Blog: Entries From 2010

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New Monitor - Tuesday, March 30, 2010
I finally got a new Hanns-G 19-inch LCD monitor to pair up with the sole one I have at home. I made it a point to find the same make and model as the one I had so that I would have two exactly matching monitors. The fact that my monitor is four years old made that slightly more difficult (e.g. it's no longer sold by any retailer), but I found one used for $80 and the seller lives a dozen houses away from me. Craigslist is awesome. As are dual matching monitors.
Vacation in LA - Friday, April 9, 2010
I drove down to LA last Friday and was there till Wednesday. I was there mainly to do maintenance on the Previa. I helped my dad change a bunch of fluids (brake, transmission, power steering, coolant and oil), we got new tires, and he changed a bunch of parts (hoses, belts and air filter) when I was out having fun with friends. Unfortunately due to some bad instructions on Chilton's website, he over-torqued a bolt and bent a part holding a pulley, so he had to order a new part and it didn't arrive by the time I had to leave. I ended up driving my grandfather's 20-year old Taurus back to the Bay. I don't really mind; the only slight nuisance is that the interior is dirty since Aaron had been using the car to haul dead trees.

Other than car issues, on Saturday I went hiking with a dozen CCAC people on a trail near Tom Sugi's house and played Dominion with a few people afterward. The next day I ate "Korean" chicken fried rice at Galleria while listening to Ezekiel's many thoughts on the healthcare reform, and in the evening Priscilla and I had our last premarital counseling session with the Sugis. Monday, I was sick with some sort of stomach flu (what a great way to spend vacation), as were Priscilla and a lot of other people who went on the hike. Tuesday, Priscilla and I were feeling better so we got snacks from Trader Joe's and she helped my mom make dinner (aka learning wife skills for the potential near future).

Overall, I had a lot of fun, caught up on sleep, and got a new temporary car. And I think I'm getting used to the 5.5 hour drive. I just kind of went on autopilot, especially on I-5 where it's all straight and boring. I did find a good Christian radio station out there, K-LOVE. They're in many cities on many frequencies, but I managed to get mostly good reception on the 88.3 frequency from Buttonwillow to Gilroy, which is more than half the trip. I also learned that driving next to big rigs can greatly boost spotty reception, since big trucks act as big antennas!
Minh Is Married! - Sunday, April 18, 2010
Minh and his former girlfriend/fiancee Christine tied the knot yesterday! They had a traditional Vietnamese Buddhist ceremony in the morning/afternoon, and a reception in the evening. At Minh's suggestion, a bunch of our mutual high school friends made it just to the reception, in Santa Ana. Driving there was not fun, but traffic wasn't nearly as bad as it could've been.

Things were a little impromptu and disorganized, but overall nicely done. There were maybe around 200 people at the reception, and all the Van Nuys guys had our own table. My favorite part of the night was when Minh came to our table, a few of us put him on a chair and gave him a "hip-hip-hooray!" toss into the air.

Wow.. Minh is married. It feels a little unreal. I wonder which one of our mutual high school friends will be next?
Independence Day Weekend - Monday, July 5, 2010
This has been quite an eventful three-day weekend. Priscilla and her parents came up on Friday and stayed until this afternoon. On Friday the four of us ate some of the food my mom had prepared and given to them to bring up. Then Priscilla and I did some work and rewarded ourselves afterward by watching Idiocracy (hilariously chilling movie whose premise I think is likely to happen).

Saturday her parents visited friends in Petaluma, so we had the whole day to ourselves. We spent some time having her try on dresses I bought for her, working out and having Indian food at Shah afterward, and meeting with my NVC counselor about relationship issues we've been having lately because of the long distance. The session was intended to be three hours long but stretched easily into six hours! But it was worth it- the session unraveled many layers of the complex issues and we now have a much deeper understanding of them and a greater appreciation for each other.

On Sunday the four of us went to Baylands Park in Sunnyvale to explore and take pictures. On the way there as I was driving up Lawrence Expressway, a car that was waiting in the left-turn lane next to my lane suddenly pulled out right in front of me, causing me to swerve to the right to avoid hitting him. Unfortunately, he was proceeding to cut across four lanes to get into the right-turn lane. I slammed on the brakes pretty hard (I had been going about 60) while I ended up cutting across three lanes trying to keep my car as parallel to his as possible, finally coming to rest just a few feet from his car. No cosmetic damages, but my tires and brakes took a beating, and I left a nice set of skid marks on the ground.

Fortunately I had kept a large buffer between me and the cars behind me, so there was nobody for me to plow into when I swerved across three lanes. The guy just drove off.

Other than that incident, that day and the rest of the holiday weekend were pleasant.
A Lot Happening at Work - Saturday, July 24, 2010
A lot of people at work are being moved around. My manager is relocating to the east coast, a dozen people including someone from my team got laid off last week, another person from my team announced this week that's he's leaving to go to business school, and my manager is hoping to reduce the team size by another two people because of funding issues. Another team desperately needs two more engineers, and I was being considered due to my skillset, but somebody else from my team ended up getting chosen because he really wanted to go. So that leaves potentially one more person who will be leaving the team, making 14 the target size, down from 18 two weeks ago. Which is not necessarily a bad thing. The smaller team size may make our team more productive.

Regardless of short term uncertainties, we still found reasons to celebrate. On Tuesday my team had a picnic in the park to celebrate a (mostly) successful release, complete with hunting for figurines hidden throughout the park, an egg-on-spoon relay race, and a pinata game made hilariously difficult by people swinging the pinata around on its string while the blindfolded person tried to hit it.

On Wednesday we had our second company lunch of the year, with all barbecuing done on site this time. I wolfed down all the chicken I could, and there was lots of food to spare. And Thursday saw catered appetizers as a thank you to everybody in our program for getting 100% customer award fees across the board (not easy at all).

So for the most part, this week was totally double rainbow.
I Need To Write More - Tuesday, October 5, 2010
I chuckle when people write blog posts saying that they need to write more, but this is exactly what I'm now doing. Granted, I have more to write about than how infrequently I write, but there's so much stuff going on that doesn't fall under a unified blog post title, and I want the title to be slightly better than "Miscellaneous Stuff That's Been Going On".

I do, really, need to write more. So far this year I've written 5 entries, compared to the 17 last year, which is still less than every preceding year. Nothing's to blame but sheer laziness, or other priorities, if you will. However, in my weak defense, recently my PHP code that handles sessions broke when DreamHost upgraded my PHP version, so I wouldn't have been able to write entries easily (without firing up the MySQL Command-Line Tool, at least) if I wanted to. I've now fixed that issue as well as an anti-spam feature on my tagboard that was bugged. Hopefully I won't get as much spam as I used to, before I implement a better solution.

This weekend I attended Johnson and Emily's wedding in LA, where there were close to 600 people (including pretty much the entire CCAC church body) in attendance. The banquet was at a fancy Chinese restaurant, so I'm sure Johnson and Emily footed quite a bill. That just goes to show how much they love people and have a heart for serving. They're going to go into missions soon, I've heard.

Unrelated, Priscilla and I are taking a one month break to refocus on God as our number one priority, because too often we value each other more than we value God. I myself have some soul searching and apologetics studying to do, as I've been wrestling with doubts regarding my faith for quite some time. I want my faith to be built on a firm foundation of truth, so I think this time will be good to help me grow in my faith and to take it seriously, which will help me be the kind of spiritual leader I need to be.

The next couple weeks I'll also be busy cracking open the old CS books from college in preparation for an interview at Google. A recruiter found me through LinkedIn and wanted to get my resume, and I figured I'd give it a shot since I've always dreamed of working there. I know a few people there who confirmed that I'm a human and that I have a brain that functions sometimes, so the recruiters are skipping the customary phone screening and going straight to an on-site interview.

I listed my personal site on my resume, so Googlers will probably be reading this (hi Google). Maybe I shouldn't have mentioned that I'm lazy. Oops.
Google Interview - Monday, October 18, 2010
I had my on-site interview at Google today, and one word to sum it up would be "challenging". I studied plenty, but many of the things I studied weren't brought up during the interview. I didn't feel like the interview questions were particularly hard, but rather that some of them focused on areas in which I had limited experience, such as distributed computing and DBMS deadlock detection.

I didn't get any off-the-wall questions like about dropping eggs from a building or filling a bus with golf balls. All the questions I got were technical and relevant to real-world engineering.

I did alright with the coding questions, though I probably took a little longer to think of my solution than the interviewers would've liked. I made it clear when I wasn't familiar with the answer to something but tried to demonstrate my thought process. In general I arrived at the right answers, but often not without making small mistakes or getting some form of help from the interviewers.

Overall, I enjoyed the time of sharing ideas with my interviewers and learning new things. I did my best, and I'm grateful that prepping for the interview forced me to brush up on a lot of CS and C++ concepts. And whatever the hiring decision comes to, I'll still have a job either way!
CCIC Retreat - Monday, October 25, 2010
This weekend I had the pleasure of being down at Mission Springs Conference Center with 200 other people at the all-church CCIC retreat. Allen Tsai from CCAC was the speaker for our English Congregation. I had a lot of fun and got to know people in the English Congregation I don't usually interact with.

The conference/camp site was very nice. The cheapest cabin, where I stayed, had an indoor bathroom shared between four rooms, and even though the toilet was literally installed inside a closet, this was a step up from some other places I've been where the bathroom is a short distance away from the cabin. The indoor bathroom was a good convenience to have, as it was raining the whole weekend.

The staff at the conference center really tried to make sure all our needs were met. Every meal was tasty and came buffet style. I felt like I was on a cruise, eating more food than I probably needed to. In my free time I went on the zipline and scaled a rock climbing wall, speaking of which, I need to strengthen my weak fingers because I'm going climbing again in a week.

My only regret about the retreat was that I was always tired during the messages, maybe because of eating big meals, or from having to adjust to sleeping before midnight, so I didn't get as much out of the messages as I would've liked to.
Roadtrip to Redding - Monday, November 15, 2010
Not too long ago, Chi moved up to Redding to attend a Christian school. Priscilla and I decided spur of the moment to visit Chi because we're such awesome friends.

Ok, honestly it was because I had previously volunteered to visit Chi, naively assuming that Redding wasn't much more than an hour's drive away. When I later found out it would actually take four hours to get there from Sunnyvale, I yelled at myself, but a promise was a promise. I decided I might as well make a roadtrip out of it, and use that as an excuse to make Priscilla visit me.

So I flew Priscilla up, and she and I made the 250 mile drive up to Redding. It was our first roadtrip with just the two of us. Priscilla made sandwiches. We stopped at a Walgreen's along the way to pick up water, and our cashier there totally looked like Vince Vaughn.

We got to Chi's place after dark. She's currently renting a rustic house on a huge lot surrounded by trees, and reachable via a dirt road. It was like a retreat spot.

On Sunday morning, we went to Chi's charismatic church, Bethel Church, which was quite an experience. To my disappointment, though, I didn't see any crazy happenings. The worship was great; Jeremy Riddle was leading it. But I didn't agree with some of the theology, like their proclamation that God would bring better jobs and more money, which sounded similar to the Prosperity Gospel.

Overall, it was a good weekend for old friends to catch up. Priscilla and I treated Chi out to dinner at Olive Garden, bought groceries and books for her, and gave her care packages from her friends back at CCAC. So yeah, we really are awesome friends. ;)
Climbing - Saturday, November 20, 2010
It was my third visit to Planet Granite today, and my second visit in the last month. I'm getting better- last time I couldn't complete a 5.8 climb, but this time I completed a 5.9, 5.10a and an easier 5.10a. I only did such "high" grades today because my friends goaded me into it. Sometimes peer pressure can be a good thing.

My technique is getting better and I'm learning to use my legs more, so my muscles didn't fatigue as much as they did last time, though they still fatigued plenty. I even passed the belay test so I was able to belay for my friends this time. Belaying is quite exerting in itself!

Right now my hands have rope burn, my knee is slightly banged up and my arms are dead, but I feel awesome!
Ice Skating - Sunday, November 21, 2010
I went ice skating at Downtown San Jose with a few people from church today because we got a Groupon and because I wasn't sore enough from doing rock climbing yesterday.

The Groupon was usable within a span of only a few days, and it had been raining pretty much nonstop the past couple days and forcasted to continue raining, which wasn't cool because the rink is outdoors. But we caught a break this afternoon, and the skies were clear the entire time we were out there.

I ended up staying for three hours and skated till I couldn't skate anymore. Driving back home, it hurt every time I lifted my foot off the pedal. But I'm happy because I totally got my $8 worth of that Groupon!
Thanksgiving - Tuesday, November 30, 2010
As customary, I spent my Thanksgiving in LA, where I was treated by my parents to an overabundance of good food. For Thanksgiving they made the usual- turkey, yams, mashed potatoes, ham, biscuits, etc. On all the other days they made a lot more- including turkey pot pie, crab, chicken stew and seafood soup. They also gave me a week's worth of food to take back to the Bay Area. My parents are awesome.

During the holiday weekend, Priscilla and I also celebrated our four year anniversary by hiking on the Escondido Canyon Trails (where there's a famed waterfall, which unfortunately wasn't much more than a trickle at that time of year), making shepherd's pie (more like Priscilla making it and me eating it), and having hot pot for dinner with her parents. The next day we worked on a jigsaw puzzle (we're really into those now for some reason) and watched "Batman: Under the Red Hood." The next day we visited Chi at HRock, her home church away from home, had tacos with a bunch of her friends, and visited her grandmother who recently got out of the ICU.

All in all, it was a fun, relaxing holiday weekend. Too short though.