Sunday, September 19, 2021

Biking with friend

I am planning a bicycle trip with my good friend "Zora", and I am excited!

We are planning it for November, because of work commitments in October.

It gets cold in November, and we will need to go somewhere warm such as Florida or Texas.

I learned that Florida has many flat biking trails near the ocean. Temperatures will be between 70F (night) to 79F (day). When we are done biking each day, we can see sights such as Little Havana and art museums. 

Also, there is a little town called Fredericksburg (outside Austin, Texas) with biking trails and interesting German architecture. Apparently they created a dialect called "Texas German".

Ocean or Texas German town??

Friday, September 10, 2021

9/11 book

This month, my book club is discussing "The Only Plane in the Sky: An Oral History of 9/11".

It is a fascinating book. Reading it, I was struck that the book only discussed positive stories from that day. One story is how a quadriplegic man was carried down 69 flights of stairs by 10 of his coworkers taking turns. 

Another man thought he would die and decided to cross his arms over his chest (the American Sign Language sign for "love") so that if his dead body were found, his wife would know he was thinking of her in that moment. He survived.

For years prior to 9/11, the Morgan Stanley head of security had forced the entire staff (2700 people) to practice evacuations every 3 months. Many executives were annoyed by these drills. But as a result, he evacuated thousands in an efficient manner. 

I like how the book chose to focus on  kindness and the people who helped each other. There was only one story of a person being selfish. It was about a bartender who refused to open the bar's door while bloodied traumatized survivors banged on it, pleading for help. The bartender kept polishing a glass and repeating that the bar doesn't open for another hour until 11:30am. 

All the other stories were of people who did open their doors and who helped each other. It was heartwarming to read.

Thursday, September 09, 2021


I am intrigued by multi-day bike trips! The idea of seeing a new place by bicycle is enticing. 

Luckily, one of my friends wrote a book about bicycle trips ("Independent Tour Cycling" by Piaw Na). He has given me a ton of advice. 

I started doing 10-mile bike trips, once per week or so. I noticed that my enjoyment is very affected by how safe it feels, especially when I must share the road with cars. 

Aff said that when he bikes in the US, drivers sometimes pass him while shouting out their window, "Get off the road!"

He wants to shout back something to the effect of "If you check your DMV handbook, you'll see that I have just as much right to the road as you do."

"But it needs to be concise," he said. "As short as what they shouted. I can only fit in a few words. It'd have to be something like 'I stay on road!!'"

Biking in the US can often feel unsafe. Uber drivers will suddenly swerve into the bike lane in front of me, and brake to let the passenger out. The passenger opens their door in a rush, without looking behind them for bicycles. I once biked into an uber car door due to this. 

Drivers in other places (such as Europe) seem much more respectful. In France, I biked 8mph on a narrow 30mph road, and cars drove patiently behind me for several minutes until there was a shoulder for me to pull onto. 

In a single-lane street in Europe, a truck going in the opposite direction pulled over to yield to me. A car yielding to a bicycle! My mind was blown. 

My goal is to get fast enough to go on one of Piaw's group biking trips. This would've been impossible, except that Piaw is currently biking a three-person tandem with his two kids, which has brought him from superhuman to humanly achievable speeds. So I have a shot!

Sunday, September 05, 2021


We saw some food left unattended. 

Aff: "That food looks great."

Me: "Just go in and start eating it. Keep eating until you hear someone screaming."

Aff: "...and then eat even faster. Hide the evidence."

Wednesday, August 25, 2021

name that price

Talking recently to a longtime friend "Hanh".

Hanh: "I was asked to give a talk, and I need to tell them a speaker fee."

Me: "Ask for a good price! Don't undersell yourself. You're a world expert in your field."

Hanh: "The market rate is X, but I'm going to say one third of X."

Me: "Why?! Why not ask for market rate?"

Hanh: "I feel bad asking to make X dollars for a few hours of work. The price per hour seems absurd."

Me: "But that's the market rate! You know that white dudes less qualified than you will ask for double of X."

Hanh: "Yes, I know they do. And I've been working in this specific field for 10 years, to build up all the expertise I have now. But I still can't bring myself to ask for X."

Me: "Okay, the Olympics are happening now. You know how some Olympic athletes get an award of $500,000 from their government, if they win a gold medal?"

Hanh: "Yeah."

Me: "Some Olympic events are really short. The pole vault is like 30 seconds. So if an athlete does a pole vault and wins a gold medal, that doesn't mean their wage is now $1 million dollars per minute. It means they trained for their whole lives, and it culminates in this one moment."

Hanh: "Oh hm. That's true."

Me: "Hanh, this is your pole vault."