Monday, October 31, 2011

it's not easy being green

Seriously, it wasn't easy. It took 20 minutes to apply the green to my face.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Steve Jobs & love

I am so touched by this eulogy for Steve Jobs by his sister Mona:
Steve was like a girl in the amount of time he spent talking about love. Love was his supreme virtue, his god of gods. He tracked and worried about the romantic lives of the people working with him.

Whenever he saw a man he thought a woman might find dashing, he called out, “Hey are you single? Do you wanna come to dinner with my sister?”

I remember when he phoned the day he met Laurene. “There’s this beautiful woman and she’s really smart and she has this dog and I’m going to marry her.”

When Reed was born, he began gushing and never stopped. He was a physical dad, with each of his children. He fretted over Lisa’s boyfriends and Erin’s travel and skirt lengths and Eve’s safety around the horses she adored.

None of us who attended Reed’s graduation party will ever forget the scene of Reed and Steve slow dancing.

His abiding love for Laurene sustained him. He believed that love happened all the time, everywhere. In that most important way, Steve was never ironic, never cynical, never pessimistic. I try to learn from that, still.

Steve had been successful at a young age, and he felt that had isolated him. Most of the choices he made from the time I knew him were designed to dissolve the walls around him. A middle-class boy from Los Altos, he fell in love with a middle-class girl from New Jersey. It was important to both of them to raise Lisa, Reed, Erin and Eve as grounded, normal children. Their house didn’t intimidate with art or polish; in fact, for many of the first years I knew Steve and Lo together, dinner was served on the grass, and sometimes consisted of just one vegetable. Lots of that one vegetable. But one. Broccoli. In season. Simply prepared. With the just the right, recently snipped, herb.

Even as a young millionaire, Steve always picked me up at the airport. He’d be standing there in his jeans.

When a family member called him at work, his secretary Linetta answered, “Your dad’s in a meeting. Would you like me to interrupt him?”

Tuesday morning, he called me to ask me to hurry up to Palo Alto. His tone was affectionate, dear, loving, but like someone whose luggage was already strapped onto the vehicle, who was already on the beginning of his journey, even as he was sorry, truly deeply sorry, to be leaving us.

He started his farewell and I stopped him. I said, “Wait. I’m coming. I’m in a taxi to the airport. I’ll be there.”

“I’m telling you now because I’m afraid you won’t make it on time, honey.”

When I arrived, he and his Laurene were joking together like partners who’d lived and worked together every day of their lives. He looked into his children’s eyes as if he couldn’t unlock his gaze.

Until about 2 in the afternoon, his wife could rouse him, to talk to his friends from Apple.

Friday, October 28, 2011

90 minutes?!

On phone with my brother.

Me: "Tom, I have a dream.  I want you to support me.  Don't make fun."

Tom: "Okay, what is it?"

Me: "I want to learn to play soccer, and play on a recreational league in nine months.  I want to be an actual contributing member, and not just there so they can meet their co-ed status."

Tom: "Great!  Let's do cardio together when you visit.  You'll need to train enough to run 90 minutes."

Me: "I don't need to be put into the field for the whole game, just part of the game."

Tom: "The team only gets two substitutions.  9 people will be out on the field for the whole 90 minutes."

Me: "Oh really?  That's a lot!"

Tom: "You didn't know???  Why didn't you look this up before setting the goal?  Next you're going to say, 'Wait, there's a ball?  I didn't know I have to kick a ball around.  But I want you to support my dream of playing on a league.'"

Me: "How many balls are there on the field at a given time?"

Tom: "What!"

Me: "But seriously, 90 minutes is a lot.  Okay, but I'm still going to aim for it.  It's just scary."

Thursday, October 27, 2011


Today I told Lillers that I posted a "wanted" ad seeking someone to teach me soccer.  I am a noob at soccer, and I want to find someone to teach me, until I am good enough to play in a recreational league.

Lillers said, "How did you pick soccer?"

"I asked the personal trainer [whose service I bought for 2 hours from groupon] for any sport that I could actually become good at."

Lillers said, "That's so sad." but she said it in a loving way.

No one answered the ad for five hours, and I got depressed about it.  I figured it was a foolish idea, and I've missed the boat by not having been on a sports team as a child. 

But just now, one person has answered the ad, and I am immediately filled to the brim with excitement!  I am imagining a movie montage where I learn feints and run down the field kicking the ball.

It is my great hope that I could actually become good at a sport.  Not just be allowed to play because it's a co-ed team and they need women.  Or permitted to play for 5 minutes when the gap between scores is so great that I couldn't affect the game.  But actually to be a valid contributing member of a sports team, where people are glad that I showed up because it increases our chances of winning.

This is scary because it feels like too much to hope for.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

ok, i will drink more tea

Today, my cousin and I were talking about our relative who was recently diagnosed with an early-stage cancer.

Me: "Is he okay?"

Cousin: "Yes, it's very early-stage.  They removed the cancerous growth cleanly."

Me: "What type of cancer is it?"

Cousin: [chinese words]

Me: "I don't know what that is.  What is it in English?"

Cousin: "I don't know."

Me: "What is the function of that body part?"  (thinking that if it's breathing, that's lungs.  If it's processing food, that's stomach.  If it's processing alcohol and toxins, that's liver.)

Cousin: "Uh....  [looks away at the wall]"

Me: "Oh, I get it now."  (It was prostate cancer.)

We talked about how two of my grandparents passed away from cancer, so there is a medical history of it.  My cousin said we should all "watch for it" and prevent it.  How can you prevent it?  He said we ought to be happy, reduce stress, eat healthily, and drink tea.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Minted at Caltech Career Fair on Wednesday

I'm recruiting at Caltech Career Fair tomorrow, hiring software engineers for Minted!
  Caltech campus (pictured are the "swirling blades of death" in Millikan Library pond)

A previous Caltech career fair.

  A collage of Minted office photos.

If you are a graduating Caltech computer science student, please come by the Minted booth! Or if you know someone who is, send them over to me at the Minted booth!

Thursday, October 13, 2011


I signed up to take a class called "One Great Cake".

In my imagination, the perfect cake looks like this:

Anyway, I was telling an acquaintance that if the cake looks too amazing, people won't believe that I really made it.

"I'll have to put some kind of special item in the center of the cake," I said, "You would only find it after cutting into the cake. A pistachio or even a little metal bolt.  Only the cake maker would know what's at the middle of the cake, so I can prove that I made it."

He said, "Or you can just take photos of yourself making it."

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

to boldly go

Tonight I ran into a Googler at South Park Cafe.  We used to sit near each other in 2003, when I worked in building 42 on Desktop.  I haven't seen him in years.  He is responsible for Google's university grants program, and he gave me an update.  When conversing, I caught myself saying "we" to refer to Google.  It has been a long time since I was there!  But some habits stick with you.

Yesterday I wrote about the idealism embodied in Star Trek: The Next Generation.  I appreciate how they strive to focus on the brighter parts of the human experience.

I think the best part of my Google experience was the idealism.  Everyone tried to do good for the world.  I remember learning for the first time that Google was scanning the Library of Congress books, to prevent a repeat of the Great Fire of Alexandria.  It was very ennobling.

People were always concerned about not doing evil.  AlipĂ© once summarized the Friday TGIF questions posed to the founders as "Are we being evil in this new obscure way?"  I laughed but I thought it was a very nice attribute.

Minted is idealistic too.  We want to enable these indie graphic designers all the world who are talented but lack the right channels.  We want to bring beautiful designs to people during the emotionally significant occasions in their lives.

Sometimes I feel besieged with people telling me that idealism is naive.  They say ST: TNG is unrealistically perky, that all companies are deep down greedy, and that integrity and charity are always just a veneer.  But that is an awfully difficult way to live!  I choose to believe in idealism.

And to watch Picard.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


I'm watching Star Trek: The Next Generation, on netflix streaming.  

It is an idealistic show.  The mission of the crew is to explore the universe, doing charitable missions.  I feel like modern shows center around much less noble themes, like scheming housewives, or voting off one group member per week, or competing to eat the most disgusting items.

The sets are impeccably clean, with bright lighting.  Patrick Stewart is trained as a classical Shakespearean actor.

Which modern show is closest to these idealistic tones?