Saturday, September 30, 2006

pleasant little moments

"Fearless" at the theatre down the street. Darryl asked Joby to buy him a huge bag of popcorn. For the next 1.5 hours, I heard a steady munch-munch sound coming from my right.

Me: [turning to Darryl near movie ending] Did you eat that entire bag?

Darryl: [cheerfully] Not yet. I'm working on it.

The movie finishes with one of the characters gasping out a death scene. Then we see him dancing in a meadow, his body bathed in a white glow. He frolicks with loved ones from his life, who also emit halo glows.

Me: Argh, he promised he'd return to visit that farm girl! And he never did!

Darryl: [cheerfully] He did it after he died.


Minutes later, walking out of the theatre.

Joby: Some of those subtitles were not very good. Like one of the last fight scenes. In Chinese he said a very poetic line, "Now that I am already standing on this podium, I need to continue." The subtitles were like, "We gotta finish."


Tea at Verde Cafe.

Joby: Princeton held a contest to see who could write the fastest hash table. All these people spent hours hand-tweaking assembly code. The fastest entry ran in negative 0.2 seconds. Turned out he coded a naive hash table implementation, and then did a buffer overflow to gain OS control and set the system clock back.

Me: That's awesome. I have a story about hacking a contest. I won't tell you the name, because it would be too embarrassing for that person. So, my acquaintance entered an online contest that pitted his entry against other entries. The entry that received the most votes via user clicks would become the victor. As the contest continued, he started losing, so he wrote a clickbot. Then another contestant wrote a better clickbot that generated three times as many clicks. So he complained to the contest organizer and got the other person disqualified.

Joby: And he won?

Me: Yeah. Not only did he cheat, he had an inferior cheating script. And then he tattled, and took the victory unfairly.

Joby: So this was Alipé then?

(Poor Alipé. Please don't cough up blood again, upon reading this.)


Sitting on a bench outside, 1 AM.

Darryl: We need to go, because I desperately need to use the restroom.

Qing: [while walking to the car] Don't explode, Darryl. Otherwise Niniane will have another intern bathroom story.

Me: [remembering an intern who was so cautious that he asked for permission to go to the bathroom] ... Yeah, I had a high school intern years ago on Flight Simulator, who was really really nervous --

Darryl: Did he wet himself?

Thursday, September 28, 2006

two-week experiment

Joby came into work and told us how Megan had him run a mile at his fastest pace. He was out of breath afterwards, but he did a 7-minute mile!

I was very impressed. Later that day, as I was warming up on the treadmill, I asked Megan if I could do the exercise too.

"Are you sure?" she asked.

I stupidly opened my mouth and uttered these words of naiveté , "Yeah, it'll be fun."

Two minutes later, at a 8mph pace, my breath came in clouds and I felt my throat constricting. We slowed to 7.2mph. Another two minutes later, I felt my stomach turn.

I knew I needed to stop before I vomited all over the treadmill. My finger hovered over the red "emergency stop" button, but I decided that using the emergency stop is more pathetic than going ahead and vomiting. I used the regular "slow" and "stop" buttons to cool down the treadmill, over Megan's protests.

Then I insisted on going over to the couch and sitting down with my head tilted back onto the headrest.

Another person might find this humiliating, at 5:40pm in front of a whole gym of coworkers and acquaintances. Luckily I maxed out on exercise-related embarrassment in elementary school.

The rest of the workout was tempered by pauses, as I became lightheaded at easy dumbbell lift exercises.

"Niniane, you can't take shortcuts," Megan said. She gestured to the weight machine and around the gym. "This doesn't come easy."

So I decided, fuck it. I am going to do a two-week trial of proper exercise and following Megan's nutrition advice.

I committed to doing cardio three times a week (in addition to seeing Megan twice for strength training), and eating three meals and two snacks of protein and vegetables and NO DESSERTS. Technically Megan said I can eat a "dessert" per day of sugar-free jello, but I rejected that travesty.

I went back to my desk and threw away the pizza, chicken salad, and pear tart I saved from lunch. Instead I ate swordfish and broccoli, which turned out to be surprisingly good.

My biggest concern is that I'm supposed to eat even if I'm not hungry. This goes against my eating philosophy to no end. But it's only a 14-day experiment.

love is a verb, not a noun

Over breakfast of pecan pancakes with Min.

Min: You should be more accepting of your parents. This is who they are.

Me: I'm not sure that I want that. My dad calls my mom stupid in every conversation. I don't think I want to change into someone who doesn't care when that happens. I'm a passionate person. If I stop caring when someone calls my mom stupid, what other parts of myself will I lose?

Min: He actually says that she's stupid?

Me: Many times a day. He drops it casually. "Your mom over-estimates her abilities." "Three of us in our family can compute the tip, but your mom can't." It's ridiculous, because she's very smart. My mom badmouths my dad too, but more subtly. "Your dad is a good person, but his temper is unbearable. The biggest mistake of my life was marrying him."

Min: You're focusing on the negative. Look at the positives. They've done so much for you.

Me: I know, and I feel like a horrible person. But this bothers me in a way that nothing else does. I can't deal with it the way a normal functioning adult can, because it started when I was eight. I have the same enormous emotional reaction that I did when I was a kid.

Min: But they still love each other, right?

Me: Yes, deep down they do.

Min: So what does it matter then?

Me: Because love is a verb, not a state of being. You of all people showed me that. You told me how much it meant to you that based on an idle comment, Joe came home and packed lunch for you. Love is in how you speak to the other person with respect, how you accomodate them and help them out. You don't get to just say you love someone and then treat them like shit and get away with it.

Min: They're still your parents.

Me: If you started telling me every day how my mother is stupid, I would cut you out of my life right away. It's not acceptable. Why should it be any different for my parents?

Sunday, September 24, 2006

orkut's best party yet

Getting ready for White Party. Sara with Karey, who insisted on sleeping instead of coming out with us.


Poster for the party, on the entrance door. Orkut and Derek spent three hours doing this photo shoot.


Candles + mirror = art.

One of the most pragmatic couples I know. Omar and I had an insightful conversation about life and pressures.

Sara, me, Christina.

This is what happens when people know you have an ab fetish. Instead of saying hello, they just walk up to you and lift their shirt. (I ain't complaining.)

Let's encourage that some more. You know why this pic is here.

A girl doing a shot from the ice sculpture. There's a model who pours vodka into the top, and you suck it out the ice sculpture's you-know-what:

Me with my personal trainer. I felt obliged to give her a workout report. "I walked a mile every day in New York to and from the Google office!"

Another great couple. I ask Nikhil when he's getting married, and his stock answer is, "We're not getting married until gays can get married!" Awesome.

Scene from the loft area:

Pics of the girls.

Manu got this shirt made, expressly for the party. The apartment is called Studio 767.

With the host. Orkut, showing us what it means to throw a party in style.

how nearly screwed me

I left the Met in the middle of the Impressionism tour to cab it to JFK Airport.

Expedia booked my return flight to San Fran on Alaska Airlines. When I arrived at the airport, there were signs for the airlines at each of the nine terminals, but none listed Alaska.

The cabbie stopped at Terminal 1, the closest terminal. I leaned out the window and asked a tall security guard standing on the curb, "Which terminal is Alaska Airlines?"

He pulled out a booklet and scanned it. "It's not in my book." Pause. "I think it's terminal 4."

He stepped back to the door and asked an older guard. "Alaska. Terminal 4?" The older guard nodded authoritatively.

So I had the cab drop me at Terminal 4. I walked the entire terminal and didn't see a desk for Alaska. But my Expedia ticket says clearly:

Sat 23-Sep-06
From New York (JFK) 3:50 PM
To San Francisco (SFO) 7:30 PM

Alaska Airlines, Flight: 6032

I asked another guard, "Where's Alaska?"

"Walk down to aisle 6," he said, pointing.

I walked there. Aisle 6 is EgyptAir. I asked a EgyptAir rep, who announced that it's in terminal 8, but by now I realized they were all full of crap.

I called 411 on my cell and connected to Alaska's 800 number. On hold, then finally connected to a rep.

"We don't fly out of JFK airport," the rep said.

Fucking Expedia.

The rep took my name and informed me that my flight is actually on Delta Airlines. Delta is in terminal 3. AirTrain to terminal 3.

When I walked up to the line of Delta check-in counters, it was less than 30 minutes before my flight departure. I scanned the counters. The only one open was a middle-aged woman with an oversized nose.

It was with a heavy heart that I walked up to the counter. The rep continued to look away from me. "Excuse me," I said. After fifteen seconds, she turned to me. "Yes?"

I explained in a rush that I needed to check in.

"Flight?" she asks.


"We don't have that one," she said immediately.

"Alaska said you did and that I was on it..."

She clacked at the keyboard without speaking, for a few seconds. "They already closed the gate."

I pleaded. I explained how screwed me. My words tumbled out in a passionate jumble.

"I'll call the gate," she said. She picked up the phone. "Hello hon, this is Mary at the counter. How you doing? Yeah? That's good. Listen, I have this passenger here, seat 32F. ... Uh huh. No bags to check. ... Yeah, I'm willing to walk her through security."

At the last sentence, my heart did a dance, and I thanked her once out loud and many more times silently. She could easily have not offered the extra step of helping me bypass the security line. She could've stopped, and told me the gate was indeed closed.

Thank you Delta representative!

So it was that I became the last person to get on my Delta flight.

Friday, September 22, 2006

down-to-earth glamour girl

Dinner with Ming on Wednesday. The last time I saw her was in NYC one year ago, and she is as luminous as ever.

Ming wore a fluttery white top that looked like wings. At some moments during dinner, when she talked about translating for her parents (who live in Chinatown and don't speak English), I got the weird sense that I was talking to an angel. Or an anime princess.

She graduated a couple years ago from the Fashion Institute of Technology, and is designing her own jewelry. She told me how hard it is to get attention from buyers. It seems they're inundated with budding designers trying to break into the industry.

"You work at a design firm!" I said. "Don't you form relationships with the buyers?"

"No, the salespeople do. They just bring me in to ask questions about my designs, and then I leave the room."

"But you're also a model! Surely you must meet fashion industry people during your shoots."

"Those aren't the buyers."

"Oh. That's tough then."

"But it's good to have something to aim for. If you have no challenges that you're working toward, then life loses some meaning."


She's lived in Brooklyn since she was eleven. I love that this Chinese fashion-industry glamour-girl will interject Mandarin conversation with Brooklyn slang. Talking about relationships over hot chocolate, at a post-dinner cafe:

Ming: "(in Mandarin) He thinks the woman should clean up after the man. I was like, (in english) Oh no you DIDN'T! What?! HELL no!"

I laughed so hard that people around us in the cafe turned to look at me.


While we were in line for the restroom:

Ming: "I was a tomboy growing up. (in Mandarin) When I was in grade school, the other little girls would come to me when a boy stole their things. Then I'd go over to him, (in english) 'Are you messin' with my girl?' I'd shove them and fight them."

Me: Did you win the fights?

Her: Naturally.

stories from the Met, part 1

Rubens married his second wife when he was 53. She was 16.

What a mack daddy.

Here they are with their fourth kid. They had five children together over ten years. The fifth child was born eight months after his death. As the tour docent put it, the two of them were "happy until the end".

He painted this portrait to honor his wife in every detail: the lighting, how perspective culminates at her face. I wonder how she felt living the second half of her life (26 through 53) without him.


Venus, goddess of love, is playing with her son Cupid. He shoots a golden arrow, which grazes her elbow. The arrow is magic, so now she's destined to fall in love with the next person she sees.

She looks down to earth, and sees Adonis. She falls head over heels for him. Flies to earth, seduces him. They spend some quality time together.

But he's young, and obsessed with hunting. One morning, he wakes up and decides it's time to HUNT! Here we see her pleading with him to stay in bed with her. He refuses.

She takes her chariot back to heaven (to get another change of clothes, take a shower in her own heavenly bathroom, etc). Through a break in the clouds, she spots Adonis getting killed by a wild boar.


Why, I wonder, didn't she just get Cupid to shoot Adonis with a golden arrow too? Then he'd be whipped, and wouldn't have left her for a stupid hunt.

But I guess she doesn't want to win his love through a manipulative love arrow. She wants to get it through manipulative feminine wiles.

I understand.

they have strength in numbers

Walking across the street to lunch a couple weeks ago.

Me: [mentioning Dan, a fellow alumnus from Caltech]

Finn: You Caltechies.

Me: Techers. We call ourselves Techers. What about Stanfordites?

Finn: It's not 'Stanfordites'. [turning to Joby] Hey, you're from Stanford. What do Stanford students call themselves after they graduate?

Me: They call themselves Googlers.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

musings on what makes people attractive

I watched a Broadway play tonight: History Boys, the 2006 Tony Award winner for Best Play. It was set in a college prep school in England.

Dekan, the boy in the very middle of the picture, was referred to several times as the most attractive boy. His two male history teachers wanted to fondle him (and more). His gay classmate pined for him throughout the show.

Sometimes I watch shows where one character is made out to be super-hyper-attractive. But they're not, and I internally question "That person?"

Not so this time. I felt the full gale of attraction. There were moments when I wanted to leap over the thirteen rows of seats in front of me, using the seat backs to spring onto the stage and embrace him.

But I didn't.

Because I figured he wouldn't like that.

It got me thinking as to what makes people attractive. Dekan was physically good-looking, the best of the bunch, but it was more than that.

He was very confident. For example, making an overture on his history teacher. "I was thinking now that the term is over, you and I could go get a drink." Teacher: "No." Dekan: "Well, drink is really a euphemism. I meant that ... maybe you could [bleep] me off."

But sometimes people are really good-looking and confident, and yet they just get on your nerves. Like Paris Hilton to many people. Or a guy I met last month in a San Francisco party.

Maybe those people aren't truly confident. Or maybe there are some detractors that overpower the attractiveness of the confidence.

I was standing in the subway station while thinking these thoughts. Suddenly I heard my name called, and after whipping my head around two or three times, I saw Andrew, a fellow Googler. He revealed he'd gone to the same play, and I posed this question to him.

He made the obligatory disclaimers about not being able to tell if a guy is attractive (note to all men: It is OKAY to admit another guy is attractive! You will not become labelled as gay. Get over it already!)

"It's the confidence," Andrew said.

Okay. So what makes some people confident, and not others? I recalled to a time four years ago when I was managing a particularly nervous high school intern at Microsoft. My manager Jason gave me this advice for the intern, "Confidence can't be granted. It comes from setting challenges and then surmounting them."

That's not entirely accurate though. Truly confident people are confident at all times, even in areas they have no experience in. I recall going to an upscale restaurant with my Microsoft team once. Rob, the test lead, was obviously unaccustomed to the setting, but he ate the carpaccio and raw tuna and bantered with us with the greatest of comfort.

Maybe confidence is when no one can really make you feel bad about yourself. No words will bring you down. You could receive a thousand insults, and you wouldn't bat an eye. You could get fired, and you'd just calmly send out your resume.

What do you think?

Gloria ... Steinem... Mind exploding.

Gloria Steinem is giving a talk right now at Google. I am watching it over video conference from New York. I wish so badly that I could be in Mountain View to see her in person!

She is 73. She is articulate and positive. She is so beautiful. She defies age.

She just described a female Senator, the first one to be pregnant during her term, who said on the Senate floor, "I have a brain and a womb, and I am going to use both."

I have been a fan of Gloria Steinem since I was 13, when my high school English teacher Ms. Cartwright assigned Steinem's writing and Feminine Mystique.

In class, Ms. Cartwright showed us a picture of Gloria Steinem at 50. Steinem walked into her 50th birthday party, and said, "This is what 50 looks like." We passed around the photo in class, and my teacher said, "Most of us would like to look this good at 18." It was true.

Hearing her speak is blowing my mind.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

NYC, the little differences, part 1

I'm working from Google's New York office for the next week. Change of scenery. So far it's been good: the plane trip over was super-productive.

In NYC for 48 hours, and I've already noticed a few "little differences":

1. New York is a 24-hour city. I cabbed from JFK airport at 3:00am, resigned to going to bed hungry. Lo and behold, pizza parlors were still open on every other street.

The same time on the following night, I walked past a hat store which was open. A HAT store. Just in case you're overcome with a late-night urge to accessorize your head, this shop is ready to serve.

This is what New York looks like at 3:30am. Note the traffic and crowds standing in the street:

Compare to what Mountain View looks like at 3:30am:

Heck, compare to what Mountain View looks like at 3:30 IN THE AFTERNOON on most days:


2. New York City has never heard of toilet seat covers. For those readers who hail from the Big Apple and hence do not know what I'm talking about, they're paper coverings you wrap on the toilet seat to avoid getting germs:

The only place I've seen toilet seat covers is the marble-hugged restroom in the Westin lobby:

The rest of New York? Apparently pro-germs.

Saturday night, New York style

Love this top. It helps that Mary (the girl sporting it) is tall with the body of a model. She's a New Yorker now, but used to live in Mountain View, on Rengstorff and Middlefield.


Me with my Googler friend Leslie, who broke into a huge smile any time she talked about her boyfriend-recently-turned-fiance. Awww.


Two sweet Mormon girls I met on Saturday night. They took me to the nightclub Aer, which had the best DJ I've ever experienced.


Me with the party hostess.

Now, judging from comments on prior posts, some of you can't seem to tell blondes apart. So before you bombard me about how beautiful Sara is and how much you adore her and how her pictures are the meaning of your existence, I have this to say:

Yes, Sara is truly gorgeous. No doubt about it. However, the picture below is not Sara! It's my friend Eva. If you're going to be obsessed, get it right.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

a difficult morning

Yesterday Cisco held an all-company meeting at Amphitheatre down the street from Google. Shoreline, the road many Googlers take to work, was completely backed up.

My 6-minute commute turned into 40 minutes. At one point, I realized that the the driver of the car stuck next to me was Kan, the Google Desktop PM. We rolled down our windows and had a nice chat.

I got into work, and found an amusing email thread "Shoreline? WTF?!".

The next email thread is a warning by a Googler that they spotted a snake near their building.

Within 10 minutes, the servers grind to a halt. My email is down. There's some kind of network outage.

My coworkers and I lamented. It takes an hour to drive to work, the network is down, and there are SNAKES on campus! And it's not even noon!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

they sure like to cut it close

Sunday. Driving to San Francisco with Watt, who is an ACM International Programming Contest finalist, and Darryl, who is a highly ranked TopCoder contestant.

Me: Why don't the ACM competitors also do Topcoder?

Watt: They're very different. In TopCoder, you don't know whether your submissions are correct until after the contest is over.

Me: Wow, that really teaches careful programming! We should make TopCoder a required course in college.

Tom: It doesn't teach good design. In fact, it encourages obfuscation, since competitors are scanning your code for bugs.

Me: Good point.

Tom: When is the TopCoder collegiate qualifying round anyway?

Darryl: Today.

Me: What? But you're out with us right now.

Darryl: It was at 10 a.m. I wrote it in 20 minutes and then came out to meet you.

Me: [flashing back to how I told Darryl that we'd pick him at 10:30am, plus or minus 10 minutes] But ... the round is 75 minutes. And then there's the challenge round. Why didn't you just ask me to pick you up last, after I picked up everyone else?

Darryl: Eh, I wrote the first two questions in 20 minutes. It'll be enough.

Me: Wow, that's confidence.

A few minutes later:

Me: One of my friends, Matthew, is a judge for the ACM World Finals every year. Last year, he created one of the questions. Midway through the competition, teams started to submit answers, and the answers ran through his tester app. Then he realized there was an off-by-one bug in his tester app. If any team submitted the maximum input size, his tester app would crash.

Darryl: What did he do?

Me: While the teams madly solved the programming questions, he madly debugged his tester app.

Watt: Ha.

Me: On one side, you have a student typing furiously on the keyboard, racing against the clock. On the other side of the wall divider, a judge is doing the same thing.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

if your fiance turns out to be a lemon, make lemonade

A woman who learned six weeks before her wedding that her fiance was cheating on her is turning her would-be reception into a charity benefit.

She and her mother canceled the band, photographer and florist, but learned they would not be reimbursed for the reception and block of rooms they had reserved. So they turned the reception into a benefit for the Vermont Children's Aid Society and CARE USA, an international relief organization that aims to combat poverty by empowering women.

Full article.

Awesome, awesome. If I am ever in this situation (God forbid), I now know what I will do.

i want a tattoo that says " forever"

During dinner at Google.

Tom: In the Mac operating system, you can change the image that's displayed during a kernel panic. There was an engineer at another company who got tired of his teammates introducing kernel panic bugs. So he changed the image to You'd be debugging, and a kernel panic would happen and then would fill your screen!

Me: Hee hee!

Tom: The number of kernel panic bugs checked into the codebase went down dramatically after that day.

Me: I bet.

Tom: Can you imagine that happening while you're doing a demo for customers?

Me: Oh my God, during Press Day! Or during the annual stockholder's meeting.

Tom: I wonder how fast your stock price would fall.

Me: You'd be doing your demo, then suddenly kernel panic and! You'd lament, "There's nothing that could be worse than this!" Then you'd switch to a screen showing your stock price plummeting through the floor.

Tom: The plummet would be so fast that you'd underflow and then kernel panic again.

Me: But compared to the picture of the stock price, you'd look at and breathe a big sigh of relief. Whew! Much better.

Sunday, September 10, 2006 code review

zeitgeist, drinking beer in the patio. Qing and Watt had never heard of [wikipedia entry].

Alipé: "It's an orifice."

Qing and Watt: [puzzled]

Joby: "In the future, if I have to send you a really big code review, I'm going to mark it as a code review."

Alipé: "Put 3***E at the top."

Me: "What's that?"

Alipé: "ASCII art for"

Me: "Oh my God!"

Alipé: "If there's rich text editing, I'll make the asterisks red."

Friday, September 08, 2006

when men cry

I think it's sweet when a man cries. Not as in depressed sobbing:

but when a confident man sheds tears, I find it really attractive. For example, imagine that Ryan Phillippe is crying in this picture:

That's hot.


Last month, I was discussing this with David A. during happy hour:

Me: It's so endearing when guys cry.

David: You wouldn't say that if you saw it in real life.

Me: I've seen all of my exes cry. Recently, X cried twice during the week that we dated.

David: What?

Me: Yeah, once because he felt guilty, and the other time after I let him read my novel-in-progress.

David: [scoffing noises]

Me: What? I think it's sweet!

David: Crying is not sweet.

Me: Sure it is.

David: If I were you, and the guy cried, here is what I would say: 'Crying is pathetic. YOU are pathetic! Get out of my face.'


Well, gentle reader,

What do you think when a man cries?

That's sweet!
That's pathetic!

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

photos of a lovely night

Getting ready to go out to a birthday party at Mr. Smith's club / bar.

Sara in a white sweater dress. There are no words. It couldn't even be captured on film. This is a pale shadow of what it looked like in real life:

Black and white:

At the club, a MIT graduate (friend of a friend) danced near us, then ducked down. We thought he was picking up something, but instead he darted over and fondled Sara's leg. What is MIT teaching these days??

Happy birthday John.

We ended the night at Pizza Orgasmica in the Castro. A long line of cute gay boys. The place was so popular that it had a bouncer. Yes, THE PIZZA PARLOR HAD A BOUNCER. Only in San Fran.

Here is a pic of said bouncer:

fuck buddies: coming soon to a country near you

Saturday I bid farewell to my young basketball friend Lu (or as Alipé called him, "Fuck Buddy" boy). (Note to readers too lazy to click the link: Don't interpret this the wrong way! He was not MY fuck buddy, just a figurehead for the idea.)

Lu is flying back to Beijing, to the land of slim beautiful Chinese women to whom he can now spread the fuck buddy concept.

(Yes, gentle readers, I know some of you will be furious over my glee at evangelizing immorality to a nation. I'm ready for the 50 angry comments. BRING IT.)


As a goodbye lunch, Lu came out to dim sum with me and my brother. The two of them:

Outside the restaurant, me with Lu:

Lu was so kind to me during our league's last basketball game. It was a playoff game three weeks ago, and our opponent was a team that defeated us two weeks prior. They had eight players, and we only had six. So we were able to do fewer substitutions.

When the score was at 11-11, my team swapped me back in. I grudgingly agreed, and responsibility lay heavy on me to not do stupid things.

As I was running onto the court, Lu said something to me from the sidelines. It was so kind, and it was in Mandarin, and I probably will never again hear the like, because Chinese-speaking guys are not that complimentary. He said, "加油 gorgeous."

加油 has no real English translation but roughly means "go for it".

I was really touched.

Then we lost the basketball game.

but you said...

Near the end of Saturady night, an Irish-looking man sat down next to me in the booth. After exchanging introductions...

Me: How do you know the birthday boy?

Him: We were in the same frat at MIT.

Me: Oh cool. What do you do now?

Him: I handle recruiting for BeeYay (* name changed).

Me: I used to work in that field. [some details of my previous work]

Him: You should leave Google and come work for us.

Me: Ha, no way.

Him: Why not?

Me: [changing subject] So, it must be hard to recruit for your company.

Him: Why do you say that?

Me: Your company has an awful reputation for work-life balance.

Him: How do you know?

Me: Come on, I read that forum post from beeyay_spouse.

Him: You saw that?

Me: Along with everyone else in our industry.

Him: Oh...

Me: That's why I say it must suck to be a recruiter there.

Him: I'm not a recruiter.

Me: What?

Him: I'm the VP of HR.

Me: !

Sunday, September 03, 2006


My brother Tom works as an intern at Apple. He turned down Google in order to do this.

At a Cole Valley coffeeshop:

Me: Tom, your Powerbook is so slow!

Tom: It is?

Me: Look. [types into edit box. Letters appear after three or four seconds.]

Tom: That lag is from Blogger. [leans over keyboard, opens another window and types into it. Letters appear immediately.]

Me: Oh, you're right.

Tom: Don't blame my company. Blame your own!

and he's cute too

While searching for images for my last post, I came across an article on Thresh with the following two great quotes:

"While growing up, Thresh's parents worried that this kid is spending too much time on video games.  But ever since he drove the Ferrari home from XX tournament, now what that causes him headaches is his parents asking, 'Did you practice gaming today?'"

"Thresh with his girlfriend, Miss Chinatown:"

Thresh,  我甘拜下风.  ("I willingly bow down to your superiority.")

step aside, Bobby Fischer

Tom: Thresh came to speak at Stanford two months ago.

Me: Oh yeah?  I hear that in addition to being Quake champion of the world, he's a pretty cool guy.

Tom: Have you ever watched a video of him playing?  He's so good.  He can anticipate four moves ahead.  He knows if he shoots a rocket at this angle, the opponent will have to duck into the next room.  Then if he chases them, they'll have to strafe to a particular spot ... By the fourth move, they're backed into a place where there's no way for them to avoid getting killed by him.

Me: Cool.  I wonder if he won enough money from tournaments in order to do nothing but play Quake for the rest of his life.

Tom: I'm sure he could.  I bet someone would be willing to pay money to support him.

Me: A true patron of the arts.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


When I visited Shanghai last October, China was all abuzz about an Internet phenomenon named "芙蓉姐姐" (Sister Lotus). Recently I came across some pics of her, which I'll share with you, gentle readers.

Sister Lotus first attracted attention when she posted to the BBS'es of Tsinghua and Beijing University (the top two universities in the nation). She wrote the story of how she failed to get into those universities. Then she posted pictures of herself in sexy poses, and wrote lines such as:

"I have the face of an angel and the body of a devil."

"To men, I am the sweetest flower. They love to drink my nectar."

"My sexy appearance and ice-and-jade pure quality bring me a lot of attention wherever I go. I'm always the centre of everything. People never tire of looking at my face, and my physique gives men nose-bleeds."

Is she the sweetest flower? You judge:

She spread like wildfire across China. My theory is that it's because the nation has 4000 years of history of being humble and downplaying oneself. In the US, if you tell your friend, "Hey, you're gorgeous!", she'll say, "Wow, thank you! I'm so flattered!"

In China, if you say that, your friend will say, "Me? No, I can't be. My nose is too flat, and I have fat here [pulling at tiny fold of skin at hip]."

Finally someone comes along who blows all that humility out of the water. After her outlandish claims, you can imagine the mockery that ensued. Unperturbed, she continued right along, and is now getting book deals and commercial endorsements and a wikipedia entry.

I think she frees the Chinese people to be proud just a little. Because if she's making the boasts that she does, then maybe it's not so much of a sin if occasionally you allow yourself to accept one little compliment.

At least this is my understanding. Recall that I have a screwed-up impression formed from my parents' snapshot of China 20 years ago, and reading martial-arts novels growing up.

I leave you with this delight:

Yes, what you see there is the most popular blogger of my homeland.