Gregory HanTime 2022-08-15 16:26:51
Web Name: Gregory Han
Description:The Design DrawerDomesticus InsulaeTrails and TribulationsNever Taste in Haste
Visiting the Tsukiji Fish Market
The Tsukiji fish market is an overwhelming experience, a remarkable living organism of fishmongers, shippers, packers, sellers, and …
The Absolutely Ridiculous Hunt for the Best Brush & Dustpan For Cat Litter Clean Up Duty
A few months ago I pulled the trigger and purchased the Rig-Tig dustpan by Stelton on sale. It's …
Man, Dig Those Crazy Los Angeles Postcards
Over at AHBE Lab, landscape architect Gary Lai documents the history and current commuter's quagmire known as the Los Angeles …
Attaining Affluence Through Simplicity
As we begin readying to move from our home of the last four years in Silver Lake to …
Understanding “Why?” Before Considering “How?”
These days I find myself fielding two types of question quite regularly: 1. how to organize and create …
Happening & HappenedDaily Pontification
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True Detective Theme Song">The Deadly Flower That Inspired the On March 30th, 2014
True Detective Theme Song
I was perusing through my archives of photos this evening. I was scouring through Flickr and Instagram for images from those halcyon years when Emily and I were still a young couple when a friend I had not heard from for a year(s?) reached out via DM. She asked about Eames, spurred by her own recent trials caring for an ailing beloved canine stricken with cancer. Like a river winding to the deep ocean, our chat eventually led to discussing the presence and navigation of grief – first with the loss of our parent/grandparent, now with the looming presence of the final days with our pets.
Sometime during this exchange this photo popped up while I was concurrently scrolling. Something about this blurry image taken in her backyard struck me as immensely evocative of my mom’s fierce independence, her love of her backyard, and the radiant smile she’d grace us with when we’d visit her.
It’s hard to determine whether she is saying hello or goodbye, a hauntingly beautiful mystery.
A Diffrient World
I don’t believe in fate. The notion any circumstance, whether beneficial or harmful, is preordained has always seemed rather…as the kids these days say…suss. I’ve always been skeptical of others’ confidence in interpreting how life unfolds, more apt to believe in “it shall be erased” rather than “it was written.”
But I admit my suspicion of destiny has been challenged recently by the fortuitous chain of events and circumstances surrounding how our new home came into our lives.
We weren’t actively looking to buy, resigned to the belief that the insanely competitive Los Angeles real estate market would require months of bids and compromises galore. Finding a home you can imagine yourself living in, located within in a neighborhood you like, and at a price you can afford is only a fraction of the journey. Or as friends and strangers alike miserably advised, “Don’t make the mistake of falling in love with any place! You’ll get your heart broken over and over again” – a city of dreamers all vying within a nightmare of a market.
The original apple of my eye was an Altadena residence listed on Redfin a year ago, only one of a few homes I had ever favorited. I had fallen madly in love with a Nuevo Pueblo property in Los Osos, but it was admittedly a far flung fling attributed to pandemic-induced cabin fever. This home was located just above a stretch of trails running along a verdant creek parallel to the Jet Propulsion Lab, a midcentury residence with low slung post and beam construction. The house sat near a terraced hillside with a slightly sloppy arrangement of large river stones demarcating a wall that looked glaringly similar to Shane MacGowan’s grin, but I loved the interior and proximity to Angeles National Forest.
I remember showing Emily the 1960s-era home first on Redfin, then later in person while we hiked that same trail after a year of being cooped up during the pandemic (I believe it was the day we spotted a fox sitting overhead on an oak branch – a prophetic appearance perhaps?). “One day I hope we’ll live up there!” glancing up toward the canyon’s edge of midcentury residences lacing Millard Canyon like a hopeless Squid Game contestant. I uttered this not so much with confidence but with a sigh and a degree of resignation that I had magnitude more dreams than money.
Fast forward to just a few weeks ago when I spotted another residence on Redfin, one with similar diamond in the rough charm – maybe even rougher, considering its architectural provenance had been partially obscured by that ubiquitous 80s-era love of tile, stucco and an enigmatic inclusion of coastal themed stained glass art thrown in. The home would reveal to be situated literally across the street from the previous hillside home I had admired. And Emily and I loved this one even more.
Our friend and soon-to-be agent Sara informed us there was an open house that very afternoon. We’d tour the home shortly after, navigating mostly amongst real estate agents slithering from room to room, then again a second time a few days later during a private showing to seal our affections as tried and true.
We’d learn the house originally had gone far into escrow a first time after receiving 44 bids. The eventual winner would later drop out due to an untimely dip in the market/crypto realm. With the second go-around the sellers understandably made the hoops a magnitude more difficult to jump through: while the starting asking price would remain the same, the property would only sell as-is, without the possibility of credits or any negotiations in price. Absolutely no letters to the sellers either. Emboldened by an insanely friendly and secured fixed 3.25% 30-year interest rate – one attached specific to the address – we tossed in our hat with what we believed was a competitive first bid. And yes, it included a request to include the now famous pencil sharpener.
“Sorry guys, we were told they’ve already received several bids that have reached the original sales price. You’re not being invited for counter offers.” [sad trombone]
Ah, so this is the heartache everyone was warning us about!
Fortunately, a pair of friends from out of town stopped by that same evening, helping us wash away the stains of sorrow like a Magic Sponge across a kimchi-stained tabletop (thank you Karis and Ben!) We’d go onto accept the reality that nobody gets their first home on their first try. The only lingering disappointment was we would not be able to review the inspection reports as we had always hoped, a privilege only granted to those whose bids were deemed competitive.
Then later the next day Sara called to inform us we were being invited to counter with a new bid. And bid we did! Our best offer would go onto eke past 18 others, including a few all-cash bids and a bid right there alongside our own. But we won out because we had agreed to drop all contingencies – an admittedly risky roll of the dice that showed the sellers we were as serious about the entire house as we were about the inclusion of the pencil sharpener stipulated in our asks.
Nothing worth dreaming comes without risks, and I’ve always wanted a house to call my own more than anything else. How many 12-year olds did you know who skipped the comics section to peruse the LA Times real estate section?
So here we are, as flabbergasted as anyone else realizing we’re buying our first home. We’re late to the home ownership party, but committed to staying for the after party till the break of dawn.
Also, can I tell you how friggin’ awesome it is discovering our future home was designed by Niels Diffrient of Humanscale and Knoll Inc. fame – the father of ergonomic design whose seating designs we both work from today.
Hoping the family selling us the home will offer these original plans so we can frame them to hang them upon our wall to commemorate what we plan to call, The Diffrient Sharpener House (but I suspect everyone else will just call the Pencil Sharpener House).
Radical Folks Doing Radical Rehabilitation
Was invited to write a short profile piece about the good folks at Terremoto for Dwell:
“An act of radical ecology is taking place on a hillside in Elysian Park in Los Angeles. In an ongoing project called Test Plot, landscape architecture firm Terremoto is working with the community to rehabilitate patches of a landscape whose ecosystem is being choked by invasive species. The key is replacing them with native plants. “If you look outside the circle, almost everything you see is non-native to the area,” says David Godshall, cofounder of Terremoto…”
[Read more at: Dwell/How a Los Angeles Landscape Architecture Firm Is Reclaiming a Hillside for Native Plants]
And that has made all the difference
Today, I found myself uninspired by the marked trail I had done numerous times – a mangled and muddied mess requiring two steps to the side for every step forward. I eventually came to follow a path worn forward by cloven hooves, the passage revealed tenatively by the morning light behind an overgrowth of plants and the gnarled arms of oaks. More of a suggestion than a genuine trail, it seemed to promise the possibility of observing flora and fauna unmolested by the procession of ever louder weekend hikers who’ve all but forgotten the joys of quiet, and this was enough.
Following an animal path requires steady attention with every step. Pockmarked by the four-legged, wet clay soil common to Southern California can prove precipitous if taken lightly; pressed into submission like the overwrought dough of a baker’s apprentice, the chance of a twisted ankle was always looming, the possibility of poison oak even greater. I moved like Catherine Zeta Jones in Entrapement – tip-toeing, ducking, shimmying past glistening leaves of three, letting them be. My hiking
Emerging from a shaded turn, not even a half-mile further yet seemingly a lifetime away from the fork I had left behind, I was greeted by a gentle tide of wild grass silently swaying in unison. Several arterial possibilities cut through this angled plane, each leading to different congregations of oaks further ahead along the horizon (their denomination, I do not know). Countless mule deer must have passed throughout the winter, making these footpaths through the otherwise unnavigable overgrowth (I caught a deer spying me curiously from a nearby hilltop while photographing mushrooms). The entire time wondered how much further I would go before I would feel compelled to turn back.
The trail was by all means nothing special, yet entirely memorable for the quiet experienced under the embrace of oaks where deer undoubtedly congregated for shade, shelter, and the camaraderie of
“I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.”
Visiting the Tsukiji Fish Market
The Tsukiji fish market is an overwhelming experience, a remarkable living organism of fishmongers, shippers, packers, sellers, and machinery all orchestrated into a extrordinary ballet of movement in the delivery, processing, and sales of seafood. This is the last year at this location between the Sumida River and the upmarket Ginza shopping district, so I feel especially grateful of theopportunity to see it in operation before its inevitable moveto Toyosu, Koto in 2018.
The Absolutely Ridiculous Hunt for the Best Brush & Dustpan For Cat Litter Clean Up Duty
A few months ago I pulled the trigger and purchased the Rig-Tig dustpan by Stelton on sale. It’s sole purpose: to keep our sole bathroom floor tidy of cat litter, a common annoyance while living with an OCD cat with an affinity for kicking out granules with the vigorous kicks of a Rockette on (our other cat has a penchant for misdirecting her stream OUT the litterbox, a whole other concern). If you’re looking for laundry services please visit commercial laundry service.
Until then I had relied upon another dustpan+brush combo that worked well. But its large size matched with the Lilliputian dimensions of our sole bathroom made for a poor long term fit. Pulling out the canister vacuum was the most effective, but proved tiresome. And being situated throughout the day right next to where all this bathroom action happens meant it’s an imperative to keep the area as clean as possible (check out Maid Easy list of services). Read More
The Great Mushroom Bloom of Winter 2016/17
It’s been many years since we’ve seen a mushroom discovery and foraging season like this one, an unexpectedly wet La Niña winter that has made up for last year’s vastly disappointing and relatively mild El Niño.
Thus, Saturday late afternoon, we headed over to the Santa Monica Mountains to search for fruiting bodies of fungi, slime molds, and lichens. We did not leave disappointed, photographing a wide variety of fruiting bodies growing primarily underneath the oak trees, but also close to the sycamores that follow seasonal flows. We even came home with a pristine white bouquet of oyster mushrooms, Pleurotus ostreatus, which will be seasoned and pan-fried this evening for dinner. Out on our hunt we found a wide variety of not only funi, but flowers and plants as well. We even came across a marijuana plant. For those interested in learning more, visit Midas Letter Cannabis Stock for fun facts about the plant. The only bummer of the afternoon was losing my screw-in macro lens for the iPhone 7 Plus. It must have dropped out of my pocket as I rolled around to find mushrooms amongst the duff. A fair trade? Yeah, I think so.
Ascent /// Descent
A gauze wall of sound with a feather of vocals floating overhead, all set within the Philip Johnson Glass House? Count me entranced. From Julianna Barwick‘s upcoming third full-length, Will.
Recorded in Lisbon, Portugal and Asheville, North Carolina at the Moog factory, with guest Thomas Arsenault (Mas Ysa), cellist Maarten Vos and percussionist Jamie Ingalls, this is music to ascend into consciousness with in the morning or to accompany you into the descent into unconsciousness in the night.
The Leftovers of 2016
With the conclusion of Inner Vision for The Wirecutter now a done deal – concluding a most satisfying 2 1/2 year run – I still find myself with countless stories, videos, tips, tricks, and books I’ve gathered over the years to stir into my weekly hot pot of online links. I’m calling the following the leftovers…
Cabin Fever: “We know that, at the very least, some technologies are harming our natural world, our societies and, ultimately, ourselves. Therefore we can recognise the need to reject some technologies. If we’re to avoid technological extremism we’re going to have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. I’ve drawn mine, and I will only move it in the direction of my home.”
This might be the equivalent of a purge/cleanse diet, but the desire to abandon technology completely is recognizably and profoundly becoming more common as it intrudes upon the source of our happiness, most notably the availability of time to call our own.
Strangely Good: Music back in ’70s Turkey was made with flair and spirit, drawing on Western psych, disco, rock as much as Eastern traditions and folk. “It’s not kitchy, it’s not pop. It’s strange and really good,” says Mete Adunduk, who appears in the film.
The Great Animal Orchestra: Listen. No, really…shut up. Stop moving, stop talking, and listen to the world around you for at least one minute without pause or interruption. Those sounds of nature – the biophony – is the collective sound of vocalizing animals (probably birds, maybe insects) that characterize an environment, the soundscape that blends into the non-biological sound sources of the geophony (e.g. wind and rain) and humanity’s intrusive addition, the anthrophony. Together, you’re experiencing the bioacoustic orchestra of the world.
Crust of the Polygon: Designer Norihiko Terayama’s delicate polygonal sculptures are constructed oh-so-carefully with conjoined pins. The resulting wireframe surrounding each plant define twig or branch as a centerpiece, while also bringing attention to the immediate space each occupies, evoking ideas of photosynthesis, entropy, non-verbal communication, and the proximity of others.
Does This Browser Make Me Look Fat? “This is a screenshot from an NPR article discussing the rising use of ad blockers. The page is 12 megabytes in size in a stock web browser. The same article with basic ad blocking turned on is one megabyte.”
It’s worth mentioning when I had graduated from college with a design degree and a rudimentary ability to code my own webpages, efficient image optimization was as highly valued a skill as the actual creative design used to present those tiny gifs (jpegs and pngs were yet to make their mark). Similar to the sprawl defining and marring the suburban landscape, a tangled yarn of advertising, scripts, and extraneous elements have slowed the internet to a crawl. I really hope you liked my first post of 2017! For my next posts I will be doing a baby stroller review so you can pick the best one for your baby.
Hawaii, Oahu 2016
The Kaniakapupu, King Kamehameha III Summer Palace Ruins is listed as closed, but nosy-inquiring minds needed to know, so we braved dense overgrowth and a relentless squadron of mosquitoes to discover what’s left of Hawaiian royalty history in a dense tropical jungle filled with mushrooms and the song of birds.
My friend Tamara arranged for a special invitation tour of the The Manoa Heritage Center (they have some amazing flushing toilets there), guided by the wonderful Collections Manager, Jenny Leung. Highly recommended if you can spare the time and nab an invite.
GreetingsMycologically curious trail seeker, tide pool explorer and gastronomic adventurer based in Los Angeles living amongst the hills of Mt. Washington.
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