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30-Day Blogging Challenge, Day 29: Something you could never get tired of doing.


February 2012


Two things: Living a fulfilling life, then write about it.

Creating make-beliefs, then write it down.

Well, not two things, as it turns out.

Imagining characters, observe people around me, borrow their traits, then write them all down.

Reading the paper everyday, finding a pattern, then digest them all through writing.

Obviously, it’s writing, the thing I never get tired of doing. Duh. I get tired of reading at some point, but never writing, as long as the dictionary and thesaurus are by my side (or in open tabs).





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30-Day Blogging Challenge, Day 23: 20 facts about you.


February 2012


Well, I’ll just copy and paste some of the stuff I included in my Bio.

1. I don’t smoke. I don’t drink (not even “socially”). I don’t do drugs. I don’t even drink soft drinks and sodas!

2. I have a talent for mimicking the barking sound of dogs. *Woof!*

3. I sleep like a dead person, i.e. my whole body, including my whole head that carries my nose for breathing, is under the blanket.

4. I think that tofu and eggs are the perfect food combination on earth, no matter how the dish is prepared.

5. I love fruits. My favorite is a Pink Lady apple. Simple sweet and juicy.

6. I love cute stuff (who doesn’t?), especially pigs and piglets. And puppies.

7. I love seafood so much.

8. I read as many as 3 books at one time. I love reading. I read voraciously. I read like a greedy king overeats.

9. I write because my words have lives of their own.

10. I want to write a chick-lit someday. I’m going to make it.

11. I have a journal. I have a diary. I have a notebook. I have in iPad. I  have a MacBook. Which I write on to everyday.

12. I draw because (1) I love to escape, (2) I like creating and making personal stuff as gifts for people I love.

13. My perfect therapy is a spa day.

14. Running frees my mind.


Picture from free pet wallpapers.


15. I drink an average of 3 liters of water a day. On days I run it’s 4 or 5.

16. I drink about 20 cups of tea everyday. All kinds of tea. I “steal” tea bags from hotels rooms and lobbies with my mom and some girlfriends.

17. My favorite color is blue. All shades of blue are pretty. Then comes pink.

18. I enjoy travelling. I love observing other cultures different than my own. I love taking mental pictures of interesting things.

19. I believe everything happens for a reason. Some things are better left as a mystery.

20. I believe in God.


Picture from The Revolve Tour.




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Challenging some more…


February 2012



This is a little late, as I just found out about this challenge. It’s a 30-day blogging challenge, which was supposed to jumpstart a new resolution for readers of A New Kind of Normal. I think this challenge is workable any time of the year – any time when you’re determined to change. As in my case, I have a terribly itchy hand that can’t help but write (and type) everyday. I think writing is the best form of expression without a sound coming out of your mouth. No matter how busy I am right now in school, I still prioritize my writing somehow. Writing is my second nature. All writers can relate to this.

Aside from my personal goal to visit the gym 15 times this month, I’ll start this blogging challenge as of tomorrow. Here are the topics for the following 30 days:


Honestly, I’m very intimidated by some of these questions. But I’ll challenge myself to tackle those thoughts anyway. I guess when you ask yourself questions that you’ve been avoiding for years, you’re nurturing your psyche into a more well-rounded person, a more polished character. And through writing, more often than not, you start to discover your soul inside, how it’s really like. It’s pretty much like all the writers said out there – writing is a journey of self-discovery. In my case though, I’m just a big believer of the idiom, “The pen is mightier than the sword.”




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They say do what you love… so do it.


January 2012





Hello. I’m exhausted. I’m meeting my boyfriend and his potential client today, which happens to be my boss. I just completed my last-minute editing of the copywriting I’m supposed to do over the past two weeks. It still and will always be difficult for me to write technical writing pieces, where you can’t just go with the flow in your own words. Well, at first, I just do it out of the first words that come to my head. And then I just keep editing it, and editing it, and editing it until I feel fine with it (and hopefully my boss thinks it’s fine too).

Summary of workout today: I did quite a simple workout today. I needed to save some energy for my brainpower this evening (and I workout in the afternoon).

So I did a couple of different arm movements at 6-kg free weights for some reps, but then finish off my arm workouts with just 2-kg weights, only double the reps.

Then on with 20-minute elliptical workout with a warmup of level 5 resistance for 5 minutes. Then go up to 9, then back to 5, then to 10, then to 6, then to 12, and back down to 8, and to 13, and back down to 8, and then finally to 15, and back down at 10, and cooled off with 7.

Then I did a 30-minute treadmill workout that’s actually pretty easy. Today my housemaids served lunch real late, so I’ve still got stuff in my stomach when I workout. Trust me, it feels awful. I felt like puking the whole time.

I managed to run at 1.0 incline the whole time. At first I went up to 5.5 speed, and then 6.6, and back down to 5.6, and up to 6.7, and then go back down to 5.8, and go up to 7.1. And then I fast-walked at incline 13, and then I start to come down at incline 1 again and run a 6.6 speed. Then I sprint for a minute at 7.5 speed, and cooled down again. Then I sprint again for a minute at 8.2, and cooled down again. I raised the incline up to the maximum of 15 while fast-walking, and slowly cool down while lowering the incline by half at each 2-minute interval. And that’s it.

Today, I’ve seriously, seriously made my decision to never accept any assignment that involves with art ever again. I love art by itself, but if it’s for others, it’s not something I want to do. I already perceived work itself as a pressure. For me, writing comes naturally. But making art is too much of a hassle for me, and it’s not enjoyable. You essentially sit down for hours at a time, whereas for writing, I can write for 30 minutes at a time and do some 2 to 10-minute workouts at each breaks. I actually don’t mind achieving a saggy butt for writing’s sake, but not for making art.

That’s how stubborn I am, I guess?

No matter how much someone would pay me, I think I will not enjoy the assignment at all.

Maybe that’s what they call that passion to do what you love.












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Why not be a writer?





via moonbuggy


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An oath to death

…because knowing the end is the surefire way to move forward right.

I AM reading right now. As a matter of fact, I am also writing.

Writing is thinking. Writing is rewriting. I accredit that thought to its pioneers –  Ernest Hemingway, Paul Abbott, and William Goldman. In the history of the world there is not a single published writer who leaves their work unedited. Yet I am here scribbling a train of thought, for just one post at a time, to conserve this quiet space in this Internet for some written words that are not meant for me (and neither for you) to be looked backwards but as a means to keep looking forward, just because.

As that to how and why and of what I write, just because.

I have a focus beyond the self. I feel unease, lest that to a dis-ease, to have a focus on myself, unless it’s about what I can do better for the welfare of everyone. Every selves. Every lives. My pen is a torch. Its fire fuels passion; my soul malleable as water.

And that this blank canvas, virtually, is what reality calls life.

The English language has ingrained me and my childhood with dozens of vocabulary. Colors of the rainbow splashes in and out of my heart with love. Droplets of the drizzle dips my heart in sorrows. I feel fictitious characters more real than the real world I live in, and still am living in.

So, I consult with nonfiction, and reality bites.

HERE I am not afraid of speaking my mind; although courage is not the absence of fear, we must try, keep trying we must, and keep on trying until we live up most to what we believe we can achieve.

My purpose is to write. This is my calling. I know, because I am willing to give up my life for the love of what it has given to me.

I’ve lived more than half my life absorbing the written word, as voracious as a glutton, as persistent to meet the end of stories as an ultramarathoner, and speaking intrapersonally in so many different languages beyond the English language.

It has only been 21 years, but it’s time to return my rewarding experience on this blank canvas, travelling across nations with my loved ones, my adventures with some of the strongest characters I’ve enlivened from the imaginations of my inner child, venturing from one book to another, an article by the next, from paper to pad, from one land to the next, and keep on learning from those little instances I take jumping across hundreds of pages, pages, pages forward, to trust myself and go on.

Some words unspoken must be spoken. I’ve escaped faraway from the previously rich, social life I’ve blankly, carelessly lived, and materialistic status I earned indeed, as defined by the symmetrical proportion of my visible atomic particles and molecules and how Mother Nature works accordingly to how my soul has nurtured itself through self-discipline – every step forward I take, as I run, I surrender to Free Will, and in return, I am rewarded for trying to respond beyond the self in spite of negative feedback for the things I be-have, I un-do and correct, that I be-live.

Self-ish I sound, I have found carrying a Hermes bag without a priceless soul quite  meaningless, and self-less I think it is. I learned that a tofu is never the same from one instance to another, with and without adornments, adornments of luxury and adornments of necessity. On the one hand an invisible particle is not the absence of a personality, just as of courage there is not the absence of fear, as I feel fortunate my heritage is that of a great potential for human growth shown by the relatively peaceful state compared to some of the first-world nations despite fiery riots springing from interfaith discrimination. It still amazes me that different shades of colors can paint a rainbow of culture instead of destroying a canvas, and this I stress as one of the many things I can, with my pen, move to and move for.

I NOW read everyday. Through it my journal becomes an embodiment of individualism, despite withholding personal values I’ve inherited on collectivism (We enjoy good food). I eat alone, in solitude, and have found luxury in it, even when I grew up eating together with my friends, or family that which is broken in the mask of capitalistic visibility, to which I as its youngest member and only lady can still perceive an invisible optimism that I’ve collectively learned through a series of written words. Reading, reading, and keep on reading with hope in mind to fully understand thoughts, things. Naive, yet I’m happy to say that science can prove that fact.

Reduce the materials and now I’ve seen enough reality. The less matter we carry, the more invisible, intangible value we create, and can create. And words are valuable. Put them together right and the body of work becomes more valuable than the pen, than myself.

I hide myself in mountains and valleys of hardcovers, and yet, as I believe every well-informed, well-rounded woman can understand this – that the irony of being our best selves, taking advantage of our human capacity, driving it by right and by will, still merely emanate a beauty that does not transcend beyond the appearance – and in result of this nature history has founded a society in which we try to appear the ideal rather than do the appeal per se. A naive woman is surely subjected to harm. This is an education.

Speaking of feminine souls, we’re still seen more as objects than we are appreciated as an invisible light, quietly moving and touching the lives in the dark. Why, this culture of fear! Don’t we men and women, East and West, artists and scientists, more alike than we are different?

Why subjected to the visible, and why not try to be-long? I believe we are not here to produce self-justifying reasons to external images to that which we are overly scrutinized, superficially witnessed, and mistakenly prejudiced. I believe we are social, mortal animals, whose minds are not that of a blank slate but founded through generations of historical heroes, tried and true believers, who lived their names long, long enough even after death took their tolls, to be, to exist, to prove the right to life and the life according to the established moral rights history has conveniently provided for our modern lives.

My pen is a torchlight. I am invisible.

My soul is no-thing. Yet, of me the fire inside burns forever.

And before my soul is buried under the deathbed I shall do whatever it takes to withstand the tests of time and thrust through the linear successions we are all innately capable of moving called LIFE.

This post, a train of thought, might have been, could be just, a worthless mistake. So the next time I write through this oath, I can make mistakes better, better in the hopes of moving words to touch a kindred reader like you.

SALUNA is signing off.

Saluna and her stories: View all / Diary entries

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Life: Enduring the event



boco_001_300x250Bob Cooper is an award-winning freelance journalist and also a competitive long-distance runner ever since he was 14. Now he has ran over 450 running races, including 32 marathon and 13 ultramarathon finishes, with his best marathon time at 2:26:11 when he earned 6th place in the Avenue of the Giants Marathon on May 1, 1977. Recently he ran the World Masters Mountain Running Championships for Team USA in Zagreb, Croatia, where he was placed 50th in his age group.

He has written dozens of stories for a wide variety of magazines, including regular articles for the Runner’s World magazine, where he was honored the Outstanding Service Article Award by the American Society of Journalists and Authors in 2008 forhis article “Run Your Best 26.2 Miler”, published on 7 June 2007.

As a recreational runner, I subscribe to the magazine to get insights about the competitive edge of this endurance sport. With deadlines continuously ahead, Bob still manages living an active lifestyle. I was curious about his skills in time management an dhow he exercises maintaining his energy levels up, while being a full-time writer who writes such rich variety of stories. I got to chat with him on Tuesday, 26 October 2010 at Starbucks onDivisadero Street, one of the coziest cafes in San Francisco.


STACIA HO: What made you start getting active and begin running?

BOB COOPER: I always had a lot of energy. My father was a good miler back when he was in high school. He encouraged me to try out for the track team. So I went to the local track, did the mile a few times, and kept trying to improve my time. Then I got into the track team, and have been running ever since.


SH: Do you still work with a running coach, or are you self-motivated?

BC: I never really had a coach ever since my 20s. I love the activity so much that I don’t seem to need any external motivation as some runners do, and it’s just because races are fun. I also like the idea of setting goals and trying to achieve them.


SH: The first rule in your article “25 Golden Rules of Running”, which was featured in the September 2005 issue of Runner’s World, is specificity, a critical determinant for tackling the demands of any course. You also included course elevation as a rule of thumb for runners to pace themselves. What does your running route look like where you usually do your runs?

BC: Right now, I am running only uphills. I got a knee injury recently. The one route I do 90% of the time is a run up Bolinas Road from near downtown Fairfax to a trailhead at the top of that climb, which is 3 and a quarter miles. Except for 100 meters in the middle, the route is all uphill, ranging from gradual to fairly steep, rising at an elevation of 900 feet. I drive to the top to park my bike there, then I run the course either once or twice, each time biking back down to my car. I choose not to take the long walk when I go backdown just because it’s not great for my knees, plus it’s very time- consuming.


SH: Most runners don’t really like facing uphill.

BC: I don’t love it. I do like it. Right now it’s the only thing that I can do. My knees hurt if I run on level ground or on downhill. When you go uphill you’re not hitting on your heels, so I’m not impacting your body. I just do what I can do. You have your own limitations, and then you deal with whatever that you can do.


SH: Time management is everything, especially for freelancers. Why did you choose not to get the traditional 9-to-5 job?

BC: So much of my life has been a combination of running and writing. Both things are what I’m really passionate about. I was a serious competitive runner when I first got out of school. I knew that to get to the best level I could as a runner, I should try to avoid 9-to-5 jobs, because when you’re running, you’re drained all the time with energy. So I took a variety of jobs wherever I could. I did lots of secretarial work – typing and filing,things like that – and I started doing more writing. It just gradually built on itself. When I was about 29, I was able to drop everything else that I’ve patched together to become a full-time writer and editor. At that point my running got slower, but I thought that as long as I keep on doing this, I’d just keep doing it for the joy I get out of these passions of mine. And so, I’ve done it ever since. It’s been… Cool.


SH: You have been a contributor for the Runner’s World magazine for 37 years now. How do you plan out your time to write while setting aside your time to run?

BC: As for Runner’s World magazine, I would read their website often, mostly under the racing news section. I draw on to the side a lot of the information from there to think of which elite runners to interview for the stories I write. But I just love reading their columns as I enjoy following the sport. It’s just fun to keep up, and yet technically I’m working. So there are a lot of cases like that, where it’s technically work but doesn’t feel like work.


SH: Ah. So that’s why it’s fun.

BC: Yeah.


SH: Joyce Carol Oates is famed for writing a wide variety of creative works just as diverse as your stories. She is also a devoted runner. In 1999, she wrote: “Ideally, the runner who’s a writer is running through the land- and cityscapes of her fiction,like a ghost in a real setting” in her essay “To Invigorate Literary Mind, Start Moving Literary Feet” as part of the Writers on Writing series for The New York Times. Do you prefer absorbing things that surround you, or think about nothing at all?

BC: As I write, or as I run?


SH: … As you run.

BC: It goes back and forth. I’ll sometimes get so lost in thought that I’ve gone 10 to 15 minutes without realizing where I am if I’m not in a familiar route that I’m used to running. Suddenly I’ll realize a mile down the road and I didn’t even think – ‘cause I’ve been lost in thought, thinking about a story, or just anything, while having my mind go run free. That’s one of the nice things about running as opposed to other sports that takes concentration. It’s one of the things you can do where you can just go space out and think.


SH: What about running on a treadmill?

BC: I hate treadmills. I absolutely hate treadmills. Anything you can do outdoors that you can do indoors, and you can do almost anything outdoors, I just do it outdoors. On the treadmill, you’re looking at the same thing the whole time. I like variety, much as I like the variety of writing different things. I like the stimulation of that process, and there’s absolutely no stimulation when you’re on the treadmill. When you’re out running there’s always things going on around you that you see, which then I’ll ask myself, am I going towards the middle of the road so I better watch out if the car’s coming at me? [Laughs]. Also, the city just provides some of the best views for running.


SH: I read your interview with Poet Laureate Kay Ryan in the October 2009 issue of Runner’s World. You also mentioned that you tend to review your material just by taking notes during the interviews you do. What decisions did you make when you put down her spoken words onto paper? How did you put those words together?

BC: The first general rule is to always have at least five more materials than you’re able to use. With Kay Ryan, I read her poetry books and looked on the Internet to search her background, find out about her getting the Nobel Laureate’s award. I did a lot of the dense research. Then I talked to her for about an hour, along with some follow-up e-mails. I had more than enough material and could’ve written 5000 words, but it only ended up at about 600. When you have so much more materials than you can use, you can really hone in on what’s the most compelling thing as you go through it, and then you say, is this going to grab the reader? Will it be interesting enough to the reader that they want to keep reading the story? The first thing that I’m looking for as I’m looking through all my notes is what’s going to grab the reader the most, while staying focused on the topic. In this case, it’s the intersection of her running, her poetry, and her creative process.


SH: In the transcript, she mentioned that she revises her poems during her runs. Do you do your creative work when you’re running?

BC: Definitely. Sometimes I do it in a conscious way and I’ll say, okay I’m going to be out running or bicycling for a certain amount of time, and I’ve got to come up with an idea for a certain story. I’ll brainstorm in my mind and eventually come up with something. Lately, because of my injury, I’ve been biking more than I run. When I bike isI always keep a tape recorder in my fanny pack. At the end of every one-hour ride there’s always times that I’ve read in– talked in, to the recorder whenever there are ideas for my writing. By the same token, I have that recorder by my bed when I’m sleeping, so the next morning when I wake up from the night that I think of something, I just transcribe it in front of my computer the next day. I almost always have a tape recorder with me, justin case there’s something that’s really cool.


SH: Cool. Interesting enough, one of my broadcasting teachers instructs us students that whenever there’s a tape recorder lying around, we’ve got to be extra careful about the things we say. It’s funny that you do it consciously.

BC: Here [tape recorder] it’s just reading rough ideas that I’ll just play for myself, and then I’ll refine them once I get back to my computer. So it’s not necessarily in its final form. I’ll play with it and refine with it as I go on.


SH: You’ve done line-editing in your early writing career. How does the little details, such as punctuation, provide support for the writer’s draft?

BC: Actually, I still do a little of that, so my specialty is looking for punctuation and little things like that. I was never good at knowing the grammar rules. I just picked it up along the way, mainly from reading. To me it’s all about practicality. If you feel that there needs to be a pause, it almost always does. It’s kind of more intuitive than following rules.


SH: What is your general advice when it comes to revision?

BC: My general advice is to read a variety of writing, and eventually you’ll kind of just pick it up. That’s how punctuation is best used. Another thing I would look into is the variety of sentence structures. If there are several sentences in a row that have the same structure, the same length, the same placement of verbs and so on, you’ll realize that the reader likes to have really short, declarative sentences, and then a really long and complex sentence that goes back and forth.


SH: Whenever I practice performing on-camera classes in school, my instructor tends to say that as a multimedia communicator, you have to know when to stop.We have to continue pacing ourselves. It’s just like training for a long-distance race. You cannot do it too fast too soon, and I feel that it’s the same as in writing. Do you have any advice on how writers can write better in terms of pacing their storylines?

BC: It’s always going to start with something in rough form that needs to be improved. On the other hand, you’re right on saying that it’s not good to write too fast. You can really write in really rough form, and then later on go back to it repeatedly, refining it multiple times. That’s how writers work. Or, you can just sit down and write really slowly and constantly revise each sentence until it’s perfect before you move on to the next sentence. To me, it makes more sense to do the big piece all at once, then go back to it, improve on it several times, until you’re happy with it.


SH: Your stories suggest a lot about exercising the body to move, and how it has moved people’s lives. To keep yourself going, do have a mantra to follow when you’re running?

BC: My mind always goes back and forth between spacing out and thinking about mundane things, or about stories that I’m writing. But I’ll refocus regularly and think of my performance, and I’ll say, am I running as fast as I want to be running? I’ll refocus on the present moment to think about what I’m doing from the aspect of what I’m trying to get from the run as a training benefit. There’s this terminology psychologists call association and disassociation. Disassociation is when you’re not thinking about the activity that you’re doing and you’re thinking about things that are remote from that. Association is when you’re thinking if you’re in the moment and thinking about what you’re doing. So I constantly go back and forth within the course of a run.


SH: The Lydiard’s Pyramid, a training program elite runners follow, focuses on building volume, then feeling the runs. Do you train yourself based on that strategy?

BC: The main basis is the hard-easy system, and the Lydiard program narrowed it down into specific details. I never really follow an exact program. I learned from a combination of things. I learned a lot from my high school coach, but now it’s mostly from reading,and then writing stories on running, talking to experts for the stories I write. I just pick up the main principles, which are pretty much common sense. Once you know the main exercise physiology principles in running, it’s easy to craft your own. The biggest principle here is having stress, followed by rest, followed by another time for stress, and always going back and forth.


SH: Besides training strategically, what other things can you recommend runners to ensure success, perhaps achieving their personal best record, when running their races?

BC: Recovery is the absolute key. If you run far or fast one day, you need short or slow the next day. Always allow enough for recovery. If you happen to hurt yourself the next time, you recovered well enough to do it – as well as you did the last time or even better.It’s always easy to forget that, but that’s the main thing in order to do well. I push myself to run 90 to 100% as fast as I can, since I only do it once every 4 to 6 days, allowing plenty of recovery time for the other days when I am only biking or kayaking, which are the two other activities that I enjoy doing.


SH: What races are you currently training for?

BC: Since I currently run uphill courses, the problem is that there are very few of those nationwide, and those that are in California are between the months of August and October. I’ve found a couple of races in Arizona and Oregon I may consider running, but those aren’t till June or later. So, I’m just staying in shape, enjoying the mix of running,and also mountain biking and kayaking. On the side I’m working on magazine articles that will appear on Runner’s World, Marin Magazine, John Hopkins Health, and many others. Then I’ll push a little more in late spring as the uphill races I’m able to find get closer.


Check out Bob Cooper’s professional web site at