Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Party on Saturday

One attendee brought a machine that has alcohol in its belly, and you use a web app to mix drinks that pour out of the machine.

I like my hair in this outfit. Maybe will cut my hair permanently this style!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Half Dome!

The best thing about climbing Half Dome is that afterwards people will assume you are pretty fit.  In actuality, the person on the cables immediately in front of me was overweight.  But you'll still get loads of positive affirmation about your physical fitness after your summit.

You can see Half Dome in the distance on the right.

Waterfall on the way up.

I went with a group of 25 people.  The organizer divided us into six teams: Team Cheetah, Team Falcon, Team Bison, Team Giraffe, Team Turtle, Team Hedgehog.  I was on Team Turtle.  I was the slowest Turtle!

On top of the sub-dome, facing the last part of the summit.  You can see the line of people going up the cables.

Team Turtle started climbing an hour before Team Cheetah (they were still sleeping when we left the Yosemite cabin), but the Cheetahs had been on the summit for two hours by the time the Turtles got to the top.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The house I lived in at age 5

Since we were in Salt Lake City for my cousin's wedding, my brother and I decided to go look for the house we lived in.  I lived there from ages 5 to 8.  He lived there from 0 to 0.5.  

First I messed up the address and we went to a cemetery.  My brother looked at the tombstones to figure out if the cemetery was new.

We lived in the ground floor of this house.  We paid $100 per month in rent.  This woman is the current tenant in the basement.

The walkway into the backyard and down into the basement.

I spent so many hours in this crevasse between the house and the fence.  At least one hour per day.  I imagined it was a magical land.  Once I found kittens there, so it really was magical.

Entryway to the main door.  

It was a sociable home.  There were chinese neighbors who came over every day.  It was a really comforting sense of community.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Zombies and punny grilled cheese (SIGGRAPH part 2)

The first time I went to SIGGRAPH (computer graphics conference) was 2003 and I felt stuck in a rut.  I'd lived for five years in a city that didn't really fit with me (Seattle).  The whole five years, I felt like a fish out of water, vaguely dissatisfied in a way I couldn't name.  By the end, I wondered what was wrong with me, and how I could change my personality to become more of a content person.

Then I went to SIGGRAPH and I was so deliriously happy, every minute.  I went to amazing talks on camera technology and environment maps.  I presented my sketch on cloud rendering.  I looked at the latest motion capture technology.  I skipped most meals because I was so energized that I didn't need to eat.

I decided I didn't need to change my personality.  I just needed to move.  Two months later, I moved to California.

I went again to SIGGRAPH the next year, to present on rain and snow rendering.  Then not again for eight years, until last week.

The expo floor. There is a lot of eye candy at SIGGRAPH (in terms of beautiful renderings, not booth babes).

These zombies were advertising the 3-d software package used to create the TV show "Walking Dead".

O M G.  Here you see three panels pieced together to form a panoramic display.  You move your viewpoint around the scene via a joystick.  I experienced a tsunami of awe and coveting.  

I saw at least 3 motion capture exhibits on the expo.  Every time I go, there are more mo-cap companies.  Eventually it'll be like Starbucks -- every exhibit on the floor will be a mo-cap studio.


The food booths in the main convention center looked bad.  There were long lines for a Chinese take-out box and a sandwich on a plate.  They did not look fresh, or tasty.

Then miraculously there was this grilled cheese stand.

When I got up close to it, I realized all the sandwich names were puns on computer graphics luminaries.  Ed Catmelt sandwich, labeled as "tech achievement"!  Perlin Peach for a sandwich with ricotta and peaches!  (That's what I ate.)  The Phong.  The Blinn.  I literally cried out in amazement when the sandwich names sunk in.

Then I wondered...  does this stand only exist for SIGGRAPH?  Do they change the sandwich names every week for different conferences?  Do they always ask find a conference organizer to help them devise the sandwich names?

The Perlin Peach was an exquisite sandwich.

As I was standing there, I was seized with a fervent desire to contribute enough to the world to get a cheese sandwich named The Wang for one week.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Cousin's wedding!

My 22-year-old cousin got married today in a Mormon church.

The pastor gave specific instructions.  The groom is to avoid going out to eat with old girlfriends.  The bride is to avoid complaining about marital arguments to her girlfriends.  

It is rather binding to put these into the wedding speech since you are agreeing to those covenants!

My brother, me, and my uncle and aunt (groom's parents).

Because this is in Utah, there is no alcohol at the wedding.  For yesterday's rehearsal dinner, one of the groomsmen drove a keg from Colorado so that there would be beer there. 

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


I am at SIGGRAPH 2012, the premiere computer graphics conference. I am so excited that I willingly woke up at 4:30am to fly down to LA for it.

Motion capture system, being demo-ed on the exhibition floor.

A poster on algorithmically converting photos into impressionist paintings. There are many examples of doing this, but this technique emphasizes edges rather than blurring them. It ends up with sharp edges on a blurred background.

Poster on improving vector line art. This was the most clearly-communicated poster on the floor. It actually has a plot and characters.

Lobby of one of the conference hotels.

Monday, August 06, 2012

long-ago amusing exchange

Reading journal from the past.  In 2008, talking with another Googler:

D: "How many employees are we at? 30,000? 40,000?"

Me: "Oh my God, surely not!"

D: "At least 20,000."

Me: "That's not so bad."

D: "You can justify that? 'Oh, we're a whale, but we're not yet the blue whale.'"

Sunday, August 05, 2012

olympics and the diverse human race

From 2008, right before I went to the Beijing Olympics:

Tom: "You're going to the Olympics next week! Are you excited?"

Me: "Kind of, but I've been to Beijing so many times already."

Tom: "This time will be different. The air will be a lot better. And there will be lots of foreigners."

Me: "There are foreigners here in America."

Tom: "The foreigners here are Americanized. The ones in Beijing won't be."

Me: "That's true! So I'll see one guy in a turban, and another guy playing a ukelele?"

Tom: "More like one guy wearing a Tommy Hilfiger shirt manufactured in India, and another guy wearing a Tommy Hilfiger shirt made in Jamaica."

Friday, August 03, 2012


I'm reading a book called "Fascinate", about how to captivate people with your company's brand.

Alarm is one of the triggers that fascinates people. If you alarm people, they will be more likely to talk about your company.

Often companies (and people) shy away from creating any negative backlash. But that actually can create more fascination.

Martha Stewart steampunk bathroom

My college friend Aaron is the Martha Stewart of Caltech.

It is lovely to attend a party with homemade food, rather than chips or store-bought food.

Also he designed his home to have a steampunk bathroom.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Friendship is nice

Tonight I went over to Melissa's, and we watched Olympics. Melissa is the cofounder of Minted.

I am glad she came into my life. She told me that if she were to do her wedding over, she would make me a bridesmaid. She told this to another friend of hers, who got super jealous.

I like being ranked a closer friend than someone else. It makes me happy! Because it sucks to be in the shoes of the jealous person, so you milk it when you can be the envied friend.

These are photos of the heart necklace I got her. It has two chains, and you break it in half, and each wear one half. I got it when she was moving to work remotely in Shanghai for six months. Occasionally we wear our halves to board meetings, for solidarity.