Portland, Oregon Trip

Lydia’s brother is moving to Portland, Oregon, so we’ve decided to make an extended road trip of it.

Roaaaad Trippppp!

Today is day 5 –  We started from Albuquerque, New Mexico, and spent two days in Las Vegas. We continued on to Death Valley National Park, staying the night at a tiny town in Nevada. And today we drove to Eugene, Oregon, had dinner, and finally got to Portland, where we’ll be spending two days.

It’s been great seeing a part of the country I’ve only seen a long, long ago as a kid on family road trips.

Here are a few pics:

A view from the Plaza Casino near Fremont Street, Las Vegas

The Strip at night

Interior of a casino…we walked through so many I’ve honestly forgotten which one this was!

An admittedly Instagrammy pic of the Bellagio, where we were waiting to see their famous fountain show

The eerie “Last Supper” installation (by Charles Albert Szukalski) at the Goldwell Open Air Museum in Rhyolite Ghost Town, Nevada.

Road signage pic (have to have at least one) in Death Valley National Park, Nevada

Jeff inspecting the salt formations on rocks at the Devil’s Golf Course in Death Valley National Park

Posted in Travel Tagged , , , , , , |

Writing Fearlessly


A few days ago a friend emailed me about a program called Force Draft, a program that “won’t quit until you’re done.”  It works by blocking everything on your computer until a pre-set time or word count.

I haven’t tried it yet, but I have tried and discussed others on my quest to overcome procrastination and writer’s block. Programs like 750 words (gamified morning sheets), JDDarkroom and WriteRoom (minimalistic, distraction-free word processors), and  Pomodoro (structured sets of writing and breaks). I’ve even tried to come up with my own gamified version of writing (Travel Writing Hero) and BRIEFLY attempted WriteorDie, which can, on one setting, actually start erasing your writing if you aren’t fast enough (The recent edition’s “kamikaze mode” is a bit more sane – “your words will be systematically disemvoweled“).

But it was the other part of my friend’s email I found interesting:

Hey Biju, saw this on my RSS feeds and it reminded me of you (although you don’t seem to have as many problems with Writer’s Block anymore):

Not many problems with writer’s block…..Was he talking about…me? Am I finally unblocked? If so, what happened?

Thinking about it, I realize that he’s largely right. After this year’s NaNoWriMo, where I ended up spitting out 13,000 words/day on a few days, the thought of sitting down to write doesn’t really block me up anymore. What happened?

It wasn’t just enforced swaths of words in short times that did it. Morning sheets really seemed to unhinge the connection between writing and fear in my brain. It’s hard to be fearful of something you do every day.

TinyHabits, behavioral psychologist BJ Fogg’s answer to all things habit-related, helped immensely. The idea is that if you start a habit too large, it becomes unsustainable – you go through a pain period where you end up dropping the habit. Do a ludicrously small habit, Fogg says, and you’ll get past the pain period easily. Continue onwards and it will reach a hook point and become automated. And along the way, allow the habit to grow as it will.

This really worked for me. I had several failures with morning sheets – 750 words was too many words, and it died a fiery death. Later I tried again with 200 words, which was also unmanageable. But when I began again with 50, it stuck. 50 words a day allowed me to write 13,000 a day, and it continues to be a great strategy for me – if I lack energy, I just do 50 to sustain the habit streak.

In my side project, BijuHero, I’ve tracked the formation of the habit of daily writing using Dr. Bas Verplanken’s Self Report Habit Index (SRHI), a scale that measures the strength of a habit. What I found was that the very act of tracking myself helped to stabilize daily practice.

Another notion that really helped is the rather obvious idea of getting over perfectionism. A lot of my fear hinges on writing perfectly the first time. Intellectually I knew that I could edit whatever I blathered on the page and do a rewrite. But I didn’t know it until THIS post. Once I saw how I could edit unpolished raw text into a strong article, it gave me immense freedom to write whatever I wanted, especially since I really enjoy editing.

This journey is one that involves the uprooting of fear, so it’s not surprising that I find a lot of spiritual parallels. In Eastern philosophy a jnana is often described as knowledge, not just of the mind, but of experience. Like discussions of wisdom in the West, it involves the practicality of knowing – it’s visceral, gut knowing, the knowledge of the doing of a thing. In the East it can be a sudden awakening that’s the culmination of many experiences – a snapping of the mind, when the cartoon lightbulb above your head turns on. And that’s kind’ve what I’ve felt recently.

A world away from philosophy, an oft-cited dichotomy in management and business (also in education and athletics) is that of process vs goal-oriented thinking. In the past I’ve been very goal-oriented – I went after the commission and only started working on writing as a reaction. When I needed to get the product out, I wrote.

I’m beginning to see this as backwards thinking. Process-orientation in this case means putting more focus on my product: Smoothing out my writing process, learning how to improve my writing, and dealing with how I can face my fears. I have had fewer publications in the last few months, but I’m convinced that the payout will be well worth it.

There is still a long way to go. It’s a lot easier to write a blog post than an article I’m obligated to write for work or one that I’m nervous about doing. Things that take a lot of research tend to get me going down never-ending Google searches and jolt me out of the flow of words. Some articles have emotional aspects – they are either personal, or more meaningful, expose me in some way, or carry some obligation. Frequency, however, seems to deaden negative emotions.

Back in 2005 I worked at a call center. We went through about a week of training learning the system and basic protocols….and then we were thrown to the wolves. I was really scared – at times customers yelled at me asking for answers to issues I had no idea how to find out much less correct. But after a few weeks of fumbling around, after fielding hundreds of calls one after another, we all quickly achieved high proficiency. Constant practice breeds fearlessness.

Unfortunately writing for most people isn’t a high-powered newsroom-style affair where hundreds of articles are pumped out every week. Most people, including myself, agonize and inject all sorts of emotional, artistic angst into the process because we have the luxury of time. And that all-too-often translates to a situation where the craft isn’t practiced.

Daily writing has been a great way to (in part) simulate that constant stream of work. But I’ll need more. I need to expand my daily writing word count. I need to do drills like an athlete so I know the specifics when the time comes – how do I write characters, how do I write plot, how do I write dialogue?  Ideally I should have a day where I do those exercises. And I should practice writing under pressure – one artist friend used to do this with drawing. He’d give himself timed practice sessions. I need to expand and stretch my ability, and in doing so totally uproot any hesitancy.

But today I’m the guy without too much of a problem with writer’s block. And that will do nicely for now.



typewriter by shira gal, typewriter keys by Steven Depolo, clockwork by William Warby, Buddha by Alice Popkoren, pen nib by Anonymous Account, cliff jumper by Powderruns

Posted in Productivity and Workflow, Writing Improvement, Writing Psychology Tagged |

A Star Wars New Years and my 2014 Roundup

I got to New Mexico just in time to celebrate New Year’s Eve with Lydia’s family. Their tradition: get some great deli meats and cheeses and watch the entire Star Wars Trilogy (the originals, of course!).

By either chance or incredible planning by someone, we were wrapping up the ending of the last movie around midnight. But it was only at that iconic climax, where Luke battles his father in the Emperor’s throne room, that I really started thinking about my last year.

 This past year I have:

-Been published in Vogue India, DestinAsian, Esquire Indonesia, The Huffington Post, and several Asian in-flights
-Published guest columns in National Geographic Traveller India and was recently accepted as a regular columnist
-Wrote a series of World Cup Articles  for USA Today 10 Best and worked part time regularly photo sourcing and photo editing pics
-Became a book contributor for an encyclopedia of exotic customs
-Got a full spread picture (and caption) published in Conde Nast Traveller Middle East
-Broke into the Middle Eastern region and tentatively broke into South Africa, with a great contact for Australia
-Completed National Novel Writing Month in record time and edited and individually published the book as a gift to my mother
-Got approached for reprint rights for Esquire Vietnam through Esquire Malaysia

-Won two 2014 SOLAS Travel Writing Awards
-Worked with several PR companies and tourism boards
-Got invited to a fantastic trip to Africa by a PR rep  - didn’t get to go on the trip (I’ll blog about this later), but was flattered that the rep accepted me and had recognized me – she had read my writing before
-Went through the process of applying to the Lowell Thomas Awards and the iPhone Photography Awards – didn’t get anything, but I’m proud to have what I thought of as solid offerings and am glad I went through the application process

Lucas consulted with mythologist Joseph Campbell on his epic story and he knew that the journey is one metaphorically reflected by terrain. And though I didn’t traverse hyperspace to cloud cities, Hoth’s tundras, or the deserts of Tattooine, I saw a few places on my own more modest travels on this planet. This year I:

-Lived in Florianopolis, Brazil and Barcelona, Spain
-Traveled throughout South America during the 2014 World Cup, including Buenos Aires and Iguazu (Argentina) and  Curitiba, Sao Paulo, Paraty, Ilha Grande, and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)

-Traveled to England. In Kent I went to Seven Oaks, Canterbury, Leeds, Faversham, then on to Reading, Windsor, Cambridge, and London. Saw a whole lot of castles, country houses, and manors!
-Traveled to Paris, France via rail
-Traveled to Cologne, Germany
-Traveled to South Carolina, Texas, and New Mexico


From rogues turned heroes like Han and Lando to the reuniting of father and son, the epic journey is filled with friendships  - relationships made and changed of friends new and old. This was certainly the case my past year:

-I met up with friends from other lives and places – Lydia’s entire family came to Argentina and Brazil for the World Cup. Friends I knew in college originally from Dallas met me in Barcelona. A dear friend from Xiamen, China met me in Cologne, along with my cousin from India.

-I was graciously hosted in Kent by British friends I originally met in Colombia while German friends I also met in Colombia came to Barcelona for a visit. I got to meet up a friend in London from my very first year abroad in Korea and a former editor I’ve been corresponding with for over a year that I had never met before!  And my good buddy from Xiamen hosted me in Reading – we cooked and talked late into the night just like we used to do in China.

-Despite distance, I managed to really connect with even older friends and family in an absolutely fantastic year for relationships. My best friend for 2 decades and I managed to get quite close, talking regularly on Skype. I reconnected with a close friend that I grew up with after 8 years. And I grew much closer to my mother and ended up celebrating Christmas with her for the first time in about 25 years.

-I started to forge relationships with my friends’ children, laying the ground work for a new generation of experiences


As Yoda tried to teach him on Dagobah (“remember your failure at the cave!”) Luke learns that in the end it is not the Emperor, or even his father, that he battles. Rather, it’s the person inside that wants to lapse into dark paths easier tread – fear and anger, aggression and hate, and the guilt, regret, and sadness that gives it all birth.

Real strength – not outward displays of it – involves the difficult task of facing yourself and stepping forward to take whatever punishment (or lightning bolts) the world may unleash upon you. This year I:

-Really nailed my writing fears using my habit formation project (Bijuhero.tumblr.com)

-Worked on my photography by joining a fantastic photography group in Barcelona

-Learned how to use Lightroom for retouching photographs by watching tutorials from the incredible Serge Ramelli 

-Worked on improving my daily grind, the workflow process of pitching and writing and editing. I feel like I’ve made immense progress in that regard, which really is the heart of everything work-related.

-I’ve also developed some very strong core habits which have helped me deal with stress and anxiety, worry and depression, and the fear that comes from chasing my dreams. And this is the heart of everything in general.


“I will not fight you,” Luke says, throwing away his weapon after defeating Vader.

“I am a Jedi, like my father before me.”

Ironically it’s that moment, when we have faced ourselves and are ready to take the outward beatings willingly, that we are given….a new hope (I couldn’t resist).

There’s a lot more to work on….so, so much more…but I felt this past year I’ve at least laid a solid groundwork for the times to come. 

It’s 11:50 and we leave Luke staring fondly at his ghostly teachers. Hayden Christensen is Anakin and the Ewok’s “Yub Nub” song has been replaced (grrr!). Champagne is poured into flutes for the final countdown. Jedi is over but it’s a scene from Empire that now comes to mind.

[Luke]: I can’t believe it!
[Yoda]: That is why you fail. 

At the end of 2014, I find myself with the seeds of belief again.

Here’s to 2015 and the New Year.



Return of the Jedi poster by Lucasfilm

Posted in Productivity and Workflow, Travel, Types of Jobs, Uncategorized Tagged , , |

Milestone: Regular Columnist, NatGeoTrav India

I am officially the newest columnist for National Geographic Traveller India!

I want to really get into this from my perspective because I’ve never read anyone talk in detail about the process of getting a columnist position.

I started by writing normal articles for the publication. I liked the editor, we worked well together, and along the way I ended up writing an article or two that were more like columns. That is, they were more personal, more about an emotional aspect of travel from a perspective rather than being more about the place. She liked them, and two of them were published as guest columns.

It was a combination of the fact that I got along really well with the editor, I had proven myself as a writer by getting published several times in the publication, and had actually written columns for them. And I really liked writing the personal pieces.

Some writer I had read described it as “popping the question” – you want to have enough trust and a built up relationship before you go ahead and just ask. So I asked.

The editor dropped me a line to say how I did a good job on a guest column. So I used it as an opportunity to reply and said thanks and “Also, I’d love to pitch a regular column for you. Would you welcome, say, a list of topics along a certain theme as a pitch, or would you need anything more?”

I was thinking about asking for a while and her email gave me the perfect specific opportunity. I think in the future I’d make it more open ended – especially if there wasn’t as concrete of a lead in as this. “Is there an opening for a more long-term position with your publication” or something like that. Because if there’s a sub-editor position I’d want to know about it. And it opens up the discussion of if it needs to be location based, if it’s open to freelancers, etc, as well as keeping it open for columns or FOB sections or whatnot.

Luckily she was open to the idea. She asked what the theme would be. And this was kind’ve difficult – I needed it to be unique, but open enough so that I could write a number of articles and still be on target.

When a potential of a spot opening up came up, she emailed me and gave me a really great outline of information required:

1) The column concept
2) Two completely written articles
3) Two more additional ideas

As someone new to all this it was all vague before – the paramount question I’ve had for a long time was how one actually pitches a column. But this list makes complete sense coming from the editor’s perspective. It seems really obvious now and it makes for a great rundown of what you’d need for any column pitch – something I’ll have to keep in mind for next time.

There are a few kinks I need to iron out with my written articles, so I’ll need to fix those before we get into a publication cycle. It looks like I’ll be writing one article every other month for the first year. More on the specifics – like what I’ll be writing about and my column title – in the future.

Posted in Pitching, progress, Submissions, Types of Jobs Tagged , , , |

NaNoWriMo 2014

Long time no update. And I have a lot of updates!

The first main update is that I won National Novel Writing Month!

I actually had no intention of entering it this year. However, I have been working quite hard to overcome the procrastination, negativity, perfectionism, and overall fear that is so a part of who I am. It has particularly negatively impacted my professional life, especially my workflow.

In the last year I’ve spent a great deal of time working on it – reading and implementing a series of practices to straighten all that out. And it really slapped me across the face when I came back home to Texas and observed a lot of the same things in my mom. My mom and I have always shared this – but having worked on it I’ve made quite a few improvements, and the juxtaposition got me talking. I shared a lot of the background that I had studied and she was really getting into it.  And I said “Don’t worry – I’ll write it down for you.”

And write I did. And write and write. About 25,000 words in I said to myself “why not enter NaNoWriMo?”

So I entered. On November 24th.

I ended up having to write 13,000 words each of the last two days. This was a far cry from the average of 1,700 words that you usually write per day.

My plan was to continue and present the manual to my mom for Christmas. So a day or two after November I got back to work. And finally after a marathon 14 hour editing session and trips to two Kinkos (and several kerfuffles on the self printing center) the complete product was in my hands.

It’s by no means a finished product. I ended up paring it down to 37,000 words. I had quite a lot of help from my buddy James who schooled me on how to properly format the book for reading. I’d love to include further notes, citations, more descriptions and exposition, maybe some graphs and graphics…but basically it’s there.

Will I try and publish it for real? I would love to.

I’ve been talking to friends and acquaintances about some of the stuff in this book and have received a lot of interest. There’s two things wrong, as I see it, when it comes with dealing with anxiety (or worry, or depression, etc). The first is that people don’t have any tools to deal with these things. That is, there is nothing concrete other than generally trying to have good thoughts. People walk around trying to be positive, but that’s the equivalent of trying to will bigger muscles. Or trying to will being a better writer without practicing exercises to steadily improve. You need a progression to bridge that gap, and I like to think my book provides those exercises.

The second is the larger issue of how to implement anything over long term. This has been the subject of a very long and detailed project on habit formation – I’ve been blogging about it extensively over the last 2 years HERE. I think I’ve come to some good insights in that arena, and I include the practical points in the book as well.

So though I think it’s got a lot to offer and I do intend on publishing, I feel there’s a lot of nitty gritty points I need to expand on and cite before it’s anywhere near time to pitch.

In any case, I definitely learned a lot!

Posted in Productivity and Workflow, Writing Improvement, Writing Psychology Tagged , , |

Editing for Writing

Maybe it’s because NaNoWriMo has just started, but I find myself editing quite a bit in the last few months. Friends have sent me academic theses, personal essays, narrative stories, science fiction, even magical realism pieces.

And I love it.

I like settling in to read, and if need be, taking apart bits and pieces and reorganizing them to fit into an article that feels right. The idea of taking raw, sometimes jumbled thoughts, and rearranging them – it feels like a puzzle and the satisfaction of making the pieces fit into a cohesive whole. It’s addicting, and I thoroughly enjoy doing it.

One story turned from a very blah piece to one that I thought was really good. I did it again recently, and I’ve been doing it with the handicap of trying to preserve the actual sentences of the writer. I would start at a different place, shuffle swaths of text, and only add a little bit as glue to fuel smoother transitions, cement an ending, or emphasize themes.

In this latest article, I had the idea of layering it. Usually I explain what I did and sometimes do a rewrite in demonstration. But this time I had the idea of doing it piece by piece, rewriting the article for every specific layer and change I focused on – which made sense because the act of actually rewriting clarifies more and more what needs correcting. I realized I did this process mentally with several other articles and they’ve only truly crystallized now. Here’s what I did:

  1. Layer 1 – Reorganization. Dramatic lede. Better transitions
  2. Layer 2 – Adding in a personal narrative – present tense that acts a loose scaffold to fill in information and commentary. Adds movement and immediacy
  3. Layer 3 – Work on a good ending. Ideally should tie themes, symbolism, and connect with the beginning. If not, it should feel….right
  4. Layer 4 – Details. Descriptions. Color, smells, visualizations – I want the reader to have all senses possible engaged.
  5. Layer 5 – Thematic pillars. I want to hone in on them – I extract them, then emphasize them

Now obviously not all of this applies to all work. But as someone who feels very stressed writing anything, I wondered at my eagerness to jump into this. And here’s what I think.

I think that when I write I’m visualizing the perfect piece. So my stress jumps – I think I need perfection from the beginning. I worry about turns of phrase. And with all this, my initial starting inertia increases – I need more to actually get me to write, and when I do the flow is all jammed and it’s slow going.

Recently the freedom in editing  has been the knowledge that I can have just a jumble of words. But through the editing process I can create something good. Remember, I was trying my best to preserve each writer’s turn of phrase, which for me is very unnatural. How much easier would it be if I was preserving my initial turns of speech even if it was a jumble?

Today during my daily writing I ended up writing 10 times more than what I set forth to do. I did this because I realized that the multiple layers are the things that add the real magic, and those are layers I enjoy. This makes the raw material easier to get out there because I know I’m going to polish it up. I can write a jumble of thoughts and feelings and I know that I can form a great finished product from it.

This might all seem obvious, but I feel it’s a real landmark in my mental process and how I approach my writing.

photo by Brenden deBrincat/Flickr

Posted in progress, Writing Improvement, Writing Psychology Tagged , , |

Photos from Canterbury

I’ve been slowly getting organized with my Lightroom workflow. When I was in Brazil it took me weeks to get all my pics sorted and migrated. It involved almost 5 years of photographs – not necessarily good pics, mind you, but ones I need to at least sift through. And now that I finally have an idea on how to do some quality editing, I’ve been working through my back log.

I just got back from a trip through England with a quick stop in Paris. So here are a few pics of Canterbury.

It’s really surreal walking around in a place you studied in high school. And while the cathedral took center stage, the town itself was great to walk around in. The main walking street was filled with the usual tourist traps, but punctuated with older buildings and pubs like the one below.



I’m a bit at a loss on how to describe much of Kent, except in cliches that every travel writer is told in no uncertain terms NOT to ever use – quaint, charming, etc – these just hop to mind with alacrity. Flying into England I looked out the window and clouds parted on rolling green fields which were straight out of the Hobbit, and getting on the ground I kept giggling at how my mind went immediately to old story books I had read as a child.

It’s a pleasant surprise when this happens. Tibet stood out like this – it was exactly how I imagined it would be. If these places were people they would be unflappably nonchalant in their authenticity. I’ve been to regions that try too hard, or have thin veneers that look like the postcards, or juxtapositions – Rio with its graffiti, the Taj Mahal surrounded by the overwhelming poverty of Agra. But here there is something so thoroughly and unshakably….well…British about it all. As a traveler, this fills me with childlike glee. As a writer though, it’s difficult to summon up more nuanced word choices.

But hey, sometimes the cliches are there for a reason.







Posted in On the Job, Photography Improvement, Travel Tagged , , , |

Article Discussion Series: “Paris, Home of Le Burger” by Robert Gottlieb

I recently got back from Paris – out of place things tend to attract me the most in my travels, and Parisians and their apparent love affair with hamburgers and American diners caught my attention. I searched for a story about it, but could only find one – Robert Gottlieb’s November 2012 piece in the New Yorker entitled “Paris, Home of Le Burger”- I was able to view it, but it may be behind a firewall at a later date.

Now here’s a quick question if you are able to read the article: Based on the article descriptions alone, how many places did the author actually go to for sure?

I personally found the article a bit hard to get into – maybe it was the New Yorker style with elevated language, odd jokes I didn’t get, and injected French that I was supposed to know.

BUT none of that really matters – the article’s construction is amazing…and gets better the more you read it. The sheer logistics are difficult – there are many many burger places, you have to cover at least the general types well. But on a limited budget/time – how do you do it?

Gottlieb does this by various clever transitions and oblique descriptions. Let’s get into it:

  1.  ”…who are crowding into the ever-expanding list of burger joints. (it may be lese-majeste to refer to Ralph’s as a “joint”…)
    He mentions Ralph Lauren’s burger restaurant by segueing from the word “joint”  – almost a sarcastic joke transition. He’s pointing out a word play as a joke, and this is the way that leads him to reference one specific restaurant. [Now that I look at it again it's more what I once called a Polysemy Transition - a transition that uses a word that has two meanings or connotations.]
  2. He describes Ralph’s through the web reviews – it’s not something I’ve ever thought to do, but it does cover the restaurant.
  3. “At the other end of the scale is a tiny hole in the wall….called I <3 Burger…..”

    I’ll call this a Sliding Scale Transition.

  4. “New to the competition on St. Germain is the latest branch of Razowski”

    A New-to-the-Mix Transition? God I’m horrible at naming….

  5. “Two of the best-known, long-established burgers are right nearby….I was there a few years ago…”

     Location Transition AND a Backwards-in-time Transition.

  6. “English is spoken. Ditto at pdg, on the rue du Dragon”

    Basically a Description Transition based on similarity.

  7. after talking about the prevalence of initials at the previous restaurant he says “More initials at B.I.A. – Breakfast in America – back in the Fifth”

    Also a Description Transition Based on similarity.

  8. “One theory is that it all started with McDonald’s…”

    I’ll call it an Origin Transition – he starts with a series of questions on how it could have happened, then transitions by saying “one theory is…”

    It doesn’t even have to be researched! This is something that for me would be hard to pin down – how DID it start? The “one theory” covers anything after. Brilliant! I’ll call it the One Theory Out.

He makes many other transitions. But again here’s the question: How many burger places did he actually go to for sure (based on the article alone)?

By my count he describes 9 restaurants and went to 2.

At the Razowski he describes not liking the burger very much. At Coffee Parisien he describes going there a few years back. It’s unclear if he actually went to H.A.N.D.…. – he says it’s hard to get in and the burgers are closer to the American version.

He mentions lines outside of a few places , which is a clever oblique way of describing a place without necessarily going. He describes the line at BIA (“This place always has a line outside, even on a rainy Sunday afternoon). and at MacDonald’s (“When I cruised it, the branch in the Louvre was doing land-office business). The web version of the line description is restaurant reviews. I’ll call these Oblique Descriptors.

Now let’s be fair – I don’t know which ones he went to or not (and I don’t really care). But based on the article, it’s difficult to pin down – there’s quite a bit of smoke and mirrors going on with the language, and this is a valuable thing to learn, especially if you are, say, a writer who doesn’t have the backing of the New Yorker to cover your food bill.

It’s also quite amazing how he managed to fit in 9 restaurant descriptions in a relatively short article – and the transitions and the manner in which he describes them doesn’t make the article seem jam packed with info. Taken apart, I feel this is a very skillful piece of writing that I can learn from.

Posted in Article Discussion Series Tagged , , , , , |

Milestone: Published as a Book Contributor


A while ago…actually, a LONG time ago I got commissioned to contribute entries to ABC-CLIO’s They Do What?: A Cultural Encyclopedia of Weird and Exotic Customs from around the World edited by Javier Galván.  And it’s finally out!

The book has been sent to my parents and though digital copies are on the way I haven’t gotten a chance to see the final product.

This is an interesting departure for me and one I enjoyed. I like getting more in depth into culture and history in a more academic manner, something I don’t necessary do in my normal magazine writing. And it’s the first book I’ve contributed to, so I’m quite eager to get home and paw through the physical copy the next time I visit my parents.

You can purchase or check out more information about the book on the ABC-CLIO website, Barnes and Noble, or on Amazon where there’s also a bit of a preview of the Kindle edition.

Posted in Types of Jobs Tagged , , |

Back from the World Cup

I’m back from my travels. And though World Cup travel is over, the final is yet to take place. I’m rather hoping that Brazil and Argentina face off – my neighborhood has a large population of Argentinians, so that scenario would be especially interesting in my corner of Brazil.

The trip went surprisingly well. I heard so much about how crazy it would be and I was surprised how pretty much all went well. Traffic, crowds – they were all completely fine – even the infamously crowded and dangerous São Paulo was nothing compared to Houston traffic….or China during a national holiday! Even getting up to Christ the Redeemer in Rio took about 20 minutes because we booked tickets online.

There’s a lot I’m still processing from the trip – story ideas, pictures, thoughts…but right now I’m just generally decompressing. As I said to a friend on Skype, it’s my “couch day” – so I’ll just post a few iPhone pics from the trip.


San Telmo, Buenos Aires

Paca da Liberdade, Curitiba

Feijao, Farofa, and Brazilian BBQ at a random gas stop on the way to Paraty


The waters off Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande

Old Town, Paraty

Concepcao de Jacare

View of Sugarloaf Mountain from Christ the Redeemer


Check out more photos on my Instagram account.

Posted in Travel Tagged , , , |