A Pause for the Humanities

As a lifetime resident of Los Angeles, the current spectrum of human experience in this city is tremendously vast. From homelessness to billionaires, less than five thousand square miles are home to nearly twenty million people. All forms of misery, bliss and everything in between coexist. Within this space, the populace allows the unique opportunity to observe the humanities – or at least be mindful of them.

At a glance, the practicality of studying anthropology, classics, history, languages, law, literature, philosophy, the arts or any other human societal discipline may seem pointless. In fact, as a graduate of classical studies now working in precision manufacturing, you don’t usually hear me translating Latin while calibrating durometers. It’s taught me nothing of operating machinery, CAD nor being dexterous.

Instead, studying the humanities taught a far deeper and overarching lesson: to be an inquisitive, diligent and critical thinker in everything I do. It provided the tools to excel in learning everything I didn’t know and to not only ask “how” something is done but more importantly “why”.

He who knows the “why” for his existence… will be able to bear almost any “how”.

Friedrich Nietzsche (1844–1900) from his Twilight of the Idols

Music I Like

Music is a tremendous part of my life. It engages emotions, recalls memories and inspires. I began with a cassette tape of Dookie by Green Day – fast forward to today and I can more easily tell you what music I dislike than what I do.

Above are songs I am currently listening to on Spotify. The aim is to share and convey feelings through music. Hopefully, you might discover something new. Oh, and if you enjoy any of these songs or have any suggestions, please leave something in the comments section below!

Writing Patterns

There seems no specific time for when I decide to write; I’ve been compelled early in the morning, during the midday and late in the evening. I feel creative during times of introspection while away from work. I write in private, either to the sound of cars outside or the low volume of music.

Perhaps practical and brief, my writing style may also be predictable. My poetry, for example, has a more serious tonality where I enjoy using rhyming metaphors that convey ideas succinctly, deeply and uniquely.

Military themes, time and personal conflict seem to be topics of tendency. The connections I am able to create between them and readers’ emotions directly correlates to my ever changing ability as a writer.

Although my actual notebooks and pens will always have their place, I find the greatest ease in using Google Docs on the computer. Two other indispensable tools are an online dictionary and thesaurus. The computer’s ease of accessibility is far more suitable for a forgetful mind with fleeting thoughts.

by Garret Woo


Words to Live By

I. Losing something reveals its worth to you.
-Don’t take things for granted.

II. The unspoken word cannot be twisted.
-Think before you speak; you no longer own the words that leave your mouth.

III. You have control over how you react to uncontrollable situations.
-Although much easier said than done, you can choose how an insult affects you.

IV. You only have control over the present.
-You cannot act five minutes ago and five minutes from now you might not be able to act. You can, however, act right now.

V. Whatever the situation, it could be worse.
-If all you can do is blink your eyes, imagine only being able to blink one.

VI. Perfection stands in the way of progress.
-The potter cannot spin a masterpiece with clean hands.

VII. Time does not discriminate what it changes.
-You will age and die like everything before you.

VIII. So much can be lost in such little time.
-Cherish all that brings you happiness; it can be taken away from you suddenly.

IX. Money is not happiness
-Happiness is a relative state of inner contentedness which cannot be bought with money or achieved with drugs.

X. As good exists so too does evil.
-As there are storms so there is calm.

XI. The vastness of the universe provides perspective.
-Consider the size of the earth in the solar system, then the galaxy that holds it, and further, the universe that it is a collection of.

XII. Humility is nobler than pride.
-It is easier to call out a fault than to learn from it.

XIII. Desire is the is the seed of conflict.
-The farther you remove yourself from desire the farther your move from conflict.

XIV. In the end, you will have forgotten much; in the end, much will have forgotten you.
-Live life excitingly and don’t dwell on things you cannot change, like the past.

by Garret Woo


Why I Write

The short answer is happiness. I find satisfaction in being creative in any way; whether that be writing poetry, making music or taking photos. Sharing them with others helps me improve which, in turn, makes me even happier.

I write to record memories and states of mind. If I don’t lose what I’ve written, something I’ve done before, it helps me relive moments of my past that I might otherwise have forgotten.

It’s also simply a good way to exercise your mind. Combing my brain for words, challenging myself for metaphors and meaningful bits of wisdom to convey seems a worthy effort.

I tend to gravitate towards stricter rhyme and meter. Differently, poetry that is more free-flowing, looser and adventurous is definitely something I can work on. Themes of history, conflict and time often seem to establish themselves.

Finally, sometimes I find that being creative grants valuable perspective on the world. After all, you’re thinking critically, scanning for possibilities and being observant.

by Garret Woo


My Driving Story

1966 Ford Mustang

Soon after I first got my license in 2004, the car bug bit me. On occasion, I was allowed to drive my dad’s 1966 fully restored and modded Ford Mustang in Midnight Blue for a year or so.

But then, I was gifted the family van as my first commuting car for high school:

1990 Dodge Caravan

It was a 1990 Dodge Caravan with faux wooden side paneling. I was selling it in 2008; this van was my first car and our secrets will go to the grave. From carpooling in high school to cruising around Westwood Village in Los Angeles – this car had many purposes.

The time came when I needed something smaller and more practical. Along came this Honda, the silent creeper:

2005 Honda Civic

This 2005 Honda Civic was special. Its utility was just as fabulous as the van before it. The look was clean, it drove with precision and was exceptionally lightweight. I also added a 12″ sub-woofer in the rear and some Alpine speakers just to let people know.

I finally had the experience and now the opportunity to own an Audi. In 2015 I purchased a 2010 A5.

The turbocharged four-cylinder engine paired with the AWD grip launched you around corners and got you quick off the line. This was the car that familiarized me Audi.

2010 Audi A5

Then in 2017, out of the blue, came a car that took my breath away:

2014 Audi RS5

Successful negotiations meant that I was now the owner of a beast; a true monster of a machine. This is a car you had to tame. From the moment you start the ignition of this 2014 naturally aspirated 4.2L V8 Audi RS5 with 450hp, an incredible sensory experience envelops you. The exhaust is glorious in Sport Mode and emits a series of wicked deletes on the automatic downshifts just to let people know you’re around.

Along with being my daily commuter, this car sees action along Sunset, Mulholland Drive and the PCH.

Machinist Experience

garret-latheMy occupational roots might be a fun topic. I began machining, followed by drafting and design. In 2013, after being a barista, trying real estate, private investigative and some other work, I received an opportunity to get paid to learn the particular machining required for the company I would work for.

The start was rough. I had never really worked with my hands, per se, and had zero industrial skills. But I did have a determination to become competent enough to hold my own in the shop. Yes, there was some blood, tears and drama – but a heck of a lot of learning occurred.

I learned how to operate old school, medium sized lathes, mills, drill-presses, hand tools, cut-off saws and other general shop tools. Most of these machines were from the 60’s and 70’s. Some simple CNC on a three-axis mill was also used.

The learning curve was steep but once I could conceive the basics I grasped some of the more advanced setups, parts and procedures. None of this could have been done without my patient mentor who has since retired.

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