Isla Vista

The photo above is the Pacific Ocean as seen from Isla Vista, the tiny beach town that’s synonymous with my alma mater, UC Santa Barbara.

On May 23, 2014, my stepdaughter was a student at UCSB when six of our fellow Gauchos were murdered in Isla Vista.

My wife and I were horrified by the news. Thankfully, our daughter had come home early for the weekend. She and her friends still on campus were safe, but my heart ached for the families and friends of those who lost their lives. We knew it could’ve been us that got the phone call no parent ever wants to receive.

A day after the shootings I pinned the photo to my Twitter profile. It was my way of remembering the Isla Vista of my undergraduate days. It meant my stepdaughter was safe.

It became a silly superstition for me: I wouldn’t unpin the photo until she’d graduated.

Tonight I talked to my stepdaughter about what happened on that day. We’ve talked about it in the past and I know we’ll talk about it in the future.

I remember being proud of how the student and Santa Barbara communities rallied around the university. I remember the chants of “Not one more.” I remember thinking about how we honor the memories of the deceased not by reliving the past, but learning from it in order to make a better present and future.

I unpinned the photo today.

As I see my stepdaughter make her way in the world — having graduated, having worked an internship in the Philippines, and having gotten into graduate school — I remember the students whose lives were cut short, whose dreams were extinguished before they could be realized, and whose family and friends must carry the memories of their unrealized potential.

I remember that as terrible as that day was, there were — and are — plenty of awe-inspiring days, too.

I remember that the evil in this world will always be eclipsed by the good.

I remember:

Weihan Wang
Cheng Yuan Hong
George Chen
Katherine Cooper
Veronika Weiss
Christopher Michaels-Martinez

Most importantly, I remember.

Update 6-4-18: You can listen to me read this post on YouTube.

Day 74: Let The Madness Begin

March Madness 2015

March Madness 2015

I’m not a fan of the NCAA. Every time I read about the latest multi-billion dollar deal it signs, I think about all of the unpaid athletes at its disposal. Not a single student-athlete is paid a penny (well, at least over the table) for their labor by the NCAA. It sickens me to think that those billions of dollars are going to so many people who don’t actually play the games. And when a student is busted for rules infractions, we’re supposed to be shocked and surprised that this would happen.

Yet, every March, I look forward to one of the NCAA’s biggest events: the men’s basketball tournament. I put aside my feelings toward the system of exploitative college sports. I just can’t help myself. I love the one-and-done format of the tourney. I love filling out my bracket. I love the upsets. I love the buzzer beaters. I love rooting against Duke. I love rooting for Pac-12 teams. And on very rare occasions, I love rooting for my alma mater.

And after it’s all said and done? I’ll go back to not loving the NCAA again.


Day 10: Minor League, Major Fun


Since moving to the Inland Empire years ago, I’ve become a minor league sports fan, thanks to the close proximity of two excellent franchises: the Rancho Cucamonga Quakes and the Ontario Fury. I’ll write about the Quakes as we get closer to baseball season. For now, I’ll focus on the Fury.

The Fury began playing in Ontario in 2013 as part of the Professional Arena Soccer League (re-branded as the Major Arena Soccer League for the 2014-15 season). My wife bought tickets for my birthday last year and I was instantly hooked: it was soccer on fast-forward, with lots of action and an unexpected dose of physical play. What I appreciated most was that the Fury might be a minor league team, but the experience was as good as any major league sport. They play home games at Citizens Bank Arena, which is a diminutive version of the modern sports arena, with all of the amenities of the big leagues, yet better sight lines due to its smaller size. Like other minor league teams, the Fury offer a family-friendly event; local businesses sponsor giveways and silly halftime contests.

Last night we had VIP seating, compliments of my wife’s win in a Fury social media contest. She thought we’d won general admission seating and as an usher showed us to our seats, we were pleasantly surprised when we were seated at front-row, glass-side tables and had access to the VIP bar area. I enjoyed my beverage as we rooted for the Fury as they held off the Harrisburg Heat, 10-9. My favorite moment? Former UCSB Gaucho Tino Nunez scoring on an awesome bicycle kick. It was a major league play, no matter what jersey you’re wearing.

Note: I’ve tried for years to like hockey, but it’s just not for me. However, I should note that the Ontario Reign, the local minor league hockey team is highly regarded as well. Since they’re affiliated with the Los Angeles Kings and I love all things L.A., I’ll eventually get around to seeing them.