Monday, December 28, 2009

the coolest astronomer

Over instant messenger.

omst: i just saw avatar. visually amazing. the story was less so. sooo long. but i couldn't leave to go to the bathroom, and now i think i may have damaged my bladder

niniane: didn't you learn from that astronomer? The one who lost his nose in a duel. Tycho Brahe.

omst: "After he had returned home he was no longer able to urinate, except, eventually, in very small quantities and with excruciating pain."
omst: lets hope it doesn't come to that

niniane: Tycho's life is interesting.
niniane: "In 1572, in Knudstrup, Tycho fell in love with Kirsten, daughter of Jørgen Hansen, the Lutheran minister in Knudstrup. She was a commoner, and Tycho never formally married her. However, under Danish law, when a nobleman and a common woman lived together openly as husband and wife, and she wore the keys to the household at her belt like any true wife, their alliance became a binding morganatic marriage after three years."

omst: i read nothing but the bladder section

niniane: "He kept a dwarf named Jepp (whom Tycho believed to be clairvoyant) as a court jester who sat under the table during dinner. Pierre Gassendi wrote[9] that Tycho also had a tame moose"

niniane: "his mentor the Landgrave Wilhelm of Hesse-Kassel (Hesse-Cassel) asked whether there was an animal faster than a deer. Tycho replied, writing that there was none, but he could send his tame moose. When Wilhelm replied he would accept one in exchange for a horse, Tycho replied with the sad news that the moose had just died on a visit to entertain a nobleman at Landskrona. Apparently during dinner[11] the moose had drunk a lot of beer, fallen down the stairs, and died."

omst: drunken moose

niniane: "according to Kepler's first hand account, Tycho had refused to leave the banquet to relieve himself because it would have been a breach of etiquette."

omst: that's how i felt
omst: now i just need a dwarf
omst: a moose
omst: a jester
omst: a common law wife
omst: and a telescope
omst: and me and brahe are one and the same

niniane: hahahaha

Friday, December 25, 2009

"Sherlock Holmes" question (spoiler)

***** Tiny spoiler below! *****

In the movie, there is a scene at the end where Irene Adler says to Sherlock Holmes, "Everyone has a weakness. Moriarty found mine."

Sherlock asked, "What is it?"

She didn't reply. Instead she just smiled sadly at him.

Is she indicating that she doesn't want to reveal her weakness to him? Or is she implying that her weakness is her feelings for Sherlock Holmes?

Curious minds need to know.

===== UPDATE =======
Here are the reasons why I was originally un-convinced that her weakness is Holmes.

There was a scene in the train where Moriarty threatened to kill Holmes if Irene didn't finish the job. She looked shocked to hear the threat, which implies that he had not delivered the threat previously. She had already been working for him for some time, and Holmes described her at the start of the movie as intimidated and afraid of Moriarty.

This implies that Moriarty had already grabbed hold of her weakness (thus leaving her afraid), before he upped the ante with a threat on Holmes' life which surprised her even more.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

B- or D-

On Sunday, I cooked noodles for a few friends from college and Google. Yesterday, on the phone with my parents:

Me: "I did a noodle bar last night for friends. I let people pick their own toppings: bbq pork, enoki mushrooms, tofu, spinach, bok choy."

Dad: "That sounds good."

Me: "The toppings turned out well. But I messed up the noodles. 5% were undercooked, and 5% got burnt."

Dad: "The 5% that's undercooked can just be thrown away. But the 5% that's burnt will end up making 20% of the noodles taste burnt."

Me: "I know. I think the meal was only a B-. It's bad because whenever my friends cooked for me, it's always been A+."

Dad: "What was that: B- or D-?"

Me: "B-."

Dad: "Can't hear you. B- or D-?"

Me: "Actually, you and Mom would probably think it's a D-."

On IM, talking to my friend "Potato" in China:

niniane: i think my food was only a B-
potato: do you feel bad because your friends hold parties with catered food?
niniane: oh God, I forgot about the catered food.
niniane: No, it's because when they cook for me, it's always A+.
potato: maybe they have a different grading scale than you
potato: like, maybe they thought your food was a C
niniane: Is this supposed to make me feel better??
potato: but they think other people's food is just a B, so the difference is not as great
niniane: Oh ok. Hope so.

Despite this, I immensely enjoyed cooking for my friends. I'm going to do it more often! It is pleasantly domestic.

One day, I want to grow vegetables in the back yard, such as basil, cucumbers, tomatoes, and corn. One step at a time.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


I've been a reader of the popular Singaporean blog Xiaxue for four years, ever since I saw it on the Technorati Top 100 list.

Her latest entry is the love story of her and her new fiance. It is very sweet. When I got to the end and read Mike's letter, I cried. Tears literally came into my eyes.

I can't believe two people actually met the way they did, and it worked out. That's so against the odds! I like stories of love succeeding in impossible scenarios like this story, or Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

it was fate and Throop Pond

Eating dinner at Cafe Moma in building 45 with Dan, discussing the antics of our college friend Po.

Me: "If I met Po nowadays, for example if I met him last week at a party, I wonder if we would still become friends."

Dan: "No, you wouldn't. That's one of the qualities of college friendships. Neither would you and I."

Me: "Dan, don't say that! I feel like you and I were meant to become good friends."

Dan: "Of course we were. That's why we met when we did."

Friday, December 18, 2009

the eternal question of whether I should move to San Francisco

Over instant messenger:

omst: are you in SF
niniane: no, I'm in my house in MV [MV = Mountain View, a suburb of San Francisco]
omst: Boring
niniane: I know, I am bored out of my skull right now
niniane: I am writing xmas cards and working a bit
omst: God. Ur sixty
niniane: lol


Years ago, someone dear to me became very ill. The situation deteriorated over months. One morning, standing in the ER after staying awake all night, I grew desperate. I vowed to myself and God and the Chinese heavens that if my relative recovered, I would be grateful for the rest of my days.

It was a time of clarity. All the skills I spent my life developing were suddenly useless, except communication abilities for interacting with doctors. Kindness from friends and strangers became priceless; money seemed nearly worthless by comparison. There were moments of great despair.

My relative recovered. For a while, I overflowed daily with gratitude.

The months and years went by. Just now, I saw an article that reminded me of my relative's illness, and I realized with shock that I haven't thought of my vow of gratitude in quite some time.

I've been feeling quite grateful in the past month, but not to the extent that I felt at that time. Back then, I felt overwhelmingly lucky just to be healthy, and to have the people I care about be alive and healthy.

I just sent myself FutureMe reminders for one and three years from now, to remember to stay grateful. Hopefully this blog post will remind me too.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

awesome Tiger Woods parody voicemail

Hahahaha. I've listened to it three times in a row.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

i think that was set in Montana

Dan and I ate scrambled eggs today at St. Michael's Alley. When the bill came, we flipped a coin to decide who would pay, as is our tradition. Afterwards, I was examining the quarter he used.

Me: "Wyoming is the Equality State?"

Dan: "I guess so."

Me: "Do they allow gay marriage? I doubt it. Is this supposed to be a gay cowboy on the quarter?"

Dan: "There was a movie about this."

Me: "What was it called: 'The Gay Cowboy'?"

Dan: "No. 'Brokeback Mountain'."

Thursday, December 10, 2009

he'd be an excellent recruiter for the devil

At the gym, doing crunches. I had just told Megan about seeing James Franco.

Megan: "He was soooo hot in Spiderman."

Me: "You know, I don't understand why Mary Jane didn't like him back. He's so attractive. They cooked together and had a great time. He made her laugh. He kept his house clean and nicely decorated. But then he tried to kiss her, and she didn't let him."

Megan: "Yeah, who would pick Tobey Maguire over James Franco?"

Me: "Exactly. Peter Parker was a flake. He kept disappointing her by not showing up to events. He acted secretive and weird."

Megan: "These movie directors don't get it. No woman would pick Tobey Maguire. It's James Franco! I don't care if he's the prince of darkness."

Me: [lol]

Megan: "I'd switch to the dark side for him."

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

hot dogs, bikes, and hotness

I'm back home in Mountain View. A few more memories from Chile:

Completo, which is the Chilean version of a hot dog.

Embarking on a bicycle tour of Santiago.

View from the top of San Cristobal hill, in the middle of the city.

My tour guide took me to a local establishment called "cafe con pierna", which means "coffee with legs". You go there to drink coffee, while pretty waitresses in bikinis flirt with you.

There is no dancing. You go to drink coffee and confide your troubles to an attractive woman who will listen intently to you.

Inside of the cafe. (I asked permission to take photos.)

On the way back, I stopped in Miami. My friend Lily came out to join me. On Saturday night, we ran into James Franco! He was standing outside the entrance for a party.

This is now a good opportunity to show some photos of James Franco.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009


Today is my last day in Chile, before returning to the US. As described in an earlier post, I came to Chile as a last-minute substitute after my Antarctica tour suffered a boat engine failure. Chile has turned out to be great!

I'm staying with a friend's cousin. He runs a shop in Santiago selling Taiwanese gift items. It's a refreshing novelty talking to an entrepeneur who owns a physical shop with tangible goods.

Speaking Mandarin for many days has also been nice.

Daily special in the Santiago fruit market. This only cost two US dollars.

One thing I've found disappointing is the restaurant service in South America. The waitstaff don't bring the bill until you ask. Even after you flag them down, it takes half an hour to complete the process of getting the bill, collecting your money, and bringing change. The average restaurant service here is on par with the worst service I've ever received in the US.

Impressive sand castle on the beach, at Viña del Mar.

This Chilean drink is called terremoto, which means "earthquake". It's a slightly sour alcohol, mixed with pineapple ice cream.

The inside of the main cathedral.

I went on three tours with the Santiago tour company La Bicicleta Verde (more photos later). My tour guide Glenn is one of the co-founders of the company. They started the company with eight bikes at the start of 2008, and have grown to 40 bikes within two years.

I was fascinated with his business tale. I spent a good part of the tour asking him questions about how he handled marketing and bootstrapping.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

imagine a 24-year secret relationship

Recently my Taiwanese friend told me that Andy Lau has gotten married.

Andy Lau is the biggest movie star / pop singer in Asia. He is 48. He is the equivalent of Brad Pitt combined with Justin Timberlake. Millions of women have crushes on him. I had a crush on him.

Teen girls vowed to commit suicide if he ever married. So, he promised his fans that he would never marry. He lived up to this by never appearing with a woman. Throughout all the decades of singing love ballads, he was never spotted with a woman by all the paparazzi dogging him, until last year.

In 2008, he was finally photographed with a Malaysian woman Carol Chu. She turns out to have been his girlfriend for 24 years.

They registered to get married in Las Vegas last year. The reason was to go for artificial insemination, which is only legal for married couples in Hong Kong. She is 43, and is now pregnant.

I wonder what it is like for them, having a secret relationship for 24 years. He's followed constantly by fans and paparazzi, so they must have practiced extreme secrecy to dodge publicity. Interviewers would ask whether he had a girlfriend, whether he was gay, whether he has secretly gotten married. He would always say that he is unattached. I wonder if she minded watching that.

Recently he took her to a movie in public for the first time. He rented out the theatre. There were a bunch of tabloid articles about it. This must mean that in these 24 years, they have not gone to a restaurant together. They don't go to parties. They don't go to the grocery store together. They don't go outside in the yard or balcony of their house.

This may be the only relationship she's had, since they started dating when she was 19. Imagine living your entire adult life in this way.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sep 11 text messages

Some of these alleged leaked September 11 text messages are chilling:

"I know you have a new relationship and do not care about me. But just in case anything happens know I love you hon. Missed Ya good bye."

"I want to hold you now."

"if i do not hear from you by high noon, i am going to pick laura up at school and tell her her father is dead."

"Honey wanted to tell you how much i love you. I was a little worried. I Don't want to lose you now that I got you back. You mean everything to me. You have my whole heart and life. I love you so much."

Buenos Aires

I've been in Buenos Aires for the past few days, with my dad. A few photos:

Mechanical flower statue. The flower sometimes opens. It's unclear what criteria causes it to open: solar power?

I felt a strong desire to sit in the park with my laptop, watching for the flower to open. It is like the Deer Hunter game where the user sits for many minutes waiting for a deer to appear. Top-selling PC game in 1999!

There are a lot of beef dishes in Argentina. This was a particularly good one.

Bought an empanada on the street during the Sunday fair. I chose pumpkin, corn, and cheese stuffing. Turns out it doesn't taste very good to have a starchy dough stuffed with numerous other starches.

My dad and I went to watch a soccer game. This is a photo from an hour prior to the match. 90% of the seats were filled during the actual match.

There were at least 100 policemen outside. We saw several streets where a dozen policemen stood in a line next to one another, each holding a heavy glass shield. There were policemen on horses, policemen in cars, policemen in armored vehicles. All this for a regular Sunday soccer match between two local leagues!

"Why do they have horses?" I said.

"To chase you if you cause trouble," said my dad.

"But why horses, when they already have cars and armored vehicles?"

"To chase you using every available method."

We passed mobs of fans wearing the local team's colors: yellow and dark blue. Fortunately I happened to be wearing a dark blue Google shirt. My dad lamented that China will never get into the World Cup again. "Look at these fans," he said. "China has to get this serious to stand a chance! It's not going to happen."

During the game, everyone around us stood for the entire match, singing songs in unison for three hours.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

agreement on thankfulness

Talking to my dad over breakfast.

Me: 爸,你感谢什么? [Dad, what are you thankful for?]

Dad: 什么感谢?对谁感谢? 感谢神? [What? Thankful to whom? God?]

Me: 今天美国过感恩节。 有个传统是讨论一下你感谢什么。 [It's Thanksgiving in the US today. A normal tradition is to discuss what you're thankful for.]

Dad: 我感谢苏明给我生了一个女儿和一个儿子。 否则一辈子光倒霉了。 这件事太重要了。 [I'm thankful to your mom for giving me a daughter and a son. Otherwise my life would just be full of unlucky events. This item was extremely important.]

Me: 哦,对我也很重要。 [It was very important to me too.]

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

gladwell parody

I'm amused by this Vanity Fair parody of Malcolm Gladwell:

Why baby Jesus? Research confirms there were upwards of 157 hotel-cum-stables in Bethlehem that night, with estimated 97 percent occupancy levels. So why did that star shine so brightly over his?


The results—codified and analyzed on a specially devised and integrated grid system known as blsht—were astonishing. All 323 volunteers experienced a quiet night in. In other words, they waited up all night, but no one—specifically, 0.0000 percent of a total world population of 6,783,940,189 human beings—bothered to come by.

So what does this blsht metric tell you about your appeal, compared with the appeal of the baby Jesus?

It tells you this: he was special.

And—here’s another thing—you are not.

I am gratified at the upwelling of backlash against Gladwell. For a long time, I've objected to the way that he uses jargon to sound authoritative and convince the masses that his ideas are scientifically accurate when they are not. He has been spreading misinformation on matters that I value, such as discrimination against minorities, and sexism.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Me: "What's a good gift for a guy, around $100? I've never met him -- it's my friend's cousin."

LG: "I'm probably the wrong person to ask."

Me: "Why, what would you suggest?"

LG: "A github membership."

Me: "You're right. You were the wrong person to ask."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

slashdot taking a lesson from Fox News

It irks me to see clearly biased journalism presented as fair articles. Take a look at this slashdot article:

Headline: "Bing Gains 10% Marketshare"

Wow, you might think, Bing gained a delta of 10% market share? That's quite a lot!

The article reveals that Bing gained market share for a final total of 10%. That is very misleading. If I say "Tom gains 150 pounds", what would you intrepret that to mean? By this usage, it would mean he gained a few pounds to reach a total of 150.

Here's another example from the slashdot blurb:

That's a gain of two large points in five months.

Oh, these are "large" percentage points? That must be a lot more impressive than two "small" percentage points. What about the five months -- are they large or small?


Friday, November 20, 2009

sha-mayn visit

Sha-mayn was in town last week, visiting from Beijing. I hesitate to write this, because at least one of you will email her, "Why didn't you tell me you were in the Bay Area?"

Anyway, we had dinner at Calafia, the restaurant of chef Charlie from Google. The salmon was very good.

Afterwards we talked at my house for a couple hours. I played with bubble wrap from a package Sha-mayn received. It was even better than the iPhone bubble-wrap application.

Talking to Sha-mayn in person was like eating at Fuki Sushi after a long break. I was struck by how awesome it was.

Sha-mayn was much more cheerful than the current Bay Area vibe. She's naturally positive in general, but I wonder if also Beijing is more optimistic than California right now. Ever since the market crash a year ago, the entire SF area has shifted from Tigger toward Eeyore. I wonder if this is on par with the rest of the US, or if the Bay Area has been hit especially hard with people stressing about personal finances, raising their next round of funding, etc.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

self poking

Tonight Lily, Charles, and I cooked.

Afterwards Charles was washing dishes in the kitchen, while Lily and I were in the living room.

Charles: "These forks are sharp!"

[small delay]

Lily: "Did you poke yourself?"

Me: [puzzled for a few seconds] "Oh, I thought you meant on Facebook. I was going to say, I didn't know that was possible."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

ice & errors

My Antarctica tour is canceled. The boat engine crankshaft broke. I received an email notifying me of this on Monday. I was supposed to fly down to Argentina next week, and make my way down to the southernmost tip to board the boat at the end of the month.

I should be singing "I'm on a boat" Antarctica-style in a couple weeks! Instead now I am scrambling to figure out alternate travel arrangements in South America.

Right now, it looks like I will be spending a week in Buenos Aires with my dad, and then a week in Santiago, Chile.

I am changing the plane tickets right now. The change fee is $200, which causes me stress. I want to make sure to research flight prices thoroughly. If I make a mistake and need to call in again, I would have to pay another change fee.

My dad likes to say that my brother and I are suited for a job where mistakes can be tolerated, like computer science. If your program doesn't compile the first time, fix the error and try again. In fact, it's rare to have a non-trivial program run perfectly the first time.

Most things in computer software are fault-tolerant. Accidentally push out bad code to your web server? Just roll it back. Faulty client code can be auto-updated (provided you did not hose the auto-updater).

An example of a job that Tom and I would do poorly at, according to my dad, would be performing arts, where it is important to deliver an impeccable performance on stage. Another example is being an athlete.

Recently I learned that being a lawyer would fall into the same category! Lawyers have deadlines by which they must file certain motions. If they miss the deadline, their client could lose the case by default. Also, if your case goes to trial, you cannot undo mistakes at the trial. If the trial ends and you discover another precedent you could've cited, it's too late.

I never appreciated how difficult it is to be a lawyer! Also there is so much guilt, if your client loses the case and goes to jail, but you believed them to be innocent. It is a tough profession.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Halloween photos

On Halloween, after attending a wedding, I went to a pub crawl for an hour. It was in the Mission district of San Francisco.

I saw this couple across the room. He's wearing a penguin hat. She's wearing an insect hat. I walked across the pub to ask if their costume is "linux bug". They confirmed that it is.

This girl came as Mike Tyson. We all agreed this was a well-executed costume.

This guy had 16 remote controls strapped to him. His costume is "control freak".

Omar as a box of wine. He wore a five-pound bag inside the box, and hooked it up to a spigot. You could actualy serve yourself wine from his costume. The pub wasn't too thrilled about him doing this.

C3 and I also visited my friend Kevin Fox's haunted house in Sunnyvale. It was stunning.

Mad scientist room. There is a robotic laughing-scientist, as well as a live actor. Guess which one is which.

The "biohazard" hallway, with a live actor halfway down.

Pirate room. There was appropriate pirate music.

Spider lair.

I was awed that Kevin, his wife Rachel, and their neighbors were able to construct a professional-quality haunted house in their spare time. In this world of commercialism, it's inspiring to see people create art just for the enjoyment of making it.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Halloween! With Tom

My brother is in town for two days, visiting me and his college friends.

I picked him up from SFO in costume, and we had breakfast at Cafe Borrone.

Tom: "What time is the wedding?"

Me: "I need to leave in an hour."

Tom: "Where are you going to change?"

Me: "I brought a dress, but now I'm thinking of just going in costume. This isn't a scary costume."

Tom: "It's not a costume wedding though."

Me: "It probably won't matter that much."

Tom: "No! Don't go in costume. How would you like it if some yahoo came to your wedding in a costume?"

Me: "Oh, that'd be awesome."

Tom: [at the same time] "Yes, okay, you would. But don't do it!"


I listened to Tom, and changed beforehand. I was very grateful for this, when I arrived at the wedding. There were eight bridesmaids and eight groomsmen. All the attendees were in very formal wedding attire.

Friday, October 30, 2009

giving an online talk about interviewing

My friend Lily is Director of Marketing at eduFire, an online video-learning web site.

Next Tuesday at 2pm PST, I'm giving an eduFire talk How to Rock Your Next Engineering Interview. Sign up, or pass onto any friends who may be interviewing for a job!

Here is the syllabus:

* Interview format
* The mindset
* Discussing past experience
* Coding questions
* Brainstorming questions
* Brainteasers
* Asking the interviewer about the company
* Following up
* Dress code, preparations

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

my brother is visiting

Yesterday morning, I got an email out of the blue from Southwest Airlines. It was an itinerary for my brother Tom to come to San Francisco for the weekend. I haven't seen him since two months ago, when he moved to Irvine to work for Blizzard.

niniane: YAY!!!!!!
niniane: OH MY GOD I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!
Tom: haha yes, i'm visiting this weekend =)
niniane: oh, i was excited because Amazon EC2 dropped their prices.
niniane: Are you coming to visit?
Tom: haha what is ec2?
niniane: just kidding, i am excited!

Moments later, we were discussing our plans for the weekend.

niniane: i am at a wedding on saturday from 4pm to 9pm+
Tom: oh okay then i will hang out with someone else during that time
Tom: is it a halloween wedding?
niniane: sadly no
niniane: it is a travesty to hold a wedding on halloween but not have it be a costume wedding
niniane: wtf!
Tom: yes 'wtf' is right
Tom: when they ask if anyone has any objections .. you know what to do
niniane: lol lol lol

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


Barnes & Noble announced the Nook eBook reader.

I am curious about the touchscreen. I bought a Kindle last month, and still sometimes find myself jabbing its screen instead of pushing the buttons on the side.

Being able to lend a virtual book to your friend for 14 days is pretty cool. I would lend and borrow books more frequently, if there wasn't the concern about forgetting to return them. One of my friends actually keeps a library system for her books, with a card she sticks into the book cover.

The B&N advertising claims "over a million titles" whereas Amazon says 350,000. I wonder how B&N can have more titles. Perhaps through the Google Books project?

I've really enjoyed having a Kindle. I carry it in my purse. It is convenient to have a dozen books on hand to read, depending on my mood.

Another unforeseen benefit has been the ability to highlight sections and add notes, and have those saved into a single file.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Eating Contest 2

From the second eating contest, Taco Bell challenge:

I beat my previous time of 2 minutes 32 seconds. This time I ate two soft tacos in 2 minutes 8 seconds.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Yesterday I had dinner with C3 (my college friend), and two of his friends from high school.

Today, over IM:

C3: It turns out that before yesterday, Bob had thought you were two separate people, 'eggplant' [my college username for the computer cluster] and a guy named 'Gideon' who I initially met in high school. This is what happens when I don't enunciate 'Niniane' precisely enough.

I am trying to imagine the conversation wherein Bob discovers that this guy Gideon is actually me.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Ithaca, NY

Last week I visited my friends Melba and Hod at Cornell University. Ithaca is so beautiful!

People told me how pretty the gorges are, but I thought they were in state parks, cordoned off from the rest of the town. Instead, we walked over a number of gorges from Melba & Hod's house to Cornell campus.

The architecture of the campus is pretty too.

This is on the Cornell campus!

A requirement for graduation is to pass a swim test. My young friend Josh said this is to safeguard students who like to gorge-dive. But later I learned that MIT also has the swim requirement, and they have no gorges.

Treman State Park. This reminds me of "Lord of the Rings" when Frodo hides from the Nazgul.

Apparently one of the drawbacks of Ithaca is that the winter lasts for a long time. Otherwise it would be too perfect.

Melba and her large poodle.

We walked the dogs every day. It was my first time walking a dog. At first, it was hard to know how much leeway to give on the leash. I didn't want to yank the dog around, but I also needed to keep it out of traffic. After I figured out the right balance, I found dog-walking to be surprisingly fulfilling.

Me with Melba's little dog. It was very quiet, and also liked having its belly rubbed. It was warm, and liked to cuddle, and didn't wiggle around very much. If I were designing a dog, I would create the same features.