Wednesday, January 30, 2008

funny (to me, at least)

Me: "Dan, it turns out you're the #15 commenter on FriendFeed."

Dan: [very seriously] "So who are numbers one through fourteen then?"

I went to Hearst Castle earlier in the month. The library contained a tall vase with white lilies. I couldn't figure out whether the lilies were real, no matter how much I stared.

I was reminded of an incident from my childhood.

When I was eight, my uncle visited the US from China for a one-year fellowship. One day, my parents went to the bank to open a checking account, and took him and me along.

My parents sat at a bank representative's desk filling out the new account form. I pointed at the leafy plant on the desk and asked my uncle in Mandarin, "Is that plant real?"

My uncle replied, also in Mandarin, "Modern plastic plants are often very realistic. They look real, the texture feels real, and they even smell real. There's only one way to tell."

He snapped off a leaf between his fingers, and placed it in his mouth. After two chews, he announced, "Yup, this one's real." I nodded in satisfaction.

When I looked up, the bank rep was staring open-mouthed at us.

Later I considered it from the bank rep's perspective. A family comes into your bank to open a checking account. The uncle and niece speak to each other in Mandarin, and then out of nowhere, the uncle picks a leaf off your plant and eats it for no discernible reason.

I still laugh when I think of it.

Monday, January 28, 2008

sassy, in three parts

Eating brunch with a guy friend, at Foreign Cinema. He's talking about a girl he likes.

Friend: "I should invite her to an event. How can I do it casually?"

Me: "Pick something you know she likes to do. What are her hobbies?"

Friend: "She takes ballet classes."

Me: "Why don't you invite her to the San Francisco ballet?"

Friend: [raising eyebrow] "You realize that I would then also need to go to the ballet."

Over dinner at Ronald McDonald House, a mother is talking about her newborn who was born with her intestines outside of her body.

Mother: "They rushed her from my C-section immediately to the ICU. They hooked up a device so that her intestines are suspended over a cavity in her abdomen, and over the next few days, gravity pulled them back into her body."

Me: [shocked]

Mother: "But she wasn't gaining weight for the next two months. The doctor said it could be the [long medical term] condition, but he didn't want to do a test to check because that condition is so rare."

Me: "So what happened?"

Mother: "I told the doctor, 'Being born with your intestines outside your body is also extremely rare! Do the test!'"

(In happy news, the newborn later gained weight. Mother and daughter were discharged from the hospital today.)

Last month, I told my brother about a Stanford writing class I took. We were each asked to bring two pages of a published work from an author we admired. I brought Harry Potter, which was denounced by a middle-aged Indian student CJ for being "cliche". Another person brought the Foundation trilogy, and CJ criticized both Asimov's writing and science fiction in general.

Finally I asked what he brought. He announced that his "two pages from an author you admire" was his own published work. He proceeded to hand out copies of his story, each with a stapled photocopy of his acceptance letter to a local literary magazine.

Tonight, at the grocery store with my brother:

Me: "I'm taking another writing course. Guess who I saw on the first day. Remember that guy I told you about, who brought his own published work?"

Tom: "Of course I remember that dumbass."

Me: [shaking with laughter]

Tom: "Oh sorry, was I being too truthful?"

Friday, January 25, 2008

offspring ~ software

Today in the cafe I ran into a young Googler. We got to talking about his relationship, and he revealed that he's preparing to have kids soon.

Me: "Really? Are you ready for that?" [He's only 23.]

Him: "Is anyone ever ready?"

Me: "That's true."

Him: "It's like a work project, actually. You're not 100% sure that it'll work out, but you trust in the people doing it."


Monday, January 21, 2008

MLK Day, redux

Last year's MLK Day was a comedy of errors on my part. Little did I know it would become an annual tradition.

I met Omst and Neha in the afternoon at Ritual Roasters. Neha is starting grad school at MIT, and the two of them are flying to Boston tonight. Once again I found myself saying "I will miss you" and "Send photos" and "I hate change".

The outflux of my friends moving away is significantly higher than the influx of new friends. If this trend continues, in two years I will have no friends living in the same city as me.

Then I can start acquiring my 19 cats, or my 1 pig.

After departing the cafe, I was greeted with a parking ticket on my windshield. The meter had run out fifteen minutes prior, and the parking maid had already come and gone during those minutes.

I wrote a check for the ticket and ran out in the rain to drop off the wet envelope in a mailbox. I drove to my nail appointment, got the address wrong, and arrived late after walking four blocks in the rain. The salon cancelled my pedicure, but still gave me a manicure.

It was shortly after dusk, the hour of melancholy, and I sat in my car looking at the torrent through the streetlamp lights. I decided the solution to fix this day was to go to Sugar Cafe. Specifically, I would go eat their mini-burgers and write on my laptop.

When I arrived, the barista informed me the kitchen closed early.

"I still see plates of mini-burgers coming out of your kitchen!" I protested, to no avail.

I sat down next to Sugar's gas fireplace with my laptop, and pressed the un-hibernate. To my absolute horror, nothing happened. The screen stayed black. My laptop made no acknowledgement of my action.

This has never happened before. Did it rain on the laptop earlier? How much work was on it that was not backed up?

Fortunately, after I arrived at home and plugged it in, the laptop turned on.

There's a xkcd comic, where the protagonist says after six hours of fiddling with his computer, "I'll be happy if I can just get it back to the state it was in before I started."

That describes my day today.

Friday, January 18, 2008

slightly amusing

Me: "Are you going to work on Monday? It's Martin Luther King Day."

"I need to check."

Me: "I'm not."

"Oh, is all of Google shutting down for the day?"

Me: "Yeah. [pause] Well, our web site will still be up, probably."

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

how can

I'm really disturbed that Britney Spears is dating this unattractive paparazzi cameraman.

Even in 2005, my friend said, "What happened? Two years ago she was the most unattainable woman in the world."

And now look.

How did this happen?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

a few Paris photos

The breath-taking Museum d'Orsay.

One of the best paintings that I saw.

My friend Wenarto happened to be in Paris at the same time. We met up on New Year's outside of Louis Vuitton.

Wenarto was the only person along the Champ-Elysses who was dressed like this.

Sorollo House replaces my friend Eileen's house as the nicest house I've ever seen. (Sorry Eileen!) It combines high ceilings with gorgeous art by Sorollo.

Photo of the Louvre, from inside the Louvre.

My parents claimed they looked through the entire Louvre in one day.

Me: [surprised] "How did you manage that?"

My dad: "The last thirty minutes, we just walked nonstop through room after room."

Me: "Did you actually look at the art in the rooms?"

Dad: "Basically no. But we got through all the rooms!"

Tom performing "eater's pose" by my request, at a coffee shop in Madrid.

Friday, January 11, 2008


Three weeks ago, upon landing in Madrid, the pinky and ring finger of my left hand felt numb. I figured it was due to sleeping in a cramped pose during the flight.

The following week disabused me of that notion, as I developed pain in my deltoids, forearms, elbows, neck, and wrists. Around New Year, I stopped typing for five days.

Upon return to the US, I went to a doctor. He told me that I have blackberry thumb, tennis elbow, carpal tunnel, and tendinitis. I'm not sure why all of them appeared at the same time.

Part of the prescription involves cutting down on laptop and blackberry usage. A pity, as I used to enjoy lying in bed and typing emails to friends.

Monday, January 07, 2008

[land, home] of the [free, brave]

This morning, Tom and I got on a plane in Paris to fly back to SFO.

Tom has a cold, and has been blowing his nose every minute. I gave him a kleenex packet from my purse, but that wasn't enough. He collected both of our drink napkins throughout the flight.

Tom: "When we land in Philly [for our stopover], I'm going to buy some food and take FIVE HUNDRED NAPKINS. God bless America."

Me: [laughing] "You don't even need to buy food to take napkins, usually."

Tom: "Oh, I'm also hungry."

... We landed in Philadelphia, and started walking toward the customs area.

Tom: "Ah, America. Time to be fat and proud of it!"

Me: "You've got half of that down." [nudging him]

Tom: "That's right -- I'm very proud."

Me: [grinning] "Of course, that's what I meant."

Tom: "And you've got the other half covered."

Both of us laughed the entire way through the customs line.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

parents funny

Walking around Madrid, my mom stops every few minutes to take a photograph. Each one requires many seconds of adjustment for the perfect angle and lighting.

Last Monday, we went to the Royal Palace. Midday:

My mom: "I have very sad news. My camera battery died."

My dad: [clapping loudly] "太好了! 就等这件事呢!" ("Wonderful! Wonderful! It's just the news I've been waiting for!")

... We walk down the street and pass by the grand church next to the palace.

Dad: [poking my mom's elbow] "This church really deserves a photograph."

The rest of my family had to wait for me, to recover from being doubled over laughing.


Later, in the hotel room I was sharing with my brother:

Tom: "Mom takes so long with each photograph! We're always waiting."

Me: "I'm just happy that they're getting along. Let's not complain if the holy grail has a little bit of dust on it."

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Tom funny

Sitting inside Notre Dame, under a projector screen spanning the church:

Program Announcer: "This 60-minute movie will tell you about the history of our church. It is intended for young and old alike..."

Me: [poking Tom on shoulder] "Did you hear that? It appeals to both you and me."

Tom: "No, they didn't say yuppies. [pointing to door] You have to leave."

Tom: [talking about how he recently gained weight]

Me: "How can you look the same, but weigh so much more?"

Tom: "I must have gotten denser as I aged. Same body, more mass. Or rather, same volume, more ass."

At a cafe inside the Louvre, holding a book we brought from the States.

Tom: "By the way, I agree that the Pocket Louvre sucks. I looked up 'Venus de Milo' and all it said was 'The Venus de Milo was unearthed in 1820.'"

Me: "Yeah, it's terrible. Feel free to just throw it away."

Tom: "Being in the trash can of the real Louvre would be the greatest thing that's ever happened to that book! I'm going to take it out of the Louvre before I throw it out."