Monday, January 23, 2012

Rise and fall

Watching startups can be intriguing because fortunes change so quickly. Last year's mega hotness is this year's passé memento. Cocky founders of yesteryear, who smugly lorded it over all, are today's nervous ones who maintain that everything is just fine, really it is.

It is amazing how different the landscape can be after a year. I wonder what will have changed a year from now, which current kings will be dethroned and forgotten, and which newcomers lifted to the skies in worship.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


All my life, I detested jogging. I would see people out running along the Embarcadero, and it boggled my mind. How can they do this painful thing every day?

Then Nike would have advertisements implying that people weren't just gritting their teeth forcing one foot after the other, but they actually ENJOYED it.

I figured it is a strange inexplicable phenomenon. "Runners high" was an oxymoron to me.

But then Nm (work colleague) explained that it is like getting into the flow state, like how programmers enter the Zone. Music helps, she explained.

Suddenly it was in language I could understand! I thought back to the only two times I have ever enjoyed running: the Palo Alto Moonlight Run. Nm helped me decipher the critical components:

- one clear running path with no confusion where to go, no stopping for red lights or cars

- beautiful natural scenery

- listening to good music

So we put those three components together, and jogged along Crissy Field.

OMG it is a different world.

I got home and immediately texted her asking when we could go again. As soon as she responded, I set up calendar requests for the next two Sundays. I was actually counting down the days to it.

Today she is sick, and it is pouring rain outside, and I am still debating whether to go do a short jog myself.

Thank you Apple, MOG, and Sam Francisco for making the 3 elements feasible.

I wish they taught in school how to make jogging enjoyable.

I am going to buy nice running shoes next, and fancy jogging clothes instead of using free t-shirts. Excited! Power over 9000!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


Cooking is surprisingly enjoyable. I am shocked at how happy it makes me.

Is it because I feel more in-control of what I eat, and people feel happier when they have more control? Or do I enter a flow state when cooking? Is it because I am in the steep part of the learning curve and am improving noticeably?

Tonight I rolled my own pie dough and baked a sweet potato pie. I am delighted with how it turned out, though a true baker would likely find my crust too grainy. I made it a half whole wheat crust.

This time I followed the recipe and it tastes very sugary to me. I can't wait to make it again and use just a bit of organic maple syrup in place of sugar.

The crust has 8 tablespoons of butter. Wonder how I could make that healthier.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Gratitude day 30

I have been procrastinating writing the last day of gratitude because I have enjoyed the process and don't want to end it.

Today I went for a mini-hike with a group to the Dipsea Trail. I am grateful at how beautiful San Francisco is, with the nearby ocean and trees. You can do hikes in January in a T-shirt, surrounded by breathtaking views.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Korean culture

I really like Korean culture. I could imagine living in Korea. There are a couple things I especially liked: 1. There is emphasis around family, rather than individual glory and materialism. We watched a Korean movie that happened to be playing on television:

We could not actually understand any of the dialogue, but still watched it in rapt attention. It is about five athletes who attempt to qualify the Korean team for Olympic ski jumping.

One is doing it to win an apartment for his biological mother who gave him up for adoption as a child. Another is doing it to support his new baby. A third is doing it to get out of mandatory military service, so that he can stay home to take care of his grandmother and autistic brother. The fourth is doing it to win the heart of a girl.


There is no tradition of tipping in Korea, for cabs, waiters, or service people. Yet the service was far superior to what I experience in the US. We took cabs three times, and twice, the cab driver got out of his car at the end and walked several minutes with us to find our destination. The third time, the cab driver pointed and made sure that we knew where we were going.

Similarly, waitresses were attentive, and came over to refill our kimchi continually. There is no tip, but they wanted to do it, because they actually care about doing a good job.

Saturday, January 07, 2012

ass water

I started drinking tap water again, after survival school. Once I got used to drinking cloudy water where flies had been landing, tap water seems perfectly fine.

I am excited about the solo & sheep parts of survival school, but am concerned that this year's survival school will have almost exclusively men, who will not want to talk about their feelings. I will want to talk about my feelings, and I'm afraid I will be thwarted if the others don't.

Gratitude day 29

I am not in a grateful mood right now. In fact I am in a rather uncomplacent mood because I read some news that makes me envious. But I guess that is the benefit of this exercise -- to force me to write this.

Today I am grateful that my brother rode the Caltrain for over an hour to come to my work holiday party. He got to the Caltrain station early and walked a mile to buy a white elephant gift for the party. He bought gourmet chocolates and as a joke, put them into a giant Victoria's Secret box to embarrass the person who picked the gift. He also bought me a gift card when he was there.

(Ok this is already working. I feel more appreciative and happier, and slightly sheepish for being grumpy over my first world pains.)

Then Tom walked a mile back and sat at the Caltrain station waiting for me to pick him up. It took me longer than expected to walk home and drive over, and he waited patiently. When I got there, he had been sitting outdoors in the cold, holding a giant Victoria's Secret box, for an hour. I was super stressed because my top New Year's resolution is to be more considerate in everyday things. I could barely meet his gaze. But he was super empathetic and said it was okay and that he knew I would be stressed for this exact reason and it was fine.

I always say that I have the best brother in the world, and now you know 0.0000000001% of the reason why.

Wow, this exercise really works.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Gratitude day 28

I had a heart to heart conversation with my brother on the flight home. I apologized for giving him a fear of heights by teasing him that I would throw him over a railing at Carlsbad Caverns when I was 10 and he was 2, and for tickling him a lot. He gave me thoughtful replies that were kind.

I also read a good book from Gandhi's relative who learned from him: "Nonviolent Communication". It describes with many examples how to talk about emotional topics without making the other party defensive.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

gratitude day 27

In Seoul, we ate twice at mall food courts. My brother chose them because they have plastic molds of the food dishes with clearly displayed prices.

We took a boat to Jeju Island.

On the ferry return trip, we shared a small room with bunk beds. There was a bare section of the room where you could sit on the floor and watch television.

My dad took out a few oranges and bread rolls that we purchased at a convenience store, and set them on the windowsill of the room. Then he said, "This is our food court."

We sat on the floor and watched a korean reality tv show about an extreme makeover that took 53 weeks and included a bunch of plastic surgery. My brother claims that over 50% of young Korean women have had some form of plastic surgery!

My mom said, "This room is nice! Here's our living room. [gesturing toward tiny space where we all sat on the floor] And our bedroom. [gesturing toward bunk beds]"

I was very grateful that my parents enjoyed the trip and made it fun.