Friday, November 19, 2004

Conversations from India.

Chris: The cleaning staff threw away some of my stuff.

me: Like what?

Chris: One of my half-used candles.

me: You brought candles all the way from the US?

Chris: No, they were in the gift basket.

me: [flashback to first day at guesthouse] Wait, that's right, there were candles in that gift basket! You took both of them?

Chris: There were 5. I took all 5.

me: That gift basket was for all of us!

Chris: (patronizingly) Do you want one of my candles?

me: One of your candles?! No, I want one of my own candles back, thank you.

Chris: Fine. [picks up his laptop bag, starts moving toward door to leave]

me: [noticing that he's holding a roll of toilet paper] Why are you taking toilet paper?

Chris: I might need it. I have kind of an upset stomach.

me: Don't you think they'd have it at the office?

Chris: They ran out on Sunday.

me: Oh, ok.

Chris: [gets to door, pauses with hand on doorknob] By the way, this is your toilet paper.

me: What?

Chris: Yeah, you don't have toilet paper any more in your bathroom.

me: You stole my toilet paper?? [starting to laugh] Why did you do that?

Chris: I thought you'd left for work already.

me: (laughing) You are the worst roommate ever!!

me: Can we get them to bring us more exotic fruits at the guesthouse? Right now we have apples, bananas, oranges. I want papayas, mangoes, weird Indian fruits.

Lalit: They actually ship this fruit from the US. The apples are from Washington. And the oranges are from Florida.

John: So don't tell them you want exotic fruits, because they'll bring you apples and oranges.

Friday, November 12, 2004


Sitting in bed in our lavish Bangkok hotel room, typing away. It's been 5 days since we left Mtn View (a bit confusing due to time difference). Today we dictate our own schedule, which I am looking forward to.

Chris was in an awful, awful mood until Wednesday afternoon.

Tuesday morning, Chris went to the sauna in our hotel. Upon his return, we were all getting ready for going out into the city.

John: Were there any hotties in the sauna?

Chris: (mumbling slightly) It was a male-only sauna, and I was the only one there. So there was one hottie.

John: What? I couldn't hear you.

Chris: (mumbling) I was there, so there was one hottie.

John: What?

Chris: I was the only hottie.

John: What?

Chris: I was the only ---

me: Okay, okay! You think you're a hottie! We get it!

Later, we're all in the ferry terminal, waiting to ride the ferry from Kowloon across to Central Hong Kong.

John: We should get some female interns. It'll be like Monika Lewinsky.

me: Oh no!

Chris: [stalks off without a word]

We catch up to him.

me: What's going on?

Chris: I feel like it's National Hypocrisy Month. Like, this morning you got after me for saying that I'm hot, but you're saying all the time, 'Oh, my abs look great today.' or 'my hair' And it's not okay for John to want female interns, but it's okay for you to hang out with Mark Cook and Todor and Peter?

John: I'm going to get some candy. [runs off]

We discuss, Chris calms down. But he's still angry. He refused to sit with us on the ferry, and on the bus ride to see the Giant Buddha. He doesn't smile, doesn't make any jokes.

Wednesday morning, we're sitting in a noodle shop. Chris says nothing and eats nothing.

John: I'm actually a CIA agent. I saw this movie about a guy who ran game shows, but he was also in the CIA, and he would take the winners on these trips where he was actually hitting targets.

John: So I'm a CIA agent. I have a mark in Bangkok, and in Bangalore. I just gotta find one for Hong Kong.

Chris: You can do me.

John: What?

Chris: You can kill me.

John and I look at each other and raise our eyebrows. I put my hand on Chris's shoulder and squeeze it. He reaches up and lightly lifts my hand off of him.

We split up after that. When we reunite 2 hours later, Chris is mysteriously in a much better mood. The mood has lasted through our day in Bangkok.

Thursday, October 14, 2004


We launched today.

We had a betting pool at work on the number of downloads on the first day, and so far I'm closest.

It's been a good feeling, watching the project grow from ideas and design docs, into lines of code, into the slick EXE being downloaded right now all over the world.

I'm in NYC to witness the launch at DigitalLife.

It's a different feeling from my previous shipping. On Flight Sim it was a dramatic and sudden sense of being done. This time it doesn't feel that much different than a normal day at work.

Maybe because on Flight Sim the CDs were sent to manufacturing and it was out of our hands. Whereas here we could modify the download EXE if we had to.

I like reading the slashdot posts.

A: "Now my wife can see my porn."

B: "Also now you can see my IM chats with your wife."

C (to A): "You are a heterosexual male with an Internet connection. Your wife doesn't need help from Google to know that you're surfing porn."

D (to C): "Maybe it's homosexual porn."


We already have 3600 e-mails for feature requests.

I haven't decided what to work on next. Google is unlike Microsoft, in that engineers at Google can fluidly move around to other projects. (Microsoft requires a formal interview to switch teams.) There are a number of exciting (secret) projects going on, and some of them are very tempting. Though that means I go back to not being able to talk about what I work on...

In other news, I like walking around downtown Manhattan. I'm staying in the Marriot Marquis which overlooks Times Square. I like how at midnight, the streets are still bright with neon lights, 24-hour pharmacies and shops doing renovation. The sidewalks are crowded with people, many dressed fashionably and fun to watch.

We ate a six-course tasting menu tonight, to celebrate launch. It was the first tasting menu for many of my coworkers.

I love my coworkers, every one of them. Andrew's straight-sarcasm and Chris's pig-sex jokes and John's excessive fear of death (and excessive obsession with santorum). Omar's drunkenness and Steve's pretend-innocence ("What's a stoner?", or in Australian accent "Wot's a ston'ah?"). Sergey's graciousness and DBakin's unexpected humor ("a pig for Bakin") and DaveM's "step 1..." instructions and MihaiMihai the rapper and Nikhil's strong opinions (good: "Gay marriage should be legal." bad: "I should be able to bring my dog into the public library! Everyone in the library should vote on it!").


The final tally of # downloads has been computed, and I am NOT the closest. John, who submitted a bet 3 times as high as mine, which we all dismissed as "ridiculously optimistic", is the closest.

This is $10 I'm thrilled to lose.

Friday, September 24, 2004

Show me the pig.

I am looking into owning a pig as a pet. I was hoping to get a pig that is 9 pounds, that I can carry around in a bag. Like in this picture.

Unfortunately this may not be feasible, as I found the following:

"I would love to find a reliable breeder who could produce with consistency a smaller potbellied pig with excellent conformation and good bone. Breeders in the industry are striving to attain just this goal. But a mature, purebred, potbellied pig weighs between 60 and 175 pounds. This is smaller in dimension than many house dogs. People get so hung up on the weight of a pet pig. The issue should not be the pounds of the pig, but her health, movement, and social versatility in terms of how she will fit into one's lifestyle. "

I was amused by this:
"Pigs enjoy eating even when they are not hungry."

Hee hee, just like me!

Good news: they can be potty trained:
"While pigs can eventually be outside potty trained, for six months or so they will likely rely on a litter box. Pig pee stinks so you’ll need a plan till your pig gains bladder control. "

and I love this (the pig's name is Bacon):

"Can your pig learn tricks?

Bacon’s intellect is immense. He clearly has the capacity to learn. And not just in response to food. As my fence was being rebuilt the dog had to be chained to a tree. I watched as the pig ran into the chain circle to steal the dog toys one at a time. I’d put them back and the pig would go back and take the toys one at a time. He never played with the toys, I’m sure he just wanted to torture the dog."

Today at lunch Chris was commending me on the pig idea. "I don't like pets," he said, "but I like the pig idea."

We discussed whether pigs can be potty trained, how large they are. Andrew stated that I'd get tired of the pig in two hours. We discussed how we'd then cook it for dinner.

Then naturally the subject turned to how Chris had said he wanted to have sex with my pig (see earlier blog entry). He denied it at first ("when did I turn into a pigfucker?") but then later confessed,

"The best bacon is the bacon you just fucked."

"Tell that to David Bakin," said John, alluding to one of the engineers on my team.

Saturday, September 11, 2004


I have some kind of disorder where I don't want to go to sleep. Like right now. I came home instead of partying in SF because I haven't slept enough for weeks. But I've been sitting in bed for hours and I don't want to go to sleep.

When I wake up tomorrow, I'm going to be groggy and unhappy.

You know how kids don't want to go to bed? I have that! I have struggled with this for years.

I'm searching on the Internet now for help.

I eat when I'm not hungry, and I don't go to sleep even though I'm tired. I don't want to keep doing these stupid things to my body. It's annoying to be able to identify it, yet have psychological blocks so that you cannot fix it.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Bets rock.

Google for "kicks ass in Mountain View": link.

Sunday, September 05, 2004


Todd's wedding tonight. It was my favorite of the weddings I've attended (sorry Mingjing).

They wrote their own vows. Todd said, "Thank you for being who you are" and then his voice broke and he started crying. He cried a lot harder than Chris (the bride) did. Two sentence in, he had to stop because he was crying so hard. Chris reached out and held his hand, and it seemed to lend him stability.

I especially liked these lines from his speech,

"Thank you for not expecting me to read your mind, and for appreciating when I do."


"I could spend the rest of my life thanking you, and I plan to do just that."


"From this moment onward, I pledge to make our relationship my highest priority."

They're both very sweet people. Todd likes to pamper his girlfriends and be very accomodating to them. He's very thoughtful. Even to me, though we never dated, he was. I remember he picked me up once from the airport, and we were driving, and then he said, "Open the glove compartment." and I did to find my favorite Microsoft free beverage, a cherry Diet Ice. I was shocked!

He said he had been worried it would explode in there.

I met Todd's dad, who looks like him and who was very hip. I was actually walking across the room to get into the buffet line, and he stopped me and said, "You must be Niniane." When Melba and I left, we said goodbye to Todd's dad, and he gave me a big hug and said, "You were on Todd's short list."

Todd and I cooked once, and he made his own salad dressing out of oil and vinegar. I remember saying, "This is never going to work." because salad dressings seemed so complicated to me. But it turned out great!

I'm happy for Todd. He was radiantly happy tonight.

This wedding was very true to them. Todd loves music, so they had a sing-along before the ceremony. They had music all night that were Todd's selections.

They showed honor to their parents several times. At the start of the ceremony, they asked both sets of parents to rise and said, "Each of you has been married for over 30 years, and thank you for showing us an example of long-lasting relationships."

On the dance floor, after the first dance, they asked for any couples who've been married 50 years (Todd's grandparents), then 40 years, 30, etc.

Being at this wedding made me want to hold a wedding, to my immense shock. Up until tonight, I'd wanted to have a tiny little wedding ceremony out in nature somewhere, with two witnesses. I felt like weddings were so hokey. But tonight was sweet. Tonight was genuine.

The best man, a distinguished-looking guy probably in his late 30s, kept ogling me. It was so obvious that even Melba mentioned it. His date was a chic Asian woman with straight black hair. There is a phenomenon where Caucasian men date attractive Asian women but will continue to stare at other Asian women. It doesn't seem to happen for other combinations of ethnicities.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

sex in church

My team dynamics have become highly dysfunctional. One coworker is so angry that he has refused to work with us in the past few days.

But there's always enjoyable dinner conversation.

John: "My friends are getting married, and the place they booked provided a room for them for half an hour, between the wedding and reception. It's for 'alone time', to consummate their marriage."

Me: "What? Who wants to have sex then, instead of just holding out for 3 hours for your wedding night?"

DaveM: "I hear that wedding dresses are very hard to get out of."

Me: "Yeah, what if you get a stain -- never mind."

Chris: "You're wearing white..."

John: "People have either had sex before then, in which case they won't want to do it. Or they haven't, and who'd have their first time in this little room for 30 minutes?!"

Mihai: "I think it's a good idea. ... What other time can you have sex in a church?"

Chris: "If you're a young boy, all the time!"

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


This morning Li (a coworker) and I decided to jog to work. Rather, I jogged and he rollerbladed. Being on wheels, he could move much faster than I could. Actually, that is true whether he is on rollerblades or not.

I felt compelled to jog faster so as not to slow him down too much. After a couple of miles, I felt slightly winded and decided to walk. Twenty seconds later, I became suddenly very lightheaded. I said, "I need to stop for a second," and walked over to the railing.

Then my elbow was just beginning to make contact with the gravel, as I jerked myself up to avoid scraping it too hard. I was most of the way through falling onto the ground.

"You fainted!" said Li.

I walked the rest of the way.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Tex-Mex and slogans.

Last night I was in top socializing form (or at least mood), coinciding with the official SIGGRAPH reception. I had called up Mark Harris, and we went with his NVIDIA and UNC friends to the large outdoors Pershing Square, where the organizers had laid out massive quantities of mediocre food.

Conference attendees stood in long lines, not realizing that the food is replicated four times along the tables, allowing easy access to the two middle sections.

"Okay," I announced to Mark Harris and his friend Randy. "We're going to Tex-Mex, then Asian, then Italian. Then back to Tex-Mex, and finally desserts."

We trucked around and ate. Met some famous people. One of them, the head of MSR Graphics, shockingly revealed that he came to my clouds sketch last year (!) and remembered my name (!!) and saw my Discovery Wings interview for Flight Sim (!!!) and had come by my Microsoft office last year to say hello (!!!!). I nearly died of feeling honored.

After eating, Mark, Randy, and I sat on the stone low wall and joked with each other.

"You're kinda famous too," Randy said to Mark. "You coined the term GPGPU."

They had to explain it to me. Then I wanted to call Mark "Dr. GPGPU."

"No, no," he said, "Call me Mark."

"It's good publicity!" said Randy. "You'll get more famous this way."

"No!" said Mark. "I don't want to be famous."

"What do you want then?"

"Do good work. Sell more GPUs."

I felt as though my head rang suddenly like a bell. I kept replaying his words to myself. Lately I've been in such a contemplative mood ("What's the goal of life, what should one optimize for, etc.). These two sentences were so simple and so good.

I really respected him for it.

I thought a lot about my equivalent. I decided it would be:

"Do good work. Ship quality software."

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Gray of the morning

It's Wednesday morning, and gray LA light is seeping through my hotel room window.

I feel slightly disillusioned. So many of these accomplished computer graphics researchers are brilliant and friendly, but seem unfulfilled.

Yesterday with a shock I realized that these prominent faculty members were previously grad students and then prior to that undergrads. It is easy to imagine an unfulfilled but brilliant and friendly undergrad. I just need to picture half the Caltech population. So now I can see how a transition from point A over years may result in point B. But it's saddening.

I said to RR the other night, "I think I care too much about my career."

"Who doesn't?" he said.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

More SIGGRAPH randomness

Just back from the Chapters party. It was at a huge club Mayan, with four levels and 3 dance floors. Go-go dancers in bikinis and tall boots danced inside cloth cages, less coordinated than the Bay Area dancers.

Everyone that I know couldn't actually make it into my sketch b/c it was completely full and they turned people away at the door. I went to the bathroom 5 minutes prior to our session start, and when I returned there was a huge crowd crammed at the door that I had to push through. All of the people whom I know told me later that they couldn't get into my sketch: Wei-Chao, Mark Harris, Marc Levoy, Kevin the intern.

The sketch after me was this really hilarious and interesting guy from ILM who talked about stormy weather in Van Hielsing.

My sketch went well. There were about 250 people, and I was in public speaking mode so I felt no nervousness once I actually got up to the podium and opened my mouth. There was a minor technical snafu with the slides, but it got corrected.

I felt a little bummed tonight. The club was filled with people, some of whom must be brilliant artists or computer scientists, and some of whom were quite good-looking, and perhaps there was some intersection of the two who if I met would delight me and thrill me and we would dance and strike up a dalliance. But I didn't feel like it. Instead I talked to all the people that I already know.

Monday, August 09, 2004

Random SIGGRAPH randomness.

The SIGGRAPH magic is happening again. I'm so excited and happy, and everything is magical and fantastic.

I'm giving my talk in 4 hours! Gah! Nerves!

The Wilshire Grand is a joke. They overbooked and wanted to send me to the Best Western. I was standing next to Julie Dorsey (who I did not know but is apparently famous in the computer graphics world) who pushed persistently. She was standing next to Van Dam (who I did not know until Julie pointed out he's half of Foley-Van Dam) who got extremely angry and managed to get a room. Then we rode on his coattails and got rooms, though they made us come back at 11pm for the rooms.

This hotel has no soundproofing. I hear every single person talking who walks by. I woke up 18 times during the night due to this. It also infiltrated my dreams and made them odd.

The valet people ogle me when I go to get my keys. The bus driver for the hotel hit on me when I was sitting in the lobby waiting for a room. This hotel is completely ridiculous.

This will likely be my last SIGGRAPH. I have nothing else left to present, and I don't intend to create more in this field. It makes me a bit sad. Such a wonderful group of people who I feel so at home with. I can see why SIGGRAPH inspires people to go into computer graphics as a career.

Monday, July 12, 2004

Dinnertime conversation with coworkers

Sitting in the cafeteria with coworkers, I ate chicken with a Thai sauce and said, "I was originally going to take this food home and eat it in the bathtub."

"What?" they said. Apparently others do not eat and bathe simultaneously.

"You know, eat while you're taking a bath."

"We don't do that."

"Don't you like relaxing on the outside, while eating? Simultaneous external and internal stimulus. Wouldn't you like eating while you're getting a massage? That's what the hole in the face support is for."

They look dubious.

"I'm going to open a company that does massages while you eat. I'll call it Rub 'n' Grub."

Chortling ensues.

"Which way is better, Rub 'n' Grub, or Grub 'n' Rub?" I ask.

"Rub 'n' Grub. Grub 'n' Rub is too much like Grub 'n' Grope."

"Is that like your dates?"

"No, my dates are Grub 'n' Grog, groove, then grope."

"Grog? Shouldn't it be Grub 'n' Grok? What about the grok?"

"He wants grog, she wants grok," says a third coworker. "Never have I seen such a blatant illustration of gender differences."

Monday, April 05, 2004


Today through the power of Google I found a great, great blog. The writing is good. The dialogue is good. It's candid. It's witty. It's funny. I'm ecstatic!!! Thank you Google!!


The spaghetti entry makes me happy to live in a world where such wonderful writing exists.

Along the way, I also stumbled upon a disturbing autobiographical story written by a guy who dated a woman for two weeks and then pined and obsessed after her for an entire year. Now they're married.

The steamy scenes have some pretty bad writing. And the guy himself is ... disturbing. But I like it for being candid.

Part 1.
Part 2.

Tonight makes me realize how much I miss reading. An hour just went by in the blink of an eye.

Thursday, March 18, 2004


I'm ill!

I was ill over Christmas too, when I was home with my family. My brother said to me in Chinese, "I'll take care of you! I'll cook you congee, and tuck you in. I'll sing songs to you, and tell you stories."

I was excited.

"That sounds great!" I exclaimed.

The next day, at 5pm, after I'd been in a feverish stupor all day, I finally heard sounds of movement from his room that implied he was awake. I walked in to find him playing Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball.

"What happened to the congee and the storytelling?" I asked.

"Oh," he said. "I got lazy."

Times when I'm ill are when I really want someone around to take care of me. When I got ill as a kid, my mother would cook me congee and put in a spoonful of sugar. That's what I want to eat when I'm ill. Today I ate a bunch of rice at work, for both lunch and dinner.

Not quite the same.

My coworker Dave stopped by my desk yesterday.

"I'm going to make tea for myself," he said. "I know you're not feeling well. Would you like me to make you a cup?"


My cold stone heart melted. It was so sweet. I lavishly praised Dave for how sweet he was.

He seemed happy with the lavish praise.

Today I praised Dave to all of our other coworkers. Several of them offered on the spot to make me tea as well. Hehe.

Friday, March 12, 2004


In the morning I run my first 10k race.

I'm happy with work.

There is a quote from Julia Roberts in which she says, "After 'Erin Brokovich', I can never work again. I'll never find this script, this director, this character." I have similar feelings about my current group at work. I'm working 12 hours a day, occasionally 15, but only for a few hours on weekends.

Last Wednesday I worked for 24 hours straight, with a short nap from 4:30am to 7:30am in the massage room at work, in order to win a bet over whether I can fix all my bugs in 24 hours. It was like Caltech. It was the happiest 24 hours I've ever spent at work.

Someday I will look back fondly on these times. I'm in the honeymoon phase.