Reflections and Expectations: Second Banana

It’s time once again to look back at the month that was and look ahead to the rest of July in the latest Reflections and Expectations.

June

Julian Street – On June 7, I joined my coworker and friend to volunteer at a soup kitchen in San Jose that serves the homeless and drug addicts. I tagged along after hearing about how she’s a regular volunteer with this organization. Consistent with my support for nonprofit organizations in physical labor and money, I enjoyed this experience in helping out the most vulnerable among the population. I’ll likely continue this effort periodically, as time permits.

VTA Cerone Yard – A graduate school classmate of mine gave me a tour of one of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s (VTA) bus yards in San Jose during the early morning hours of June 11. As one of the bus yard administrators, she guided me through various parts of the facility, met with some of the personnel present and explained how the yard itself operates on a daily basis. We observed the pullout — buses leaving the yard in the early morning hours to begin their respective trips throughout the county. I learned there is a particular process involved with the pullout such as keeping track of the fleet of buses and coach operators heading out and what time they leave the yard. Now, I know what it takes to get buses running in advance of the AM commute hours.

Chris D’Elia – I went to go see him perform at the San Jose Improv on June 20. I enjoyed watching him as a regular panelist on @midnight, which is how I came to appreciate his style of comedy. A fantastic performance and time well spent for an otherwise dull Saturday night.

MTI Convocation Ceremony – On June 27, I attended this year’s ceremony of the Mineta Transportation Institute’s convocation ceremony at San Jose State University, recognizing more than 20 graduates of the program this time around. I came out to cheer on a few classmates of mine that graduated on Saturday night. This also serves as a preview of what I can expect around this time next year when it is my turn to graduate.

July

  • Independence Day weekend – Headed to San Diego this holiday weekend! Fourth year in a row in a different city — Portland, Oregon in 2012, Philadelphia in 2013 and Los Angeles last year.
  • Volunteering at Second Harvest – I miss regularly volunteering at Philabundance in Philly back in 2013. Now, I’m scheduled to volunteer at Second Harvest in San Jose next week.
  • Yoga – This is likely the month I’ll finally take up yoga. I’ve been looking forward to getting back into yoga for a while — about five years since.

How’s your summer coming along? Share your thoughts below. I’d love to hear from you.

On This Sunday: 48 years of Loving

Friday marked 48 years since the U.S. Supreme Court declared laws against interracial marriages unconstitutional. Appropriately, every June 12 since is known as Loving Day, referring to the interracial couple of Richard Loving and Mildred Jeter of this landmark Loving v. Virginia case.

The case paved the way for gradual acceptance of diversity among individuals who love each other. It makes me think of my relatives — especially all but one of my cousins on my father’s side who are married — and how they are all in biracial or mixed race relationships with children of the same makeup. None of their relationships would have been legally possible without Richard and Mildred setting the precedent for the rest of the country. I someday hope to enjoy the same privilege as my cousins when it’s finally my time. (I’m the youngest of them all. Still.)

With interracial marriages legally the norm for decades, I hope to see the same for same-sex couples nationwide in the near future.

In Context: Corgis

IMG_4313

On May 13, I posted this photo where I’m gazing at Pembroke Welsh Corgis across a plethora of tablets and my smartphone.

It’s pretty clear I’m a huge fan of corgis. When it comes to ranking my favorite breeds of dogs, corgis are at the top of the pack with dachshunds, beagles, bichon frises and border terriers close behind. As for this photo, what was the context behind this?

For my graduate school course dealing with leadership in transportation organizations, I was involved in a culminating group project where each team in the course had to pick out mascots to represent themselves. When that came up for question with our team, I jokingly suggested a corgi as our mascot. It was a purely random suggestion at best although the rest of the team eventually agreed on this stumpy, short-legged breed without objection.

As to why I was photographed here, our project for this course centered around transit villages and mobility hubs. While those topics and corgis had no substantive connection, we worked in corgis into our presentation to inject humor and light-heartedness. One component of the presentation discussed the changing habit of driving involving millennials compared to their baby boomer parents. I argued millennials prefer to live in the city proper and take transit, bearing in mind automobile and home ownership are prohibitively expensive propositions these days.

To personify someone who meets all of these characteristics, my team leader asked me to be the face of this part of the case study. Conveniently enough, I fit all the demographic elements for the purposes of this part of the presentation — millennial, smartphone user, transit rider and corgi lover. Granted, it was a bit exaggerated but it all still proved a point.

There you have it. It all comes together now.

(Photo credit to Adam Burger at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority)

Reflections and Expectations: …and Bingo was His Name-O

IMG_4361It feels surreal that my life and career has finally stabilized once again after a drawn-out lull.

Between January 2012 and this past April, I saw myself living through the longest personal and professional slump ever — largely centered around difficulties finding stable and relevant career opportunities. It was truly an agonizing period that took a tremendous toll in almost every aspect of my life.

With my career finally back on track, I feel a renewed sense of hope and optimism. It’ll still take some time before I fully recover from the last three years although things are already starting to look up.

Here are some of those ways as we look back at the month that was and look ahead to the start of summer.

May

New job – I’m already a month and a half in to my new job as a marketing coordinator at Mark Thomas & Company (MTCo), a civil engineering firm in San Jose.

In this role, I primarily work with engineers, planners and surveyors within our company to position ourselves for public works projects throughout the state of California. I do this by creating proposals when public agencies issue Request for Proposals (RFP) to consulting firms interested in being considered for contracts to work on projects. I also manage the company’s social media accounts with the rest of the marketing team, highlighting the company’s accomplishments and other noteworthy events.

I still enjoy my new job. It’s a terrific work environment, I maintain good relations with all of my colleagues and I feel I have a good grasp of the work at hand with an excellent support system to guide me through it all. I’m still grateful MTCo has given me the opportunity to return to the business of transportation and marketing / public relations. Now, my ongoing focus is to continue developing and succeeding in this new role.

The context behind this corgi-related photo to be explained in a post later this week

The context behind this corgi-related photo to be explained in a post later this week

Grad school – I’m finished with Spring Semester 2015 in the Master of Science in Transportation Management (MSTM) program at San Jose State University. I’m back into the swing of things in early August for Fall Semester 2015.

At this point, I completed six classes out of the 10 total in the MSTM program, administered by the Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI). I still have four more classes to go including the culminating capstone class, putting me on track for a June 2016 graduation date — a year from now.

As I enrolled in the program in January 2014, some have asked if I will remain in the program after landing my new job. I’m still in it until the very end. Most other students also maintain full-time jobs and attend classes one night a week. This is better for me as I feel more productive than ever before — taking on graduate-level courses and a full-time job.

Lighthouse Field State Beach, Santa Cruz

Lighthouse Field State Beach, Santa Cruz

Memorial Day weekend – In lieu of cancelled plans to spend the weekend in San Diego, I took a day trip with a coworker to Santa Cruz — a coastal city about 30 miles south of San Jose here in the Bay Area.

I have never visited Santa Cruz before although I have always wanted to visit. We lucked out as the weather was perfect that Saturday of the holiday weekend. We stopped for lunch at a Thai restaurant, grabbed some ice cream cookie sandwiches at the Pacific Cookie Company (I need to go there again!) and checked out some of the coastal hotspots including the Lighthouse Field State Beach.

I need to go back there sometime for a weekend stay — a stay-cation of sorts. When I do, I definitely need to get some more of those delightful cookies from Pacific Cookie Company!

Bingo – On Friday night, I visited a bingo hall in Santa Clara with a coworker who regularly plays there. This is the first time I played bingo at this kind of venue as I’ve often played this game online and only just for fun. Although I didn’t win anything, I still enjoyed playing and it gave me something productive to do on an otherwise dull Friday night.

June

  • MTI convocation ceremony – Hoping to finding out if I can attend the ceremony later this month. It’ll serve as a preview of what I can expect when it’s my turn to graduate next year. In the meantime, it’ll be an opportunity for me to cheer on my fellow classmates graduating this year.
  • Summer activities – With a little more free time outside of my regular work hours, I plan on embarking on some fun new activities — yoga and volunteering work are just some of them. Watch this space.

How did the month of May play out for you? What are your plans for the summer? Share your thoughts below. I would love to hear from you.