the Turkeys

They need to bring this to the Bay Area - it's awesome! Plus, the Jive Turkeys (my Kellogg section) are awesome!

Grad Ball at the Nature Museum
The last Kellogg hurrah before graduation. It's finally starting to sink in that school is over...

Ok, so I'm now caught up and will be back with more summer updates!

long time no blog

I keep meaning to catch up, but can't seem to overcome the hurdle of getting onto Blogger and actually creating a new post. Here's hoping this post creates some momentum!


dead in a day

The grad committee set up a game of Assassins at the law school, and I didn't even last a day. I was actually warned that my killer had asked a friend about my schedule, but totally forgot. I was "killed" two minutes before class was due to start, when I peeked out to check if I was in the right room (I was the only one in class)!


one more day...

One more day until I fly to LA, and three more days until I leave for Peru!


eating frenzy

I know it's been a long time since I last posted, but I've been on a nearly unprecedented eating binge starting the week of my birthday. I'll try to list every where I've been in the past two weeks:

Lao Beijing (twice!)
The Grill on the Alley
Hop Haus
Frontera Grill
Cafe Spiaggia

And yesterday I went to a really great event - the Greater Chicago Food Depository's First Annual "Soup Off"(recap here) - which was a lot of fun. Also Chicago Restaurant Week has been extended to March 6!


last day at 30

Wow.  I usually amble straight through my birthdays without a second thought, but for some reason thinking that today is my last day at 30 is a bit ominous.  The more I think about it, 31 feels a lot older than 30...  30 is new and fresh, whereas 31 means you've already been in your 30s for over a year :(

Another thing that kind of bummed me out today is that I recalled a bunch of emails I sent to myself before I started law school.  While I was in New York, I wrote emails to myself that would be delivered in one, five and ten years.  Seeing as how I never got the one year email, it means that the message never got delivered, or it got caught in my spam filter.  Either way, it would have been nice to know what I wanted to tell myself earlier.  I think next time I'll just write a letter to myself in Word, and save it somewhere I won't open it.


big fat refund

For the past few weeks, I had been waiting eagerly for my W-2 so that I could file my taxes and get my refund.  Too bad I totally forgot about the stack of mail I picked up and left on my counter last week.  I found it yesterday, and immediately filed my taxes online courtesy of TurboTax - free federal, $9.95 state (at least for us poor students).  I'm looking forward to receiving my huge refund (woohoo for the Lifetime Learning Credit!).

However, chances are that I will blow it all soon on restaurants, camera gear and travel...


weekend update

Another solid weekend.

Friday was Kuma's Corner with Andrew and Tyler. Monster meal as always, although the wait is a turn-off.

Saturday morning I was up bright and early to go snowboarding at Cascade Mountain in Wisconsin.  Definitely way smaller that anything I've been to in California, plus you had to wait longer in the lift line than it took to come down.  Still, it was fun to go boarding and the snow was at least decent - packed but not icy (for the most part).  Afterwards, we went back to our suite at Comfort Suites, and ordered in Pizza Hut.  After a late night, we visited the world's largest Culver's on our way back on Sunday.  The Butter Burger had been on my list, and it did not disappoint - very solid fast food burger.  Also surprisingly delicious on the trip were the fried cheese curds, which tasted pretty much like fried cheese  (surprise?).



damn comcast!

Last night, Anthony Bourdain's show, No Reservations, featured the great city of Chicago.  Being excited about the show, I emailed a bunch of friends to remind them to set their DVRs, never imagining that when I came home I discovered that I don't get the Travel Channel!  Luckily a friend has it on his DVR, so I definitely plan on catching it soon.  At least I can read his blog post now so I can understand what everyone is talking about.


weekend update

This past weekend was a pretty good one.  Friday lunch at De Pasada, evening Bulls game (competitively close until the last few minutes when the Raptors blew them out), Saturday lunch at Lao Beijing (where they have an excellent all-you-can-eat hot pot special which includes appetizer dishes), Saturday night birthday party at MaxBar, Sunday museum visit to the Art Institute, and evening game night in Evanston.






Yesterday a few of us went to the new Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Lincoln Park. The burger was pretty darn good aside from the fact that I wish I had known the regular burger is a two patty burger (like In-and-Out's Double-Double). I prefer just one patty on my burger and if I had known, I would have ordered two of their "little burgers" instead. The fries also came in huge amounts, and Cajun is definitely the way to go. I also appreciate the free peanuts, although seating is so sparse that take out may be the best bet. I went with the bacon cheeseburger with BBQ sauce, but next time I'm planning on trying a traditional single patty burger with lettuce, tomatoes, etc.



lunch club

So for my last few months in Chicago, I've decided to institute a lunch club where I plan on going on a destination lunch each week. By destination lunch, I mean somewhere either good/new, and planned in advance where friends are invited (although I do enjoy eating alone, that wouldn't make it much of a club).

Last week's inaugural meal (for the lunch club, not the government), was at Rosebud Steakhouse for their awesome burger. This week I plan on hitting up Pizano's Pizza for some supposedly delicious "thin crust pizza."

Speaking of the real inauguration, I showed up at my 10:50am Evidence class wondering why less than half the people were there. Once I realized that it was during the inauguration, I quietly stepped out of class to watch on the big screen the school had set up. By them time I returned to class, so had a few other students. I am glad I decided to watch the speech instead of sit in class, as I'm sure the inauguration will go down as one of the great historic moments in during my lifetime (and Rule 407 didn't seem that hard to understand).

new portrait

I also got a new haircut.

Photo 4

krfc bahamas tour

I spent this morning posting photos from an awesome weekend in Freeport. Click here for the album.



official portrait

Not mine, but Barack Obama's official presidential portrait has been released (click the link to download your own copy!).  As the site mentions, it's interesting that It is the first time that an official presidential portrait was taken with a digital camera. Much better than mine below.


first dslr

I took the plunge and decided to buy my first digital SLR camera, the Nikon d40. Here's my first uploaded pic (an awkward self-portrait).



turtles all the way down

I love Wikipedia.  My professor just the term "turtles all the way down."  I thought I knew the origin, but thankfully Wikipedia easily confirmed it :)



Watched Milk this past Saturday and it was fantastic.  Most inspiring biopic possibly ever.  Glory may be the only thing that comes close, but I couldn't really think of anything else. On a personal level, the movie made me proud as a soon-to-be San Francisco resident.

Although people are raving about Slumdog Millionaire, I thought it was good but not great.  Millions, another movie by Danny Boyle, I thought invoked stronger feelings.  However, I watched that movie ages ago, so I may need to revisit it for an accurate comparison.