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.
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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.
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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.
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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.”
California hasn’t been all that bad so far. In my first week, we had dinner with the in-laws, hung out with my parents, saw Ellen and Will, and attended Joey and Seoyoung’s wedding. Not a bad start.
Joey and Seoyoung were married in a lovely outdoor ceremony at Summit House, in Fullerton, CA. It was pretty much a huge high school reunion with a lot of my favorite people from AHS, some of whom I hadn’t seen in over a decade. The reception was elegant and incredibly fun.
Joey and I go way back to 3rd grade, when he moved to Arcadia. We spent 10 years together in the Arcadia public school system before going separate ways in college. We were reunited in Boston when he came for law school. Over the past 20 years, we’ve seen each other in a lot of different contexts. It would be silly to say that we haven’t changed a bit since then because that obviously isn’t true. The amazing thing is that our lives haven’t taken wildly divergent paths; hanging out feels just as natural as it did two decades ago, when we’d attend each others’ birthday parties (hiking + pizza for mine, sleepover with R-rated movies for his). A few random memories (some borrowed from Wilson’s best man speech):
3rd grade: Joey moves to Arcadia: Not only do we go to school together, we end up on the same soccer team, forming a formidable back line. We both wear huge glasses.
6th grade: Highland Oaks graduation: In the yearbook, Joey says that he’s going to be the first Asian player in the NBA. He continues to play point guard in our pickup games.
7th grade: Foothills Junior HIgh: We all develop a love for Funyuns and the cafeteria’s chocolate chip cookies. Wilson joins our crowd.
10th grade: Bug-collecting: We kill some bugs in an acetone gas chamber and pin them to our box. The next morning, some of them wake up. We also get freaked out by a huge black bumblebee that sends us running away.
11th grade: US History: While working on a class project at my house (in the backyard), Joey gets a phone call. He (unsuccessfully) attempts to run through a screen door.
12th grade: Government Team: It becomes clear that Joey’s going to be a good lawyer some day.
College: We bump into each other occasionally at Berkeley, and always hang out over the holidays. It becomes clear that Joey is becoming way cooler, more eloquent, buffer, and better looking than the rest of us.
2002: Joey comes to Boston for law school. With Wilson nearby in NYC, we get to hang out a good amount on the east coast. We end up at my aunt’s for Thanksgiving, where, inexplicably, the three of us end up sleeping in a single bed.
2004: Joey and Wilson serenade Jen and me at our engagement party.
2005-2008: Joey gets a law degree, new job, new place, new car, and new wife. It’s been an eventful few years for him.
Seoyoung and I don’t go all the way back to 3rd grade, though we were friends in high school. It’s been great to catch up with her over the past year. Hopefully she’ll forgive me for no longer following the Mighty Ducks and the NHL (who does these days, anyway?).
Here’s to their new life together and many more decades of friendship between Joey, me, and our families.
This past weekend I took a few of my coworkers for a long overdue tour of the Harvard campus. It was nice to give everything a last once-over before leaving.
My experience at Harvard was on the atypical side. While everyone else was loading up on extracurriculars, I spent a good amount of time on my own doing problem sets, hanging out with roommates, or wandering around Harvard Square. I probably should have been more social, but fortunately I still made some very good friends (and found a wife!). I have a lot of trouble generalizing what Harvard students are like, but the cross-section that I encountered contained a lot of remarkable, interesting, good-hearted people.
Living in Dunster House for three years was fantastic – some of the rooms I lived in have gorgeous views of the river. The large central courtyard, great for tossing frisbees and roasting goats, faces the Charles River. The majestic red-topped clocktower makes an appearance in a lot of postcards (and makes for a welcome sight after spending a night in the computer lab). Unfortunately, the small grassy area with the footpath leading back to Dunster is now occupied by a shiny new building, which is a shame.
I’ve walked along the charming one-way streets many times, but as a creature of habit, I only have a few regular haunts in the Square. I’ve browsed many books at the Coop and Harvard Bookstore, enjoyed a lot of sunshine JFK Park, nursed a good number of beers at Charlie’s (at least in my younger days), and eaten a ridiculous number of slices and sandwiches at Pinocchio’s.
I have a deep emotional connection Harvard. It was the first place I lived where I was really on my own (well, almost – our family friends, the Shias, would always pitch in to help me move). I met many of my best friends here. And there is something very special about passing by our wedding sites on a regular basis. It makes it really easy to re-live some of the memories, like taking a group picture on the Memorial Church steps, attracting tons of attention in the Yard and the Square, and enjoying a post-wedding picnic on a beautiful Spring day in JFK Park – with an open tab at Pinocchio’s for our guests.
wedding day / sneaking back into the church
A week after going to Palo Alto for Feng and Grant’s wedding, it was off to New York to celebrate with Ellen and Will.
They had a distinctly New York wedding. I ended up being a gopher for both the bridesmaids and groomsmen, so I went from our hotel across the street from Bryant Park down 5th Avenue to Ellen’s old apartment building. A Central Park fountain provided a beautiful backdrop for photos. They had their ceremony at the Marble Collegiate Church, and the reception down the street at Cipriani. The food was outstanding. It was great to hang out with Jen’s family again. Jen delivered an amazing toast that had most of the room alternating between chuckles and tears.
From a Friendster testimonial, dated 7/4/2003: Hearing her cheerful “Hi Wingerz!” always brings a smile to my face. Whether we’re in Saratoga, San Francisco, Boston, or New York, she’s always up for a good meal and some dessert. Likes: sushi, Serendipity (the dessert place with the $12 sundaes, not the movie), working out, reading, swing dancing, oatmeal raisin cookies, travelling, and her sister. Dislikes: I’m not really sure since she’s always in such a good mood. She’s like an older sister to me. Two wonderful girls in the same family – it must be the genes. :) A few of the tastes have changed but she’s still her same ol’ cheerful self and we love her for it.
We’ve been lucky enough to spend a lot of time with the newlyweds this past year. They have always been fantastic, generous hosts when we come to visit New York. Will also cooked Thanksgiving dinner for us and came out to California for Christmas. It’s been good to welcome another guy into the Liao family; we’re no longer outnumbered, but somehow the girls will probably still get their way.
making her getaway
The big weddings keep on coming; this weekend it was Grant and Feng’s turn. They were married outdoors on a beautiful summer afternoon, and the evening celebration flew by.
Many years ago, when we were about to move into 21r, AJ described Grant to me as a funny guy – not in the stand-up sense, but more in his mannerisms. It didn’t take long for me to understand what he meant. Grant exhibits great exuberance for the things he finds worthwhile, such as Trader Joe’s frozen mango pieces, oatmeal raisin cookies, Krispy Kreme Donuts (noticing a trend?), the New Tetris, basketball (playing, watching, video gaming), applying optimizations to all parts of his life, and, of course, Feng.
In addition to being a constant source of wacky amusement, Grant has been a great roommate and friend. He’s been incredibly supportive. After one exhausting weekend, I passed out on our couch and woke up to find that he had cooked me a tasty stir-fry dinner. This is especially touching coming from a guy who once hoped to live on Mac&Cheese because it was 5 for $1.
Feng is a go-getter, as evidenced by their courtship. She also introduced me to almond macaroons from Mike’s Pastry, my favorite cookies. Last summer we took an awesome road trip up to Montreal for Matt & Amy’s wedding.
Together, they make a fantastic couple that we’ve missed hanging out with over the past two years. It’s been fun watching their relationship grow, and I sort of miss their lighthearted bickering, when Feng feigns (?) embarrassment at something he’s done or said. In any case, she’s cleaned him up a bit from the good ol’ days of 21r, where shirts and good fashion sense were optional.
Unfortunately for Grant, no blog post of this sort would be complete without the best picture I’ve ever taken of him. This was back in the days when I shot 640×480 photos with my first digital camera.
May was an absurdly busy month for me. Took four plane trips, the last of which was to North Carolina for Kerry and Jon’s wedding. It was a very short trip (about 26 hours in NC), but we spent all of it hanging out with close friends. The wedding was at the beautiful, lush Duke Gardens. A thunderstorm threatened to pour on us during the ceremony (outdoors), interjecting with loud, booming rumbles, but not a drop of rain fell from the sky. We had a great time, and of course Jon and Kerry could not have been any happier.
Jen and I have seen two of our best friends get married within a single month. Now if only we could see them on a more regular basis. I miss Kerry’s visits to Boston; she’d always bring good cheer and her humongous green backpack. One of my first (maybe the first) memory I have of her is taking a short break from a CS project to eat cookies with her and Jen. Her blocking group slowly adopted me towards the end of college, and I think any of the Jen-advice she gave me must have been good given where we are today.
(For those who can access my personal photo gallery, I’ve posted wedding photos from both May weddings.)
Had an incredible time at Brian and Tina’s wedding in Philadelphia this past weekend. The ceremony was at the magnificent Cathedral Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul, and the reception was held on the 33rd floor of the Loews. At the Sunday brunch Brian and Tina, dressed in traditional Korean clothing, performed a bowing ceremony. Really enjoyed meeting and catching up with their families and friends, and, of course, seeing Brian and Tina so happy starting their new life together.
I find it pretty hard to believe that nearly 11 years have passed since we met. We were placed next door to each other freshman year and quickly became good friends. Over the years we’ve shared countless stories, feelings, thoughts, ramblings, and lots of very silly videos. It’s been quite a ride, with lots of Noch’s steak and cheese sandwiches and Charlie’s waffle fries to keep us going. Brian’s got a warm and lighthearted personality, and he’s also got knack for good conversation; keeping in touch has been quite easy since he left Cambridge.
I dug up this picture from almost exactly ten years ago (5/19/1998). Our hair’s gotten shorter, and our faces a bit older, but we’re still the same goofy guys. Somehow we’ve both managed to find great girls willing to marry us.
Surrounded by fierce dinosaurs, tie-wearing bears, and loving friends and relatives, Caroline and Brandon were married this past weekend at the Houston Museum of Natural Science. Erin did a fantastic job of officiating the ceremony.
The wedding and weekend were incredibly fun. Made some new friends and caught up with some old ones. Jess, Cy, Grant, Kent, and I shared a room.
Food-wise, we did pretty well. Enjoyed succulent ribs, tender brisket, and tasty sides at the rehearsal dinner (Goode Company), Cajun-style boiled crawfish ($4/lb) at lunch the next day (Bayou City), and five slices of pie during a post-wedding dessert-run (House of Pies). All of the above are highly recommended. We also stopped at the expectedly underwhelming Yao Restaurant & Bar for drinks. Other than the really tall doorways and case full of basketball memorabilia, it doesn’t have a whole lot going for it.
I am a bit sad that we all had to go our separate ways afterwards. Congratulations once again to Caroline and Brandon and their families!