Pork Chops, Thanksgiving, and a 35mm f/1.8 AF-S

November 30th, 2013 by Justus Pang

Well it turns out that if you have an autofocus lens and a bounce flash you can make decent food porn.

Thanksgiving had a duck, cheesecake, mashed potatoes and minestrone soup.

Saturday had porkchops with apples and portobello mushrooms. The recipe came from Mark Bittman’s Basics – which is really a nicely structured book – with a couple modifications, instead of onions I used mushrooms and in lieu of wine I just used apple juice. I was surprised how all these came out. Maybe I’ll be getting into cooking or something now. I think Jing would appreciate it!

pork chops

pork chop porn

breakfast

lunch

thanksgiving!

2 out of 3…any way to shift the paradigm for house hunting?

August 25th, 2013 by Justus Pang

It seems that our house hunt has been a balancing act of Price, House (lot and building), and Neighborhood (schools, etc).

Its hard enough to get 2 out of 3, but seemingly impossible to get all three. This conundrum seems to be common, as an architect the saying is price, quality, speed. And for my health care management friends its affordability, quality, accessibility.

I wonder how we can break out of this slump.

Democracy in action

July 13th, 2013 by Justus Pang

The other day we went to the planning commission public meeting because one of our clients had a variance request. It was a long tedious affair…and yet insanely interesting. I’m not sure its something I would do on any basis other than as required for items that directly affect me or my clients, but its certainly interesting to have a window in the lives of those around us. From adding a liquor section to walmart to a guy who got caught building without permits there were little glimpses everywhere you looked.

http://www5.lasvegasnevada.gov/sirepub/mtgviewer.aspx?meetid=1342&doctype=Agenda

A wedding coda

July 8th, 2013 by admin

Just coincidentally, I sent off my thank you notes and paid off my credit card bill, today.  We had a very simple wedding, so fortunately we won’t be eating interest on the extravaganza, it just happened to be the lag time between reception transaction and final bank autopay withdrawal   But wow.  If you ever want advice on having a relatively cheap but decent wedding in Las Vegas we’d love to help.  Cause even a simple wedding gets expensive fast!

Aside from that, just thanks to everyone.  Everyone who came and everyone who wished us well.  And to our parents.  Cheers!

Checking in after half a year.

July 7th, 2013 by admin

Well not much and yet a lot has changed.  I’d say that Badger’s passing was certainly the most momentous thing that happened at the end of 2012, but really that might not be true.  Because right before the year closed out the heater in our apartment in 1407 Missouri died, but only after burning out and spewing toxic plastic fumes into the place.  The maintenance team was unable to fix it and ownership was unwilling to do the right thing and just replace the damn system.  So we got let out of our lease.

The lease would have ended in May, so most likely we would have considered moving back to Las Vegas then, but everything got pushed up.  And so by the end of January we had quit our jobs and on Valentines Day 2013, we were on the road.  We had a lovely, lovely meal sitting on the parking lot of Bucees between Houston and San Antonio (this gas stop did not have any benches to eat at, so I mean literally sitting on the parking lot pavement).  Aside from a blown tire in Houston and another in Phoenix, we had a safe and relatively uneventful trip landing in Las Vegas a few days later.

And not a month later I got a job with Craig Palacios.  Which was also quite a series of fortunate events.  I had been hooked up with an interview in Downtown Las Vegas because of a contractor in Vegas and while in Downtown I wandered around.  One of my now coworkers dug my vibe, gave me their contact, maybe dropped a good word for me (though never having met me before) and my period of unemployment lasted a total of 39 days.

Oh and we got married.  May 11, 2013.  Whee!

May 11, 2013

May 11, 2013

Goodbye to an old friend

December 9th, 2012 by Justus Pang
A closeup while I was shooting my holiday postcards

Like most rescue buns, his early history is long lost to memories of another household, who most likely bought him as a cute little baby bunny without realizing he would quickly become a big white rabbit with a strong personality. They then dumped him at a local shelter, who couldn’t get him adopted and when a spot opened up at the House Rabbit Society, he was brought in at the eleventh hour before being euthanized. He got his name there, the vet named him Badger due to his long sharp face and his propensity to nip people without warning. I originally adopted him to be a third wheel with another pair of rabbits. It looked promising at first; they all seemed to put up with each other in their initial meeting. But in actuality the pair was in shock from being driven to the shelter and being introduced to a new rabbit, and once they realized this was supposed to be a permanent arrangement, they made it very clear it was not acceptable. Even though Badger was almost as big as the other two combined, they fought him tooth and nail for a month before we finally gave up. Badger still has a little scar on his nose, nothing obvious, but if you looked closely, you would have seen a slight part in his fur.

So he was consigned to live for his first four years as a single bunny. Even after I broke up with my own partner and the pair moved back to California, Badger still had the occasional rabbit visitor in his house from friends in grad school. He never seemed that interested in their company, and though he was always the biggest bunny, he still managed lose the couple fights he managed to get into. I don’t think he ever had that deep fire, that true anger that made him proficient at actually fighting. He appreciated attention, but he never craved it. He enjoyed company, but to a point. He had a quick temper, you could pet him for a while, but once he had enough he would nip your hand without warning and hop away. As long as he had his water, pellets, greens, and hay, I think he was reasonably happy. Really, he loved his food. I remember the time he broke into a bag of tortilla chips and it took a year before he stopped pestering me whenever sat down to each something crunchy. And there was the time he knocked over a trashcan and tried out some rotisserie chicken! A nice middle class existence for a big white bunny.

Life intervened as I was wrapping up my master’s thesis. My girlfriend’s coworker found a lovely little harlequin bunny at Herman Park on Christmas Day. Unfortunately, this coworker was also the owner of a few snakes, so having a precocious rabbit riling up the big reptiles was not a good sustainable situation. With this prompt, I realized it was time to push Badger into having a friend and so Peppercorn ended up in our apartment. It took a few months before we could start bonding the pair – she had to grow up, get spayed, and drain out her hormones – and even with the long wait it wasn’t love at first sight, I think Badger was a bit too comfortable being by himself. But some after some persistent effort by Jing, he warmed up to this annoying little one who would eat all his food and hog the attention of the humans around them. And hump him. And demand grooming while rarely reciprocating. Their love only knew two boundaries. Whenever Badger thought she was getting too much human attention he would hop over and nip her in the butt so he could have his time in the spotlight until he got bored, nipped the human, and hopped away. And given a chance she would eat all his food; Badger was the heartiest eater I knew until we met this ferocious devourer; though with any unfamiliar fruits and greens, Peppercorn would let Badger try it out a couple times before she’d jump in herself.

Well, Peppercorn lost her food taster on Saturday. Over this last month he quickly declined due to arthritis, e. cunniculi, cancer, and infections. It was just a matter of time. He had lost almost half his weight and the use of his hind legs. After he began to have trouble sitting up with his front legs, I made plans to to take him in this week, but his body decided a little earlier. A couple days before he passed, I gave them some cilantro but when she threatened to inhale the whole bunch at high speed, I put her back in the cage so he could eat in peace. For the first time ever, Badger stopped eating until I let her back out to join him. I always fed them separately and he never waited for her before. I think he knew he did not have many meals left, and he wanted to share it with his lady – even if she would eat most of it. On Saturday morning he ate with gusto, but by the afternoon his appetite disappeared, and in the evening he was no longer with us. I have never been through something as heart wrenching as watching my Badger travel the passage out from the living. He no longer had the energy to sit up, and his body was convulsing as he went through his death throes. In our years together, he never spoke a word until he moaned in pain that night. Then he quieted down, his mouth opened, and life departed from his body. We were fortunate to all be sitting around him, me, Jing, and Peppercorn, but that final journey was one Badger had to take alone.

He now rests in my friends’ backyard. Even though they had a young newborn at home, my friends graciously stayed up late so Peppercorn could have her vigil with Badger. So late on Saturday night, we took him out of their cage, wrapped him up, went to our friend’s house, dug a small grave, and buried his body. But really the hardest part for us was coming home. For the first time in five years, Peppercorn was sitting by herself, and it tore our hearts out. Jing used to always ask me who I thought was was the cutest bunny ever. And I’d reply, Badger by way of seniority. Well Peppercorn’s got seniority now. And she doesn’t have a competitor for food either. Its just her world now, she no longer has to worry about the unfairness of life as Badger was fed unlimited pellets while she got only an eighth of a cup.

I never viewed myself as a sappy guy and so I always thought I had a distant relationship with the buns: I would feed them and in return they would provide entertainment by just being rabbits, doing their thing (destroying stuff) around the house. But when I came home to a quiet house, when I realized I couldn’t say “stay out of trouble kiddos” in the plural, I realized I had invested in him way more than I had previously imagined. As with most relationships, enduring strength is built on the small accretion of daily life, and every day I had given him a little bit of myself. Every time we let them out the cage and he’d just plop himself under the coffee table. Every time I chased Peppercorn away so he could eat in peace. Every time we sat together for a short moment. Every time I fed him, and he acted like he had never seen food before. Every time, every little act, every day I deposited a little bit of my heart into him. So when he finally passed away, it felt like my heart had been ripped out of my chest. I had no idea how much he meant to me – I thought I just liked the guy cause he was soft and silly and entertaining. But no, I cared for him because he had soaked up so much of me in him. As pet owners, I think we like to map our own traits on those who we’ve chosen to spend our lives with. But of the four bunnies I’ve had the privilege of living with, I think I felt the most kinship with Badger. He was a big lug, a bit silly, loved food and sitting around, would display occasional bouts of joy, got lucky with a nice lady, and had a bad temper that would manifest itself unpredictably. He was my big boy and every day we shared more than just food and water.

I would have loved to keep him a little longer, and maybe there would have been some drugs that would have kept him going. But really I can’t complain, his health was stellar his whole life until the ravages of time suddenly made itself known this past month. And honestly, if he was quietly suffering, I’m happy he didn’t have to wait another week before traveling to the great beyond. As I washed down his litter box one last time (truly, god is with us in the most mundane of tasks!), I realized the interconnectedness of this world; whatever life force that left him Saturday night is now free to do what it needs to do for someone else. Even though the body is in the ground, I could sense Badger all around me, as surely as he will always be a big white bunny hopping through my memories.

Like most rescue buns, its a bit hard to pin down his true age, I’d guess its been ten years and I was very blessed to have been there for nine of them.

Experiment on hiatus

October 28th, 2012 by Justus Pang

Well there are a bunch of other things going down right now. And so I’ve realized that this blog run, while a good experiment, needs to go on pause. I’ll pick it back up when things slow down a little, but between my double saber and straight sword learning kick and a hectic schedule at work, I think this blog will need to be jettisoned for a little.

One thing I’ve learned over the past few years, other than that I pick up and drop hobbies pretty quickly, is that time is always tight and its best to be careful how you budget it. Unfortunately this blog gets to wait till later….

Watching the Giants play ball.

October 24th, 2012 by Justus Pang

Its been a fun roller coaster ride watching the SF Giants in the playoffs. The one thing that has impressed me is that they seem to be a team. Certainly some are more skilled and talented than others but in general everything comes together. They succeed (and unfortunately fail) as a group.

That is the one thing I really miss from my landscaping days. There was definitely a division between laborer and manager. And of course there were sometimes squabbles among us laborers. But altogether, we were a tight knit team. I wonder sometimes if this is intrinsic to physical labor, and I wonder how you can import such a tight knit spirit into the office environment.

Insular worlds

October 23rd, 2012 by Justus Pang

One of my earlier tasks with Rogers+Labarthe architects was to go measure a couple two story office buildings that had a decent sized footprint. It was a great introduction to the BOMA measurement standards for office buildings, but it was even more interesting as an exercise intruding into the worlds of all these folks.

Now that I think about it, strangely it seems most of these spaces weren’t occupied at the time I was measuring them, I’m not sure where the tenants went, but it lends a ghostly aura to my memories. Behind every tenant was another manufactured reality. One standout tenant was a Lyndon Larouche warehouse. Another was a Dale Carnegie workshop. One tenant was a contractor that had replaced the doors with a residential entry with garish glass sidelights. Then there was an immigration lawyer with plush leather furniture. And an insurance agent who had his office decorated with animal heads.

While vertical striation might is the most conceptual way of separating yet combining disparate activities, really all you need is a plastic laminate solid core door.

A weird dream

October 22nd, 2012 by Justus Pang

I just woke up to a dream of working in a crazy old style hotel on the seventh floor. It was not only an old victorian hotel, but one that was under renovation, but you still had to go up the stairs, even though that too was under renovation. Each lobby was a bit different, and the office was an odd mix of bedroom and architecture studio. On one landing was a big screen TV with stuff strewn around like you’d see at a frat house. On another landing was a couple “cat-cheetahs” with beautiful hair but a menacing demeanor.

My previous odd dream from a couple months ago had me in something like the brutalist building of Wurster Hall but stretched out to include a 70’s style four or five story office building that had a high atrium. That too had a very disconnected aspect to it, though in that dream the elevator was the primary transportation from world to world, though there were some stairs involved also.

It seems the beauty of stairs for these sorts of mental activities is that vertical separations lend themselves particularly well to such insular worlds. Its kind of strange when you think of it, living life artificially 10 feet above the ground….or at my office at ZCA, 120 feet.