Tuesday, April 27, 2010

lol laguna beach

"That summer, my friends and I went through our 'Laguna Beach' phase."

"You went to the beach every day and picked up women?"

"No, what I meant is that we watched the show 'Laguna Beach'."

Monday, April 26, 2010

pragmatic dad

Two days ago, talking to my dad on the phone.

Dad: "Your brother keeps flying out of town on weekends. He went to Chicago recently."

Me: "他对 Irvine 还不熟, 没什么事做。 比较孤独。" (He's still new to Irvine, and doesn't have a lot to do there. It gets lonely.)

Dad: "孤独才好看书!" (But lonely times are the best times for studying!)

Me: [laughing]

Dad: "All of my useful knowledge was information I studied during lonely times."

Friday, April 23, 2010

Happy birthday to the best little brother

My brother is 23 years old today!

A montage of previous birthdays and occasions:




As a birthday gift, I enrolled him in a six-month "Gourmet Food of the Month" club. The first shipment arrived on Tuesday: two bottles of premium vinaigrette dressing.

A new friend laughed at my gift choice. "This is clearly the gift YOU want," he said, "not what a 23-year-old guy wants. This would be like if he got you an xbox fighting game for your birthday. He would be saying to his friends, 'She'll like it, right? It's a really good fighting game.'"

This planted a seed of doubt in my mind. But Tom sounded really excited about his vinaigrette, and said I was the best sister and gift-giver ever, so hopefully it's not too bad.

Next year I'll give him an xbox fighting game.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

easiest way to get a piglet?

(Thanks to Melinda Owens for forwarding.)

Original article.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Talking to my friend Melody about guys, over sushi.

Melody: "Sam [her boyfriend from years ago] used to bring up his ex-girlfriends all the time. He would go on and on about how they were so beautiful. It really made me jealous."

Me: "Your name is the one that he tattooed onto his body, so I think you had nothing to worry about."

Melody: "That's probably why the girl he dated after me hated me so much."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

previous years went to "The Matrix" and "Crash"

Coffee with CM.

Me: "I want to see this J. Lo movie, 'The Backup Plan'."

CM: "Is that the one with Steve Carrell?"

Me: "No, that's 'Date Night'. By the way, The Backup Plan is not about backing up your data."

CM: "I would be stunned if it were. Can you imagine? [in theatrical voice] 'And the Academy Award... for Best Software Advice ... goes to The Backup Plan!"

Me: [laughing]

CM: "'... for ushering in a new age of software data protection.'"

Saturday, April 10, 2010

i can sing (proof)

After my three singing lessons, I can now sing. It's still not GOOD, but at least people won't listen to me finish a song and ask, "What song were you trying to sing exactly?"

I'd say my singing was previously a F, and now a C-. That's a lot of improvement!

For all those who said "mp3 or it didn't happen":

Thursday, April 08, 2010

because that's what the engineer Barbie would've done

I am amused by this Wall Street Journal article (sent to me by JKL) about the recent computer-engineer Barbie:

Barbie's maker, Mattel Inc., thought it would be interesting to ask young girls who visited the Barbie.com Web site to vote on what the doll's next career should be. Mattel gave them a choice of architect, anchorwoman, computer engineer, environmentalist and surgeon. All told, more than 600,000 votes were cast during a four-week period this past winter.

The voting was open to anyone, and nobody could vote more than once. But by the end of the first week, a growing flood of adult votes for computer engineer Barbie trumped the popular choice. Female computer engineers who learned about the election launched a viral campaign on the Internet to get out the vote and ensure Barbie would join their ranks.

How did they ensure that nobody could vote more than once? Only allowing one vote per IP address? Requiring registration using an email address, with a confirmation check?

I sincerely hope that the result was not due to a grass roots campaign by female computer engineers across the country. I hope that it was due to a single female computer engineer writing a script to vote 300,000 times, using tor to route the votes to come from different IP origins, and automatically submitting the registration form using throwaway mailinator accounts.

the odds are still promising

Last weekend, while eating noodles with my brother.

Tom: "Mom wants to set me up with the 19-year-old daughter of her friend Mai. But that girl lives two hours from me! I said I'm not interested because it's too far."

Me: "Mai's daughter... Wait, is it Sabrina?"

Tom: "Yes."

Me: "Oh my God, Sabrina is sooo cute!"

Tom: [looking regretful] "Really?"

Me: "At least she was at four years old, when I last saw her."

Tom: [very exasperated expression]

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

2012 (spoilers!)

Two nights ago, I watched the movie "2012". I was excited about seeing the special effects, and the epic storyline.


Instead it was the most disappointing movie I've ever seen.

Not because the effects were bad -- quite the contrary! The tidal waves, earthquakes, and fires all looked completely realistic. It was because the movie introduces you to personable characters that you slowly develop an affinity for, and after you genuinely like them, it kills them off one by one. Each is killed in a more gruesome way than the last.

I really liked the Russian pilot Sasha. He bravely lets everyone exit the plane before him, and is narrowly saved from falling ... before dying in a fire.

Then the Russian girl with the little dog. I like how she gets more confident as the movie goes on! She gets trapped in a watery compartment, but it looks as though she'll get rescued just in the nick of time... except she doesn't and drowns.

The sweet Indian scientist we met at the start of the film embraces his incredibly pretty wife and kisses his son... just before they are all killed in a tidal wave.

The stepfather starts off seeming like a jealous douche, but gradually we see that he's actually a good man struggling with being a stepparent to two young kids... But not any more, after he's crushed in giant gears.

What the hell!

You know how some people watch movies as escapism from their lives? After seeing this movie, you'll want to escape back to your life.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Tom predicts I would reach for a hamburger, and he would lunge for a video game

Just now I was reading email, while my brother is cleaning his kitchen. I advertently moused over Omst in my contact list, and his profile photo came up.

Me: "Oh no! Omst's photo is of his one-year-old nephew drinking a beer!"

Tom: "Maybe it's a picture of Omst at one year old." [Omst is a huge lush and drinks wine like water.]

Me: "That would be fitting, but I know it's his nephew. Omst is a bad influence!"

Tom: [nodding]

Me: "By the way, do you know the Chinese tradition for determining what a baby will grow up to be? When the baby turns a year old, you put him on a mat, and lay out four things in front of him: a coin, a calligraphy brush, a silk scarf, and an ink seal. If the baby goes for the coin, he'll be a businessman. If he reaches for the brush, he'll be an academic. The scarf means he'll score with the ladies. The ink seal means he'll be a politican."

Tom: "Which one means he'll grow up to be a software engineer?"

Saturday, April 03, 2010

high-pressure job

Reading this story (from the book "Source of Power: How People Make Decisions) makes me glad that I'm not a doctor, and gives me newfound respect for doctors.

Norman Berlinger (1996), a physician, describes a case in which a fetus was diagnosed as having a large cystic hygroma, a tangled mass of lymph vessels, on the side of his neck. The sonogram suggested that the hygroma had grown inside the neck, wrapping around the trachea. If that were indeed the case, without emergency treatment the infant would die shortly after delivery because his air passage was blocked. As long as the fetus was in the uterus, receiving oxygen from the umbilical cord, he was safe. A cesarean section was scheduled for the following day.

During the delivery, Berlinger was going to determine if the baby was able to breathe on his own. If he could not, Berlinger's strategy was to intubate the infant, guiding a slender tube down his throat to clear a breathing passage. But that might be impossible if the hygroma had grown so large as to obscure the opening of the windpipe. In that case, it might be necessary to do a tracheostomy—piercing the trachea and inserting the breathing tube into it. That would also be difficult. A tracheostomy is easy with an adult, but an infant's trachea is less than a quarter-inch wide, and soft and spongy. It is difficult to find. And other complications were likely. The incision would probably cut into the hygroma, possibly leading to infection of the lymphatic cysts and serious problems with abscesses in his chest. Moreover, the tracheostomy would have to be done under crisis conditions. It would be a last resort.

Upon delivery the infant gave a cry, suggesting a clear breathing passage. But then the passage sealed up. The infant could not even grunt. One of the nurses suctioned the infant's mouth and nose and placed him in front of Berlinger. Berlinger remembered an earlier situation, when he had been called in to operate on a young man who had run his snowmobile into a strand of barbed wire strung above the ground to discourage trespassers. The wire had jumbled the victim's neck tissue into sausage-like chunks. On that occasion, when Berlinger arrived, he found that the emergency technician had already inserted a breathing tube, and Berlinger had wondered how this was done. The technician later explained that he stuck the tube where he saw bubbles. Bubbles meant air coming out.

So in the delivery room, Berlinger looked into the mouth of the infant for bubbles. All he saw was a mass of yellow cysts, completely obscuring the air passage. No bubbles. Berlinger placed his palm on the infant's chest and pressed down, to force the last bit of air out of the infant's lungs. Berlinger saw a few tiny bubbles of saliva between some of the cysts and maneuvered the tube into that area. The laryngoscope has a miniature light on its tip, and Berlinger was able to guide it past the vocal cords, into the trachea. The infant quickly changed color from blue to a reassuring pink. The procedure had worked.

I can only imagine being handed a tiny infant who is dying from suffocation, and having to figure out how to insert a breathing tube into a quarter-inch area.

James Franco's short story

James Franco wrote a short story that was published in Esquire magazine.

Many blogs (and a few of my friends) claimed that it was terrible. They had criticisms such as "Reading this story killed my crush on James Franco" and "This proves that if you are good-looking and successful in Hollywood, everyone will say yes to you no matter how bad you are at writing." I was afraid to read it, in case it was as awful as claimed. I do not want my attraction to James Franco to be killed.

Finally I read it, and it's pretty good! I like it. The characters are vivid. The dialogue about the power struggle between men vs women, especially pertaining to sex, was powerful. The story is good at conveying a malaise. There is a pervasive sense that the routine of existence is pointless and you feel compelled to do crazy things just to feel alive.

I like this line:

this spot is as good as any to just sit in the shadows and let life slow

Friday, April 02, 2010

best little brother

I have the best brother in the world!

Tonight we walked to the nearby mall and had sushi.

We have to eat out, because this is what his fridge looks like:

Afterwards we went to the gym for an hour. Tom lives in a "planned community" apartment complex, which is common in Irvine.

His complex has a gym, Starbucks, grocery store, and pool. My parents rated it 10 out of 10, and rated my townhouse a 5 out of 10.

Irvine and LA

I'm in Irvine and LA for a few days.

I drove down last night from the Bay Area with my college friend C3. We debated where to stop for dinner, and decided on a Caltech tradition: the "reverse time Tommy's run". I'd never actually done this before.

Legend is that Tommy's chili burger is so bad that it sends you back in time. I envisioned Tommy's as a sit-down restaurant, but apparently it's a fast-food burger joint. A corollary to the tradition is to perform the Tommy's run during daylight savings time switchover, so that you actually return before the time you departed.

I'm glad I experienced the tradition, but the food was lackluster.


Now I'm in my brother's apartment. Last night he told me cute stories of his artist friends being perfectionist. He'll ask them to whip up some placeholder art. They'll come back with it, saying, "This is so embarrassing. I only had an hour to spend on it. Don't show this to ANYONE!" Then they give it to him, and it's an amazing masterpiece.


Starting Sunday, I'm spending a couple days in downtown Los Angeles, to visit a friend. I'm staying at a hotel with an art deco pool:

My friend is picking me up from my brother's apartment and driving us to LA. LA parking is ridiculous. The hotel room only cost me $55 per night (via priceline), but parking costs $40 daily. I refuse to capitulate to this.

I hope my room has a good television for watching movies. I really want to watch movies in the room.