Q4 2015

Posted on September 21st, 2015 by Sammy

It’s 20 days into the new quarter, and I’m woefully behind in the blogging challenge, but I’m feeling really good in general. I’ve finally updated my new / unadvertised technical blog with a post about overfitting. It’s a little difficult to write technical posts, sometimes I don’t know what level of understanding to cater to. I’m really excited about this coming quarter at work, looks like I have some really interesting projects lined up! My favorite is when work learning coincides with my for-fun learning.

Last week was rough. I had still been feeling fairly sick (today just a sore throat) and I broke out in a fever rash or something last Wednesday. Shanu wasn’t home until late every night because of Dreamforce, so we barely saw each other throughout the week. Some nights she’d come home and I’d already be in bed, other nights I’d come home late and she’d already be in bed. I had to wake up pretty early every day.

Friday night we went to Limon (Shanu’s first time!) and I ate a whole chicken. It was the start of everything feeling better :) We started Rush Hour 3 before bed but Shanu fell asleep within 10 minutes so we turned it off and were conked out really fast.

On Saturday morning we went to Lolo for breakfast, then tried (failed) to do work. Instead we drove over to the Sunset to get a backpack full of frozen dumplings, and spent the afternoon hanging out along Ocean Beach. It was so warm and nice out. I finally got the opportunity to try Trouble Coffee‘s toast — worth trying if you’re ever in those parts!

I’m really glad I was hopped up on sunshine because Sunday morning we discovered that someone had broken into my car:


…but nothing was gonna harsh my mellow, so Shanu and I got lunch at Mau and headed to Westfield Mall to find her a medium-thick jacket (she lost her previous jacket of 5+ years at the dentist’s office). We strolled along the Embarcadero afterwards and then caught a cab back to our parts. Dinner was a bi-rite salad and an acme baguette, then a relaxed evening of working / writing before bed.

This week is looking to be pretty OK work-wise, looking forward to working on my personal projects after work. Hopefully I stop feeling sick soon and get back on the exercise wagon.

Viola Davis

Posted on September 20th, 2015 by Sammy

In my mind I see a line and over that line, I see green fields and lovely flowers and beautiful white women with their arms stretched out to me over that line, but I can’t seem to get there no how. I can’t seem to get over that line. That was Harriet Tubman in the 1800s.

And let me tell you something, the only thing that separates women of color from anyone else, is opportunity. You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there. So here’s to all the writers, the awesome people –Ben Sherwood, Paul Lee, Peter Nowalk, Shonda Rhimes​, people who have redefined what it means to be beautiful, to be sexy, to be a leading women, to be black. And to the to the Taraji P. Hensons, the Kerry Washingtons, the Halle Berrys, the Nicole Beharie​, the Meagan Goods, to Gabrielle Union, thank you for taking us over that line.

Viola Davis, first African-American woman to win an Emmy for “Best Lead Actress”

Another Recovery Weekend

Posted on September 13th, 2015 by Sammy

It’s been a week since Portland and I still feel pretty awful. Head is a bit throbby, body has aches, feeling generally unwell. I think today I’ve felt a little better than previous days but I’m a little worried I have mono or something from the lack of sleep / terrible eating of last weekend. I haven’t felt this fatigued as far as I can remember :( Here’s to hoping it goes away soon.

Didn’t do much this weekend on account of work catchup and fatigue but on Saturday morning Shanu and I got brunch at Local Mission Eatery, then went to Adobe Books to check out the art installation they had in the back. It was a community project where participants sew together squares of color and turn them into a vibrant patchwork — I learned that Shanu knows her way around a sewing machine and demanded that she teach me a little so we could avoid unfortunate gender roles.

We went to Brewcade with Caleb & Fallon after dinner! It was really fun (but secretly I think Shanu and I are more into arcade games than they are, haha). I wanna go back and play Killer Queen — if I go with Kev I might play more fighting games. They don’t tell you in elementary that being an adult is pretty much the same as being a kid except you have a job. Which means on a given night you have close to unlimited quarters (I mean how many can you spend before the place closes? $100’s worth?)

Not much of a gamer but arcade games are definitely more fun to me than what’s popular these days on computers and stuff. More social / interactive / nostalgic (…probably similar to SSBM now that I think about it) than hyper-addicting / time consuming. Though I suppose anyone can turn anything into an addiction.

Today Shanu and I ventured to Kingdom of Dumpling (their restaurant first, then their store 2 1/2 blocks down Taraval) — this was her first time. Soooo good of course! We picked up 牛肉夹饼, a pack of shrimp dumplings, and a pack of chicken corn dumplings to take home.

Watched Shanghai Noon w/ Shanu, now going to bed. Aiming to KP Klock it all week (context for Natalie: my bud KP goes to work at ~5am and comes home around 10pm 😐 ).

I’m clearly failing at posting every day but since I cover everything that’s happening (+ sickness johns) this should still satisfy the blogging challenge.

Portland Day 3 & 4, Sick Days 1 & 2

Posted on September 10th, 2015 by Sammy

On Monday I woke up around 10am feeling OK, slightly headachey from the night before but still good to go. Onur, Shanu, and I hiked over to the rose gardens, then had another delicious meal at Grassa (it’s hard to cure the fresh pasta hunger).

It was good to get some exercise in!

We spent the afternoon walking around / looking for a coat for her since she lost her (6,7 year?) soft down jacket last month. Didn’t settle on something for her but we ended up at the Nike Store and I picked up a singlet and a pair of shorts. Yay no sales tax :)

After a nap Shanu and I regrouped with everyone else at 10 Barrel. I didn’t have that much to drink but felt pretty bad after. We all talked until around 1am, then everyone tried to get a little sleep before travel day.

Tuesday (travel day) was pretty bad for everyone apparently: Kev threw up a bunch of times, I was headachey and nauseated all day, and Arun tried not to throw up the whole time too. It definitely wasn’t alcohol because I only had 1.5 drinks the night before; I’m thinking we either all got food poisoning or our glasses weren’t clean and we caught something.

Either way, on Wednesday I woke up with a fever and a bad headache so I called in a sick day and pretty much spent the whole day in bed. Shannon and I watched The Life Aquatic before bed and I spent the whole day taking Dayquil in increments.

Today I woke up with an even worse headache and set up an appointment with a general family doctor. I was planning on going to an urgent care clinic if my headache didn’t subside; so far my head has been feeling OK. I’m a bit annoyed / stressed because work is busy and this is perf season but trying to do the right things / get rest / get healthy so I can go back to work in full force. I’ll probably end up doing a bunch of work this weekend.

Portland Day 2

Posted on September 7th, 2015 by Sammy

Things I hope to elaborate on when I’m less tired.

– Grassa
– City exploring with Kev & Lisa
– Powell’s Books
– Deschutes
– Drinking too much
– Voodoo doughnuts

– Waking up really late
– $2 mimosas at a late brunch
– Old Town / Chinatown
– Bud and the Electric Rickshaw
– Drinks in the hotel

Welcome to Portland!

Posted on September 6th, 2015 by Sammy

First day of our Portland vacation, all of house is here: Shanu, Kev, Lehsah, KP, Onur, Chaitan, Arun, and Rohit.

Too tired from drinking to post so Chaitan is guest-posting.

Old car batteries (and other heavy things)

Posted on September 4th, 2015 by Sammy

This morning I got to work with a charged jumper box and tried getting Shanu’s car (1999 Toyota Camry) working again. A few weeks back we realized the battery was out and after a lot of trying we finally got it started, only to have it fail again. “Probably a sign the battery needs replacing,” Shanu told me.

Knowing nothing about cars, this morning I thought “Maybe if I get it started and run it for a solid hour it will come back to life,” so I set out to do just that.

I had only just put both hoods up when a Security Ops employee came by. Apparently he used to be a mechanic, and he offered to help. After a half-hour of struggle we get the car running, but it dies on the next start-up. Diagnosis: dead battery. I’ve always wanted to apprentice with a mechanic and have them explain every part under the hood to me so before we part ways I make him explain a bunch of things to me. Knowledge get!

I unhook that sucker and bring it to O Reily Auto Parts (good job radio advertising) — talk to the guy for a while and he’s like “it’s the same manufacturer for all these batteries, they just have different labels and you pay for the warranties.” So I bought el cheapo.

Tonight we had Ethiopian with Shanu’s friend from high school, Jinsol. It was so nice to finally meet her after hearing so many stories — she came out for a friend’s wedding in San Ramon but took BART from Berkeley to see us. Jinsol is among her counterparts for my [kev/lisa/andrew]: they were dorm-mates through all of boarding high school, so I was more than pleased to finally make her acquaintance.

It’s still a bit sad to me how we can’t talk to all our far-flung friends from high school or even college to keep them updated with our lives; it’s just not sustainable. I feel super lucky that Kev & Lisa are still near me after all these years (and now KP/Onur/Chaitan). Makes me never want to move from the Bay Area even though I talk about it all the time.

Also Chaitan really needs to move up to the city already. I always feel bad that he misses out on Friday happy hours and stuff because he’s living down in Saratoga.

Brandon Flowers

Posted on September 3rd, 2015 by Sammy

Currently typing this post via my phone because 30 day challenge but also Comcast outage projected until 1:45am and I need to go to sleep.

Last night Lehsah, Shanu, and I went to see Brandon Flowers at the Fox in Oakland. He was *so* good. I’m a huge killers fan but I hadn’t heard much of his new stuff, only a couple of songs by way of accident / Shanu’s recs to me on one of our playlists. His solo stuff feels like an extension of his Killers canon, albeit he didn’t play anything from his first solo album (his latest is best described as a new age / electronically influenced sound).

I totally had a moment last night. Between songs he had described growing up in a (conservative Mormon) household where “people who do bad things are bad,” and how he eventually figured out that the world was a great deal wider than that. The following song was “Diggin’ Up The Heart” —

And when you finally put the asphalt to the tyre
Looks something like sistine
Or a fire
Ripping through the dark
He’s digging up the heart
Digging up the heart
Digging up the heart
Well it ain’t that strange
Any boy can change
Digging up the heart…

I like to think “any boy can change,” it’s such an important thing to believe in a world where so many live steeped in ignorance. I felt so kindred hearing this, having too emerged from the soulless husk that is a fundamentalist upbringing. Knowing that I have and can change helps me believe that everyone else can too.

He tempers that idealism with “Only the Young” —

Look back in silence
The cradle of your whole life
There in the distance
Losing its greatest pride
Nothing is easy, nothing is sacred, why?
Where did the bow break?
It happened before your time

Only the young can break away, break away
Lost when the wind blows, on your own
Only the young can break away, break away
Lost when the wind blows, on your own

That song makes me wonder whether my parents will ever come around to my way of thinking regarding what constitutes kindness, justice, and a good life.

It’s easy to be angry at injustice and ignorance, but it’s between hard and impossible to stop loving your parents even if they believe terrible things. Ironically I still love them because I don’t believe people who do/believe bad things are necessarily bad — “Where did the bow break? It happened before your time…”

Still I feel jealous of people with functional relationships with their parents, people who can be proud of where they came from. I only feel like I’ve escaped.

I’m hanging on to the end of this rope
Somewhere on the outskirts of hope
Life without you not around
Another kid in Lonely Town

Three Weeks of Nexus 6

Posted on September 2nd, 2015 by Sammy

So I went and got myself a Nexus 6 last month thanks to my 2-year-old iPhone’s screen breaking, contract being over, and Project Fi invite coming in. General feelings:

1. It super sucks that I have to use GroupMe or some other messaging app to text Shanu just so we can see the same emojis. The emojis on iPhone are very different from the emojis on Android. This is weirdly problematic. Also SMS is horrible! I never realized how dependent I was on internet-based messaging, or why Kev has always used GroupMe instead of SMS.

2. Nobody on the internet seems to know where to get a car mount that fits the Nexus 6 + a case. I ended up betting on the iOttie Easy View 2 — turns out it works. I have this case and the holder fits fine. I used to have an iOttie one-touch I got for like $4 on a Slickdeal but at least this was $15 and not $100 (all of the suggestions people have online for car mounts are kinda pricey).

3. I have fairly large hands:

2015-09-02 14.34.52-1

…and using this phone 1-handedly is pretty difficult. This phone makes Shanu’s iPhone 6 look small.

4. I’m a bit nervous about switching to Google Fi because I’ve heard from numerous sources that if you didn’t buy your Nexus during the signup process you tend to run into more problems. I’m thinking about waiting for them to work out the kinks.

5. Ridiculous that I have to use a different launcher (Nova) to get what should be out-of-the-box features. Android camera design is not user-friendly: I don’t want all my shortcuts hidden away, I want them out so I don’t have to swipe to get to them (e.g toggle front camera, access taken photos, etc). It’s hard enough as it is dealing with the very noticeable lag from camera start, as well as iffy behavior of HDR+. At least on iPhone they give you all exposures used to take the picture — if your HDR picture came out worse than one of the composing pictures, you can choose one that’s slightly under or overexposed.

6. I weirdly miss iTunes. Podcast apps on Android aren’t quite as good, why isn’t there a free one from Google? GroupMe’s app on android is worse too.

7. Too many notifications. I understand I can turn them off but why are there so many more than my iPhone by default? Don’t send notifications on updates, just update me!

8. Settings *and* Google Settings!? …it’s pretty confusing. I’m not recommending this to grandma. Or mom or dad.

Other feelings:

9. Apple makes migration horrible. To get my notes, contacts, text messages out was all I really wanted (I already synced all my photos to Dropbox thankfully) but text messages were a no-go (don’t I own my data?!) and contacts for some reason were really buggy. Oh yeah, contacts app for Android can use some UI improvements. Maybe a faster way to edit contacts vs pressing them (risking calling them if you press the wrong place) and looking for a tiny pencil.

10. Qi chargers are actually kinda nice. I used to plug my phone in every day at work but it’s stupid how nice it is to just set my phone down on the desk. I know, wireless charging seems like such a joke / goofy / pointless but the fewer wires I have the happier I am, in general.

11. I’m a little annoyed this phone doesn’t have USB-C and I’ll have to upgrade fairly soon.

12. Passcodes on Android lock screens don’t automatically submit when you type in the digits, you have to press “enter” too. Using the pattern unlock on a phone this big means that sometimes my thumb can’t reach all the way across the screen and I inevitably make a mistake trying to unlock. Ergh.

13. I like that I can use all my work apps, which makes all of this pain somewhat worth it.

14. Audio jack placement feels awkward, I wish it were closer to a corner.

15. Nova Launcher and Google Now are both really awesome.

16. Built-in shazam-like functionality? Yes please!

17. Google’s voice recognition is next-level.

18. I wish we were as good at hardware as we are at software. I also wish we were as good at design as we are at engineering.

30 Day Challenge

Posted on September 1st, 2015 by Sammy

KP challenged Shanu and I to post on our blogs every day for 30 days. It used to be easy for me but it’s a lot harder to fit in now. Trying nonetheless! Warning: these will be logs of my thoroughly quotidian comings and goings.

Monday was really nice. Work wasn’t too busy, got home and went for a 1.68 mile run with Shanu. We had a bi-rite dinner (mmmm), then I went into curriculum planning for my coming weeks.

Today was similar (1.5 mile run by myself after work), but I’m starting to work through Hal Daume III’s math for ml refresher.

Whenever I try to come up with a plan of “what to learn” I find myself swallowed by the pit of unknowing — realizing how little I know, how much I want to learn, and how much I’ve forgotten that I used to know.

Particularly I’m pretty depressed about how much math I’ve forgotten since high school & college. A lot of the subjects I’m interested in involve multivariate calculus, linear algebra, and statistics. I’ve earned (generally high) letter grades in all of these things at the college level, but disuse is a learner’s worst enemy.

I’ve settled for doing refreshers in multiple arenas: I plan on shoring up some of my more glaring math shortcomings this month and getting up to speed with a lot of basics. It’s pretty humbling but necessary if I want to continue diving into complex subject spaces.

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