Tuesday, December 29, 2015

butter battle

Christmas photos!

Lavep hand-letterpressed this Christmas card!  It took him two evenings.  The text is a reference to how I like to walk in and say "hello friends!".

A pomegranate dish cooked by Azer's girlfriend, to celebrate the winter solstice.

A peas-and-cheese dish cooked by Azer's girlfriend.  This is the only time I remember being unable to stop eating peas.

The recipe calls for butter, but Azer insisted on using olive oil because he thinks butter is too unhealthy.

A chicken baked by Aff.  We sent this photo to Azer to show him how much butter is being used, along with the caption, "That's how we roll."  

Azer: "Well done."

Christmas tree!  I like following traditions, knowing that millions of other people are doing the same. It feels community-like.

Friday, December 25, 2015

their christmas tradition involves pager duty

Earlier this month:

Aff: "I'm going to get you a Playstation 4 and a bunch of games for Christmas.  What genre do you like?"

Me: "Story-driven puzzle games."

Aff: "I'll just get you a gift card.  All these games are downloadable."

Me: "You mean from the network that's going to be down on Dec 25?"

And now...

Who called it?!??

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

issue with all Star Wars movies (not a spoiler)

Last week (before anyone saw the new movie, so there are no spoilers):

Me: "I have an issue with all the Star Wars movies.  They always fly through a narrow tunnel and shoot one spot and then explode a gigantic ship.  You'd think the engineers would learn the first time.   It'd be passed down as lore.  'Remember to double-check the design so it can't be exploded from a single point.'"

Others: "True, they exploded the Death Star twice."

Me: "And Anakin exploded a big station in Phantom Menace.  You'd think that would be the failure case that gets repeated in engineering class, like how we all watched that video of the bridge that collapsed."

Friday, December 18, 2015


My brother and I went on a cruise to the Galapagos!

There were 17 guests onboard our cruise.  Christian was the bartender and waiter.  We had fruity cocktails the first night.

We saw pink flamingos.  They look just like the plastic lawn ornaments, but very graceful.  

A shark!  So cute.

Bermuders (accountants from Bermuda) standing behind a giant tortoise.  

Me: "There need to be more kinds of superheroes.  Like a superhero computer scientist: Hacker-Man.  Also accountants like you guys.  Super-Accountant would discover an account that doesn't balance to zero, and fix it."

Bermuder: "First there'd need to be a trilogy to explain how the account even got into that state."

Me: "No one would suspect the accountant for being a superhero.  It's the perfect cover."

Bermuder: "Yeah, we actually are superheroes."

Me: "Ha ha."

Bermuder: "See?  We're even talking about it right now, and yet you still don't believe it."

Dolphins that randomly swam beside our ship for 10 minutes.

The Galapagos natives care deeply about conservationism.  They got upset whenever they saw garbage.  It was pleasant to see tour guides care so much.

Our cruise friend took a lot of candids.  I'm always sitting around looking distracted.

Our boat!  It was great being on a boat with 17 people instead of thousands, like other cruise ships.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

not perfect but still perfect CG

I watched this CG video of Bruce Lee again.  While I still love love love it, I see now how there's always a little trick that distracts from his face.  There's a shadow that falls onto him, or a momentary de-focusing of the camera.  We're seeing his reflection in water, or from far above.  It's only at the very end that they do the impressive close-up.

The voice acting and the writing is still magical.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Tough Mudder

My brother has been training all year to run a Tough Mudder.  It is a 10-mile race with 20+ obstacles like crawling through mud and over 10-foot-tall walls.  I decided to support him as a spectator.

Then I decided I might as well join myself too!  So I signed up as a participant.

Tom's very buff coworkers joined our team.

The night before, we stayed at a lovely AirBnb house with a pool. We drank wine and ordered a pizza.

I got to watch my first League of Legends game. My brother had to play a game immediately, in order to not "decay" from Diamond League to Platinum. This was tremendously important.

We scoured the AirBnb house looking for a mouse, but there was none. So he had to play on the Macbook trackpad! It was painful. Even as a noob, I could tell he was misfiring everywhere.

The start of the race!  Our team is called "I Thought This was a 5k".

It was the day after Halloween, so some of us were in costume.

Post-race!  (Some people are already drinking beer and not pictured.)

The most memorable obstacle was sliding into an ice bath.

The second was the "Berlin Wall", where I somehow climbed over a 10-foot wall with no help.  I was surprised that I was able to do it, even while I did it.  It had tiny, nearly invisible, footholds between the wall planks.

I came home and promptly developed a sinus infection for a week.  It has been really disgusting.

It was a bonding experience, and I'm very glad I did it.  I don't think I'd ever do it again though, due to the sinus infection.

Wednesday, November 04, 2015


I've been sick for a month.  I came down with a cold last month, which gradually receded but left me with a cough.  Then I did the Tough Mudder SoCal with my brother, which involved jumping into many pools of cold water, and now I have a cold again.


It is so humbling to be sick.  Simple things like walking across the room seem like insurmountable difficulties.

I don't know why people say "I'm so humbled" when they win the Oscar.  The real humbling comes when you fall ill!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015


I just watched "Day of the Doctor" on netflix, and it was amazing!

What a magical world we live in, that we can watch such things!

Some works of fiction are so beautiful that it makes me agog. I am struck by how masterful they are.  They tell a story that transports me to another world, and make me want to be a better person.

I hope one day people use Evertoon to create movies that make me feel awestruck in this way. Then I will be satisfied that I did not walk this earth in vain.

Tuesday, September 08, 2015

blood war

Yesterday there was a mosquito biting me as I slept! I woke up at 4am with seven itchy bites. I stayed awake, determined to catch and kill it. A dozen times, I slapped myself in the face, trying to kill the mosquito.

Finally after an hour, I succeeded! I stared at its tiny body on my hand for 10 seconds, relishing its unmoving wings and spindly legs.

I went back to sleep. Two hours later, I woke up from getting bitten by a second mosquito! Horrors! I spent 20 minutes hunting and killing it.

An hour later, I woke up from a third mosquito!

I'm very frustrated. It is a war. I bought a bunch of yeast today and will go home and make traps for the hateful mosquitoes. I found a recipe online for "homemade mosquito trap".  I already purchased an insect zapper on Amazon, but it was completely ineffective against these mosquitoes.

Monday, August 24, 2015

problems of the super rich

Chatting with Azer.  He just had lunch with "Bob", a friend who is an executive at Google.

Azer: "Bob told me that people who have too much money are really messed-up.  He said everyone he's met who has over $200 million dollars is screwed up."

Me: "Why $200M?  That's a strange number to choose.  Wouldn't you say $100M if you were just picking a large number?"

Azer: "Maybe he has more than $100M but less than $200M, so this way he's still below the screwed-up threshold."

Me: "I wonder if next time you see him, he'll say, 'Actually Azer, you can have $200M without being screwed-up, but once you get over $205M, you become really messed up.'"

Sunday, July 26, 2015

reality show ideas

Yuichi told my brother and me to watch a reality show about Koreans clubbing in LA.

It's entertaining, but every episode takes place in a nightclub!  They all work as bartenders, dancers, or club promoters, so every episode is filled with blue dim lighting and alcohol.

I want to see a reality show about research scientists who are curing cancer.  It would still have drama, love triangles, victory, despair, and charismatic attractive people.  But while watching, we'd also learn about the latest cancer research, so we could feel good about watching it.

I'd also like to watch a reality show about atomic physicists.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Magical lyft

Today I got picked up by this awesome lyft car!  It's blue and square, covered in Dalek and TARDIS decals, and of course note the license plate.

It's wonderful when people make art for pure enjoyment, with no ulterior commercial motive.  

I got in and said, "It's bigger on the inside!"  I asked the driver if he gets that from every passenger, and he said sadly it is rare.

I wish I could request him again.  I also wish other Lyft drivers did this, so that I'd get picked up by phantom tollbooths and banana cars and batmobiles.

why do people optimize for deathbed

I often hear people say to each other, "Don't work too hard.  No one says on their deathbed that they wish they had worked harder."

I'm sure that's true about deathbeds.  But I bet students who slacked during college wish they'd worked harder, when job hunting season comes around.  I bet plenty of people in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s look at their friends with more satisfying jobs and greater financial security, and wish they'd worker harder themselves.

Why do people optimize for the one moment of the deathbed?  You should optimize for the 80 years that you're living, not the final 12 hours that you're dying.

I also hear people complaining about all the ways they're unhappy about their marriage or family, and then they say, "But at least I'll have somebody at my deathbed, so I won't be dying alone."  By the time you get to your deathbed, it's basically Game Over, so why spend any effort improving it?  

Tuesday, July 14, 2015


I've been using Blue Apron to cook.  They send me the ingredients, and then I chop, saute, bake.

Tonight I had 5 people over.  I made fried chicken and a cornbread pie.  These were recipes from Blue Apron, which I expanded to serve 6 people.

Fried chicken is really hard to make for 6 people!  It took forever.  I think we finally ate at 9:30pm.  But at least it was better than the first Minted engineering steak-cooking night, when the gas went out for 1.5 hours, and we ended up eating at midnight.

Tonight, Arv to me: "The cooking -- was it hard to scale?"

Me: "Yes!"

Arv: "Yeah.  But it came out pretty good."

Me: "I was going to make a pumpkin pie too."

Everyone: "Oh my God.  No."

Me: "But I gave up on that."

Arv: "You have to ship."

Sunday, May 31, 2015

San Andreas movie in 4D with Caltech

My brother took me to see "San Andreas" in the only 4D movie theatre in the country!

4D has fog, seats rotating and shaking, wind, and mist.

Caltech featured prominently in this movie!  Tom summarized it as "What's going on?  Only Caltech knows what's happening.  Who can help?  Only Caltech can get the word out!"

I made him sit through the entire credits to see Caltech credited.  This was in vain, because Caltech was not credited.  Various trivial crap was thanked, but not Caltech, which was shown and mentioned 100 times. Tom said "Any resemblance to real persons or universities is purely accidental."

Me: "They must have paid so much to make this movie.  It was all CG."

Tom: "And they had to pay Caltech.  That can't have been cheap."

Me: "Really?" 

Tom: "Ha ha ha.  Caltech probably did it for free." 

Me: [grumbling] "There was no credit.  Caltech's seismology department is so good.  When's the next time Caltech can possibly get credited?  It's going to have to be a movie about a bio-chemical virus."

On a separate note, I had an issue with a certain person going without breathing in the movie for a very long time, like 4 minutes.  Wouldn't brain death have occurred?  I tried googling for it, but all the results are about Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Saturday, May 30, 2015


Due to an "incident", my car now makes a grinding noise whenever I turn right.  Poor beloved car!

So it seems like I should probably replace my 16-year-old car.  It's a Honda Civic with 110k miles.

The number of choices is overwhelming.

One problem is that I'm going to dent any car that I get.  It's inevitable.  So there is no point thinking about re-sale value, because the re-sale value will be low once I've dented every panel.  I also can't lease, because I'd have to pay a big penalty when I bring it back dented.

Maybe I should just get another Civic.

The most important quality is that it should be black or dark blue.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Hiring a games engineer who likes animated films!

We're hiring an engineer with 3D games experience, who likes animated films!  Please share with your game-developer friends!

Evertoon lets users create 3D animated videos by taking regular text in an iMessage-like interface and automatically turning it into a movie with avatars acting it out. Like this video.

We are a small team with experience from Disney, Moonbot (2011 Oscar for Best Animated Short), Microsoft Games, and Google. The company has raised money from Greylock and other notable investors.

  • Design and develop features in Unity3D C#, including avatar customization, camera movements, user inventory, UI, audio / music
  • Implement an user experience for using photographs to personalize avatars and backgrounds, and automatically creating a movie from written text 
  • Help build a two-sided artist marketplace where third-party artists can sell 3D models, animations, and videos to users 
  • Develop social features including sharing, commenting, and integration with social networks 
  • 4+ years experience with object-oriented programming 
  • 1+ year Unity3D experience. 
  • Bonus: Objective-C / iOS programming experience. 
You will receive a competitive salary, benefits, and significant stock equity. Please send your resume to jobs AT evertoon.com!

Sunday, March 29, 2015

traveling to the Amazon (the jungle, not the company)

I went with friends for a week to the Amazon jungle.

Here I'm with the amazing Sha-mayn, and also my friend Axe (leftmost) from survival school.  

When I met Axe, she was living on an island in Kenya.  Now she's living in a cabin in Colorado with no running water or electricity.  She studied anthropology at Harvard, and earns a living as an art sculptor and an editor for Hollywood screenplays.  

Axe brought a polaroid camera.  Here's a polaroid taken while we were on the Amazon River.

This photo also shows K, who ran a safari lodge in Kenya for 3 years.  She told us about dealing with a zebra who fell in the swimming pool, and a swarm of bees that attacked guests who had to jump in the pool to get away (the zebra had been removed by then).

Sha-mayn in our open-air room, in an indigenous community of 100 Colombians.  The village only has electricity from noon to 2pm and then 5-10pm.  Most of the village only got toilets during a big community project two years ago.

We debated whether the village would benefit or be damaged if they got internet access.  I think it would mostly be detrimental.

One night, the neighbor got drunk and was shouting.  His teenage son came over, looking very worried and glum.  Our host went over to help.  I marveled at how much support people give each other in a community.  There are still alcoholics in the village, but everyone helps out.  In a city, no one would be there to help the young son with his alcoholic dad.

We also stayed in Puerto NariƱo for 3 nights.  It's a 6000-person town with no cars allowed.  

There were many toddlers running around laughing, carrying large sticks that they found on the ground, cavorting with trees.  It was nice to see the change from San Francisco, where these toddlers would be strapped into strollers, and only allowed to have occasional scheduled playdates, where they'd eat carefully supervised gluten-free food.

There were very few people on the Amazon.  During a two-hour journey, we'd see someone maybe every 30 minutes.  It was very calming not to have sounds of the city.

I had culture shock when we got back to a city with motorcycles, cars, and all the urban noises.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

cycle of addiction: 99% frustration, 1% pure elation

I'm watching the behind-the-scenes commentary of the movie "Field of Dreams", while working.

Because, you know, the commentary is about cinematography choices, and the movie is about believing in your own crazy passions and dreams.  So it's very relevant.

The director says:
"Kevin [Costner] would want to talk about the take.  And at first it just drove me crazy.  Then I realized you work for hours bumbling through a scene till you finally get a take right where everything is right, where the camera works right, the light is right, the actors are right, the background is right.  There's a moment where it feels good after a couple of hours of being frustrated.  He wanted to stay in that moment another couple of seconds.  He wanted to just feel good before we started feeling bad about the next scene."

I'm very amused by this. That's how programming feels! Your code doesn't compile. Eventually it compiles, but it crashes immediately. After a couple more tries, it runs but the entire screen is black. Finally it looks right, but runs too slowly.

A couple hours or days later, it all works.  The unittests pass.  It runs quickly.  You're on top of the world!  You go mark the task completed in your project-tracker.  Then you get to feel frustrated with the next task!

It's so addictive. It's hard to imagine not being hooked on those moments of elation.

This cycle also describes entrepreneurship.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

hate is not the real problem

Hanging out with my brother.

Brother: "Sometimes we get product feedback that's really negative.  Like: 'This is the worst idea.  You should take a shotgun and put it in your mouth.'"

Me: "What!"

Brother: "If people have intense negative feelings, that means they care.  If you listen to them and incorporate their suggestions, there's the potential of converting them into being your biggest fans."

Me: "I guess it's like how the Lord of the Rings book fans felt about the movie.  If the movies had been bad, they would've been the most vicious complainers.  But because the movies were good, the book fans became the most obsessive supporters."

Brother: "An intensely negative reaction can be converted into an intensely positive one.  The real problem comes when they are disinterested.  If they get bored and go do something else, that's when there's a problem."

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

story of how one guy screwed his team in his quest for glory

A story of the Green Bay Packers, of ego and suffering. Made by Patrick Epino using Evertoon.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

frustration for The Imitation Game

Last week, I watched The Imitation Game.  I was really looking forward to it, because 1. it has the actor who plays Sherlock (which is a great show), and 2. it's about Alan Turing, a pioneer of computer science!

I was all charmed during the film, by the screen time given to encryption and Turing machines.

But then I came home and read articles.

I'm so peeved that they made Alan Turing seem like he's on the autism spectrum, when he didn't act that way in real life.  Why!  Are the moviemakers just following the stereotype of "he liked computers, so he must have Aspbergers"?  It's just perpetuating a negative stereotype!

It's so aggravating.  We owe so much to Turing.  At least portray him as he really was.

Friday, January 02, 2015

pillows for my loft

My friend Shane is a serial entrepreneur / CEO and also an amazing interior designer (she designed Peter Thiel's homes).  Also she is funny and gorgeous and basically a perfect human being.  

Anyway, her company Guildery tells you which furnishing patterns go well with other patterns!  So I got this awesome selection of pillows.  Normally I'd be way too afraid of clashing: a triangular pattern next to a lemon-slice pattern?  Two shades of blue?  Next to beige?  I would go into paralysis of fear, and not have pillows.  But now:

This is a photo of the window seat next to my loft windows.  (I moved into this loft two months ago.  It is still in San Francisco, south of market.)

I've been watching a ton of movies and behind-the-scenes commentary.  It started out because I wanted to learn cinematography for my startup Evertoon, which creates movies.  Then I got hooked!  Now my primary hobby is watching movies.

I didn't own a television for many years, because other people would say proudly "I don't own a tv" in a very smug way.  People would say "tv rots your brain" and generally speak poorly of television.  I think there are also studies about how television is bad for you.  So it was only a few years ago that I got a tv (and now a projector & screen, which you can see in the window reflection).  It was life-changing!  It's so amazing to watch brilliant films, and hear the director and actors talk about the work that went into it.

Starting off the new year with beautiful pillows and films!