Sunday, April 30, 2006

Intolerance, David Sedaris, Isolation.

Went to Nordstrom in the afternoon with 3 friends, two of whom are lovely. The third makes joke after joke with a self-satisfied air, but I just don't find him funny.

I can act very impatiently when it comes to people who grate on me. I want to be nice and easygoing and tolerant, but it's hard because I feel so freakin' irritated! If anyone has tips on how to become a more tolerant person (volunteer in Africa? Reflect on my own flaws?), I'd like to hear them.

In the evening, went to a David Sedaris reading in Cupertino, where inexplicably thousands of people paid $28 - $50+ to listen to a live book reading:

I don't understand. There are plenty of authors whose writing quality is as good as his, but who don't make this much money for a reading. Are people paying for the fame, instead of the content itself?

Or maybe the audience just has a different sense of humor than me. He read one short story about purchasing a skeleton (an actual skeleton from a cadaver), and finding the dislodged index finger bone under his bed. I mentally chuckled. The lady in the row behind us loudly hooted in laughter, then bellowed out a gut laugh so hard that she snorted.

The double-header of spending hours with people whose sense of humor differs so wildly from my own left me feeling quite isolated.

a little too literal

I'm driving to the off-site on Friday, Darryl in the shotgun seat "navigating". Before leaving, I gave him a printout on how to get to our destination, divided into directions from the north, south, and east.

Me: "Okay, I just need the last direction. What does the last line say?"

Darryl: [looking at the bottom of the page, which has the last direction for coming from the east] "'See above.'"

Saturday, April 29, 2006


While riding in a car with Max and 2 other coworkers on Thursday, I glanced out the backseat window and saw this store:

Yeah, that makes sense, I thought to myself. If you have really good abs, you want to get insurance in case something happens to them.

Then reality set in, and I realized that it's only in MY world where that makes sense.

Thursday, April 27, 2006


I ran across this image while writing my last post. Oh dear.

how to tell if you're Asian

Today Yonatan and I were video conferencing with our coworker in a remote office. As we hung up, we saw our own image projected on the screen.

"Look how much more fair-skinned you are than me," said Yonatan.

One of the most amusing differences I've found between the US and China is that people want to be tanned in the US. It's all about tanning and avoiding tan lines and fake bronzers. This person was probably white and pasty as a baby but now look at her:

In China, every 5th commercial on TV is about how to keep your skin pale. Whitening gels, whitening creams -- not for your teeth but for your face. Even whitening pills, whitening powder (how's that different from bleach?).

Yonatan is also Asian, so I'm pretty sure his remark was intended as a compliment.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

online shopping experiment

I arrived home tonight to find a large cardboard box -- my Victoria's Secret clothes!

It was like Christmas morning, pulling out clothes and trying them out.

These two dresses were awesome, particularly the first:

but the red dress, the one I'd been looking forward to most eagerly, was a big disappointment. It's not the beckoning, bold color in the picture,

but rather a plasticky looking color more like this (try to ignore the fact that the model is hot and just focus on the color):

Incidentally, the image search results for "red dress" are awesome!

I will totally wear this maternity dress when I have my bump:

young, old, fast, slow

I ran into Andrew in the dinner line. He had just come from playing pick-up ultimate.

Me: Oh, you were probably the best one there, right? You've been playing ultimate for, what, 15 years?

Andrew: Yeah, but I'm old now.

Me: So?

Andrew: I'm old and slow.

Me: So you used to be faster?

Andrew: When I was younger.

Me: But you were less experienced. So you'd end up running REALLY FAST in the wrong direction.

we probably made a funny sight

Today DW and I arranged to go for a jog around the lake next to work. My big fear with jogging outside (other than passing out, which is a fear independent of whether I'm outdoors) is being too cold. Having cold skin and warm muscles makes me itch terribly, particularly in the thighs.

Maybe it's to do with fat distribution, because why else in the thighs??

To combat the cold problem, I changed into 2 layers of long pants (one spandex, one cotton) and three shirts (1 tank top, 1 long-sleeved cotton, 1 long-sleeved flannel). Thus bundled, I proceeded to jog around the lake ... alongside DW who wore shorts and a T-shirt.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

House makeover

In 3 weeks, my upstairs bathroom sink:

will be replaced by an undermount stainless steel sink on this granite slab:

sporting this charming faucet:

My white ceramic tile shower downstairs:

will be transformed into a lovely green marble or tile, with this showerhead set:

Interior decorating is addictive. You get to shop for cherry cabinets and granite counters and wall paints, and then tell yourself that it's also a financial investment to increase your home value. That's awesome. It's like eating a chocolate-y dessert but yet having it make you skinnier.

In other words, having your cake and eating it too.

they do need contact paper though

Party at Nellie's tonight. Mingjing and I went. Here we are, respectively with other party-goers:

At one point, I was talking to a few Googlers, and mentioning how my mom is in town to help me remodel.

Josh: How long will you keep your condo?

Me: 6, 7 years.

Josh: Why, what happens after that?

Me: I pop out a couple babies and need a bigger place.

Sanjay: That's an image I didn't need.

Avni: They don't need their own bedroom when they're young.

Me: What, I should just put them in a drawer?

Avni: Uh... I meant they can share a bedroom.

Me: No, the drawer is a good idea. Then I just need a chest of drawers. And hey, I can unscrew the knobs on the drawer handle and use the two holes for breastfeeding.

Sanjay: There we go with another image I didn't need.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

More panties.

My friend John suggested a few more HTTP responses that deserve to become panty status:

> 405 Method Not Allowed
> 412 Precondition Failed
> 417 Expectation Failed

Once your mind goes in that direction, every HTTP response code sounds dirty.

> 100 Continue
> 300 Multiple Choices
> 307 Temporary Redirect

By the time you're through with those, even "504 Gateway Time-out" sounds kinky.

Think about THAT next time you're debugging HTTP codes.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Today Darryl came into work wearing this shirt:

"Great shirt," I said, and he then introduced me to ThinkGeek clothes, where I found this delightful item:

HTTPanties! How delightful.

I don't get the 413 panties though. The other panties make it clear that the wearer of the panties is the one returning the code (as opposed to receiving the code). So the panties are saying that the wearer's ass is too big for the other person to handle? Or that the wearer's vagina is? Who would wear panties to declare that???

There are 2 other HTTP response codes that I think deserve to be made into panties:

402 Payment Required
305 Use Proxy

Tom Cruise is going to eat his baby's placenta

Oh dear God. From this CNN article:

In another strange revelation, Tom Cruise said he was planning to eat his baby's placenta. He told GQ Magazine: "I thought that would be good. Very nutritious. I'm gonna eat the cord and the placenta right there."

Okay, this is probably a joke. But because it's Tom Cruise, it COULD BE TRUE. No wonder he and Nicole Kidman had to separate -- I can't imagine her standing by this Scientologist, home-ultrasound-performing, silent-birthing, potential placenta eater.

I don't know what's more embarrassing, Katie's husband or Britney Spears' husband. Come on, girls! You can do better!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

"Sex in video games" Conference.

The Sex in Video Games conference is happening in 2 months at the San Francisco Kensington hotel. Part of me wants badly to go, but it's on a Thursday and Friday and I'm not willing to skip work for it.

My chinese frugality balked at the $295 price tag, and my first impulse was to offer to give a lecture in exchange for a free pass. Then I realized it might not reflect the best on my company. sigh... sometimes one must give up their dreams for the greater good.

I must say I'm disappointed by the titles of these talks. "Integrating the Adult & Game Markets". "Creating Successful Games with Erotic Content". "The Future of Technology & Sex". How is it possible to take such exciting material and make it sound so boring?

Here are my suggestions:

"Integrating the Adult & Game Markets" --> "Make your X-box an XXX-box"

"Creating Successful Games with Erotic Content" --> "Hot Coffee, Hot Games"

"The Future of Technology & Sex" --> "Frontiers in Fucking"

Many alarming things rolled into one

Last week, in hiring committee, we're reading a packet in which a female interviewer Mary described a series of actions by the candidate, which left her feeling subtlely but definitely slighted. (This is vague on purpose, to prevent any sexist bastard readers from gaming the system during interviews!)

Me: [reading the description] This is pretty bad. If this is true, I don't think we should hire.

Recruiter #1: Well, I spoke to Eleanor (senior recruiter) and apparently this happens every time we set up an interview with a female interviewer in this particular format.

Brandon: Yeah, we probably already hired a bunch of people who would've shown this kind of sexism, except we didn't put them through this setup.

Me: That's ... probably true. [becoming depressed]

Recruiter #1: Yeah, Eleanor said not to set them up in this way in the future, because it always happens.

Me: That's not true. I did one exactly like this on Monday, and the candidate was perfectly respectful and didn't do any of [waving the packet] these things.

Martin and Brandon: [simultaneously] That's because it was YOU, Niniane.

Me: Are you saying that I look like a man?

Martin and Brandon: [still in unison] NO.

Recruiter #1: Okay, so it might just be that Mary (the interviewer) made the candidate nervous. That could explain his actions too.

Recruiter #2: Yeah. [turning to me] Niniane, a bunch of candidates told me you made them nervous.

Me: What?? I make such a big effort to be friendly!

Recruiter #2: Sure, but they walk in there, not expecting to have a senior engineer interview them who's ... pretty. They're expecting ... one of these guys [gestures toward Martin and Brandon, who are surprisingly unoffended].

Me: Okay, so to test out this theory, we should have an attractive female engineer re-interview this candidate. I suggest Wendy S.

Everyone else: [complete silence] ... [crickets chirping, tumbleweed, etc] ...

Recruiter #1: Uh ... anything I say in reply to that might end up in a lawsuit.


There are a bunch of things screwed up about this. The part that bothered me the most was the idea that perhaps in comparison, I actually have it easy. Perhaps other women deal with a lot more sexist crap. I know this is true for China and other countries and other companies, but maybe it's true even within Google's primary-colored walls.


I'm already annoyed at the subtle (and not so subtle) sexist jabs that I have to deal with. So if other women have it worse, I'm amazed we have ANY women in computer science.

I guess if women can push watermelons through straws, then they can deal with anything.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Blog of schoolteacher in Japan.

I'm reading this blog of a black man teaching English in Japan to high school students. It's very funny, and sometimes contemplative.

Hee hee hee:

In this class, I was supposed to talk about what I did on Sunday. ...But I didn't really do anything on Sunday. So I decided to spice it up a little with an opening joke. I said that I went to Tokyo and fought with Godzilla. He was a very tough opponent! But then I kanchoed him, and I was the winner! I looked down to see 30 serious Japanese faces, concentrating hard on what I was saying. I finally had to break the tension by announcing it was a joke. Some of them laughed. Some of them had to erase the notes they'd taken on me fighting Godzilla. In their minds I'm not that much smaller than Godzilla, so this was entirely possible.


I was at the gym with a female Japanese friend. We were watching the news on TV when suddenly she turns to me and asks "So, you're American, right? How many guns do you have?"

Notice the word usage here. Not "if" I have guns, no! "How many" guns do I have. Because surely, as a red-blooded American, I own guns. Yee-haw, when I'm not drinkin' my root beer and eating myself damn to death, I sure love me to shoot some stuff! *thumbs up*

Clearly, I needed to set her straight. I pointed my first finger at her in the classic "Now let me tell you something..." pose, but before words could escape my mouth, she innocently said "Oh, only one gun?"

And this one.

Parties, like cotton candy

Orkut tax season bash:

Chatting in kitchen:

Misha cowgirl party with mechnical bull:

Jon Perlow's hat, a work of art in itself:

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Dinosaur helpline.

Dan forwarded me this comic.

I can't imagine why.

Friday, April 14, 2006

lying broken on the floor

Friday bottomed out at 12:35pm.

I had decided to attend the lunchtime group exercise class "Body Sculpt and Abs". I've been ill and not in peak exercise condition, but that's not going to get in the way when there are abs involved.

Anyone who reads this blog will realize that I went with fantasies of fellow exercisers showcasing perfectly sculpted abs framed by spandex. Sha-mayn later laughingly corrected me, "Those people don't go to abs classes! Group classes are for motivation!"

The instructor led us in exercises, starting with biceps, then back, legs, shoulders. "This is easy," I thought at first. 15 minutes later, not so easy. Another 15 minutes later, quite hard.

"I'll get a bottle of water," I said to myself.

By the time I walked across the gym to the water supply, I realized I needed to sit down, or would be forced to by my body going on strike. I dropped into one of the red velvety chairs, and rested my head against its cushioned back. I sat, my chest growing tighter and the desire to keep my head lower steadily increasing.

2 minutes later, my primary goal in life was to make my head vertically level with my heart. As it's not acceptable to suddenly lie down in the middle of the gym, I began the trek to the locker room. It was only 30 steps away, but made difficult by the bright white light coating my vision.

I finally navigated my way in, and was greeted by a woman inside. I said nothing in return, and still don't know who it was, since facial recognition abilities were long gone at that stage.

I stumbled past the changing area and into one of the shower stalls. As soon as I snapped the door closed, I collapsed onto the floor, lying face up on the chilly tile. Then followed wretching, 3 spasms over half a minute where I could feel bile rising up my throat. "Good thing I picked the shower," I thought. "Easy to clean."

It brought me back to elementary school, when I didn't know how to pace myself while exercising (a skill I only learned at age 20). All those sunny P.E. hours when I would be following instructions, running around the track or around the bases or around the field, when my throat would start to burn and an unbalanced pressure would tighten in my chest.

Staring at the grey shower wall at 12:35pm, I remember my childhood self and how fervently I hated exercise back then. There's a unique feeling of simultaneous strength and loneliness which comes from lying on the ground and fighting a battle within your own skin. Who knew I would go from that to one day running 10k races for enjoyment?

Just like all the previous times, suddenly I crested the tide, and the pressure began to recede. I managed not to vomit. My head cleared, and I went back to the exercise class to finish out calf exercises and the promised ab crunches.

Perhaps the class sculpts your abs not through strength training but by inducing vomiting and inability to keep down food. That should be their tagline:

"Want better abs? Find bulimia too difficult? Come to 'Body Sculpt and Abs' every Friday at noon!"

Thursday, April 13, 2006

new vocabulary word

Today Joby set his IM status message to indicate that he got little sleep last night, followed by "gg D:"

Me: [over IM] What is "gg D:"?

Joby: [replying over IM] D: is a very upset face, like this.

I swivel around in my seat to catch a glimpse of him rising out of his chair and making a wide-mouthed horrific expression, which, had I captured on film and put here, would surely cause a submission of the Blog Removal Request Form.

Me: [laughing] What is the "gg" for then?

Joby: good game.

Me: [confused] What? How does it apply here?

Joby then sent me the link to

The first definition was the one that I'm familiar with:

A polite remark uttered after the end of a round, game, or other measured interval to indicate that a match was fair and enjoyable.

At round end:
Volmarias: gg
Rill-a-roni: gg
Dagashi: gg

The third definition, which is the one used by Joby, made me almost fall out of my seat in mirth:

Exclamation: A way of resignedly expressing one's own defeat or disgust with a situation. Often followed by the object in question.

*toy breaks*
person: gg plastic

person was killed by headshot from awp
person: gg overpowered awp

Cats: You have no chance to survive, make your time.
Captain: gg

Hiring committee banter.

This morning, in hiring committee.

Martin: [looking at candidate packet] Whoa, why is this candidate's lunch interviewer so enthusiastic to write this big recommendation?

Me: Yeah, what could he have said over lunch to impress his interviewer so much?

Martin: Perhaps he chose his food extremely wisely. [imitates interviewer writing feedback] "Made nutritious and filling choices."

Me: Or perhaps he took all the food on his plate and mixed it together before eating it, to increase efficiency. [mime using fork to stir everything into a big blob] "Efficient food digestion. O(N) in stomach operation."

Martin: "But not very object-oriented."

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Removal Form.

Today Peter asked me to remove some of the posts featuring him. "You compared me to a monster in a movie!"

Later Dan asked that his picture be changed. "My eyes are rolled back so much that you can hardly see my pupils! I look like a monster!"


To make future requests easier, please use the following form:

Niniane Blog Removal Request Form

Select the action you are requesting:

Remove post.
URL of post:

Change my pseudonym.
Current pseudonym:
New pseudonym:

Remove this "Blog Removal Request Form".

Reason for Your Request:
It makes me out as a monster.
It has me making out with a monster.

(Criticisms of my HTML form writing abilities are not welcome.)

Food philosophy w/ coworkers.

Joby: Did you hear they're installing a frozen yogurt machine?

Me: We already have Ben & Jerry's ice cream in the kitchens.

Joby: But frozen yogurt is better for you.

Me: Well ... [explain eating philosophy] ... So if you eat what you really want, you'll be satisfied sooner and you'll end up eating less overall.

Joby: No, I would eat the same amount of ice cream or frozen yogurt. So I'd be either eating three thousand grams of fat, or three thousand grams of sugar.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


My pH has recovered itself since the weekend roller coaster. This was actually 95% thanks to Dan. Here's a random picture of Dan from the ol' internet, which is a very representative pic since he's rolling his eyes:

It wasn't any particular insight from Dan, but rather the simple joy of swapping funny (mostly Google) stories for 4 hours, something that Peter and I had difficulty doing. We gossiped about how Eric, Larry, and Sergey handle disagreements between themselves (gracefully), recent product launches, our friends J & J who just quit their startups.

Dan mentioned his high school girlfriend Jenny, which reminded me of my All-Time Favorite Dan Story. ...

The story goes that Jenny really liked a mom-and-pop donut shop in the mall. One day, she was out of cash but nonetheless went in and asked if she could have a donut, for free.

The answer was of course no.

"It's almost closing time," she said. "What are you going to do with these leftover donuts?"

"Throw them away."

"Well, why not just give them to me instead?"

"We can't do that. Then everyone would ask us for them."

"What if I take them out of the dumpster after you throw them away?"

"Well, we can't control what happens after we throw them in the dumpster."

"So what if I stand in the dumpster and catch the donuts as you throw them in?"

At this point, the cashier rolls his eyes and says, "Well, I guess that would be fine."

An hour later, the cashier goes out back with a plastic bag of donuts and Jenny is indeed standing in the dumpster along with her friends.

"Oh my God!" he says. "Fine, look, you don't have to stand in the dumpster. I'll just give you the donuts in the future, if you meet me here at midnight. Don't tell anyone else."

So she would go every night and get free donuts. After a while, they got used to her, and it got to the point where she could walk into the store at any time of day and get a free donut.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Cost benefit analysis.

At dinner.

Joby: Why is that I eat 2000 calories per day, and I don't exercise, but yet I don't balloon up?

Me: Because just by living, you expend 2000 calories each day.

Joby: Really?

Me: Yeah. See, a pound is 3500 calories. So let's say you do the elliptical machine for 20 minutes each day and burn 100 calories. Then after 35 days, you would lose one pound.

Joby: I am never exercising again.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Convo with Andrew.

At lunch with Andrew.

Me: I told my mom that I may never find the right person to get married. But regardless, I still plan to have kids. When I'm 34, I'll either adopt or get artifically inseminated.

Andrew: You said that to your mom?

Me: Well, not the last part. I actually said, "I'll either adopt ... or I won't." She knew what I meant.

Andrew: What did your mom say?

Me: She stood there in silence for half a minute, then said, "I think you should have your own kid instead of adopting." Which implied she's okay with the out-of-wedlock part.

Andrew: Raising a kid by yourself is hard.

Me: I know. But falling in love is so unlikely! It's like winning the lottery! Come to think of it, childbirth is so difficult that it also seems impossible. If I didn't know that billions of women had already done it, and you described childbirth to me, I would say that it's impossible! It's like pushing a watermelon through a straw!

Andrew: [shocked laughter] ... But you want to do it, huh? You want the watermelon?

Me: I want the watermelon.


At lunch with Rolandall (Randall + Yolanda = Rolandall).

Me: Falling in love is so rare! I don't know how all these other people do it. ... So I've accepted the fact that I may never get married.

Randall: In 20 years, we can introduce our kids to you as our weird spinster friend.

Me: That's right. I'll get 19 cats. As you're leaving, I'll throw a cat or two at you.

Randall: When I was a kid, there was an old neighbor down the street. She was 70 when I knew her, but had been a widow since her 20s when her husband was killed in war. All she would do is watch Wheel of Fortune and chain smoke. After she died, I had to go help clean out her house, and scrape nicotine off the walls.

Me: Don't worry, I'll pre-pay professional nicotine scrapers as part of my will.

Monday, April 03, 2006

BBQ, Beijing style (from March 26)

This is what happens when your parents hold a barbeque for 45 guests, and your family comes from Beijing where the worst nightmare is running out of food while hosting a party:

Three tables of food, two days of preparation,

and a week's worth of leftovers:

awe-inspiring left and right brain merging

Yesterday I went to the Seattle Asian Art Museum with my coworker Reza. We saw this thousand-armed statue (that fan-shaped object attached to his back is a mass of arms):

I adored the color of this vase (it does lose a little in translation into a photograph):

Then I drove over to Min's house, which may as well have been another museum.

I walked in and immediately dropped all my bags in order to kneel in worship before this painting-in-progress:

HOW? How can one person be that good at computer science AND that good at painting?? It boggles my mind. The pathways between her left and right brains must be busier than the 101 in rush hour.

I forced her to pose with this one of her paintings:

She wouldn't sell me this one for $160 (another buyer had reputedly offered $150):

Oh, she also cooked me amazing stewed meat, couscous, and peach tea.


Can a more talented person exist?

The answer is no.