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Vipassana Preparation

It’s been about three years since I’ve been doing any Vipassana-related activities. Although I’ve relocated to DC, I still consider NY in many respects to be where I call home. I still have property here, my family still remains here, my grandfather is buried here. When I saw that the local NY Vipassana Association (NYVA) needed volunteers to assist when I was in town, I enthusiastically signed up. I have done two other 10-day silent meditation retreats before, but it wasn’t until last weekend that I realized how much effort goes into setting up one of these courses. We started Saturday morning and did not finish until the next day. Bear in mind this was with several dozen volunteers. One of the NYVA coordinators, Janice, helped communicate between the prep teams and servers (volunteers during the 10-day course) well. I got to know several of the volunteers including Eric, who runs his own furniture business, Don, a retiree who lives and breathes Indian culture, and Liqian, a travel vlogger.

It was a shame it was overcast Saturday evening since you never get this kind of darkness and therefore visible stars where I Iive.

It's a lot of work.

Converting the space into a dhamma hall

Zabuton placement

Ready for meditation

My cabin for the night

Pitch black moments later


As the World Convulsed, Life Went On

What a wild year 2020 has been. I made yet another move, another career change, all in the backdrop of a pandemic. I made my last trip overseas to Vietnam with a stop-over in Singapore during the Tet holiday, not knowing that a month later all movement would grind to a halt. I was fortunate enough to ride out the lockdown with a living that allowed me to work remotely, while many in the world are still eking out survival in purgatory. I am fortunate that my family are all well, including my relatives in Shanghai, who are now conversely concerned with my welfare amid COVID-19 developments in the United States. If there is one thing this pandemic has taught me, it is that nothing stays.

The Danes and our warm homestay hostess. If you find yourself in Saigon, you can do no better than staying at La vie de Hannah.


Sweet nostalgia going back to Singapore and meeting with LKY buddies. Shout out to Will, Chorks, Jean, Yee Wee, and Azira. I still miss you guys.


Socially distanced at Halfmoon Mountain.
Credit: Albert Hans Cramer


Stella at Soapstone Valley Trail. The highlight of my year, without qualification.


November 7, 2020


Descending the Devil’s Nose with Brandon and Albert.
Credit: Albert Hans Cramer


DC buds now scattered near and far: Zenia, Megha, Lisa, Erin, Mona, and Neha.
Credit: Zenia Montero Chang

Tidal Basin

                                Dogmeat the dog from Fallout 3

2019 in Review

It’s been over a year now since I’ve moved to the District and I can say that this has been another year of personal growth. This may have been the most pivotal year of my life in many respects.

Transitioning from having lived abroad, including silly things like getting used to three-ring instead of two-ring binders and not using the metric system, made my move to a new place this time last year even more jarring. I’ve been more or less okay with three-ring binders now.

I started a habit of daily journaling which has helped me put into context emotions and events that slowly blur together if you’re not conscientious of them.

I started new work at Defenders of Wildlife and I’ll see what the future holds here. Even though I want to make more impact in my job (who wouldn’t?), I feel confident that I’m finally on the right course after a long time in the career building wilderness.


Baby Yoda joining us backpacking in Shenandoah.

Haagen-Dazs ice cream cake is the best birthday cake.

The Irving Street Vets. Still need those, “I survived 1308 North Irving St.” T-shirts

Me and the Gaudios at the Baltimore Light City.

Mt. Moosilauke

Credit: Albert Cramer

Franklin’s Bumble Bee

I wrote a piece with my co-author, Rich Hatfield of the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, to support placing one of the rarest bumble bees in the world on the endangered species list. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency in charge, is asking for comments from the public until October 15th. Rich and I have made it convenient at the bottom of the piece for you to voice your opinion on protecting a species that needs additional support for rediscovery and recovery.

                   One of the last Franklin’s bumble bees sighted. (Credit: USFS)

The Great New York State Fair

Cows resting at the Dairy Cattle Building

Foggy Bottom

On the side of his cart piled high was a sign that said, “This is America”.

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles

I did a write-up on the history and current conservation efforts of the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle over on Defenders of Wildlife’s website. The Kemp’s ridley is one of the world’s most endangered turtles and is an example of the importance of intergovernmental cooperation on protecting habitat. Without the cooperation of the US and Mexican governments, the turtle may have never had the cross-border range to survive since it was first listed as endangered in the 1970s.

A female Kemp’s ridley sea turtle nesting on Padre Island. (Credit: NPS)


Running along the National Mall, I bumped into a performance by Coreyah, a Korean folk rock band.

“The six-member group uses Korean flutes, zithers, drums, and vocals, along with guitar and drums, to create a contemporary sound with influences from Korean classical music, Latin and African pop, Balkan gypsy songs, and American folk and rock.”

Hearing them in the distance I was hooked. If you’re interested in folk music definitely check them out.