Blog: Entries From 2014

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We're Homeowners! - Wednesday, January 8, 2014
Officially as of today, Priscilla and I are homeowners! We got the keys from our agent this evening, and the sale was recorded today.

Owning this house feels a bit surreal, similar to how I felt when we were first married. It's our house, but it doesn't quite feel like our house yet. It feels like somebody else's house, and with many quirks- like kiddy light switch covers, tiles on the kitchen wall painted with a picture of fried eggs, a bathroom sliding door that jams, locks that collectively require multiple keys, and a backyard with a plethora of plants unknown, kept alive only by a sprinkler system, the inner workings of which might as well be black magic.

Yeah, it'll take a while for us to settle in and furnish the place the way we like and get to know all the little intricacies of this 5,500 square feet of land. Tonight we shopped around at a few stores and ultimately bought a fridge from Best Buy's website, so I guess that's a start.

And so the perpetual home improvement begins. 3/4 of the outlets need grounding, and some are wired incorrectly. The door that jams needs to not jam. Old blinds need to be replaced. Maybe the bulky fan/light fixtures, too. Hey, recessed lighting would be nice. So would a working outlet in the shed. And that yard... surely a garden should go somewhere?

One step at a time. For now, we're grateful to have this house, quirky as it may be. We're looking forward to making it our home.
Beginning to Feel More Like Home - Sunday, January 26, 2014
The week before the official move-in, we made a few trips by car between the apartment and the house, moving what small stuff we could. I had electricians come by the day before our move to ground 14 of our outlets for $125 apiece. Two outlets remain ungrounded, along the front wall of the house, which I skipped because it sounded like it'd entail damage to the wood siding to drill a hole to run a ground wire through the wall. But based on what the electricians did, it sounds like they can drill straight down through the space there and avoid having to drill through the siding, so I'm going to have them come back to finish grounding those two remaining outlets.

Then on moving day, January 18, I picked up a 16' truck from Budget, and Jacob and Kevin came by to help load all our furniture. Surprisingly (to me), all the furniture fit in the truck without having to stack anything. Christine showed up later and helped move small stuff. Unfortunately, both Jacob and Kevin had to split and couldn't stay for lunch, missing out on the yummy sloppy joes Priscilla made! The moving process took about three hours.

Since then, Priscilla and I have gotten the bed, our desks and the living room set up. She moved all the boxes of stuff to the two smaller bedrooms, where we'll deal with them when we have more time. I ordered a Maytag washer and dryer from Home Depot, and they arrived yesterday. I set the washer up (always nice to have more automation!), but I still need to order a gas hose for the dryer. We also now have a shag rug from Costco that Tim delivered to us in his minivan (which was a funny story because we called him to ask for his help transporting the huge rug that wouldn't fit in our car, only to find out that he was at that moment at Costco in Mountain View, 20 feet from the rugs). Finally, a sofa and chaise from a local furniture store is on its way this week, and Priscilla is looking at accent chairs. After that, a TV stand and TV will likely be the next items of purchase.

Yep, this place is beginning to feel more like home. There's still a ton of stuff to do, but we need to remember to take it one step at a time.
One Year Anniversary and Ski Trip - Sunday, March 2, 2014
I've been blessed to be at Pure for a year now, and man how time flies. I still remember the small company feel when I joined the other 115 or so employees, among whom were 35 or so engineers. Now we have more like 415 employees and 80 engineers. We're rapidly outgrowing all our available space.

The small company feel hasn't been lost too much, I feel. I know mostly all the engineers by name and have interacted with most of them somewhat well. In the last year, we've done a release party, a San Francisco boat trip, movie nights, a sales kickoff and various impromptu social gatherings.

The people on my team like me (I think), and my new manager, who joined last November, is supportive and doesn't like to micromanage people, which helps with me having a lot of autonomy over what I'm working on. A couple weeks ago, he told me that in honor of my upcoming anniversary and my contributions, I was getting a pretty sizable raise and a stock refresh grant. I'm humbled and grateful for a company and manager who take notice of my contributions, especially when I feel like I'm not doing as well as I can/should be.

So... back to social festivities. This weekend was our second annual engineering ski trip, again at Heavenly in South Lake Tahoe. Jay was supposed to be my roommate, but at the last minute he cancelled, leaving me with a large room with two queen sized beds to myself. Poor me.

Actually, it was nice. For one, I could watch all the Flipping Vegas and Property Brothers I wanted without worrying about bothering anybody!

We bussed up Friday morning, and it was snowing in Tahoe pretty heavily that afternoon. I've never before seen so much snow coming down! 60 or so people (employees and a few spouses) attended the trip this time.

Dinner that night was at Stateline Brewery and Restaurant (I had decent mussels, edamame and chicken appetizers and a nice salmon entree), and the next night was at Base Camp Pizza (excellent pizza once again).

This time around, Pure paid for ski lessons for those who wanted them. So I took second-timer lessons for 2.5 hours on Saturday. My instructor Jimmy, an older man with 25 years of teaching experience and a funny sense of humor, helped us learn how to use the wedge formation to control speed, and how to turn. The recipe for turning is all in the feet:

1. Balance: shin good, calf bad. Meaning your weight should be centered around the balls of your feet. Your legs should lean slightly forward with your shins touching the boot. If instead your calf is touching the boot, you're leaning too far back.
2. Wedge: make a wedge with your skis pointing inward, about shoulder width apart.
3. Press: press down the toes on the foot that will be on the inside of the turn. This helps to create a pivot point.
4. Twist: twist the outer foot in the direction of the turn, pointing your big toe in the direction you want to go. 10% more toe gives you 80% more turn.

The upper body should be still, as it is not doing any of the work. Despite having learned what constitutes good form, my turning was sloppy when I was skiing on my own. I think it's because I tend to lean into the turn with my body, which causes there to be not enough weight on the outside ski, which hinders my ability to turn. Also when I start building up speed and get scared, I tend to lean back (calf bad), which reduces the control I have.

But I did better this time, falling only a couple times (when I forced myself to bail out of a turn to avoid hitting something) and never falling out of my bindings (despite them being adjusted to the loosest, most cautious setting), unlike last time when I fell out on a few occasions. Hopefully next time I'll get more comfortable and improve my form. I'm not in a hurry to go skiing again, but it's fun and I'm looking forward to next time.

Until then, here's to another great year with Pure!
Tough Mudder - Sunday, April 13, 2014
Yesterday, a team of five from Pure made our way over to Diablo Grande in Patterson to participate in the exhilarating challenge of Tough Mudder. Our team name: Dirty Puritans. Originally we had 13 people sign up, only to have most of them flake. Their loss!

The event was quite fun, but I would've gotten way more fun out of it had I been with my team the whole time. Sadly, a small injury from last week came back and caused more pain in my knee as the event went on. At mile 3, I told my teammates to go on without me because it hurt to run, and I was holding them up too much. Making it down hills started getting tough, and I had to resort to walking down backwards to avoid landing hard on my knee. My team ended up finishing an hour before I did but was gracious about waiting for me.

A quarter mile in from the start, even before the first obstacle, we had to cross a swampy river. So much for running in dry shoes!

The obstacles on the course were as follows (with three additional obstacles available for Legionnaires only):

  1. Glory Blades: A 6ft wall, sloped downward, so once you got over the top, you just had to slide down. I asked for a boost, though I probably could've made it over without one.
  2. Warrior Carry: An athletic girl and I took turns carrying each other 100 feet up the hill. Not too bad; she was probably only 110 pounds or so.
  3. Cage Crawl: Floating on our backs, we had to make it across a pool of water with a chain-link fence overhead. Somewhat relaxing, but at times it felt like I was short on vertical room.
  4. Pitfall: Had to duck under a beam with electrified wires hanging down. There was enough space between wires for me to avoid getting shocked, but one of our team members wasn't so lucky.
  5. Killa Gorilla: Had to go up and down the steep face of the hill a couple times. Crouching on all fours like a gorilla helped.
  6. Mud Mayhem: Crossing over wet, muddy trenches. Not too much to this obstacle, but it sucked getting lots of little rocks in my shoes.
  7. Walk the Plank: Climbed up the face of a 12ft tall platform and jumped into the water below. It helped that there were three lines of people jumping, with a staffer having one person from each line go on the count of 3. Scared of heights? Too bad. Jump, and let gravity do the rest.
  8. Arctic Enema: The least favorite of many, but I didn't think this one was that bad. Perhaps the compression shirt and pants I was wearing helped me from feeling too cold. Getting that sudden chill on the way out was probably the worst part.
  9. Ladder to Hell: Climbed up a series of rungs spaced about 5 feet apart, then back down the other side. This was pretty easy for me.
  10. Funky Monkey: Had to climb up monkey bars first angled going up, then going down. Halfway on the way up, I reached for a bar that wasn't there and plunged into the pool of water below.
  11. Balls to the Wall: Had to climb over a tall wall using a rope with knots spaced 6 feet apart. This rope was very slippery and I almost didn't make it up, but when I got enough altitude, I grabbed onto the top of the wall and pulled myself over.
  12. Cliffhanger: I don't particularly recall this, but looking at Youtube videos from other events, it looks like this was just going up a steep muddy slope. I sort of recall doing something resembling this. I don't think it was that bad.
  13. Devil's Beard: Had to crawl under a long, heavy net, on a downward incline. Would've been easier doing it with more people, but since there were only a couple people running this when I was, it was harder on us to lift the net.
  14. Kiss of Mud: Crawling through mud with barbed wire overhead. A great way to get one's frontside completely muddy, and for me to lose my paper bib that I should've attached to my backside, not my frontside.
  15. Hold Your Wood: People had the option of carrying an individual block of wood (50 pounds?) or to carry a longer log. I carried a log with two other guys - it was probably a good 150 pounds.
  16. Berlin Walls: Two 8ft walls. I had help from members of another team getting over. Meanwhile, two shirtless Chinese guys jumped up, grabbed the top of the wall, and effortlessly lifted themselves over. Dang.
  17. Soggy Bottom: Fording another wide muddy river. I learned my lesson from the first one and tried to keep my shoes angled downward so as to not get stuck in the mud as much.
  18. Pole Dancer: Using your arms, make your way over a pool of water using two poles that are first angled downward, then upward. I was able to do most of this without landing in the pool on my feet, but at the end I strained my calf reaching out for the edge with my foot. Not good.
  19. Quagmire: Just running over a couple mounds of mud with shallow muddy water in the middle.
  20. Prairie Dog: Going through a downward tube. Pretty much just slid on my bum as I saw others doing.
  21. Everest: A lot of fun, but seemed a little easy. Everybody seemed to make it up in one or two tries. I was able to run up and grab onto the edge of the platform but didn't have a very good grip to pull myself up. The good people at the top helped pull me up.
  22. Electroshock Therapy: The emcee from the start was now here at the finish, encouraging people to run through this obstacle and take the shocks, while lots of crowd members were watching in amusement. I took the easy way out and crawled, very slowly, under the wires and got completely muddy from face to toe. The emcee had something funny to say about me taking my sweet time to make love to the mud, and that girls should get my number and give me a call.

The event overall was well-run with lots of volunteers on the course. It was good to see staff at each obstacle and to have six water stations, three of which provided food. I missed my cup of Dos Equis at the end and when I tried to go back for it later, the lady denied me re-entry (despite still having my wristband), which really sucked. At least I got my finisher t-shirt, though.

Overall, I had a blast and just wish that my leg didn't act up so that I could've run with my team. Guess I'll have to do more hill training in preparation for my next Tough Mudder!
Half Moon Bay - Monday, April 28, 2014
The wifey and I celebrated our second year anniversary over in Half Moon Bay this past Saturday. Only a 45 minute drive from our home, it's a lot closer than I thought. We'll have to go there more often!

Our first stop was Spanish Town on Highway 92 at the entrance to HMB. There we found large dinosaur statues, a ton of fountains, statues, pots and birdbaths that, according to a shop attendant, are handmade from around the world. Pretty cool place, and it was fun seeing rows and rows of unique stuff and finding more rows around every corner.

We made our way over to Half Moon Bay State Beach and paid $10 to park right at the edge of the beach. It was chilly outside, so we sat in the car and ate sandwiches while we watched people flying kites and a large group of Asians congregating for a BBQ.

After lunch, we walked south along the HMB Coastal Trail and sat for a few minutes at Poplar Beach, a small self-serve beach with no amenities. We continued past the Wavecrest Open Space, a large empty grassy area, until we reached our destination beach - Redondo Beach (not to be confused with the city by the same name in LA County).

Redondo was my favorite beach - somewhat secluded due to not being directly accessible from the road due to steep cliffs, with beautiful long stretches of white waves and squiggly patterns in the sand. There was a beautiful country club mansion resting atop the plateau that I really enjoyed as part of the scenery.

After the beach, we took a walk along downtown (Main Street), stopped at a coffee shop for Priscilla to get her caffeine, and rested at the quaint John L. Carter Memorial Park. We stopped briefly at a soap/fragrance/gift shop for Priscilla to look around, and we wanted to go to a feed shop that had a sign saying "The best place in town to pick up chicks", but sadly they had closed when we passed by on the way back. Lastly, we found the Spanish Town Historical Society Jail a small block off Main Street. The jail was built in 1911 and was restored in 1990 as a museum, with visiting hours unknown. Inside are only two jail cells, harkening back to a time when things were smaller and simpler.

For dinner, Priscilla had bookmarked two places: Mezza Luna, a nice Italian place, and some low-key Indian restaurant. We'd decided ahead of time on Mezza Luna, and we were glad we did, because on our walk along Main Street we passed by the Indian restaurant which was run out of an old-looking house that did not look too appealing. Then again, you know what they say about judging a book by its cover, so maybe next time.

We really enjoyed the food at Mezza Luna. Priscilla had alfredo with chicken, and I had a healthier form of chicken stuffed with vegetables. The mussels we ordered as an appetizer were flavorful and fresh, and the broth they came in was great for dipping bread into. For dessert, she ordered a chocolate cake and I ordered a mango gelato. Both were great, but each of us liked the other's dessert more than our own.

We took a short walk around the marina after dinner, and then it was time to head home. Dinner including tip was $82, meaning we spent a total of $92 on our anniversary trip. Not too shabby, considering we had a great time and were able to do/see lots of things. Till next time, Half Moon Bay!
Igudesman and Joo - Saturday, May 3, 2014

I'd never heard of them, and the promotional image looked kind of corny. I mean, two guys dressed up in Mozart wigs standing dramatically in front of a pink-purple backdrop? Come on, now.

But Yelp was giving out a limited number of pairs of free tickets to see their show tonight at the Flint Center in Cupertino, so I figured what the hey, musical comedy can't be that bad.

Well I'm really glad we got the tickets and saw the show, because I was blown away! These guys have a great stage presence, are amazingly talented musicians (Joo on piano and Igudesman on violin), and are freaking hilarious!

Their aim is to make classical music more appealing to a broader and younger audience. The show was called "And Now... Mozart!" and contained absolutely no music by Mozart. There were lots of antics, much novelty, and a ton of fun. My favorite sketches were:The show was a lot of fun, and I wish they did more tours in America; they're not as popular here and are more popular in Europe. It seems like they're rotating through three different shows on their tour around the world. Way to keep things fresh and keep the two of them on their toes!
Roubaix - Thursday, June 19, 2014
When Aaron and my dad came up last month, Aaron brought up a new road bike I'd asked him to order for me, a white Specialized Roubaix SL4 Elite 105, MSRP $2,600, which he was able to get from the bike shop he worked at for $1,600 including tax.

Since then according to Strava, I've put over 100 miles on it, mainly commuting 8.5 miles each way to work. After moving to our new house, the commute was too tiring to do on my Crosstrail so I'd only done it once, on Bike to Work Day. But with the new road bike, the commute is so much more comfortable. Whereas hitting 20mph on the Crosstrail took quite a bit of effort, on the Roubaix I can do it with relative ease.

I've gone riding with co-workers to Philz twice, and I'm trying to spearhead semi-regular afternoon cycling rides at work. This past weekend I biked with Alex on a good deal of the Stanford Loop, except instead of starting from Stanford, we started from his place in Mountain View and took Foothill Expressway to get to Arastradero Road. The whole ride was 24 miles and my first real ride with hills. Fun!

The next thing to do will probably be upgrading the stock platform pedals; those are the only things that feel cheap on this bike. I swapped the hard saddle with the more comfortable one from my Crosstrail, which helps alleviate the pain on my sit bones from prolonged rides. Once I get used to wearing my new pair of bike shorts (Pearl Izumi from Amazon), I may put the original saddle back. I also feel soreness in the shoulders after prolonged rides; I haven't figured out the cause yet, but a co-worker suggested replacing the stem.

Right now, perhaps due to the new cables stretching, my shifting has gotten sloppy. Interestingly, I've never had this problem with my Crosstrail; it still shifts fine after I've put maybe 1,000 miles on it. Anyway, learning how to adjust the shifting on the Roubaix will be good to add to my repertoire of experience.
Making Our House a Home - Saturday, June 21, 2014
It's hard to believe that half a year has already passed since we moved into our new house! For the sake of brevity, here's what's been going on, in timeline format.

End of January:
Got a sofa and chaise for the family room.

Beginning of February:
Replaced three sets of door locks, all keyed to the same key. Discovered that our yard has lots of snails; spent lots of time catching snails at night.

Middle of February:
Installed solar garden lights. Bought a push reel lawn mower. Assembled a credenza. Uncle Kenway wanted to buy us a TV as a housewarming gift; we picked a 55" LG TV. Finally was able to use the Comcast cable receiver that had been sitting in the closet for a year. Bought a pole saw and started trimming some of the overgrown elm tree in the front yard; it was so overgrown and inter-woven that dead branches and leaves had nowhere to go.

Beginning of March:
Finally installed the gas dryer. Lots of yard work.

Middle of March:
Bought a bbq grill. Bought patio furniture (table, four stationary chairs and two swivel chairs). More maintenance on the elm tree.

End of March:
Replaced a sprinkler head that I had broken while mowing the lawn. Dug out and sawed off old connector and attached a new one.

Beginning of April:
Cut fungal-infected leaves off rose bushes. Lots of elm tree cutting. Used bbq grill for first time and made chicken wraps, steak and turkey patties; the turkey patties fell apart, the steak came out decent, and the chicken wraps were slightly overdone.

Middle of April:
Cleaned everything out of the second bedroom; previously we'd been using it for storage. Cut down a large tree/vine in back of the house, because it'd gotten too large and when we started to prune it, we discovered that the inside was just unsightly vines.

End of April:
Grouted the side of the vanity in the hallway bathroom. Finished removing all dead branches from the elm tree!

Beginning of May:
Got new water heater delivered and installed.

Middle of May:
Bought two accent chairs. Bought a 99 gallon deck wicker box to store chair cushions in; the cushions were getting too dirty from material from a nearby tree and spiderwebs. Aaron and my dad visited; my dad helped redo the mail slot in the garage (previously it had a sharp metal edge sticking up), removed an unsightly battery backup on the wall of the second bedroom, installed a new showerhead in the hallway bath, and a bunch of other small things. Bought a new fridge and pantry cabinet to put in the living room for our renters to use. Our respective renters, Sarah and John, moved in on the same day. John moved out two weeks later because his commute to Oakland was killing him.

Middle of June:
Got a PlayStation 3 to be able to play DVDs and Blu-rays. Started playing Heavy Rain, which plays like a movie; Priscilla really enjoys watching.

Home improvement never ends, and I've gotten more handy in the last few months, but I think we've gotten to the point where all the important stuff is done and we can take improvement projects one step at a time. We've had several people/families from church over, and Priscilla sometimes has friends come over. We're blessed to have a home and things that we can enjoy and use to serve others, and this place pretty much feels like home now.
Bike MS - Sunday, September 21, 2014
After a couple months of sporadic training, it came time yesterday for Alex, Judy, Daniel, Sandra and me to do our 82 mile Waves to Wine ride with Bike MS!

Participants had the choice between 40, 82 and 104 miles from Daly City to Rohnert Park. In order to be closer to the starting point, Priscilla and I stayed Friday night at a hotel in South San Francisco, while the rest of the team made their way up from South Bay Saturday morning. We met up around 6:45am and rode out at 7:30. The ride lasted 9.5 hours which included 3 hours of breaks. There were 6 rest stops along the way, including one for lunch.

It was awesome that three meals were provided: a light bagel breakfast was served at the start, sandwiches were for lunch (I had turkey), and dinner including pesto penne and chicken was served at the finish. Water, energy snacks (I probably had at least 10 snacks over the course of the day) and porta-potties were abundant at each rest stop. Volunteers scattered along the way were extremely encouraging in cheering riders on and helped keep everyone's energy up.

Our group seemed to be slower than most riders, so over the course of the ride we fell towards the rear of the crowd. This meant the rest stops and ride itself weren't as crowded for us. We made it across the finish line 15 minutes before the 5pm deadline.

So from Daly City, we made our way up along the SF coast and through residential areas, across the Golden Gate Bridge, through Sausalito, then onto Highway 1 (which spanned 46 miles of the total trip) through Point Reyes and Tomales Bay, then finally along rural roads up to the finish line. Priscilla, Christine and Jessica were doing wine tasting in Napa and Sonoma during this time and met us in Rohnert Park after we'd crossed the finish line. Sandra's boyfriend, Daniel's parents and James and Charlotte were also there to give people a lift home.

It was a lot of fun, and over twice the furthest distance that we've done during practices, and I'm glad we all made it. Alex and Daniel separately had falls at low speeds but weren't hurt. Towards the latter half of the ride, they did have trouble keeping up with the girls, though. The girls rock!

Safety felt like a big issue, namely the lack of bike lanes on Highway 1 (which can't really be helped) and having to cross a busy two-lane road with traffic going at highway speeds at the end of the ride unassisted. There were police in SF and Sausalito to help direct traffic; after that I didn't see any police, just volunteers who were doing the same. A couple more volunteers placed at key points to direct traffic would've been appreciated.

The event was challenging, mainly in terms of stamina, but nothing that a steady pace and frequent breaks couldn't conquer. The next big ride, I hope, we can do a century!

So would I do this event again? The ride itself was fun and the event was overall well-coordinated, but it was a bit out of the way and I feel bad that people had to drive two hours from South Bay to pick us up. So... maybe? Perhaps the five of us can do a century ride closer to home - I think we could pull it off with the right determination!
Hellastorm - Thursday, December 11, 2014
It's been literally raining all day. By the time the rain is supposed to let up tomorrow morning, it will have been raining non-stop for a 24 hour period.

Worst storm here in 10 years, the meteorologists say. On Twitter, remarks about #hellastorm, #rainpocalypse and #stormageddon are trending.

Pictures have circulated showing areas in San Francisco, San Mateo and San Bruno with cars sitting in water up to the headlights. Down in Silicon Valley, though the downpour is constant, our drainage systems seem to be keeping up. (Bless you, civil engineers.) The worst flooding I saw was this morning along Central Expressway in Sunnyvale, where the road dipped and there was a foot and a half of water covering most of the road, i.e. relatively not too bad.

Is this what a normal day in Portland is like?