Monday, July 30, 2012

Which lamp shade?

I have this family-heirloom lacquer lamp, which was made by my mother's lacquer company 30 years ago.  She may have hand-carved it herself.

I am buying a lamp shade for it.  Which one is better?

A: B:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

survival school photos, part 2

Ajax in the stream, on the last day of hiking.

Canyons above juniper field. This photo is beautiful, but slightly stress inducing because the photo-taker is clearly not standing in shade.

Cooking on our penultimate night.

Stream during solo. We were each assigned a section of the stream. The instructors asked us to reflect on the fact that as we used the water, we were upriver and downriver of each other. If one of us polluted the water, it would affect everyone downstream.

Packing my versa-cloth with items I need to use throughout the day. My pack is already done, behind me.

In the rain, reunited after solo. We were giddy from being around humans again.

On the last day, we crossed a stream about 30 times. Parts of the path near the stream were sandy like a beach.

On a break.

Just after daybreak. We looked like vultures.

Walking through trees. Since I was often slower than others, this view of their backs is a familiar one for me.

I loved survival school so much. I can't wait to go back next summer. It is peaceful and pure.

I feel like everyone should want to go to survival school. Logically I understand that many people don't want to fast and get bitten by mosquitoes and have the skin on their hands crack from dryness. But emotionally it seems unfathomable that the majority of people will choose to live their entire lives without experiencing the wonder and pure joy of survival school.

Minted white party!

Second annual Minted white party in Calistoga.

Most of us took the party bus from the office to Calistoga. Here we are walking off the bus, up to the house. 

Me with Melissa, my wbff.

Mariam hired a magician, who was surprisingly talented.  He had one of my engineers hold an object, and his girlfriend put her hands around his, and then he morphed the object inside their hands.

The magician came around to each table but skipped Melissa's.  I couldn't stop telling her how great he was, making her very jealous.  Then I got to use a line that my brother morphed from the jelly meme: "Be jelly donut!"

Snack table, overlooking trees.

It was nice to meet my coworkers' significant others.  At one point, our executive admin came off the dance floor to pull in her fiance.

"I thought I'd be able to hide, since it's dark," he said.

"You're all in white!" she said.


Our print-quality specialist Joe told me, "My birthday used to be my favorite day of the year.  But now it's the Minted white party."  I saw him dancing avidly on the makeshift dancefloor, then suddenly sitting quietly by the smores fire pit.

"Why aren't you dancing?" I said.

"I want to make sure to enjoy every part of the party fully," he said.

Our executive admin bought the white curtains for party decor!

On the bus back, my coworkers sitting in the back of the bus sang songs for the entire ride.  They sang the song "One, you're like a dream come true, Two...  Four: repeat steps one through three.  Five -- "

"How do you ever get to step five?" someone asked.

"Step four is to repeat steps one through three, and then you're on step five."

Also, Joe did an imitation of a pro wrestler with a Minted twist.  "Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!  This baby shower comes with skinny wraps!"  

Friday, July 27, 2012

Latest painting class!

I am happy with the top left quadrant of this painting. Not so much the rest.

Painting is fun because I have low expectations of the result. So I can only be pleasantly surprised, never unpleasantly surprised.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

a suspenseful story

This story is the funniest thing I read this week.
I manage to peel back the leather seat top to find a rather luxurious looking commode, with a nice cherry or walnut frame. It had obviously never been used, ever. Why this moment of clarity came to me, I do not know. Perhaps it was the realization that I was going to take this toilet’s virginity with a fury and savagery that was an abomination to its delicate craftsmanship and quality. I imagined some poor Italian carpenter weeping over the violently soiled remains of his once beautiful creation. The lament lasted only a second as I was quickly back to concentrating on the tiny muscle that stood between me and molten hot lava.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

a few photos from survival school

Dusk during student expedition.  There was crypto-bionic crust (a type of algae) everywhere in our campsite.  If you step on the crypto, you destroy 90% of it in a single footfall, and it can take up to 200 years to grow back.  We tried to step in each other's footprints.  A lot of missteps and profanity that night.

After hacking through backcountry for hours, breaking out into a scene like this is awe-inspiring.  

This was the day I came up with the "door" innovation.  We were each making a "tent" out of our rain poncho.  I had my group tie our light wool versa-cloth to each end of the tent, to form a door.  Having the entire tent enclosed sealed in the heat.  

The next day, I overheard other groups telling each other about the tent door idea.  By the next night, most groups were doing it.  As I walked through camp, I saw a bunch of tent doors.  It was a very visual illustration of Viral Marketing and Word of Mouth Virality.

This structure was used to dry jerky from our sheep.  The jerky was excellent.

We crossed this stream at least 20 times on the last day.  The water varied from ankle-deep to waist-deep.  Our hiking boots got wet with each crossing, which was conducive to blisters.  Thankfully it was the last day.

We were given two days' worth of rice near the end. We didn't eat any until the last night of the trip. My cooking groupmates asked me to cook the rice, since I'm Asian.

I carefully washed all the rice. Then we learned slowly and horribly that you cannot cook two meals of rice in the pot meant for one portion of rice. Half of it burnt and the other half was still raw.

I spent 30 minutes scrubbing out the pot with a stick. My groupmates went hungry that night.

It was the lowest point of the trip. Later PJ asked me how bad I felt about it, on a scale of 1 to 10. I said 9.5.

Friday, July 20, 2012


I had started to feel that friendship is mostly determined by spending a lot of time together. Proximity and unexpected encounters and shared interests.

But then Sha-mayn came to visit this Monday through Thursday, and it reminded me how you could be on opposite sides of the coast, and only see each other a couple weeks per year for the past six years, and you could still feel extremely close to the friend.

Me to Sha-mayn yesterday: "You are so in-demand. Every time we're in the Google cafe and need to walk 100 feet, it takes forty minutes because everyone wants to say hi to you. And every time it's your birthday, Facebook has an outage due to all the people writing on your wall. But you're my Google BFF. That's pretty awesome."

Bachelorette night.

On the topic of people living far away, I miss my brother. I have a dream that one day he'll move back to the Bay Area, and also my parents will come live with me after my dad retires.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Hosting Product Design Guild this Saturday

Minted is hosting Product Design Guild this Saturday!

If you're in San Francisco, and you're a great UI designer, come hack with us!  It will be fun.

Here's the Facebook event invite.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Post survival school musings

It has been a week since survival school. I am getting readjusted to the feeling of being surrounded by walks, and the luxury of running water available at all times.

I realized that I do not want to have dinners at restaurants any more, unless it is a local organic place like Plant or Chow or one of these Ferry Building places. At other restaurants, I end up mindlessly consuming so much unhealthy food, and then feeling weighed down after.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Survival school 14-day field course

I am in Provo. Survival school just ended this morning.

Killing and processing the sheep was emotionally intense. Solo turned out far more liberating and creative than I expected.

Twinsies!  I am wearing the same shirt style and shorts as another student.  He is an actor who played Ziggy in The Wire.

At base camp, preparing to embark.

Laying out my blanket pack on the first day.

On the last day, two of the students ran after our shuttle van, to be playful.  I miss our little community!

The other students blew me away with how incredible they are. Not merely in athletic prowess (there were so many marathoners and pole vaulters and super hikers) but also in attitude toward life. I felt like the frog in the well, who did not realize how big the sky is, and how many amazing pursuits people could have.