Most of my childhood memories of my dad are around our weekly routine. Riding with him to school in the morning, reciting poetry or quizzing him on I-ching hexagrams. Hearing the garage door open at 7pm, signaling dinnertime. Hanging out on the couch together for a bit while he read his newspaper and listened to me read Chinese before he went back to doing some work on the computer (It used to be a terminal. A real terminal.). On Saturdays we’d go hiking in the morning and have dim sum afterwards. On Sundays I’d typically accompany him to his office at Caltech. The afternoons would pass slowly, as I wanted to go home. Oftentimes I would be encouraged to work on math problems or sent to the campus library to confirm bibliographic references (physically going between the 7th, 8th, and 9th floors of the Millikan Library to look up journal article authors, volume numbers, and page numbers). Highlights of the long day would be lunch at Carl’s Jr. and half an hour of kicking a soccer ball around at the athletic fields.
But all of that comes from my memories, and these ones are the strongest because they were enforced week after week. I’m not sure what my dad was like when I was a baby but I got some clues this past year. When Camille cried, he recited Chinese poetry for her enjoyment. He mentioned being more interested in hanging out with her once she’s developed some abstract reasoning powers so that he can teach her math. He didn’t change any of her diapers.
The word routine has all sorts of negative connotations, but ours rejuvenates me. Every morning when Camille wakes up, I am the first person that she sees. I’m not sure which one of us is more excited to be there – her because she can be liberated from her crib or me because she is ready to hang out again. And then there’s the hour or so at the end of the day where we eat a leisurely dinner (Camille doesn’t dine any other way due to her small mouth and passable motor skills), romp around the family room, and read a story together.
The routine is punctuated by exhilarating miniature milestones. Yesterday Camille stood up once while she was trying to get out of my lap. I didn’t think much of it because I don’t really count something as a milestone until she is able to do it repeatedly and deliberately. Today, she kept standing up on the bed (and throwing herself backwards and forwards – we’ll have to talk to her about that), and it was awesome. We didn’t even know this was a milestone; people usually just ask “Is she walking? Is she talking?” No one mentioned the standing, but of course it makes sense in retrospect.
When my parents came to visit over the holidays, we spent an afternoon in Half Moon Bay. Camille and my dad were on the same nap schedule so we left them in the car together while my mom, Wing Ning, Cameron, and I went for a walk. After a while we got an anxious call from my dad. I heard Camille bawling in the background, undoubtedly hungry. I hurried back to the car. When I got there, my dad was holding Camille tight, expertly soothing her, and she was no longer sad.
My dad always knows a bit more than he lets on. I can imagine myself in Camille’s place in his arms over 30 years ago.
As some of you know my sister has totally one-upped me in the kitchen by attending culinary school. She’s starting posting some of her class writing assignments on her blog. I’m hoping to pick up some good tips at home over the holidays.
- my team launched a ton of FB integration features
- my team launched yelp.fr
- slept at the office once
- got my wisdom teeth out
- got some new toys: another stainless steel pan, slow cooker, some knives, and a 50d
- celebrated our 5-year wedding anniversary (actually I still owe Jen dinner) and 31st birthday
Finally caught a break today with the team today: enjoyed 9 holes of frisbee golf and a quick ultimate game in Golden Gate Park. Nothing like running around and getting grass stains everywhere on a gorgeous spring day to recharge after four intense weeks of working late nights and weekends.
Thanksgiving really is the best holiday – totally focused on the most important things in life: family, friends, and food. We decided to stick around here for the holiday; Ellen and Will came up with their dogs to celebrate with us.
I’m still in a food coma so I’m going to keep this short. The menu:
Roasted salted turkey with gravy: Not bad, but not quite as moist as I expected after reading about it. I may give it another shot some time. It was pretty good though, better than the pre-brined turkey I got last year but it sounds like it didn’t match the brined turkey from a few years back.
Mashed potatoes ATK make-ahead recipe, only required 15 minutes in the microwave today.
Stuffing with fennel and sausage: “Tastes kind of like your croutons,” according to Jen. I’ll take that as a compliment. Needed more fennel-y taste.
Salad: Red leaf lettuce, Granny Smith apple slices, plumped-up raisins, toasted almonds, with an creamy apple cider vinaigrette. I discovered the raisins at the farmer’s market. They’re amazing.
Picked cucumbers: Jen’s mom made some Asian pickled cucumbers.
Bread: Plain ol’ white bread.
Maple pecan pie: I always find this pie to be too sweet but the Liaos love their pecan pie so I can’t show up without it. This version of it has no corn syrup, which is great (just one cup of maple syrup instead).
Apple pie: brought by Ellen and Will.
Over the past week I’ve been going through basketball withdrawal. There was a playoff game on just about every night for the past two months, and, much to Jen’s chagrin, I watched parts of just about all of them. I’ve been obsessing over the Lakers more than usual this season. This year started full of promise: it was last year’s finals team with the size of Bynum, the energy of Ariza, and extra motivation from the fresh taste of bitterness from the previous year. A few random highlights from the playoff run…
It all comes down to execution. Both Denver and Orlando had mental lapses down the stretch in their close losses, and the Lakers were able to capitalize. In both series, around game 4, the opposing team felt like they were playing well enough to be up in the series, but neither closed out close games. Seeing the Lakers, with their insane number of options, execute their offense well is a thing of beauty. Their defense still isn’t perfect, but it came together at the right time (and it really helped that Orlando’s point guard situation was in shambles).
Redemption for the Lakers. Pretty much the entire starting lineup (plus Lamar Odom, minus Trevor Ariza) has come under fire over the past two seasons. It’s been great to see them all have incredible playoff moments.
The front line is ridiculous. In a league without a lot of great centers, it’s great to have Pau and Bynum. I think Bynum’s ready to have a big, injury-free year next year. Gasol has been a workhorse all season long, putting in a ton of minutes and delivering consistently. And it’s still amazing for me to see Odom leading the break, making nifty moves around the basket, and draining 3s.
Kobe is good. Maybe he isn’t the most fun guy to play with, but you can’t argue with his drive, skill, talent, or ability to motivate the players around him. His work ethic is raising the quality of play across the NBA. His talent doesn’t give him a sense of entitlement; he’s still working harder than any other player out there.
I love Trevor Ariza. The guy made big play after big play all season long. He became a deadly 3-pt shooter. He’s got a cute kid. It still blows my mind that he only made 4 3-pters in his NBA career before this season.
The economy matters. Teams were making salary-driven moves during the season, and the downturn could affect the market value of free agents. I’m still hoping that Kobe is willing to come down a bit so that there’s enough money to sign Ariza or Odom.
Ariza or Odom? I think it’s really tough to give up either guy. If forced to choose, I think we keep Odom, even though he’s older. His combination of talent and size is so unique, and he is an incredible team player. Plus can’t Kobe just teach the whole team how to shoot 3s? I’m kidding. I’d love to have them both back.
Stepping up. The leadership and motivation of the team was called into question on several occasions in the playoffs. Still not really sure how Houston took us to 7 games. You’d think that this would never be an issue, but seeing the lapses really highlights how easy it is to momentarily lose focus.
This one feels good. So many fantastic storylines this season. Really happy that it ended this way, and I’m looking forward to next season!
A few weeks ago Jess and Cy came to visit on their spring break. It was great to hang out with them again, can’t believe it’s already been six months since I moved from Boston.
We decided to spend the weekend outdoors. On Saturday we drove down to Big Sur, stopping in Carmel to pick up a few sandwiches (from Bruno’s) for lunch. Unfortunately, all hiking trails east of Highway 1 were shut down because of a fire that swept through last year. We found a nice trail at Andrew Molera State Park (part of this trail), satisfying our thirst for adventure by crossing a shallow stream. Wrapped up the day with a fantastic dinner at Passionfish.
On Sunday we went sea kayaking in Monterey. We did a guided tour of the harbor, coming pretty close to some seals and sea lions (unfortunately, no sea otters).
A few more photos from the weekend.
My sister and I are separated by six years. Growing up I played the older-brother-as-caretaker role. Since our parents both worked, the two of us spent a lot of time together after school. I nudged her towards sharing some of my interests, like playing video games and basketball and taking care of rabbits. From an early age it was clear that she was a lot more talented artistically (musically and visually) than me; fortunately I was able to maintain my size advantage. We got along well throughout the years, only fighting occasionally.
It’s been hard for me to stop thinking of my little sister as little. A few milestones, like high school and college graduation, have helped me to shift my perspective. When I started at Endeca in 2007, I realized that some of my co-workers, fresh out of college, were exactly my sister’s age. That felt like a big deal.
* * *
Big brothers are supposed to look out for their little sisters, especially when it comes to boyfriends. I think it was less important for me to get involved since my sister is 3-4″ taller than Cameron and can almost certainly keep him in line. Too bad he doesn’t have an older brother to help him out. My dad vouches for the fact that Cameron is a math genius, which is a nice bonus. It’s been great getting to know him and his family over the past few years. The Taketas are a sweet, loving, and generous family.
* * *
Unfortunately, a huge storm swept through Honolulu on Friday night and lingered through Saturday morning. The wedding ceremony was moved indoors.
The Yungs, while not really known for their fashion sense (except for maybe Mom), clean up well. Wing Ning looked amazing in her dress and make-up (and without her glasses). It was amusing to tag along with the photographers, who posed the happy couple in all sorts of cheesy ways. The reception was full of personal touches – mini Rubik’s cubes as gifts, modular origami centerpieces, a wedding pie with a Lego wedding scene on top, and pi-decorated programs (all consistent with their wedding website). I was really impressed by the creativity and amount of work that they put into it – I’ve made a few of the origami balls and they take a hell of a long time (especially the one that consists of five intersecting tetrahedrons). Cameron’s hilarious Aunt Gwen mc’ed and repeatedly brought attention to the fact that most of the bridal party was single (and geeky).
My mom painted a picture, my dad picked out a Chinese poem to go along with it (and gave the commentary as part of his toast), and I put together a slideshow (they approved my selection of Weird Al’s White ‘n’ Nerdy for part of it). Each member of the bridal party made a toast with common themes around eating and playing board games.
* * *
After the wedding, we went to the beach and had dinner. Wing Ning was back in her t-shirt and jeans, but wore a green orchid in her hair for the rest of the day. Every time I looked at it I thought to myself, “Oh right, she’s married now.”
I just passed over the 5-month anniversary of my move to California. Here’s what I’ve liked so far:
Closer to home. I’ve been down to Los Angeles four times since we moved here. That’s like 4 years worth of family visits! It’s also been great to see Jen’s family on a more regular basis.
Our friends. We’re lucky to have people from all over (high school, college, work, grad school) converge in the Bay Area. Of course we really miss everyone in Boston, especially our friends’ children.
Weather. I kind of miss the snow and I may be sad this fall, but it’s also been great to enjoy outdoor activities during the winter. I’ve received 5 Somerville snow emergency emails in the past few months.
No second car. Between walking and the Caltrain, things have worked out well. It’s nice to have some reading/nap time and physical activity built into my daily schedule.
Within walking distance of groceries. This made me way happier than I thought it would. The Sunday market and Trader Joe’s are an 8-minute walk away, which means that I don’t really have to plan meals for the week. When I was working from home half-time, I’d walk over there at least 2-3x a week.
Year-round farmer’s market. Fresh produce all year round! Our market has fish and meat as well.
New job. This was one of the last pieces to fall into place. I love Endeca (everything – the company, product, and team), but working remote over the past few months has been quite lonely. Started at Yelp last week.
We spent the past weekend in Sonoma to celebrate our friend’s completion of the California bar exam. Ten of us (Sloanies, significant others, and Meatball the dog) shared a fantastic house (back of the house, backyard view) in Guerneville.
Spent most of Saturday wine tasting, highlights included the beautiful gardens at Ferrari-Carano (I didn’t sample the wine there) and a few hours lounging around on the back patio of the Harvest Moon Winery. Harvest Moon, a tiny winery, was our favorite of the bunch – we all had a really pleasant time, got along well with our hosts, and bought several bottles of wine. We had brought along our own bread, prosciutto, and cheese, and also sampled their chocolate and olive oils.
On Sunday it was rainy but that didn’t stop a few of us from heading to the beach. We strolled along Goat Rock Beach, catching a break in the rain. We spent a lot of the day lazing around from the comfort of our house.
Of course, the eating was fantastic. We cooked one breakfast, one brunch, and three dinners together. Meal after meal, we all ate far beyond the point of being full. The nine of us fit comfortably around the dining room table. It was warm, cozy, and homey.
On Saturday Jen and I visited the California Academy of Sciences. It was our second visit since becoming members; the first time it was so crowded that we didn’t get to see the rainforest exhibit, one of the centerpieces of the museum. It’s a glass-surfaced dome 90 feet in diameter. Small, colorful birds dart back and forth, and butterflies flutter about. There are lots of exhibits containing live reptiles, amphibians, and insects. In other words, an awesome place to spend a few hours.
A few photos.
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