Friday, August 29, 2014


I'm staying in a weekend house with a library, something I have always wanted!  

I am sitting in the armchair with my kindle.

I am here with my friends who work at Screenhero.  The host drew the logo on the blackboard in the entryway! 

The little touches like drawing the logo (the square infinity symbol) are so charming.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Whew, keys handed over

My clean-up is complete and keys handed over and new tenants are happily ensconced in my Mountain View townhouse!  Or at least stressfully ensconced, since they now need to move all their furniture tomorrow.

Last week I got quite stressed over selling furniture.  My online personal trainer Donny told me about his experience in Florida.
   1. He posted his furniture on craigslist and only got flaky responses.
   2. Then he tried to donate it to charity, but was declined because they only want beach-y furniture.
   3. Finally he just put all the furniture out on the curb, and walked away thinking, "It's the city's problem now."

So I was worried.  But it all ended up well!  I sold most of my furniture to college friend C3.  He just moved back to the Bay Area and is now working on improving genetic analysis tools.

View from my doorway of C3 and friend moving furniture.

Today, I saw the UPS truck and gave my Comcast return box to the driver.  He asked if I'm moving out.  He said wistfully that it's been a long time (10 years) and he's delivered quite a number of packages to me, and that it's too bad I'm leaving.

I was stunned.  I had no idea that my UPS delivery person even remembers or cares who lives in my home.  It gave me a really happy warm feeling inside, like I'm really part of a community.  I told him that I'm not selling the place, just renting the place out for a while, and he said, "Ah!" in a cheered-up way.

Now that's one more reason to go live there again one day.  Because the UPS guy is nice.  Ha!

While clearing out my belongings, I found a journal from when I was 21 years old. 

21-year-old me had just gotten a work project cancelled at Microsoft and was unhappy.  I also felt isolated at the time because my coworkers loved baseball and go-karts and hated comedy sitcoms and Chinese food, so I had to work hard to find a common bond.  

The first paragraph of my journal read: "I feel old.  I feel like I used my time unwisely."

Ah, poor 21-year-old me!  I wish I could hug that nut-ball.  

Also found an old photo album, with this photo of me and little brother Tom:

Poor 6-month-old Tom!  I wish I could hug that little nut-ball too.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


I find it strange that when people win an award or get an amazing job, they say that they are "humbled". This makes no sense to me.

Satya Nadella was "humbled" to be chosen as Microsoft CEO. The Oscar winners are "humbled" in their acceptance speeches. Why would you be humbled during the biggest success of your career? That's the one time you should be feeling *least* humble!

Earlier today:

niniane: i screwed up tonight and accidentally stood up friends. Humbled. (This is the proper use of "humbled")

omst: would someone who was humbled also sidenote that they were using the word correctly?
omst: food for thought
omst: humbled-brag

niniane: lol humbled-brag!

Gentle reader, next time you win something, please don't reiterate some bogus hypocrisy about being humbled. I want to hear you say, "Yes. This has been a long time coming, bitches. I deserve this. You all should be humbled in my presence."

I actually quite like how Charlie Sheen does this, with his #winning and his "giving everyone another faceload of planet jealous".

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Solo camping

I went on my solo two-day camping trip last weekend.  It was so great.

My pack was only 22.2 pounds even with a 4-pound tent and a 1-pound stove.  It must have been light because I brought very little water.  My campsite had a water spout, though the water needed to be purified before drinking.

That pink tube on top is the pepper spray.  I'm glad I had it.  I also brought a flashlight, which I never used.

I used my survival school skills to make the wool blanket into a pack.  This saves several pounds from not having a separate pack.

Selfie just before I set off with my blanket pack.

It was a 4.6-mile hike to my campsite.  The distance was just right, with the weight of my pack.  

I decided to eat primarily soup, so it can all be cooked in my single pot.  I experimented with these three varieties.
1. Ready-made soup, 2. dehydrated vegetable bean chili, and 3. gumbo powder.

1. The ready-made soup was shockingly easy.  Two minutes from opening the can to eating the warmed-up soup.
It was a coconut milk based soup, which tasted exotic in the woods.

A commenter on my earlier post said it was better to bring 16 oz of food (soup in this case) instead of 16 oz of chair. I found this to be true.  

2. The dehydrated vegetable pieces in the bean chili turned out to be disgusting.  
I ate a lot of it anyway, even though I could feel it coursing a path of indigestion through my stomach.

When I went to chuck the rest into the bushes, I poked my leg into a plant that made my right shin break out in allergic hives.

3. The gumbo was okay.  I cooked it with potatoes and lentils.  It was nice to eat real food instead of dehydrated or super-processed foods.

One wonderful thing is that I became back in touch with my body, the way I was during survival school.  I could keenly feel indigestion, hunger, weariness.

The weather report said lows were around 53 degrees, but I froze at night.  I woke up every hour from the cold.  (This part of the trip was not so great.)  I could not sleep at all between 2:30am and 4:30am due to the cold.  

The second day, I decided the reason for the cold was insufficient insulation between me and the ground.  I spent an hour gathering pine needles to make into a bed.  

I was so proud of myself.  On the fourth trip to gather pine needles, I poked my unharmed leg into the allergic plant covering most of my campsite, and got hives on my left shin.  The allergic reaction was so painful that I thought I had been stung by a bee.  

This is the horrid death-plant that caused me allergic hives and throbbing pain every time it touched my skin.

I made a pine needle bed. I realize it looks a bit like a grave in the photo.  But it was not scary in real life.  I put my tent on top of it, and my blanket in my tent.  I was excited about my pine needle bed.  I took a nap and it was comfortable and warm.  Then night fell, and ... I froze again.  I woke up every 90 minutes, which is a slight improvement over every hour but was still ghastly.

As soon as I came home, I bought a frou-frou expensive thermarest camping pad with fancy insulation.

Note the circle of allergic-death-plant around my whole sleeping area.  

Walking back to my car!

It was nice being off the grid, sans email.  Peaceful.  Without the sounds of the city, my own inner voice becomes much more clear.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Nostalgia & a trash bag

I am clearing out my belongings from my Mountain View townhouse.  I rented it for 4.5 years to Azer, and he let me keep some things in the garage and bookshelf.  Now Azer bought a home and I am renting the place to new tenants.  

It feels sad throwing away belongings that were once cherished.  Or trying to sell them on craigslist, and having strangers haggle with me.  One guy haggled down the price of my chair from $30 to $25, then showed up $1 short and gave me $24 plus 17 cents in coins, with no semblance of shame.  He is an Adobe employee.

Azer said this might be the top of a housing bubble.  Maybe financially it is smarter to sell the townhouse.  But I am very emotionally attached.  I still think there is some chance I might live in it again, one day.

Throwing away once-beloved and now-obsolete items is sad.  I am forcing myself to smile, using that psychology trick where smiling forces your body to release endorphins.  It is actually working, surprisingly.

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Of friends and friend geographic density and creamed corn

A delightful surprise has transpired.  It turns out that four friends / former coworkers work within one block of my office!  They work from three separate offices, but are so close that their Google Maps pins are almost touching my marker.

We are all going to afternoon tea next week.  Hobbitses!  

One of them, Yuichi, is teaching me how to be a foodie and appreciate world-class cooking.  Recently he told me about this Japanese cream corn croquette:

But tragedy lies ahead in our story.  In three weeks,Yuichi's company will be moving one mile away.  One mile is very far compared to 500 feet!  

Friday, August 01, 2014

One scone to rule them all

There is a British afternoon tearoom a block from my office.  I went there last week with two colleagues, Yuichi and "Sig".

Yuichi: "Are you guys going to dinner after this?"

Me: "No, who can eat dinner right after afternoon tea?  We're not hobbits, Yuichi."

Sig: (raises hand) "I'm going to dinner right after this."

Then Sig left early to go eat an 18-course meal over the next four hours.


Afternoon tea is so pleasant at a hungry time-of-day.  Recently I have acquired several teapots.