Sunday, August 26, 2007

Burning Man

At dusk today, my cohorts and I will leave for Burning Man. For the next week, I shall have no access to email, SMS, phone, crackberry, google, blogger, wikipedia, youtube, urbandictionary, facebook, or

Which one will I miss the most? Will it be you guys, my Gentle Readers? Will I yearn for contact with my family and loved ones? Or will my most heartfelt pining go toward the important updates regarding Paris and Britney?

On Wednesday, we assembled costumes at David's house in San Francisco. Discussing shower arrangements:

Melinda: "My friend said some people at Burning Man go the whole week without showering."

Dan: "Last year, I showered every day, and I plan to do the same this year. People who go a week without showering stink."

Melinda: "Not necessarily."

Me: "Last century in China, people only went to public bathhouses every few days. The Romans did that too."

Dan: "They stank."

Melinda: "Some people have less body odor than others."

Dan: [extremely skeptical look] "I don't buy that."

Me: "Okay, then tell me if you agree with the following statement. 'Some people have more body odor than others.' Because if you do, you must also agree with the other one."

Dan: "Hmphf."

A temporary adieu, Gentle Readers, for this next week. Take care...

Friday, August 24, 2007

"say anything": still got it

I'm at my SF Japantown crash pad, watching the movie Say Anything with Sha-mayn, who's seeing it for the first time.

I watched this five or six times in my late teens, and I found it the sweetest thing.

But tonight I viewed it through cynical lenses. How is it going to work? They're only nineteen years old! She's embarking on an international scholarship, and he doesn't have any career objectives whatsoever. How is she going to respect him in the long run?

Then he sent her the card about how he will always be there for her (tender but not mushy), and he wept while saying manly things at the gas station to his hoodlum acquaintances, and he left her a voice mail wittily predicting her reactions...

By the time the classic scene rolled around, I was totally won over again.

Diane's Dad: [to Lloyd] "You're not a permanent part of her life. You're a distraction."

Lloyd: "I'm the distraction that's going with her to England, sir."

Dan and I recently discussed whether people go through more heartache when breaking up as teenagers, or later in life. We decided from our own observations that there's more heartache when you're older. The first cut is not the deepest, it would seem.

It's surprising, because I thought that during young love, you go through all the angst.

Diane: "I can't believe we're actually doing this. No one thinks this will actually work, do they?"

Lloyd: "No."

Diane: [sad, mouth downturned]

Lloyd: "You just described every single success story."

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

he also thinks the iPhone is too skinny

I spent most of the past week in Seattle. On Monday, at dinner with a dozen friends from my Microsoft days:

Evan: "Having an iPhone is like dating a supermodel. It's sexy, beautiful. When you bring it out, your friends are impressed. But it's kind of dumb, can't do anything very well. It has expensive tastes. If you gave it to your friend, they would give it back to you after a week."

Andy: [chuckling]

Me: [to Andy] "You're nodding like you've heard Evan use this analogy before."

Andy: "Usually it's the other way around. Evan finds that dating supermodels is like having an iPhone."

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

yay, most charming

Gridsnapper article about my favorite San Francisco cafe:

Where do the South Park startuperati like to lunch? I asked them; they answered. Also see the favorite cafe of Google's most charming blogger...

I know some of you are even now choking on the glass of water you were drinking, coughing as you prepare the ultimate flaming comment to combat my Immense Ego. How dare I link to an article calling me charming! It is time to flame.

Try to be a little creative, please. Give me some clever insults to read this time.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Burning Man hats

I am in charge of costumes for my Burning Man group. This is a good use of strengths, since I adore constructing costumes, and I am not adept at erecting shade structures out of IMC rods.

I decided to buy some grab-and-go hats at a costume shop, that can be shared amongst my group members.





I bought two of them. Guess which?

Friday, August 17, 2007

eating ovaries

Last Saturday, Rose took us to a little cafe in the Sunset District, named "My Favorite Cafe".

The ambiance is nothing to write home about.

Oh, but the food...

Dan ordered french toast. It was stuffed with nutella (chocolate paste, for deprived readers), and drenched in melted butter and maple syrup.

If this were an American cafe, it would be of artery-clogging density. But because this was made by a chinese cafe, it was light and perfect.

It seems I have an Asian dessert fetish.

In keeping with this, even though I was already sneaking bites from Dan's gorgeous French toast, I still ogled the strawberry dessert ten inches away.

The "strawberry delight": strawberry jello, strawberry ice cream, with fresh strawberries.

The coup de grĂ¢ce was a dish named "stewed papaya with snow frog".

"What is snow frog?" asked my non-Chinese companions.

I looked at the chinese translation on the menu. It also said "snow frog", in Mandarin.

We asked the waiter. "What is snow frog?"

"Frog ovary," he said.

We thought he must be joking, since the dish is only $6.95. Surely frog ovary costs more than that!

Then Dan googled on his blackberry, and the waiter was correct. Snow frog is a white, slightly gelatinous substance.

Snow frog!

It tasted like jelly.

Monday, August 13, 2007

cuddle buddies

"Mindy" told me last week about her cuddle buddies.

A cuddle buddy is a man who will go over to the woman's house and cuddle with her all night, but NOTHING MORE. There is no kissing. The two of them are not dating. They just change into pajamas and get into bed and spoon until the next morning. Also, this arrangement can last for several months.

If you are reading this with your mouth open, while thinking, "WTF?? Such a thing exists?", then you are echoing what I said. This completely blew my mind.

I asked Mindy, "The guys don't spend the entire night trying to undress you?"

"No!" she said. "That's never happened!"

Since then, I've been pestering her to reveal how she does this. Not that I want such a thing -- I expect the situation inevitably ends in tragedy (and Mindy confirmed it typically does). But how is she able to fight off the male instincts bred through millenia of evolution?

The two of us attended a lovely cocktail party on Friday, and I decided to poll the guy sitting next to us on the couch. We had just met him twenty minutes prior. He's a Stanford grad in his mid-20s, doing research in a biology lab.

"I'm conducting a survey," I said. "Would you ever agree to an arrangement where you cuddle with a woman and do nothing more than cuddling, for six months?"

"I could see it," he said. "Physical contact is a need that everyone has."

I asked my next question. "Are you straight?"

"Yes," he said.

Then other friends distracted us, and the survey was halted at that point, with 100% of straight men polled being in favor of cuddle buddies.

Is this a secret side to men? Despite all their bravado about sexual conquest, they actually yearn to be big cuddle bears? Somehow I suspect not.

[Note: Any rude remarks about Mindy in the comments section will be deleted.]

Sunday, August 12, 2007

1 uplifting, 1 depressing

A chillingly beautiful video about PostSecret:

and a heartbreaking video about an inventor who gives up a management job and devotes 26 years of his life to the ball game he created:

Friday, August 10, 2007

intern antics 2007 (and 1997)

Tonight I attended the Google Intern Talent Show. It was held in the main cafe, with an audience of 200. Ten performances ranged from singing to piano to rapping to short films.

I sat on one of the benches along the middle of the dining area, behind a table, and bopped along to the music while typing code into a ssh window. If only I could work along to this live entertainment every evening!

The judges gave one of the awards to a performer for "clearly having passion".

"What the hell?" I said to my friend next to me. "This is Google. It's about the results. What does passion matter without results? This is a talent show."

His response is too snarky to print.


"Look at these interns, living their carefree lives," I said.

Then I suddenly remembered a mortifying story from my own intern days. I'd forgotten this for years.

When I was 17, I interned at Microsoft in the Bill Payment group. At the company picnic, I stood in line behind a fellow engineering intern from my building, Redwest-A. We chatted while waiting to get admittance to the picnic. He was nice, and cute, though I had no designs on him since I was in a relationship at the time.

After that, occasionally we would run into each other in the cafeteria, or he would come chat with me at intern events.

A month later, this young man came to my office one night at 9pm. I was playing Age of Empires over the network with a friend in a different Microsoft building. I glanced quickly to see who it was, said hello, and turned back to my game.

He looked pretty nervous.

"My internship ended today," he said, standing in the doorway. "I'm flying out tomorrow. I came to find you to say goodbye, since we might never see each other again."

In hindsight, I realize this probably took some guts.

At that moment, my Age of Empires opponent sent a rush of archers, so I wordlessly ignored the boy in my doorway, to focus on repelling the attack.

Now you know why I identify with all the jokes about geeky engineers being completely oblivious to other people's feelings.

He waited for fifteen minutes, in silence, for me to finish my game. Eventually he left without getting a proper goodbye.


I don't remember his name, or any identifying facts. For all I know, he could work at Google now. But perhaps into the mists of time, I can still apologize for acting like such a dork. Sorry.


Speaking of this generation of young'uns and their internet patterns, last week I was talking to a longtime friend about the fad nature of social networks.

Me: ""Facebook is getting a lot more use than Friendster ever did. That's certainly true for me."

Friend: "We're the last to know anything, right? So by the time you and I think something is exciting, it's probably already over."

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Why do so many white guys have Asian fetishes??

Riddle me this, gentle readers...

Why do so many Caucasian men have Asian fetishes?

Once, Sha-mayn and I compared notes while on the treadmills together. I said "I think X has an Asian fetish." She said, "Yes, he hit on me too. And Linda*. And Ning*." (* names changed) Within five minutes, we identified a number of Googlers who fell into this category.

Then, for kicks, we ranked them, with the highest level being "attractive, but out of the question because he has a goddamn Asian fetish".

My issue with these yellow-fever guys is that they never seem satiated. Many a time, a Caucasian guy will be standing with a beautiful Asian date, yet he'll be ogling my friends or me from across the room. He already got a gorgeous Asian woman, so why isn't he satisfied?

Enlighten me, dear readers, on what the draw is behind the Asian fetish. Is it because Asian women are supposed to be exotic? Submissive? Career-minded? Petite?

What's the deal?

Sunday, August 05, 2007

geek conversations about love (final part in a series)

Walking out of a club, many moons ago.

Eve: "You looked like you were having a good time talking to that girl."

Anthony: "Yeah! She seems really cool."

Eve: "Did you get her number?"

Anthony: "No. I don't usually ask women for their phone number."

Eve: "What? Why not?"

Anthony: "Instead I give them my business card, and I come up with a reason for them to write to me. Like, 'Email me if you want travel tips for Shanghai.' Or 'Email me about that stock portfolio strategy I mentioned.'"

Eve: "Does that ever actually work?"

Anthony: "Yeah, most of the time they'll email me."

Eve: "Really? Whenever a guy gives me his card, I immediately throw it into the trash as soon as I walk outside. If he doesn't have the guts to ask for my number, it's not going to work."

Anthony: "[sighing] Maybe this is why I never manage to date girls like you."

geek conversations about love (part 5 in a series)

"It seems like he's not into it."

"Or he could just be shy?"

"You know, it would be convenient if there were a logical test that would determine what's going on. Help me come up with this test, and I'll apply it."

"Dude, Heisenberg will own you."

Friday, August 03, 2007

geek conversations about love (part 4 in a series)

Over instant messenger:

ozzir: when is your talk?
niniane: 7pm
ozzir: oh, i'm taking my gf to dinner, for her birthday
niniane: that's nice! where are you taking her?
ozzir: [url of restaurant]
niniane: the food looks good
ozzir: i was going to propose
niniane: WHAT?
niniane: really????? That's so awesome!!
niniane: omg
niniane: i'm so excited for you!
ozzir: ... that we stop celebrating birthdays
niniane: god damn it
ozzir: i was going to propose that we stop getting each other gifts for birthdays
niniane: :(
ozzir: sorry, i can't stop laughing
ozzir: hahahahaha

Thursday, August 02, 2007

geek conversations about love (part 3 in a series)

"She looked great on paper, but I couldn't stand her in person."

"Why was that?"

"You know, I try to be positive. I try to look for the best parts of people. But sometimes, those lookups fail."

geek conversations about love (part 2 in a series)

"Sometimes devices will be broken for one person, but will magically work for another person. Once, this girl asked me to help fix her DVD recorder. When I went over, it worked perfectly. As soon as I left, she called me to say that it was broken again. I went back and it still worked fine for me."

"Maybe she just wanted to see you again."

"Oh! That would be nice."

"When you went back, had she taken off all her clothes? That's usually a good sign."

"I didn't notice. I was looking at the DVD recorder."

geek conversations about love (part 1 in a series)

"So that guy asked for our contact info. What were you talking about?"

"Nothing special. Mostly playing with his iPhone."

"The sight of your fingers dancing over his iPhone drove him wild?"

"He was thinking, 'I want to be your multitouch interface.'"

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

other pursuits

Now that I stopped clubbing, there is so much more time to do other things. On Saturday, I took Omst and Neha to Myth for dinner, as a thank-you.

Myth's menu consists mostly of small plates, so you can construct your own tasting menu. A delightful corn salad:

A perfect rigatoni:

An even more perfect cheesecake:

A goofy couple:

A contented eater:


I also applied for a volunteer role at an Asian women's shelter. When I started looking for volunteer opportunities, I thought it would be simple. Surely these organizations would be pleased to receive my time and energy for free!

I picked this Asian women's shelter, because the mission and stories written on their web page struck the most empathy from me. And they may even find use for my Mandarin. I happily filled out their three-page application form.

The next step in the process is a round of interviews. Assuming I pass that, I will undergo 64 hours of training, and then sign on for a one-year commitment. Meanwhile, I can't even find out where the shelter is located, because its address is kept confidential. It could turn out to be many miles from my home.

In the two weeks since I sent in the application form, I have heard nothing back. If this were a dating situation, the shelter would be pretty high-maintenance!