Miscellaneous and Useless Information


Here are my Twitter posts on the first day of my trip to CHI 2011, which was held in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

  • At SFO Terminal 3. Longest security line I’ve seen in years. I better make my flight, which leaves in 1 hour. [original tweet]
  • @tsatracker SFO Terminal 3 economy security: 24 minute wait [original tweet]
  • At YVR curbside, waiting for my cousin to pick me up. The smokers are ignoring the designated smoking area, yuck. [original tweet]
  • Eating lunch at a Taiwanese restaurant with my cousin in Richmond. Traffic here is horrible. SkyTrain would have been faster.[original tweet]
  • Visited Granville Island, a great public space filled with art studios, shops, and a food market. Couldn’t resist buying maple caramels. [original tweet]
  • Had more Taiwanese food for dinner to go along with lunch. Pork hock: sounds so odd, tastes so good. [original tweet]
  • CHI 2011 iPhone app requires iOS 4.2. No way I’m using 4.2 on my iPhone 3G. Should have brought my Nexus One. [original tweet]

Saturday, April 23

  • When setting your alarm for a morning flight, make sure it’s set for AM, not PM. Parked in short term and just made it. [original tweet]
  • Don’t remember so many NYC subway service notices, but managed to get to the hotel anyway. Late night pizza nearby for dinner. [original tweet]

Sunday, April 24

  • For brunch, meeting up with Sabrina, old HCI/IBM friend, and her husband Steven, who turns out to work for Google! Small world. [original tweet]
  • Awesome brunch at Balthazar in SoHo. Eggs Norwegian with smoked salmon and hollandaise. We got lucky: no wait! [original tweet]
  • Visited the Morgan Library, as in JP Morgan. Amazing collection and buildings. They have 3 Gutenberg bibles! [original tweet]
  • Surprised the ice skating rink is still up at Rockefeller Center [original tweet]
  • It was beautiful earlier today, but now it’s a downpour. Luckily we have umbrellas. Yay NYC weather. [original tweet]
  • For dinner, had the best pastrami at Katz’s Deli. I always make a trip there when I go to NY. [original tweet]

Tuesday, April 26

  • I keep forgetting how much humidity affects how warm it feels. 70º in NY easily feels 5–10º warmer than in SF. [original tweet]
  • I also don’t feel the need to wear sunglasses in NY like I do in SF. The sunlight is much more diffuse (humidity? pollution?). [original tweet]

Wednesday, April 27

  • New cafe in Google NYC opens today! Gorged on fried calamari. [original tweet]
  • The theme of the new Google NYC cafe is street food. There’s an actual food truck in the cafe, serving dessert. [original tweet]

Thursday, April 28

  • At a colleague’s apartment west of Midtown. Great views from the roof, and great Turkish food delivered for dinner! [original tweet]

Friday, April 29

  • Tried to go to Ippudo for ramen, but the wait was literally 2 hrs. Went to Rai Rai Ken instead, which was solid. [original tweet]
  • Vince was still craving pizza, so we went to John’s Pizzeria & got half cheese half sausage. Excellent, highly recommended! [original tweet]

Saturday, April 30

Powered by Twitter Tools

Last week was the most action packed I’ve had in a while. Between Monday and Saturday, I only spent Wednesday night at home:

Not surprisingly, on Sunday I decided to relax. In my case, that meant reading through a bunch of newspapers and a couple of months’ worth of my friends’ blog entries. I picked up a few interesting tidbits on the way, which I’ll write about over the next few entries.

I was recently helping out Ron with his Ph.D. defense talk, and sent him slides from my talk as a reference. He said, “By the way, your last slide is amazing. best defense slide ever.” My last slide was titled, “What has happened since I entered grad school.” So are some of the notable products that were released and events that occurred what I was a graduate student:

  • USB
  • DVD
  • Wi-Fi
  • DSL
  • Java 1.2 and Swing
  • XML
  • digital cameras gone mainstream
  • cell phones gone mainstream
  • the term “open source”
  • e-mail worms
  • spam from Nigeria
  • Google
  • Windows 98
  • Y2K
  • Napster
  • Haas Pavilion
  • “Who Wants to Be A Millionaire”
  • Pac Bell Park
  • President Clinton’s impeachment
  • Osama bin who?

This past weekend kept me quite busy. On Saturday I met a college friend for lunch and then went to a potluck dinner with my high school friends. On Sunday I met up with another college friend to go the dragon boat festival, where a friend I’ve known since elementary school was racing. Afterwards I went to a housewarming of a friend I met when I was in graduate school, and a co-worker of mine was also there.

So that’s at least one person from five major phases of my life. If only I’d met up with someone from my birthplace — it would have been a clean sweep!

[Avenue Q marquee at the Orpheum Theatre] Last Wednesday, I joined Jon and friends to go see Avenue Q at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco. In case you haven’t heard of it, think Sesame Street meets South Park. A case of humans and Muppet-style puppets work through their 20- and 30-something angst, and sing about love, purpose, and Internet porn. (These videos of the original Broadway cast and the London cast are good introductions.) It was absolutely hilarious, and I thank Jon for noticing it was coming to town and grabbing the tickets.

Unfortunately, Avenue Q has already played its last date in San Francisco, but if you’re happen to coincide with the rest of their national tour — or you live in New York or London — go see it!

For me, the fun didn’t end on Wednesday. Last year, Avenue Q put out a book that looks to be as irreverent as the musical. I got it from HamiltonBook.com for 73% off (woohoo). I’ll probably also buy the soundtrack. And there are a ton of Avenue Q videos on YouTube. My favorites include the cast in a presidential debate (part 1, part 2, part 3) and exploring London (part 1, part 2 — not safe for work!). Also, Avenue Q meets Wicked, Fiddler on the Roof, and the boy band Take That. Remember “Back for Good”? I prefer the puppet version.

I’m in the newspaper! Of course, it has nothing to do with my day-to-day job. Instead, I was photographed talking to the photographer of the new Lincoln Highway book:

This complements my appearance in Bay Area Backroads on KRON 4 about road rallyes:

From July 4 to August 4, I watched four movies in the theater, which is probably more than the previous two years.


Transformers. Better than I expected — the action and graphics were quite good (of course), and the acting wasn’t bad (maybe because my expectations were low). It’s done amazingly well at the box office, so you can be sure a sequel is in the works.


Ratatouille. The best of the first three movies I saw. The storyline was well conceived and beautifully executed; it felt genuine, never hokey. I’m surprised it hasn’t as well at the box office as, say, Cars. And you can’t draw a rat cuter than Rémy.


The Simpsons Movie. A must for Simpsons fans. The plot didn’t exactly have any surprises, but the Simpsons has always been about the small moments, and this movie delivered. I wished I hadn’t seen the trailers though: that took away jokes like President Schwarzenegger (“I was elected to lead, not read.”) Of course, I also went to the Kwik-E-Mart in Mountain View and took loads of photos.

The Bourne Ultimatum. I hadn’t seen the first two Bourne movies, so I got an assignment. The night before I watched it with two friends from high school, we watched The Bourne Identity. Then I borrowed The Bourne Supremacy and watched it the next morning, before finally seeing The Bourne Ultimatum that afternoon. 24 hours of Bourne! I enjoyed all three of the movies — very well crafted action thrillers. There are some great scenes, such as when Jason Bourne is trying to choreograph a journalist’s safe passage through a London train station.

But I must admit that I am an action movie wimp: I totally get sucked into movies; the deaths of characters, among other things, really affect me. So before seeing any of the movies, I read the plot summaries in Wikipedia. Therefore, I already knew which characters would die. But that allowed me to enjoy the movies more, because even though I knew roughly what would happen, I still had to watch the movie to find out how they happened.

In between, there was also a little bit of high culture: Shakespeare in the Park in Cupertino. The San Francisco Shakespeare Festival put on an excellent production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I particularly liked the modernistic staging — the angels were punks, and Lysander wore a Public Enemy T-shirt.

[Cover of Lincoln Highway Book] After work today, I made my way up to Book Passage in San Francisco’s Ferry Building to catch the endpoint of the tour for the new book, The Lincoln Highway: Coast to Coast from Times Square to the Golden Gate, by Michael Wallis and Michael Williamson. The Lincoln Highway was the first road across America, yet lately it has languished while Route 66 gets the glory.

However, just as Mr. Wallis’ 1992 book, Route 66: The Mother Road, helped revive national interest in that historic highway, I’m hopeful that the Michaels’ new book will spark new life in the “Father Road.” Already, it’s gotten huge press, from the New York Times to KCBS AM. They’re even going to be on The Colbert Report, and Bill O’Reilly has also expressed interest in interviewing them.

[LHA Logo]I asked the authors why they decided to write a book on the Lincoln Highway — hadn’t Wallis already covered similar ground with Route 66? Mr. Wallis said he was “tired of the Lincoln Highway being referred to in the past tense.” Mr. Williamson said that lots of people have traveled Route 66, and now they want something different. The Lincoln Highway provides that opportunity.

Being the webmaster of the Lincoln Highway Association gave me huge street cred: as I was getting my book signed, Michael Williamson turned to Michael Wallis and said, “He’s the real deal.”

[Lincoln Highway Book Tour] I’ve posted my photos of the book tour in my Flickr account, including my photo with the authors, when Michael Wallis told me I was “the safest man in San Francisco” at that time.

By the way, for dinner I went to Mistral Rotisserie Provençale in the Ferry Building and got a ¼ roast chicken with broccoli and potatoes for $7.75. Not super cheap, but well worth it.

Next Page »