Handwriting as a Stress Indicator

"Writing" Cedar Park, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/100 sec, ISO2500
“Writing” Cedar Park, 2019

Have you ever noticed that your handwriting is neater and letters are more elegantly formed when you are in a good mood? Or is it just me?

When I am having a normal day, my writing is just regular, which is to say, not particularly even nor uneven, mostly adhering to the lines of the paper although it takes some effort. But if I have less stress, or am in a really good mood, I make fewer mistakes and the words look much nicer. I also can write faster without giving it much thought or effort. It’s kind of like I am in the zone, and it feels great.

Sometimes, when I am writing or taking notes, and I notice that my lettering is extra sloppy or I have to cross out a lot of things, I take a step back know that something is bothering me and then try to identify what is causing my stress or bad mood. Usually, it’s a small worry or concern about a task that I have to do. And just by identifying what is causing me that mild distress, it becomes less of an issue. Maybe not knowing the cause of the stress actually causes more stress, if that makes sense.

Hmm… I wonder how much truth there is to that theory. 🤔

I hope you had a good Thursday!


Studying Japanese Vocabulary Using Anki

こんばんは。How’s it going?

I mentioned in my last post about my daily habits that I’ve been trying to keep up with as best as I can, and I have to admit that I am surprised that I have been doing pretty good! One of the habits is to study Japanese, and right now that involves digital vocabulary flashcards using Anki.

I got turned onto Anki from the book Fluent Forever, in which the author Gabriel Wyner talks about using timing, or intervals between study, to improve recall of vocabulary. What great about Anki is that it uses those intervals to automatically adjust the frequency of the flashcards. Basically, I look at the word in Japanese (romaji), then flip the card over to reveal the meaning. At the bottom of the screen, I click on one of the four buttons: Again, Hard, Good, or Easy. Sometimes clicking Again means the card will show up again within the next minute or so, Hard means about 10 minutes, Good means 3 days, and Easy could mean the card shows up again a month from now. But those intervals are all varied. I guess it just depends on what I’ve clicked on before.

I have to say, it really works! With each study session (once per day is the maximum allowed) I learn more words than normal and can recall ones that gave me a lot of trouble before. It’s kind of neat!

But, there’s still a bit of reticence on my part some mornings. I guess there’s a part of me that is disappointed when the same words come up and I cannot recall the meaning. However, that is getting better slowly but surely, and the fact that at the end of each session I feel like I’ve made progress leads me to think that eventually, I’ll have no barriers to getting my daily study in.

As you can see from the screenshot, I’ve downloaded a bunch of free flashcard sets, even Spanish vocab! But I mainly do the “ACFL Basic Japanese 1” and “Japanese Hiragana (Basic)”. I feel like that’s plenty for now.

I hope you had a nice Tuesday!


When is Your Creative Window?

"Working Outdoors" Austin, 2019
Photo info: motorola moto g(6), 3.95mm, f/1.8, 1/400 sec, ISO100
“Working Outdoors” Austin, 2019

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Ever since high school (oh so many years ago) I’ve been creating visually. Back then, it was drawing and painting, which I continued until I graduated from college with an art degree. When I started working, I shifted to a digital medium and graphic design, and that is pretty much what I continue to do, quite happily.

But only within the past few years have I realized that I am way more productive in the mornings – the window of heightened creativity starts from when I arrive at work and lasts for maybe four hours or so, sometimes less, but rarely more. With that newly-found knowledge, I’ve been able to do better work, more efficiently than before. So when I have a particularly challenging project, I’ll block off the morning so I can concentrate.

It’s really a waste of time to be stuck in meetings during this morning window. In fact, I’ll bring my laptop and work on projects during those morning meetings if I need to, and I don’t feel guilty about doing that. It’s for the good of the team, and honestly, my strengths are not planning meetings or analyzing metrics. (Some of my co-workers are excellent at that sort of thing, so I’ll let the experts have their time)

It seems silly that my younger self used to think that creativity (at least my own) happens at the same level at all times of the day. It actually can come to me in the afternoon or evenings as well, but I’d say that the mornings are the time I can actually count on and plan for. But once those four hours are over, it’s pretty much gone for the rest of the work day, and I’ll shift to tasks that require less creativity, or at least more formulaic problem-solving.

It’s kind of interesting to be working on a project and then feel the creative juices start to dry up. It makes me wonder what chemicals in the brain are being depleted. Some days, it seems like my window is open for a shorter amount of time, but I haven’t thought about if I was working more intensely or not. I’ll try to note that in the future.

Anyway, I’m sure other creative-type people have creative windows too, but maybe some can go 24/7?! I wonder how that works? 😄

I hope you had a nice Monday!


Early Ehōmaki 恵方巻 for Setsubun

"Ehoumaki" Cedar Park, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.2, 1/125 sec, ISO5000
“Ehoumaki” Cedar Park, 2019

こんばんは。How’s it going?

Setsubun is tomorrow but we ate our celebratory ehōmaki 恵方巻 this evening because of Super Bowl Sunday. We aren’t really doing anything special for the Super Bowl, so I’m not too sure why Mariko wanted to make ehōmaki early, but who am I to complain? (I also think she may have mentioned a reason but might have had a senior moment) Anyways, this year’s lucky direction is N/NE, so we each ate our ehōmaki roll in silence while facing the lucky direction, as dictated by tradition.

Actually eating without talking, and just thinking about the taste of the sushi, is really great. It’s a special experience, but one that we can have all the time if we choose to just be mindful. I wonder if it would be possible to institute a one-minute of silent eating to begin each dinner? Hmm….

"Sushi" Cedar Park, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/3.6, 1/125 sec, ISO2500
“Sushi” Cedar Park, 2019

I hope you had a nice Saturday!


Decluttering Alma Mater Items

"Old Pullover" Cedar Park, 2019
Photo info: FUJIFILM X100T, 23mm, f/4, 1/25 sec, ISO6400
“Old Pullover” Cedar Park, 2019

While going through some of my old clothes, I came across two items from my alma maters, Torrance High School and UC Irvine. The one from high school was my old cross-country jersey. It was cool to look at it again before putting it in the trash. Its last bit of usefulness was to remind me of the good times I had running in high school. Honestly, I didn’t really enjoy cross-country. Haha. But it happened, and it gave me experiences and I learned about myself.

The other item I found is a pull-over from college. I really like the classic design and color, but it’s uncomfortable and not soft anymore. Actually, I don’t think it was ever very soft. Anyway, I was going to throw it away but then Bay decided he wanted it. I guess he’s into “college mode” or something. I’d eventually like to get a more comfortable replacement for the pull-over because I am sort of proud of graduating from UCI. It’s not really high on my list, though. 😄

Who knew decluttering could be so fun?