Franklin Chen's grain of sand

Infinity in the palm of my hand

RIP Cheo Feliciano: Wonderful Singer of Salsa and Bolero


Cheo Feliciano

I learned that Cheo Feliciano just died in a car accident at age 78.

Why I have been a fan of Cheo Feliciano

Born in Puerto Rico, he was one of my favorite singers of salsa and bolero when I was regularly doing Latin dancing and seeking out the best music out there. As a particular fan of bolero, I was drawn to his magnetic voice and style: rich, smooth, flexible. His singing always seemed so resonant and never harsh; in particular, as a learner of Spanish, I appreciated how easy it was to hear his words, because of his clear, conversational articulation even as he sang.

Check him out:

Charlie Chaplin, a Daughter, a Granddaughter: Changing My Perception of "Smile"


So today is the 125th birthday of Charlie Chaplin. I could assume that he needs no introduction, being one of the famous pioneers of film, but I have to confess that I have never myself actually watched the entirety of any of his films. I went through much of my life not knowing much about him at all, in fact, other than caricatures of his famous character “the little tramp”, which to me just seemed dated and weird, and therefore not of interest. So I never looked further into his films or his life: it was all just ancient history to me.

But two years ago, by chance, I learned more about him.

A Note on Running in Warm Weather


I haven’t been running much at all in recent months; actually, I barely ran all winter, in contrast to last winter.

Since it’s warmer now, I no longer have an excuse. I went out for a short run in Frick Park late in the afternoon, when it was warm and sunny, probably around 80 degrees F.

I had a really tough time out there, going less than three miles before I turned around and started walking home. I know from prior experience that after not running much, I have to ramp up slowly, but in this case, the suddenly warm weather (after months of a seemingly endless winter) took a toll on me. So I’d like to remind anyone else coming out of “hibernation” not to feel discouraged if feeling unfit: just do a little bit of running at a time, hydrate (I was grateful that the water fountains in the park are operational), and be patient! If I didn’t know any better, I would be feeling quite discouraged after my excursion today.

I treated myself to some cookies after my run. These are cookies I saved from an event at work last week, specifically for only after hiking or running. I would not eat these unremarkable cookies otherwise!

Cookie 1 Cookie 2


Hiking Again in Boyce-Mayview Park Three Months Later


For the New Year in January, Abby and I went on a brisk winter hike through the Pittsburgh hiking meetup group in Boyce-Mayview Park, which was new to us at the time. We enjoyed the experience so much that we knew that we were going to return in the spring.

So on a warm and sunny afternoon (temperature rising beyond 70 degrees F), we went (by ourselves) to Boyce-Mayview Park to do some hiking. We ended up doing maybe eight miles. Obviously, things just looked different without the snow and ice, and with some vegetation and more active life forms.

A Few Sights From the Iron Grate Trail in Frick Park


Abby and I did a leisurely hike in Frick Park near home, exploring a trail that I don’t usually run on, the Iron Grate Trail, because it is a favorite trail for mountain bikers, and therefore tends to have muddy ruts that are not so pleasant for pedestrians, and also someone on a mountain bike could always come out of nowhere. But we were careful to keep our eyes and ears open, and share the trail, yielding to mountain bikers when perceiving them coming along.

An advantage of occasionally checking out these trails is simply that they are quieter, in terms of fewer pedestrians and dogs, and also, you get to see parts of the park that you wouldn’t otherwise see.

The Iron Grate Trail briefly became infamous in the local news a year ago because of reports of a “hatchet-wielding” person attacking someone on the trail, but I think that was an isolated incident.


Here’s an amusing photo I took of Abby finding a hiding place along the trail:

Abby hiding in a tree

I didn’t take any photos of the new-looking signs reading “Iron Grate Trail” that we saw, but I just found out that they were put up just days ago thanks to volunteers for the Pittsburgh Trail Advocacy Group. We did notice that the trail showed other evidence of having been maintained recently. Very nice work and thank you!

We also saw some chickens running around in someone’s back yard, from a section of the trail behind a residential area.


Here is a random video I found of someone riding into and along the Iron Grate Trail:

My Third Year of Celebrating Johann Sebastian Bach's Birthday: Who Was This Guy Anyway?


This is my third year of celebrating the birthday of Johann Sebastian Bach. I did this in 2012 and in 2013.

The first year, I consciously chose to play some of his music rather than read about it (or about his life). The second year, I played some more of his music, on flute.

This year, I did something different.

First of all, I learned that I had gotten his birthday “wrong” in the past two years! This year I decided to celebrate the actual birthday (in terms of passing of time) rather than his birth date (which was March 21 according to the old Julian calendar). A minor detail, but symbolic of my intention.

Bobblehead and Gardiner's book about J S Bach

Life: Cooking, Eating With Friends, Music Jamming, Dancing


Abby and I went to a French potluck dance party at Lisa’s, the first one we’ve attended together in ten months (although I went to one without Abby half a year ago when she was out of town).

It was a wonderful experience, one that we’ve missed for two months, since we have not gone out to a party with friends since Abby got a new job and we’ve had to adapt to that big change in our lives.

Although we still had to leave early, I was reminded of what I really enjoy in life, deep down: nothing fancy, just getting together and having fun and being creative.