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December 31st, 2013

11:19 am - metaphor scratchpad
I'm staring at a hammock full of Winnie the Pooh bears and realizing that this is like the perfect sharding/distributing metaphor in some ways.  I mean, to get a a bear of big brain, you can just keep adding bears of very little brain together and having them Think of their own little Things, and it's just a matter of making sure that their Thingish things can work together with the other Thingish things when they get out into the open and start passing messages about it.

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December 28th, 2013

09:18 am - UK trip continued
So, Friday Dec 27th wherein jiggery_pokery and I went to York for the day (I should backlog this later).  We got a slightly later start than anticipated but were still on a train at 11ish and in York at noonish.  We immediately went to the National Railway Museum, which was sort of the goal for the day... and we spent like 4-5 hours there in all.  I mean, in terms of train museums, and I've been to quite a few, this one is pretty huge.  There's a big main room with trains to look at (but not in, sadly) and a steam engine rotator demo, and a cafe (where we had small lunch-like stuff), and bizarrely, a shinkansen exhibit, which was one of the more memorable things to me because they seriously had a 1976 0 Series shinkansen there and the info about the shinkansen in general was from 1976.  VERY WEIRD.

There was a huge warehouse room with tons of just... stuff from trains.  Chairs, silverware, signs, model trains, light fixtures, you name it -- just things that had been on various trains at some point in the past.  They also have a model train there that they use for training people to use signals, and they also had a 9 3/4 platform sign that had been specifically made for JK Rowling's visit to the museum.  (We had to look that one up.)  Something about that room was, I was halfway through looking through it when realized I left my backpack in the cafe.  This was very distressing because my passport and Google badge were in there.  HOWEVER, despite us having left the cafe 10-15 minutes prior, the bag was still sitting there on the chair I'd been sitting at!  Wow!  I must say that I basically never left my backpack ANYWHERE again for the whole trip after that.

There was another big area full of train switching stations where you could watch the monitoring boards that show where the trains are starting/stopping, which lines are clear, etc -- and an observation deck outside it where you could watch trains going into and out of York station (and conveniently they had all of these things showing you exactly which trains would show up!)  The rest of that area was dedicated to talking about really bad train mishaps that involved mostly human errors in signalling where two trains would end up in the same place, collide, and people would die.  Also there was a section about how uniting the country in one timezone was necessary due to train travel (which I knew, but had forgotten originated in England) timetables.

The Station Hall had some royal trains and whatnot but other than that wasn't particularly interesting, and there was a train photography art room, and then we decided to leave and wander around York.  Unfortunately by that point I looked it up and found out that the Jorvik Viking Center had closed at 4pm (thanks to Puzzle Pirates I really did kinda want to go to Jorvik, it was the first island that my flag took over and I still own a shop there 10 years later).  Alas.  So, we looked for things that were still open in York and decided to go to THE CHOCOLATE STORY!

York Chocolate Story is not a tour of an actual chocolate factory, sadly, but you do get to hear a history of York and the chocolate production there, like the Terry and Rowntree families and how they evolved from making hot chocolate drinks into making real chocolates, and of course Rowntree and the KitKat bar, and we got to see a little bit of how chocolate is made, and we made chocolate lollipops, and ate truffles and all sorts of other samples.  They had a display of Japanese KitKats but didn't actually know what half of them were, which was kind of odd.

After that we walked around York a little and then took the train back to Thornaby and came home.  Amusingly, we ended up having McDonald's for dinner, and then I packed up and got ready to leave for the next leg of my journey.

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December 8th, 2013

04:02 am - London
I am going.  Will be in the UK from Dec 23 to Jan 6.  Working from Google London office over the week of New Year's.  Planning to go up towards Stockton and Edinburgh for the days before that.

Any and all advice is welcomed although I admit I may throw most of it out the door and spend a lot of time watching musicals and going to castles and hopefully riding some of the train lines I've built while playing British Rails in the past.

I am sorry I feel weird about making a lot of public LJ posts, although I have gone curiously introspective recently.  I blame winter.  It makes everything dark and coated in thoughtful.

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November 26th, 2013

05:20 pm - More holiday travel thoughts
I think I've gotten it down to either "go to NYC" or "go to London".

NYC pros: more friends in the area, way cheaper trip (both airfare and that I can crash with friends), way easier trip, can go down to Philly to see aunt/uncle if I want, can see Carl since he'll be in the US for a bit, etc.
NYC cons: did it last year for new year's already.  *could* work from NYC office but not easily justifiable.

London pros: new place!  I've never been to Europe!  can hang out with Chris and Megan!  can maybe go to Scotland and see James!  LOTS of musicals that I'm interested in!  can work from London office easily since I have several team members there (and one that I really really want to meet who hasn't been able to get over to the US)!
London cons: super expensive.  long plane flights.  kinda scary going to new country mostly alone.  Don't have any friends who are actually in London proper.

The other thing is that if I wait long enough I'm pretty sure Google will send me to London at some point (our whole team went over in July, apparently).  Though in that case it'd be harder to do things like go up and visit other friends and see musicals and whatever.  And I would kinda like to take trains around the UK, which I can do on vacation but not so much on a work trip.  But I mean, I think I could seriously go to the UK for 2 weeks and only have to take maybe 1 day of vacation total if I time it right (and work from the London office for a week).

Aaaaah, so indecisive.  Not sure why this is so hard to decide.  I guess my heart isn't truly psyched for either, but on the other hand I think I'd be pretty depressed if I just stayed in SF for the entire holiday season.

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November 21st, 2013

08:48 am - no place like chrome (dev summit)
I'm on the bus to the Quad for Chrome Dev Summit Day 2.  This is surreal since it means I've been at Google for almost 8 weeks.  Tomorrow we're going to Vegas.  It's pretty crazy.

Anyway, the last few days have been pretty great for the most part.  I went bowling (at Google -- we have an alley) with my Noogler buddy David last Thursday, and we went bowling again last night.  I suck so much, but I guess if I keep going maybe I'll get better.  I need to strengthen my left arm I think -- I just haven't lifted weights in years and have gotten super-weak.

Brian E had a birthday/games party on Saturday, and while I was originally worried about being too old/antisocial to go, it worked out okay.  Lots of CMU people from around the class of '06, give or take a few years.  We played some games and hung out talking a lot and I surprisingly ended up running up against my Zipcar limit.  Oh, and the Zipcar was hilarious -- it was missing its right passenger mirror.  I called Zipcar and they were like "we know, we're fixing it tomorrow" but I'm like "is this LEGAL to drive?" and they said "I dunno, it is in Illinois but you're in California.  Just be careful?"  I guess it worked out okay.  I spent the afternoon before the party running errands -- got some stuff from Target including Christmas lights so I could decorate this tree in my office for "Chromesmas", and then I also went to REI to get a new backpack and some lights to use for bicycle riding -- so now I have a blinker to put on my backpack and I also have a headlight.  Hopefully this will make it less dangerous to ride Google clown bikes around at night.

Last week I also had Indian lunch at our on-campus restaurant for the first time with Jorge, dkitchin, zra, and Sheena.  It's fun to not have to calculate a check afterwards and also to have them say "what's your LDAP?" when you have a reservation.

This week zml and Matthias started at Google so I had lunch with them on Tuesday.  We were also joined by Pete who I used to play D&D with in Seattle and hadn't seen in 6 years, so that was cool, I didn't even know he was at Google.  Pretty crazy.  We went and found the Skeeball machine in one of the adjacent buildings afterwards, which was also super-fun.

Yesterday was the FIRST day of Chrome Dev Summit.  The entire week has been insane leading up to it -- lots of people in town on my team so it's been super-exciting to meet all of these people whose names I've seen all along.  And we had GDE summit so I've been hanging out with the two Devtools GDE's as well.  In general it's just been great.  I spent yesterday basically running back and forth between the conference and the social media room helping out with various things and also just getting to watch some of the talks!  It's really cool to be part of something so big and so awesome, there are like 300 people here for the summit as well as like 1000 people watching over livestream.


Though, unfortunately, yesterday was the first November 20 since... 2000, I think, that I didn't get to play Bemani on the day.  I'm going to see if I can do something about that today, especially since we have at least two DDR machines on campus.

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November 14th, 2013

08:52 am - Debating holiday travel, and other things
It's been a whirlwind month or two at Google now and I can say that at least so far it really is the Disneyland of tech companies in terms of places to work.  Everybody is smart and I have so much stuff to learn and do and the food is amazing and it's been one long CMU reunion for me in some ways -- almost every day I run into or reconnect with someone I hadn't seen in forever.  (This does have the downside that I don't reconnect with other south bay friends that don't work at Google, but I mostly chalk that up to not having a car, etc.)  I've been going to ballroom dance club there and gaming club, and debating seeing about adding some more activities but the entire living-in-the-city makes that difficult, and I'm not sure I want to change that aspect of things.  I vaguely wonder if acquiring a car would make the living-in-the-city aspect of things different to be honest?  Having a car in the city sucks but it would make socializing after work a lot easier - and I could go in whenever I feel like it rather than when the shuttles show up.  Of course, then I'd have to drive, and pay for insurance and gas and all kinds of things that I don't really want to deal with, and yet I don't feel like justifying the cost of Zipcar for either.

Anyway, I'm not going anywhere for Thanksgiving (but fortunately it sounds like a few of my friends are doing Thanksgiving-like dinners here in town so I'll have plenty of people to see and that'll be good) but I was kinda debating going somewhere for Christmas/NewYears only because we get a whole bunch of holiday days around then and it seems a shame to waste them even though I don't celebrate Christmas or anything like that.

So options I thought of for trips are:
1) Tokyo
2) New York (east coast etc)
3) Europe (specifically Germany/UK)

I'm not sure going to Tokyo makes any sense though.  I would kind of rather go during baseball season, honestly, and it's not like there's a lot for me to do around new year's since the entire country is also off and having family celebrations and all that stuff, so a lot of the things I'd usually do to waste time aren't an option.  I think I could still have a pretty good time and even work from the Google Tokyo office a little maybe, but in reality I think I need to actually figure out my Japan travel plans for next year.

New York could be fun, that's where I was for New Year's last year.  There's a ton of stuff to do and things to eat and friends to hang out with, and again, there's a Google office there too so I could work remotely a few days hopefully.  I could theoretically also couple that with a trip elsewhere on the east coast like DC or Philly and actually visit people who are related to me.  And Carl is going to be in the US and in NYC around that time so I could hang out with him (which is part of why it doesn't make sense to go to Tokyo, or even Seattle, which I thought about a bit too)

Europe is intriguing though because I've never been there, and I have a friend in Germany who's willing to let me crash with him, and I have friends in the UK who are willing to let me crash with them, and unlike the other two options, I actually directly work with people in the Google London office (infact I'm on the early bus to work right now so I can have a meeting with them) so it'd probably be the easiest remote office to sell to my manager as "hey, can I go work remotely for a few days there?"

I really don't know.  I mean, I could also just stay in California for the entirety of the holiday season but that also seems pretty boring.  I have to admit that I'm really unlikely to go to Europe unless I do it at one of these baseball offseason times anyway or I get sent for work (although the latter is not that entirely unlikely come to think of it).  Shrug, I figure I should spend the next week or two thinking about it and looking at numbers and talk to some people and make some decisions.

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November 6th, 2013

11:13 pm - alhambra
You know, this week has generally been kind of awesome even if a little stressful and i've been super-tired.  Yesterday I ran into Pat Riley while walking across campus; I hadn't seen him since forever ago at CMU! And the funny part is that it was on my way back from CMU lunch anyway.  Also turns out that one of the CMU guys from the lunch works on my floor.

Today I had awesome Japanese food for lunch at the cafe downstairs from me -- yaki-udon and tofu and tekkamaki and stuff like that.  I ate way too much but it was totally worth it.  And in the evening was board game club, but first dkitchin invited me to come downstairs to a Research happy hour where I got to see cool demos of stuff and then we went to get dinner and then game club, where we played Alhambra with another David there.  It really is cool how I get to catch up with my CMU friends.  Last week, actually, while Jay (Pujara) was in town, we had lunch with Patrick and Greg, and then a day later I had lunch with my former Amazon officemates Guido and Hemant... the latter of whom it turns out works next to Greg.  What a weird coincidence.

Basically, I guess the point is, I'm really exhausted -- especially with spending 3 hours a day on shuttle buses and whatnot -- and I've been off caffeine for about two weeks now -- but mostly things are pretty good, I'd say.

I've been trying to sleeve my 7 Wonders cards so I can bring them to work, but it turns out that the specific sleeves for them are SLIGHTLY too tight.  Very annoying.  Everything online suggests that the sleeves are just "snug", but I'm not sure I buy it.

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November 4th, 2013

01:07 pm - 6th week at Google
Achievement unlocked: went to secret cafe on campus for lunch with my officemates.  One guy joked that "Larry and Sergey sometimes eat here" on the way... and then Larry got in line behind him.

BTW, on the bus to work this morning I was debating the idea of trying to resurrect my old Livejournal habits for a bit and see how it goes.  I kind of miss having LJ entries about everything instead of things scattered across FB, G+, twitter, etc.

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October 28th, 2013

11:52 am - TMBG in Santa Cruz

I posted this elsewhere but kinda wanted to have it here since I had a lot of TMBG entries once upon a time.

Ben and I went to a TMBG concert in Santa Cruz last night at the Rio Theater, and it wasn't too crowded when we arrived in the middle of Moon Hooch's set, so we were really near the stage. I haven't stood that close up for a TMBG show in quite some time and it reminded me of going to their shows in the 1990's in some ways.  (I was wearing my Apollo 18 shirt and actually went up to high-five the only other person in the place wearing one, and we ended up sticking around there, along with this 22-year-old kid who was a major TMBG fanboy and was just like "omg I wish I'd still get to see them tour in 20 years", which made me and Ben think how "isn't it nuts that we're at a TMBG concert 20 years later and would we ever have predicted this in 1992?".)

Set list:

You're On Fire
Clap Your Hands
The Guitar
Boat of Car
Call You Mom
Circular Karate Chop
Meet the Elements
32 Footsteps
Damn Good Times
He's Loco (the Avatars of They)
Dr. Worm
Alienation's For The Rich
New York City
Battle for the Planet of the Apes
Black Ops
Number Three
Birdhouse in Your Soul
Drum Solo / Lou Reed Tribute
When You Die
Everything Right is Wrong Again

We noticed that they played nothing from Lincoln or John Henry. I think they're practicing to do another First Album show soon. The funny thing is that the first TMBG show Ben and I went to together was a First Album show... for new year's 1993.

While I was slightly disappointed with the set list, it was still a great show and full of all of their (un)usual schtick, including Flansburgh at one point yelling "HEY! WHAT ARE ALL OF YOU PEOPLE IN THE BACK DOING SITTING DOWN? I'M 53 YEARS OLD, ANYONE OUT THERE YOUNGER THAN ME BETTER STAND UP RIGHT NOW!" before playing Damn Good Times.

They had a moment where Flans told Dan Miller to pose with a melodica before "Icky", and "everyone get out your phones and tweet a photo of Dan Miller with his melodica to Marty Beller!" (the drummer).  Well... I took a decent shot and tweeted it and guess what, they tweeted back saying it was a good shot.  Yay me?  (https://twitter.com/marinerds/status/394731516992827392)

I guess the great thing is that TMBG are still just as nerdy and weird now as they've ever been, so it's still just a great show.

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October 14th, 2013

10:05 pm - Cool interactions
If you don't follow me on Facebook or Google+ you may not know that I work at Google now.  I started 2 weeks ago, this is my third week there.  It was a long and fun process getting hired there, but essentially I got the offer in the middle of my Japan trip and accepted, planning to start a week after I came back to the US (with of course a trip to DC to staff the Famine Game).  So far Google is awesome but overwhelming.  There are a ton of people I hadn't seen in ages who work there and it is very exciting to reconnect.  But that is not actually why I am writing this entry.

So four years ago jcreed mentioned a short story called Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore.  (The story is now located here.)  I loved it, even if Jason did not.  I've forwarded it to many people since.

Today, Robin Sloan, the author, gave a talk at Google.  He had gone off and turned the short story into a real book, which I didn't even know until I saw him listed in our Authors series.  He read from the book a little and then did a Q&A.  I got up and told him how even though I didn't even realize there was a book version, I had *loved* the short story, especially how the protagonist never actually speaks in dialogue, only in thoughts, and the other people reply to him in dialogue... and did he try to approach the book that way, and what happened?  And he was basically like "Aha, you have just moved into the 'inner circle' by noticing that, a lot of readers don't pick up on it and even rarer will ask about it, and possibly nobody else in the room will know what we're talking about so this is for you, but anyway, yes, the style is on purpose, partially just because you know how sometimes we're not quite sure whether we think something or say something?  And I mean, writing dialogue can often be so tedious, too?" and so on.  It made me feel really happy both as a writer and as a reader, since I really did feel that the style was distinctive and well-used and it really gave us a feel for how the protagonist thought and felt... but also it was like, cool, this author gets that I really truly read his work and got it.  I asked him to sign my copy of the book afterwards, and then it was like "ah, and you're left-handed too.  That totally doesn't surprise me!"  He said to let him know if I like the book, I wonder if he was serious.

In other cool interactions, speaking of Jason, he visited me at Google and we went around and met tons of CMU people randomly.  It was awesome.  And it also reminded me that it was actually his fault I read that story at all in the first place.  Good times.  :)

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July 31st, 2013

02:11 am - Japan!
I am in Tokyo.  More specifically I am in Wakaba, which is near Yotsuya.  Still have to explore the area.  Will write more later.

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May 12th, 2013

12:03 pm - Unemployed
Friday was my last day at Tagged, if you haven't already heard from elsewhere.  No, I don't know what I'm doing next, but I'm open to suggestions.  Being removed from the Stig team pretty much broke my heart and I couldn't really continue at Tagged working on something else.  So, it's time to find even more epic things to accomplish (although that's a tall order to fill). I'm going to miss my coworkers like crazy, but I know that in the long run this will be a good move for my health and sanity.  Although I'm reading compilers textbooks for fun anyway, so maybe I haven't entirely broken away :)  I guess at least I got a chance to say goodbye to everyone; that was immensely sad for me, since I was there for 2 years and felt like I had some kind of connection with almost all of the people who worked there.  I'm that person who always says "of course we can make room for you, pull up a chair" at lunch and I hope that's how people remember me.

For now I'm going to spend the next week hanging out with people (some of which involves visiting new companies), then I'm going to Seattle to help staff the DASH puzzle hunt on May 18th and I'll be staying around for a week or so.  I'm hosting jweill here for Memorial Day and then Shinteki Decathlon puzzle hunt is June 1st.  Then I've got to make some decisions like, when will I go visit Japan (or move back), things like that.  I also kind of want to make an effort to get rid of stuff I own so that I can feel more mobile, so that might be a good project to undertake while I have this time, so if you were ever coveting my collections of games or books or baseball cards or CDs or anything like that, this might be a good time to tell me :)

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March 31st, 2013

07:58 pm - Japan trip entry wheee
I kinda want to have Japan entries but don't want to write them.

So let's see, I was at work Thurs night till 11pm, stayed up mosto f the night packing, got like 3 hours of sleep, then got up at 7:30 to get on BART by 9 to be at the airport by 10 to get on a noon flight.  The people sitting next to me on the flight were a japanese couple who travel abroad a lot and I spent a while talking to them (in Japanese; they were like "i can't believe someone like you exists" and I'm like "that's really weird because you travel a lot and can speak English, why haven't you met more foreigners?" but I guess foreigners who are baseball otaku and train otaku are not so normal).  I slept for maybe 1-2 hours on the plane total.  EVERYTHING in Narita was seamless.  So weird.  The flight landed on time, the first thing I did was get a Softbank card for my prepaid keitai, then I went to the post office upstairs where I was picking up the mifi thingy I'm renting this trip and it was also there, and worked with no trouble either!  Went to get a Skyliner train and that was also easy.  The first problem I encountered at all was when I got to Fontana at 6pm and there was nobody there to show me to the place I'm staying so I had to wait like 15 minutes. Fortunately, Fontana-wise, I had exchanged money in SF so was able to just pay my rent up front.  Yay.  60,000 yen for a "month" that I'm only staying for 17 days of, but that still works out to 3500 yen per day for a room in a house in Nakano with a kitchen and internet and all, so I'm pretty sure it's still a very good deal compared to any hotel thing I would have done.  The guy who showed me up here was Rafael, and there's another guy in the house named Raphael (different spelling, the first is from Brazil and the other is I'm not sure).  I also later on met a french girl named Madeleine who lives upstairs.  I think those two are the two here right now, the other room is currently open.  They don't seem to hang out in the living room much, which is ok with me.  I have the smallest room known to man -- it basically fits a futon and a desk and THAT IS IT.  No joke.  I have to roll up the futon to have space to actually use the desk with a chair.  But again, cheap and good location -- I can get from home to Shinjuku station in 15 minutes.  Not sure yet what my time to Jingu is though.

Anyway, I had been emaiilng with Carl so I met up with him in Shinjuku by where the taiyaki place was in Alta.  Sadly it has closed.  We went to a Kinnokura izakaya for dinner because I was like "they have magic touchscreens!  food will just show up!"  Which is mostly what happened, we kept ordering things they were out of for some reason.  And our waitress was Indian and kind of weird.  And the place was smoky.  But it was cool to hang out with Carl.  We also went to Don Quixote after so I could get a towel and hangers and stuff, and wandered around Shinjuku a bit, and eventually I decided to go home because I was tired,

except I was supposed to stop by at Lodi at Nakano-Sakaue, which is a bar run by a Japanese guy who seems obsessed with country music and with California and Texas (apparently lived there at some point) and is a Hanshin fan.  And Kozo and Mac were there.  And I ended up there for another 2 hours talking to the people there about baseball and being tired.  Walked home with Kozo, I got to see his new place, and we also went into our old house because it's completely emptied out and unlocked.  So depressing :(  Then came back here and stayed up talking until 1:30am.  It's different not being in the same house but he's really just 3 blocks away.

I got up on Sunday and went to the Seibu Dome for the Fighters game.  Wore my oldskool Tokyo Dome jidai jersey, ran into many people.  Our old "team 52" is apparently now "team Kanto" as a play on "team Konta" now that Konta retired.  Shrug.  They saved a spot for me though, and we were right near Matsuda and Manabu and their gang (they want me to come to Kobe with them in 2 weeks; I said I'd think about it.)  Takuma wasn't there because he's busy job-hunting apparently.  Ran into Zawa-san and I can't believe how big his kid Yukio (yes, named for that Yukio) has gotten.  I asked the ouendan leaders for a lyrics sheet and they were like "oh hey it's Sweeney's friend" and I'm like "...yeah I guess, and he's still in the US and doing well" and they told me to learn the new songs and I said I would.  There's this girl in the ouendan who I first met 5 years ago when she was 17 and a high school student in Sapporo.  I guess now she's either in college or out of college but she's actually getting up and leading the section now, which is nuts.  So there are 3 main female ouendan leaders now.  Crazy.

Fighters lost the game 5-2.  New songs are hard.  Michel Abreu hit a 2-run homer in the 9th inning to prevent Ken Togame from getting a CG shutout.  It's funny because... I remember Togame at Nichidai and then JR East, and now he's pitching for the Lions.  Crazy.  I hope he does well though.  Sad that Tatsuya Ohishi didn't come out as closer.  Saw Kagiya throwing in the Fighters bullpen though and... <3!  I'm proud of him but sad I can't meet him at Kamagaya, heh.  Oh, and Yuji Kaneko started in right for Seibu.  I met him at the Nichibei college tourney two years ago too.  So weird.

Anyway, after the game, which ended earlyish at 4, I rode home with people, stopped in here, dropped off stuff, then went back to Shinjuku to meet up with Shin and Carl.  We got dinner at Nabezo, which was a combination of shabu-shabu and sukiyaki with all the get-your-own stuff so drinks, rice, veggies, etc, as opposed to Momo Paradise where they just bring you whatever.  (There was a long wait and we went to Kinokuniya on the way, though)  Anyway, we whined about work and hung out there for a while and ate a ton of food, and then went to the Wald 9 theater and saw Wreck-it Ralph.  In Japanese, of course.  It was a little weird and I was tired but I think I understood all of it.  Should watch again in English sometime.

Came home, tired.  Decided not to go to Osaka for senbatsu.  It's silly, but it just feels like a lot of time and money to make a day trip there now.  I guess I'm getting older and jaded.  I mean, I like Koshien and all but I've been there and done that and since I don't live in Japan anymore I don't have the same attachments to schools and whatnot. 

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March 1st, 2013

04:14 pm - trying to write updates about more stuff -- games and skating
Ice Skating: Wednesdays continue.  Two weeks ago when I showed up with everyone I went to get skates and Sean, the guy at the counter, just looks up and says "oh, hi" and goes and gets me men's size 7 hockey skates.  Same for last week.  Last week, too, since I'd run into some of the regular skaters at the Bulls game on the 17th, it was weird, Marc didn't go with us for the first time ever but I was still saying hi to everyone.  Marc knows everyone by name, I don't, but it's still familiar.  There's a guy who skates there who is the SF Bulls mascot, and he offered to see if he had an extra pair of skates around that might fit me.  It's weird to feel like a "regular" somewhere and I would have never guessed an ice rink would be it for me, but there you have it.  I'm still not a great skater but I definitely have improved over the months.  Chris noticed last week (after not coming with us for like 2 months) that "you're skating circles around me!  you don't even touch the walls anymore", and I tried this week to do quicker skating -- usually I do skate-skate-glide, this time I was going for skate-skate-skate-skate-glide, things like that.

Ping pong: I have been playing ping pong regularly again, finally, with the guy who's VP of Engineering for one of the other companies in our building for the last month or so.  He's also left-handed and pretty good, but not so much better than me that it's unfair or unfun to play.  So I'm getting good games in, our games are usually really close and I win about 1/3 of the time, and am actually working on technique for once which I rarely do.  It even actually feels like exercise, and it's also nice to hang out with someone who DOESN'T work for Tagged, and he's pretty cool.

Games: I had FOUR days of games last week!  Eclipse on Monday the 18th which was a disaster as mentioned, game night at our house on the 21st which was great, Games Day at Darby's place on the 23rd, and then more Eclipse on the 24th.

The 21st was really good.  I skipped a work party to be there.  Apparently MC Hammer showed up to our work party (and got arrested later that night).  Weird.  Mark and Cooper also showed up, but other than that I don't think I missed anything.  I went to get dinner with Debbie and Sarah, who are puzzle friends of mine -- Sarah lives in Boston but was visiting SF for a week.  So we went to Chow and talked about various puzzle stuff.  Then, games night at my place.  Besides Debbie and Sarah there were also several other new/rare people -- Gwillen showed up, JC showed up for the first time and Charles brought a friend named Casey.  I played Innovation with Gwillen, Charles, and Casey, and it was fun.  Much better with less experienced players and a lot of "OMG WHAT DOES THAT CARD DO" moments.  The other table played Seven Wonders.

The 23rd was also good.  I was a little late since I'd spent the afternoon on a walk with my ex-boyfriend, and of course there is a little bit of weirdness around this group since it turns out they are mostly all part of a big poly group (I didn't know this when I started hanging out with them; I met Darby and Ryan through Puzzle Hunt, and it turns out I met Tom like 15 years ago in Pittsburgh).  Anyway, I showed up and the first thing I got into was King of Tokyo.  Not really one of my favorite games because it is just a lot of silly dice-rolling, but when faced with a big group of people I don't know that well I tend to start off being more timid and less opinionated about games while I get the lay of the land.  So, I don't even remember who won the game (I think it was Jess).  After that we got out Kingdom Builder, which I know I played with Didi, Devin, and Gwillen, and I totally won with 78 points because I managed to really kick all of the side goals really well -- horizontal lines, contiguous buildings, spaced out over all 4 quadrants.  I just had something extending way across the middle of the board.  Then there was a game of Innovation with me, gwillen, Didi and Dave -- who turned out to be Dave Reilly, the PGSS alumni association president.  How weird is that?  I was like "I've been getting emails from you for like 4 years!"  But I'd never met him before.  So that was kinda random and cool.  I felt bad for being someone who had never donated money (because I was a poor English teacher in japan) but I did help get a ton of people onto the mailing lists (because I TA'ed for 3 years and stayed in touch with a lot of people).  So, eh.  I don't even remember who won this either though I think it was Dave.  I was close though, I finally got a good score pile towards the end.  Oh well.  The last game I played was called Agents of SMERSH, which was a weird spy-themed game, with Darby and Tom and gwillen.  It took FOREVER!  Had I known it was a cooperative game I might not have started (although Glenn was my ride home so I was kinda waiting for him anyway).  Some of the scenarios were amusing but in general, we just felt like we were fighting a losing battle as airports kept getting closed and spy info kept disappearing.  I dunno.  Still, lots of games.

The 24th was a mostly impromptu Eclipse day with Drew, Gabe, and Chris L.  Chris had never played before and this was my second game.  It DEFINITELY went better than my first game -- partially because we only had 4 people instead of 6, partially because I had a better idea what I was supposed to be doing.  Unfortunately, the turn I was like "I think I'll attack the middle next turn," Gabe attacked the middle, and then he had the 4-shot guns on his ships so, I piled a bunch of ships on to attack him but he basically blew me out within one turn.  Oops.  Oh well, it was still the idea that you should HAVE a big battle rather than just letting people walk all over the board.  I don't think I did very well overall score-wise but at least I felt better about it in that I launched one of "those" battles.  Yay?  And it only took us like 4-5 hours which was also good.  Afterwards played Qwirkle with Drew and Gabe and then walked back to Caltrain.  Sigh, it takes so long to get there and back.

Hmm, I have a work update to do also but that's going to be locked for obvious reasons.

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February 9th, 2013

02:08 pm - Song Parodies I shouldn't write Part N, "I'm SF And I Know It"
(work in progress, I just HAD to do this or it wasn't going to get out of my head)

"I'm SF and I Know It"

Walkin' through the 'Loin, homeless people ask me for coin
I'm on Market Street, walking to the BART as I swype and tweet
This is how I roll, bicycle shorts, hair outta control
It's Castro with the big rainbow
And walk my dog everywhere I go

Yeah, look at that hoodie (x3)
I chill out
Yeah, look at that hoodie (x3)
I chill out

When I bike past the park (yeah), this is what I see
Everybody smokes and they're drinking green tea
I'm a nerdy hipster bro and I ain't afraid to show it, show it, show it
I'm SF and I know it

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January 5th, 2013

11:08 pm - more philly
I'm kinda staying up late on purpose to try to set myself up for "reverse redeye" going home -- with a 6am flight if I can stay up until the flight here, which is 3am west coast time, and sleep on the plane for 6 hours, I should be okay.

Anyway, Friday in Philly, I did laundry in the morning, got a ride to the train station in the late afternoon, and went downtown.  Walked around for a bit, mostly being dismayed that everything I hoped to find was gone -- the Bruegger's at 19th and Market closed on Dec 21st, then the Borders at Chestnut and Broad closed a while ago (duh I forgot).  Ended up getting Krimpets as a snack and going to Barnes&Noble, and picked up a Phillies history book.

Then met up with Stewart at the Walnut Street Theatre; well, first we went to Jim's to get cheesesteaks and catch up, and then we went back to the theater to watch the Music Man.  Our seats were halfprice from him being a member of the WST and all, but that meant we were way off the side to the left, though in like the 7th row.  The really weird thing for me with this show is that we did it when I was in 10th grade, so I still know the show's music and book inside out, BUT I don't think I really got a lot of the humor in it back when I was in highschool?  Or maybe we just didn't do that much with the directing or whatever?  There were all of these little things I noticed that despite having a scene memorized, there were all these, like, things in it that I hadn't really picked up on before.  Plus, of course, professional actors are better than high school actors.  They had a huge group of kids in the cast to play the "youth of River City" though, which means that there were also some things I'm pretty sure I didn't realize when we did it (like which people were supposed to be kids, etc).  The other kicker was that they had a real live horse pulling the Wells Fargo Wagon across the stage at the end of Act 1.  Pretty crazy!

Anyway, it is a very long show, ended around 11pm, Stewart ended up giving me a ride home out here to the suburbs, which was nice of him.

I woke up fairly early this morning (Saturday).  My uncle and I went up to the northeast to visit my grandpa in the hospital... why is he always in the hospital when I visit?  He's almost 95 so it's pretty incredible that he's still alive and has such good sight/hearing/etc as he does.  This time he was having some gallstone issues apparently, I would joke it's hereditary except that he's not actually my biological grandfather, long story.  Anyway, so we did that and hung out with my grandpa for around 45 minutes, first stopping by his apartment to get some of his stuff for him, the weird thing is that he's living around the corner from my high school in a neighborhood I used to walk through all the time, so it was very nostalgic for me to be around there.

After we got back out here I hung out for a while and negotiated plans with my aunt and uncle and then in the evening I went downtown to hang out with techstep.  I wanted to go to Lee's Hoagie House and he likes hoagies, so we met up at the one at 40th and Walnut.  Even better, I drove downtown to get there!  I kinda screwed up a little but fortunately that's what Google Navigation is for, when you miss a street it just says "ok, continue on Belmont for 4 miles" or whatever.

Anyway, we had hoagies and caught up for a while, and then I drove Rob home and went in with him so I could meet his wife and dog, which was pretty cool on both counts.  I had only intended to come in and say hi and then drive home, but ended up there for like an hour and a half talking about random stuff.  Also, the dog drooled all over me so when I got back here, Jake-dog spent like five minutes sniffing my jeans like "where's the dog.  where's the dog.  there's another dog.  dog?  where dog?"

I don't have a plan for Sunday yet!  But I fly back to San Francisco on Monday morning!  Yikes!

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January 4th, 2013

12:12 pm - the rest of the NY trip and stuff
So, New Year's Day, I spent the afternoon catching up with Ben Hsu, who I hadn't actually seen since we graduated CMU, but he's in NYC now and he likes baseball so he wanted to catch up while I was in town.  We met up at the Strand but got lunch at some other place nearby and chatted about a whole bunch of random crap, and after that I went to the Strand and raided their baseball books and came out relatively unscathed with only 4.

I went to see Book of Mormon that night, I'd gotten a single ticket to it a month or two ago when we planned this entire shenanigans; everyone else waited too long so no normal tickets were really available.  (And back in September when the SF shows went on sale it sold out in an hour.  Sheesh.)  My seat was three rows from the back of the O'Neill theater but it was still reasonable; I'm not actually sure whether I'd go to see this musical again though, to be honest.  Don't get me wrong, it's very good, and I totally recommend seeing it, but it was a very odd experience to be in this audience with all of these older conservative-seeming theater-going folks who are by nature not the kind of people who you'd expect to be laughing at jokes about African people having sex with frogs in order to
cure AIDS, but there you have it. It's very crass, offensive, irreverent, and everything you expect from the South Park guys.  Definitely not the kind of musical you go see with your mom. But I mean, it has tap-dancing and big dance numbers and solos and a happy ending, so... oh, and of course I played the "look in the Playbill for the CMU graduates" game and found out that the guy playing Elder McKinley, Rory O'Malley, is a CMU '03 grad
, and apparently the original Elder Cunningham, Josh Gad, was ALSO from CMU '03.  And they were roomates at CMU.  Go figure.  There was another CMU guy in the cast named Tommar Wilson who graduated in my class, but he didn't play a big role in this.

I'd actually purposefully walked up and down Broadway to take pictures of Times Square, and stopped in a random deli for dinner after the show.  I think I might have been in that exact deli several years ago, it felt very familiar.  Or maybe a lot of NYC deli/shops look the same.

Came back, the guys (by then just Mark and Jay) were playing Through the Ages.  Whee.

Jay left in the morning of the 2nd, and I spent that day hanging out with jcreed.  I first got brunch at Shopsin's, which is this insane diner-like thing inside the Essex Market.  Mark had told me it was crazy good and had 800 choices on the menu; these were both true, but I expected a bigger place, I guess I hadn't listened to the part about "this is Kenny Shopsin's hobby not business", so there's literally seating for like 20 people maybe, they only handle 4 orders at a time, etc, so there's a huge line and they're only open 10am-2pm.  Crazy.  But I had a breakfast tray that had chocolate french toast and butterscotch s'mores pancakes and something called a "sneaky pete" which was bread and eggs and things.  Pretty yummy.

Met up with Jason near there and we went uptown towards the Museum of Math, and his girlfriend met us there.  I had heard about MoMath because they threw a puzzle hunt for their opening.  And of course, who doesn't like math?  The door handles to get in are in the shape of pi, even!  But the actual museum is not that established yet and so it is mostly puzzles and toys for kids to play with, more than anything else.  There were a few cool things like fractal machines and a tricycle that had square wheels driving on a rounded bumpy road, and a thing where you had to assemble shapes and see what path they took when rolling.  I had kind of hoped for more equations and history and whatnot, but there wasn't so much of that.  Maybe in the future.  They had a machine that you could make a Momath logo on and in the future you'll be able to print your own custom t-shirt from it.  So, yeah.

We spent the next few hours basically cafe-hopping; first walking to Koreatown and to a restaurant there, and then to a Gregorys Coffee, and then K had class to go to so Jason and I went to Carmine's, since I really wanted to go there and knew from past experience that you really can't go alone.  We first walked to the one in Times Square but it had an hour wait; we called the one on the Upper West Side and they were like "We can make you a reservation in an hour or you can basically just walk in," so we went up there and basically just walked in.  Got a gigantic plate of rigatoni and some garlic bread and had enough leftovers for days and days and days.  Alas.  It was still good.  I wish I could have gone there with a bigger group to eat more of the food, but it just didn't work out.  And either way it was great to have a lot of time to spend with Jason, so whatever.  I hope we continue to end up in the same city every now and then and catch up and all.

So the next day was Jan 3rd, Thursday, and my plan for the day was originally to tour Yankee Stadium with Ken and then head out of town, except that 1) it was 30 degrees out and 2) all the tours after 12pm sold out and Ken is also a late riser.  So we made plans instead to go to the New York Transit Museum, which Jason had told me about, and I'd also gotten a message from Sam Kass asking if I'd want to get lunch while I was in town, so I said "sure, how about Thursday?" so we met up right by the World Trade Center site and got pizza.  It's really funny because I hadn't seen Sam in like... years, we couldn't even remember the last time.  Though he worked at Maya/GD with my friends, so I have a feeling like I must have seen him in Pittsburgh at some point in the mid-2000's.  I told him stories about Japan and how the crazy kids are there playing Rock-Paper-Scissors and he told me some of the funny stories that have happened since Big Bang Theory put on his and Karen's RPS-Spock-Lizard variant.  Afterwards, I wanted to view the WTC stuff, so he got me into the Goldman-Sachs building as a guest and we went up to a cafeteria with a great view of it all, so I could see the construction of the new buildings and everything.  And then I walked to the ferry and the Irish Potato Famine memorial, took some photos, and yeah.  Great timing that it all worked out.

Then I took a train to Brooklyn and the train museum, and met up with Ken.  Oddly, the museum is in what used to be a train station, Court St, so you have to go down into it as if you are entering a station, and I missed the entrance.  It's very very cool, there are all these things about the history of the NY subway system, and a whole section on the evolution of trolleys, and buses, and how the city went from horsecars to elevated trains to trolleys to subways and so on.  Lots of great old things like signs and bus models and parking meters and whatnot, and then there's a whole section about Miss Subways, which I'd never even heard of.  The downstairs area is the old Court St. station platform and there are TONS OF TRAINS!  You can walk through most of them, anything from Brooklyn Transit cars from 1910 or so, to newer MTA trains, the most amusing thing in most of them is the old advertisements, for products like Lifebuoy and Uneeda and Burma Shave and whatnot, or old cars or old plays (like Hamlet productions from the 1920's), or the WWII-era ads are REALLY disturbing in some ways, like "let's defeat the nips and the nazis" or one about German and Japanese immigrants needing to register.  I liked walking through all the trains and sitting down in them and lounging around, it was nice.  Until they called "15 more minutes open" and we went quickly through the rest, then went to the store and I got shirts for the line J and the line 7.

We went to a place called Junior's after that, ostensibly for cheesecake, but Ken decided to get matzah ball soup so I got blintzes.  They were HUGE but probably the most tasty blintzes I've ever had in my life.  And the cheesecake was also as awesome as promised.  I didn't mean to eat so much, especially not after the stromboli I had for lunch, but in the end this worked out because then I didn't need to eat dinner, really.

Went back to Mark's, packed up my stuff, charged my phone, ordered an Amtrak ticket, and then I went to Penn Station and got on an Acela train to Philly.  That was super-comfortable, I don't think I've been on the Acela before or at least not in many years.

My uncle Jack picked me up from 30th Street and I came back here and caught up with him and my aunt, a little with my cousin Melissa who is here on break from Pitt, meeting my other cousin Eric's dog who now lives here, and then I stayed up late watching TV and fell asleep around 2-3am.  It was a little weird because I'm staying in Eric's old room, and even though he doesn't live here anymore it's still full of his stuff, but he's big into sports, especially Philly sports, so there's a lot of interesting old football/baseball/hockey stuff around to look at.

Anyway, I've just been hanging out here for the afternoon; I had to do laundry in the morning anyway.  I'm going to get a ride to SEPTA in a bit and then go downtown to see the Music Man with Stewart (another one of those people I catch up with once a year when we're in the same city).  Whee.

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January 1st, 2013

01:15 am - new year's
Went to sleep late, woke up late.  Took forever to get out of here, eventually Mark and Jay and I went up to the Dinosaur BBQ in Harlem.  Chris and I had talked about going to Dinosaur when I was in Rochester but decided against it due to expected lines on a weekend night; but today the 3 of us just got in there with no wait at all.  Had amazing food, including fried green tomatoes, and BBQ pork/brisket, the mac&cheese, and the sweet potatoes.  It was all delicious.

After that I took the subway and train out to the suburbs to see ketsugami and friends.  I guess I got there a few hours earlier than most, so Django and Nasri and I sat around talking until the others showed up.  It was pretty crazy catching up with Nasri since I hadn't seen him in probably 8 or 9 years at least, and I also didn't realize that we're the same age (almost exactly, by a week).  Mostly we spent like an hour recounting old silly D&D stories from back when Django ran a couple legendary campaigns at CMU... then Gareth showed up with his wife, and we would have recounted even more D&D stories, but then Django's high school friends started showing up, and they have different RPG stories, so instead we all sat around talking until there were like 10 of us there, and it split into two groups, where the 4 of us CMU people plus Django's friend Mike played Smallworld, and then the other half played Cards Against Humanity in the other room.  I don't play Smallworld that often so I'm not particularly versed in the strategy, so I was just going for amusement value, like playing fortified orcs and underground trolls and berzerking tritons, rolling tons of dice.  Django won.  After that we played Puzzle Strike, with me and Django against Nasri and Gareth, and Gareth got some ungodly combo off that eventually killed us.  We watched the ball drop at midnight for happy 2013, which was kinda anticlimactic, and a little while after that people decided to head home.

Oh, I got to see the book cover for Django's next book, it looks awesome :)

Gareth and his wife live in the city and were going to drive me to the subway so I didn't have to deal with the train, but in the end instead Gareth just gave me a ride all the way back to the East Village!  It wasn't so bad, nowhere as crowded/stupid as we thought it would be.

I got two slices of pizza at one of the cheap places and then came upstairs.  Yawn.  Why am I still awake?

BTW -- it's funny but I totally did not notice Dick Clark died, because I was in the hospital at the time with my gallbladder attack.  How weird is that?

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December 30th, 2012

11:31 pm - I'm in New York!
As I write this, Phil and Kay are talking Magic with Mark, Jay is asleep on the other couch, Dian is goofing off on a laptop, and I'm not actually sure where the heck Brian is.

So basically a whole lot of us converged on NYC this weekend; I took a redeye in Friday night (caught up with Kuibbles for dinner beforehand and he rode the BART with me to the airport) and got in super-early Saturday morning.  I've had a sinus infection or something for the last few weeks, and went to a doctor on Wednesday who prescribed some stuff for me including antibiotics.  I hadn't taken them yet, so the flight was nightmarish, with the dry air and all I was coughing up a storm the entire time and couldn't sleep.  Got here, climbed up the 6 flights of stairs to Mark's apartment, and decided to go ahead and take the antibiotics.  Napped for a bit, and then we all (well, minus Jay, he was out doing something else) went out for a late-ish lunch at a place called Katz's Delicatessen.  Split a fantastic corned beef sandwich and latkes with Mark.  After that we all came back to the apartment and played Qwirkle (well, all being minus Dian and Mark but plus Jay), we had talked about boardgames but that's all we did.  Then for dinner, despite it being fairly soon, we went to a place Mark had talked about called Mehtaphor, which was a tapas place run by a cook named Mehta (go figure).  We had a ton of random little dishes which were all fantastic.  Our waiter saw my CMU t-shirt and it turned out he was like "I was going to go to CMU for musical theater but went to Michigan instead," and we're like "Oh, we're all a bunch of engineering nerds," and I'm like Michigan... asked if he'd gone there with Darren Criss and it turned out he was a year ahead of him.  Whee.

After dinner we went to an extremely loud bar, and after THAT we went to karaoke, from like midnight to 3am.  It was a private-room Japanese-style place down the street from Mark, run by Koreans, but they had no Japanese songs on the system we were using.  Doh.  I sang a whole bunch of random stuff in English all of which has been on Glee I think, because I'm really out of touch with English music beyond that.  Despite me having this horrible cold/cough/etc I sounded reasonably good, I think... I'm really not used to karaoke American-style, I'm used to going Japanese-style with like, Kozo or Pau or Ai or Carl or other friends who can really sing and we're all working on getting better at stuff... I don't entirely know what to do when it's like "let's put in some random songs and scream into the mic and get really drunk".  It's not like I have that great a voice, but I try to make the most of what I have, at least.  And of course I don't drink.  Wonder if I could find similar people to go sing with sometime.

But anyway, yeah, we were out super-late and remember I was redeyed and sick and all, so basically we came back and slept.

Phil and Kay and Jay all got up early and went to MOMA today.  Brian and Dian, not sure what they did.  Mark slept in and did chores I think, and I got up at 2:30pm!  Glorious sleep.  So yeah, didn't accomplish much today before meeting up with everyone for "lunch/dinner" at 4pm, we were at a fancy Mexican place called Rosa Mexicana, where the highlight of the meal was tableside-prepared guacamole which was FANTASTIC.  Oh yeah, we also met up with Lacey and her husband Tim for this, but minus Jay again, so 8 people at the table. 

After dinner was Sleep No More, which is a... play, I guess.  It's more like an interactive drama that takes place in a bunch of converted clubs/warehouses, it's like 5 stories tall and there are a ton of rooms of all sorts of things, everything is decorated in like, 1930sish ways.  Overarcing the plot of Macbeth is going on, though told in a 1930's style.  However it's never really clear WTF is going on a lot of the time.  Oh, so when you go in, you get a mask, and all the "guests" wear masks and aren't allowed to speak.  The actors have no masks and are allowed to speak but mostly they don't speak, a lot of scenes are just acted out with them doing stuff.  It's often really hard to figure out what's going on even if you know the plot of Macbeth.  (And there is some other plot going on here too, involving some lady with a locket and a porter and a tailor and stuff, that has nothing to do with Macbeth.)  Anyway, early on Mark found me and took me to see a scene that was basically a rave representing one of the scenes with the witches in Macbeth, and after that I wandered around a lot.  I saw some of the Macbeth plot points like the king being killed, Lady Macbeth wandering around crazy, the dinner scene, some fights between Macbeth and people like Macduff, some weird scenes between Macbeth and Lady Macbeth, some scenes with the witches that were just doing weird shit all over, and then a bunch of things involving the tailor guy and the locket lady.  I don't know, Mark had described all of these crazy things that might happen like getting pulled into rooms with actors and whatnot, but nothing weird happened to me at all except that I apparently got to see one "rare scene" that involved Malcolm and Macduff planning to kill Macbeth (but all I saw it as was a weird side room that 3 of us guests had stepped into where we watched two men dancing around a chair, mock-fighting, and swinging a hanging ceiling lamp back and forth) because I happened to follow the right person into the right room at the right time before they slammed the door, and then I was part of a group of people who decided to raid the candy shop.  (There's a candy shop in the 1930's town area, the first time I was in there the tailor guy offered me and some of the other guests candy after we followed him in; the next time I was in there, late in the show, a bunch of guests were basically opening all of the candy jars and taking some.) 

I'm not sure what I thought of it in general.  I'd probably go back if I was in NYC and someone wanted to go with me, and maybe I'd have a slightly better idea of where to go and what to do.  I apparently missed an entire big scene involving a ball, but it sounds like I saw most of the other scenes DESPITE that after the first hour I got sick of chasing actors up stairs and through rooms -- the real problem is that any interesting actors would just have like 30-40 people following them and so you easily get lost in the shuffle or can't see what's going on anyway.  So I started just exploring the place and often, I'd be in a room looking through stuff and then actors would come in and do something.  One silly thing was that when I wanted to go to the bathroom I had no idea what to do, wasn't sure if I was allowed to speak to the black-masked "aides" or not, so I just decided to take 15 minutes finding my way out of the place to the "hotel lobby".  Apparently there ARE bathrooms around the route but you have to find out where they are from people inside.  Oops.

After the play, we took cabs back here and went to a bar Mark likes called Burp Castle, which has a policy where you HAVE to be quiet and the bartender will often shush people if it gets too loud, which is pretty crazy.  We also bought fries from a Pommes Frites place around the corner with tons of dipping sauces.  I drank water because there was no non-alcoholic stuff, shrug.  We talked about the show and other stuff.

Now we're back up here.

I guess my remaining plans in NYC involve going to Django's for new year's eve tomorrow night and then hopefully seeing jcreed sometime as well... and I want to go to the museum of math.  And the Strand.  And Carmine's.  Hmm.

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December 27th, 2012

02:46 pm - Christmas, SF style year 2
Not much to say about the day of, actually.  I stayed up super-late until like 5am skyping with dvarin which was great although a little bit surreal, since for years it was him calling me when I lived in Japan, now it's the reverse.

I spent the afternoon throwing out a garbage bag full of my stuff.  I dunno, it just seemed like a good goal for the afternoon.  Mostly it ended up being papers and things but I also went through and threw out some actual Stuff, and some t-shirts.  What sucks is all of my Japanese baseball stuff that really isn't useful to me anymore but it feels like a rare weird memory thing and so it's hard for me to get rid of some of this stuff.  Meh.

In the evening I went to Jason's house for dinner.  He made prime rib.  It was fantastic.  Yaakov and Damon and I all took the BART there and back in the rain.  Good times.

Two days until my east coast trip.  Totally not prepared...

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December 25th, 2012

01:05 am - Christmas Eve, SF year 2
Such a lovely day, wish we could do things like this more often.  Does something count as a "tradition" if you've done it twice?  (Last year Mike and I hung out for Christmas Eve since we were both orphanned for it, so we decided to get together again this year.)

I woke up a little later than I wanted, walked the dog, and then I walked to the Castro post office at 18th and whatever, to send some new year's cards to Japan.  (I should also be sending some out to people in the US but don't need to do that for a few days.)  No idea if they'll get there on new year's, and I may actually send one or two more on Wednesday anyway.  Stopped at the supermarket Mollie Stone on the way back, it's a nice little market.  Oh, and I stopped by bi-rite on my way home for some ice cream too.  Yum :)

Mike showed up around 2pm and we went to Chow for lunch, which both of us love and I'd found out was open until 4 (it had been closed when we tried to go last year).  He had one of his usuals and I had the salmon special for the day, with "caramelized broccoli", which was really just kinda weird spiced burnt-ish broccoli, but it was good, but we had been wondering WTF it was.  We hung out there for a while talking about random stuff, anything from depression to sports to signing up for Jeopardy (online test signups are open!!) to "how big is a large blue whale?" to... I dunno.  Walked back here after that and played Galaxy Trucker, since I told Mike about it and he said it sounded exciting. It's weird, because just as I realize it's not the kind of game I typically like, but I do like it, Mike had the same reaction, like "this game is so weird but AWESOME".  It plays weirdly as 2-player but I think we enjoyed it anyway.  Then, he had brought Netrunner but instead of playing that, we played Kingdom Builder, which is also pretty stupid with 2 players, but at least now I know how to play, I had been wondering about it since it got the Game of the Year award this year.

Hungry again, we set out into the Castro looking for somewhere to eat (I was like "I don't know what's open, but I have a hunch if we go towards 17th and Castro we'll find something".  Bizarrely, we ended up at Fork, which I'd only been to once before with Charlie, and my impression of it then was "good food, lousy service".  I was vaguely worried about it being a memory trigger, but instead now I have a great memory of hanging out there with Mike, since we had great food AND great service, just these delicious sandwiches and sweet potato fries that had cinnamon and stuff, and we talked about all kinds of interesting things.  I posited that I think it's really amusing how when you're looking for a new job, 20 of your friends will offer to refer you at their company, but when you're looking for someone to date, 20 of your friends don't offer to fix you up with someone.  Mike countered that the benefits of getting someone to work with you are a lot higher than getting someone to date one of your friends, plus the downsides of it not working out are so much less (you're unlikely to lose a friend over not getting a job).  Hmm.

Anyway, we came back here and played Pokemon Puzzle League since that's another part of our Christmas Eve tradition now, and one of our matches seriously went 42 minutes.  Pretty amazing.  I'll say the same thing I did last year, which is that Mike is definitely slightly better than me, but we are close enough in skill level to make it a hell of a lot of fun to play together.

He borrowed Galaxy Trucker since I'm unlikely to play it in the next 2 weeks (I'm going to NYC on Friday night through New Year's and then going to Philly for a few days after that), so that's also good since more people will get to play it and maybe we'll play again sometime when I get back.  Yay :)

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December 18th, 2012

02:03 am - holiday travel plans by which I mean new year's
Hello all. I'm going to New York City for New Year's and then to Philadelphia for a few days after that. I'll fly a redeye to NYC and arrive the morning of Dec 29th, then a reverse redeye from Philly arriving back in SFO the morning of Jan 7th. Somewhere between those two, I'll take Amtrak to Philly.

I have a few vague plans already involving shows in NYC and of course seeing my uncle and aunt and grandpa in Philly but would like to hang out with whoever's around!

Only worry is that I bypassed seat maps because there were only Economy Plus seats left, so I hope I don't get screwed over. They should just give me upgrades like they used to before the stupid merge :P

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December 17th, 2012

03:30 pm - weekend, etc

Friday night was our company party, at 620 Jones, which is a bar/restaurant/whatever.  Everyone expected there to be very little food and lots of drinks like last year, and then of course there was a ton of food and drinks anyway.  Oops.  I got to meet Liliana, who I've known for YEARS through LJ and other baseball stuff, she's an A's/Giants/whatever fan, so that was kinda cool.  Other than that, I spent a lot of time mostly wandering around since I didn't have a date and didn't really have a group per se, either.  There was facepainting and costumes, so I got my face painted and a hat, and other people got all kinds of crazy things and boas and wigs and stuff.  Solidum got a Napoleon Dynamite wig and glasses and I guess I spent a while hanging out with him.  I did photo booth with him, also a photo booth with Jason, Drew D, Peter, and Kate.  The Taggle awards went to some people that we expected, and some that were unexpected.  Shrug.

Amusingly, I went up to the bar and kept asking for "non-alcoholic but whatever the heck is fine" drinks and thus got all kinds of things like mocktails, nojitos, whatever.  I had like 5 drinks... mostly because I noticed that it was a lot easier to go talk to people if I was holding a drink in my hand, I just didn't want to have alcohol because I've had a cold since Wednesday (well, and I just don't like drinking for the most part).  So when Chris and I walked home (and oh man my feet hurt SO MUCH) he was shocked to learn halfway there that I was absolutely totally sober.  Hehe.

Saturday afternoon I went to Google to playtest stuff for DASH with Dale, Linnsey, and Yuan.  I'm not going to talk about the puzzles, obviously, just that it was a good experience and that I am very much looking forward to staffing DASH, wherever the hell I may be for it (I've volunteered to basically help out in any city provided I have some other excuse at all whatsoever to be there).  Yuan says she may go to London to staff... I wonder if I could go too, that might be really interesting since I've never been to any other countries except Japan.

In the evening I went to San Jose, to the "Sharks Ice" rink, where I got to watch my coworkers Chris and Craig play hockey!!!  That was pretty exciting even though they're just in an E league or whatever, Chris and Marc picked me up from the Starbucks near Google and we went to the rink, I brought my dSLR and took a whole bunch of photos of them playing.  Marc thought there would be a public skate and we could skate on the side, but there wasn't, sadly.  Our friends' team won 6-0 though so that was cool.

Sunday, I finally got to go up the Campanile, the clock tower in the middle of Berkeley campus.  Those bells are LOUD.

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November 21st, 2012

02:09 am - mini PNW reunion for the 20th of November
So last night I organized a mini-Seattle DDR reunion at SVGL for the 20th of November. I have been doing 20 Nov things every year though I just noticed last year I didn't write about it on here (I did on facebook: gameworks photo I went to Gameworks with Mike and played some DDR USA so I could do 20 Nov, basically)

In reality, this was partially an excuse to see zqfmbg since I've had a copy of Counting Combos (Aaron's DDR book) for him since I got back from Japan, as seishinbyou signed copies for both of us. And then it turned out to ALSO be an excuse to see Keevon, who is moving back to Seattle next week. (I feel terrible that I've been living here almost a year and never saw Kevin in all that time.) And in reality this was all inspired by seeing James's "I'm at SVGL" posts on FB and being like "OMG WE SHOULD MEET AT SVGL SOMETIME".

And what better time than the 20th of November?

The funny thing is that you can't actually play "20 November" at SVGL right now, there's no DDR and no old Bemani, just the latest IIDX, Drummania/GuitarFreaks, Pop'n'Music, and Jubeat. So... James played a lot of IIDX, I-Gene played a game or two, I played a game of Pop'n and one Jubeat, and then Kevin showed up and we just talked forever. I did beat the entirety of Super Puzzle Fighter while talking to people but that's beside the point. :)

We adjourned to Chili's as a gang, where everyone but me drank beer (and everyone but me was driving), we talked about random stuff, and Kevin and I talked a while about startups and whatnot, I had completely forgotten he did YC back in the day before YC was the hip thing everyone was doing. He ended up giving me a ride back to Millbrae and we had like 25 minutes to make a 35-minute drive but it worked out anyway; we just talked tech and that made the car go faster like it did 10 years ago too. (I can't remember exactly when it was but there was this hilarious time Kevin and I carpooled to Narrows and he was driving and we started arguing about Java and C++ and I'm like "dude you're going 90" and he was like "stop talking to me about programming languages!" and it was funny.)

So I dunno, it's funny to hang out with everyone after 10 years, play some Bemani, reminisce about stuff and catch up. Should do it more often -- maybe next time I'm in Seattle it'd be nice to catch up with old DDR friends again for a change.

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August 21st, 2012

05:45 pm - If you are a tsunami or terrorist please do not read this
I'm going to Japan in September! I'll be there from Sept 5 to Oct 8. I should get in the same time Kozo comes back from Montreal, I'll be renting a room in that same house in Nakano, and already trying to figure out all the crazy stuff I want to do. Mostly, I want to see my friends, watch baseball, and sing karaoke, and eat good food, which means a few trips to various cities. Yay.

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