Monday, December 31, 2007


Note: i'm going to expand on this later.

why is everyone in new york wearing this boot?

Sunday, December 30, 2007


Our new years eve eve dinner.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Sunday, December 16, 2007


is a fire and a short fat christmas tree.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Price Protector

Price Protectr - Get Your Money Back!

nice site which will presumably email you if the price drops on whatever you just bought. yay! very easy to set up a watch.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Friday, November 16, 2007

i watch too much tv

In the interest of procrastinating doing real work, and having nothing else to write about, I have decided to post my list of season passes on my Tivo. I recently bought a dual tuner Tivo so I had the pleasure of writing down the list from my old one and re-entering everything into my new one. Since Tivo's are totally internet-friendly, you'd think they'd have a way for you to oh, say, upload your season passes somewhere so you could easily transfer them should you do something crazy like upgrade your system, but they don't. So now my remote-hand has carpal tunnel.

P.S. This is totally embarassing.
  1. Grey's Anatomy
  2. The Office
  3. Lost
  4. Battlestar Galactica (this show is so good)
  5. Friday Night Lights (this show used to be good till NBC started paying attention to it and now it sucks. show more football!)
  6. Heroes
  7. Desperate Housewives
  8. How I Met Your Mother
  9. Chuck
  10. Ugly Betty
  11. Aliens in America
  12. The Best Years (this is one of those shows where you're like, oh my god this sucks. but it's awesome. but it sucks. but it's awesome)
  13. Gossip Girl (I love this show. LOVE IT. And not just because they have a dartmouth obsession)
  14. Dirty Sexy Money (now we're getting into embarrassing territory)
  15. Big Shots
  16. Reaper
  17. Pushing Daisies
  18. iCarly (I don't care if it's for tweens it's actually FUNNY)
  19. My Boys
  20. Entourage
  21. Newport Harbor
  22. The Hills (I'm on team LC)
  23. Greek
  24. Dirt
  25. Degrassi
  26. Real Simple (this show makes me feel subtly worse about my life)
  27. Flight of the Conchords (Omar snuck this on)
  28. Design Rivals (believe it or not, he snuck this one on too)
  29. Total Body Sculpt (not mine. roommate's. I swear)
  30. The Daily Show
  31. Men in Trees
Dear god almighty. I mean, not all these shows are on all the time, but holy crap. I have a part time job, and it's called watching tv. Imagine what else I could be doing with all the hours I spend watching this stuff? (and I would like to point out that I fast forward through commercials so it's more like 43 minutes per show instead of 60. Which totally makes it totally ok. Right?)

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

turning a sphere inside out

and so much more! Watch 1:00 to 1:45 for the sphere, watch the rest to learn why.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

rotting pumpkins

you are soooo lucky i don't have more graphic pictures to add to this post.

So I love pumpkins. And halloween. I went to a pumpkin patch, I bought Halloween cards (which I forgot to mail, so if I like you, you were probably going to get a Halloween card, but now it's too late and weird). I even had a pumpkin carving party, and a few lovely carved jack o' lanterns were left to grace our door step.

Then the lovely carved pumpkins started rotting. At least, that's what Omar said. Which is sort of gross, but ok, it happens, right? I mean, it's never happened to ME before (pumpkins rotting 3 days after they're carved) but it's warmer out here and this is the first year I've put them out so fine. And I didn't really have to deal with them, Omar is the one who threw them out. Composting them, naturally.

But last night. Oh last night. There were two carved pumpkins sitting on our dining room table, one of them being my classic grinning toothy pumpkin (upper right in the picture), and they were both FULL OF MOLD. FULL OF DISGUSTING FUZZY GREEN AND GREY MOLD. and they were SQUISHY. They had sort of started leaking, and my table runner was soaked through with ROTTING PUMPKIN JUICE.

My cute toothy grinning pumpkin had a smile FULL OF FUNGUS.

I had to attack them with plastic bags and rubber gloves and I still feel sort of gross. Ew. I can't believe no one noticed we had two very unattractively rotting pumpkins on our dining room table.

This was sort of traumatic. I don't think I'll ever be able to look at a pumpkin the same way again.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The Feminine Critique - New York Times

The Feminine Critique - New York Times:

"Respondents in the United States and England, for instance, listed “inspiring others” as a most important leadership quality, and then rated women as less adept at this than men. In Nordic countries, women were seen as perfectly inspirational, but it was “delegating” that was of higher value there, and women were not seen as good delegators."

"But Professor Glick also concedes that much of this data — like his 2000 study showing that women were penalized more than men when not perceived as being nice or having social skills — gives women absolutely no way to “fight back.” “Most of what we learn shows that the problem is with the perception, not with the woman,” he said, “and that it is not the problem of an individual, it’s a problem of a corporation.”

I wonder if this is true in engineering as well (women are penalized more harshly than men for showing anger).

And WHY was this in the style section?

Thursday, November 1, 2007

jem meets le tigre

found via lily

Oh man. First I was like, "this is awesome!" then, "this is so wrong." and now, i'm just wondering why i didn't think to be jem for halloween.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Monday, October 29, 2007

my cousin's wedding in toronto

It was great, I got to see a ton of family (on my dad's side) that I haven't seen in 15 years!!! The flying roundtrip to YYZ from SFO for 2 nights part was not so fun.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Nobel economics winner says market forces flawed | U.S. | Reuters

Nobel economics winner says market forces flawed | U.S. | Reuters:

"Societies should not rely on market forces to protect the environment or provide quality health care for all citizens, a winner of the 2007 Nobel Prize for economics said on Monday."


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

EZGram: Write a Letter Online

EZGram: Write a Letter Online

This is brilliant. No stamps, no envelopes, no searching for mail boxes! The only thing this doesn't have is a signature, I guess, but it's still pretty awesome for those things you have to do by postal mail.

I just realized how weird it is that I'm willing to spend 59 extra cents just so I don't have to remember to walk over to the mailbox and drop in my piece of mail at work (20 feet away from my desk) and sms my postage payment. My value system is sort of screwed up.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

this used to be Mr. Toad's Wild Ride

To quote marria: "i don't get the appeal of this character. It's a fat bear who eats honey."


Streetsblog - DOT Unveils Sidewalk Compass Markings

Streetsblog DOT Unveils Sidewalk Compass Markings

This is the best idea! How often do you wander out of the subway or BART, completely disoriented?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

computer in my pocket

Nokia had really excellent earnings today. Apparently their third quarter net profit rose 85% based on their growth in emerging markets, and they hold a steady 39% share of market.

39%. That's huge more than its next three competitors put together.

With all of the hype of the iPhone, I think it's easy to forget that the cellphone market is really global, and nokia is the predominant global player. I guess the battle between them is set to play out in the UK in the next few months: Nokia is unveiling a new music service and music-oriented phones just as the iPhone is coming to the mother country. Ultimately I think the Nokia is going win here -- they really are great phones, and they're totally open. Nokia also just has such a huge foothold in Europe.

But I really hope Nokia takes the lessons from the iPhone to heart... I want to watch tv and movies on my phone, but the E70 just doesn't make this easy -- it has real player, but that's it. The Tivo program on my desktop can output video in the ipod video format, why can't it do it in a nokia phone compatible format as well? I spent like half a day trying to convert an episode of the Colbert Report to play on my phone. I ended up with this tiny grainy version of Stephen Colbert and I couldn't even see his world of the day :(. I can browse the internet on my E70, but it doesn't seem as seamless as the experience on the iPhone. Also, more websites tailor to the iphone web browser -- though both these phones can load full webpages (javascript and all) it takes a ridiculously long time to do so on any non-wifi connection, and most pages are not meant to be seen on a 2in x 3in screen. I want to see more websites create mobile phone versions based on what device the request is coming from that are optimized for the device's screen size and interface (I think a lot of sites have already made iphone versions, including GMail. Where's my nokia-targeted GMail, huh?). It's sort of frustrating how many services jumped on the iPhone wagon as soon as it came out, when these places haven't created binaries or services for Nokia phones, which have been out a lot longer. I think this is a hugely US-centric view, which is a mistake.

I love the competition among the high end handsets, but I HATE the way carriers lock down the market in the United States. They're basically evil incarnate. You can't run Google Maps for Mobile on a Verizon phone! How crazy is that! There's no way we'd let ISPs control what we put on our laptops, so why do we let carriers control what we can run on our phones?

Eventually there's going to be a collision between the global and US phone markets -- the business model and compatibility issues are just going to start pissing more people off. I will only buy unlocked GSM phones since I travel internationally, and that basically means I have to buy my phones out of pocket. I just want to pay for service and an unlimited data connection and be left alone! Figure out some other way to make money!

Friday, October 12, 2007

facebook is so over [rant]

I don't log into facebook anymore. I mean I do, but not every day. I just don't care. I'm a bit sick of all the frivolous updates, all the stupid app updates (I don't care if you turned someone into a zombie), all the random people with no network asking to be friends.

I was watching this interesting video of a panel, the FacebookFanboyPanel (45 minutes in case you were wondering). It's actually incredibly frustrating. this is the first time i've watch silicon valley geeks debate facebook, so it's not that i found it all repetitive. I just find it so misguided. Guess what, Dave McClure and Robert Scoble -- you guys are insanely unique. You're techie, and geeky, and not at all like the rest of the world. The way you use something is almost guaranteed to be different than the way a regular person does. And until something appeals to the regular people, the average, the norm, it's not going to blow up the way that Google did.

Just because Facebook knows you put skiing as an interest on your profile (note: not that you LIKE skiing or that you actually GO skiing but JUST that you put it into a text field on a website where you are trying to create a cool identity) does not mean that you are in a statistically significant way any more likely to click on an ad about skiing (note: I made that up. But I'll look it up and update this post if I find anything). People who make profiles on these sites are trying to make themselves LOOK GOOD. This is key. They want to look GOOD. They are trying to portray an identity, whether if it's because they want to appear artsy fartsy by listing lots of Thomas Pynchon (yeah right you read Gravity's Rainbow and it was your favorite book ever) or if they want to seem like they have raging social lives or if they want to emphasize how they don't have time to bother with all of this by creating a crappy profile and never logging in again (except to approve friend requests, of course). Why do you think there are so many pictures of college kids drunk on Facebook? Because it makes them LOOK GOOD. It means they're fun and have lives and party every night. DUH.

When you go to Google and type in "Gravity's Rainbow", that is SO MUCH MORE significant than putting it on your facebook profile, or if your friends on facebook all had it listed in their profiles. It means you actually got off your ass and typed it into a search box *at the moment you had an interest*, and not just to look good (cause no one can see it) and not to portray an image, but because you're actually INTERESTED in it. I'd say the odds of clicking an ad selling the book in that situation is way higher than if it's on Facebook.

This stuff is so transient -- myspace yesterday, facebook today, ??? tomorrow. I feel like I have more to say but I haven't even finished the video yet. End of Rant.

update: And don't play this off as some people are "influencers" and are going to be worth it in terms of branding yada yada yada. That is so Malcolm Gladwell circa the Tipping Point. Just because you have 5000 friends on Facebook does not mean that you are going to sell more Tide, or Dolce and Gabbana, or Mercedes, or whatever. The only way that having 5000 friends is profitable is that there are nutters out there who think having 5000 friends means something and are willing to pay you for it. Doesn't mean it's sustainable.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

The Battle Against Racism In Jena: Jena-Cide (article) by Eddie Thompson on AuthorsDen

The Battle Against Racism In Jena: Jena-Cide (article) by Eddie Thompson on AuthorsDen:

"The “Jena Six” have repeatedly been held up as heroes by much of the race-based community and called “innocent students” by the national media. Some of these students have reputations in Jena for intimidating and sometimes beating other students. It is alledged that they have vandalized and destroyed both school property and community property. Reportedly, some of the Jena Six have been involved in crimes not only in LaSalle Parish but also in surrounding parishes. For the most part, coaches and other adults have prevented them from being held accountable for the reign of terror they have presided over in Jena. Despite intervention by adults wanting to give them chances due their athletic potential, some of the Jena Six have juvenile records. Yet some of the parents keep insisting that their children have never been in trouble before. These boys did not receive prejudicial treatment but received preferential treatment until things got out of hand."

Interesting counterpoint. I posted about this in June with a different perspective. Just a reminder of how skewed things are that we read in the media. I learned this by being on the other side of the article (so to speak) in all the hoopla surrounding Google (most of it was ridiculous, there were a lot of quotes taken out of context and facts that just weren't quite true).

Friday, September 28, 2007

Living in Dust: Gut Renovation on the Cheap - New York Times

Living in Dust: Gut Renovation on the Cheap - New York Times [via]

This is sooooo cool. Makes me want to buy a place, though I have none of the talent of this guy. Watch the slide show too.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

olafur eliasson

unbox = awesome

I'm sure you've heard by now that NBC has pulled out of itunes and will be selling their shows for download on Amazon unbox instead. This is absolutely awesome for me. I used to buy episodes of The Office on itunes when I missed it, and it was a pretty crappy experience. I don't know if it's my laptop or what, but itunes is a behemoth on windows. It takes full MINUTES from the time I try to open it to when it actually opens the application, I can't even play music with firefox running or it will skip, and it hogs all of my CPU.

Trying to watch video was almost unbearable, I only put up with it because I had to know what happens with Pam and Jim. I couldn't get the downloaded files to play in VLC (best video player in the world), and it was multiple clicks in itunes to get the shows to be full screen. All around miserable.

But unbox! Unbox is awesome! I hooked up my Tivo to my Amazon unbox account, and now I can download shows straight to my Tivo! All I have to do is enter my pin and boom, there's The Office on my Tivo! Ready for watching on my TV! With all of the wonderful features my Tivo offers. Also, I can still download it on to my computer if I want (it's included in the purchase). I am definitely using this until my dual tuner Tivo comes through (the office conflicts with grey's anatomy. Unfortunately, grey's anatomy wins because of the high drama factor).

If anyone has any tips on making itunes more usable, let me know.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Steve and Marisa's wedding

Back in August, in Olema, CA. It was gorgeous!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

yeah, that's a parrot

At the bar at Revolution Cafe.

Monday, September 17, 2007

13 stunning differences in how men and women think about money

I Will Teach You To Be Rich � 13 stunning differences in how men and women think about money

An absolutely fascinating discussion going on in the comments, in response to a survey Ramit conducted of his readership on how they feel about finance. He diced the results by gender, and the results were really interesting. The comments worth reading are by kmg, Harri, and Cecily -- these people are actually intelligent and have done their research. I have to admit kmg is expressing my position very eloquently. As a side note, it gives me hope in the internet to see people this smart having a spontaneous yet civil, informative discussion
on a comment page.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Saturday, September 15, 2007

How to Apply For the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

In November of 2006, I applied for the National Research Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. In March of 2007, I found out I got one. I told myself I would write up a little guide on this, as reading other people's words on the subject helped me a lot when I was doing my application. In particular, the advice by Phillip Guo from MIT and Keith Jacks Gamble from Berkeley. Thanks, Phillip and Keith.

I applied for the NSF in Computer Science, specifically theory. I didn't really know if I had a good chance of winning it, but not applying gave me a 0% chance, and I also figured that this would be good practice for my actual grad school apps.

Who This Guide Is For

I intended to write this as a general guide that almost anyone could find useful (even non-computer scientists) but I realized that this isn't going to work for everyone. It will still be useful if you are in another field, but you kind of already have to have your stuff together. This isn't for people who aren't in the top 20% of students in their field. Research is important. Academics are important. The people writing your recommendations need to be able to say that you are one of the best students they've ever seen. Now I'm not saying a C student can't win an NSF, or that you have to be published in a highly respected conference. But if you are a C student or haven't done any peer-reviewed research, you might need more help crafting your documentation than this guide can provide.

The Criteria

The most important thing to remember when applying are the two criteria: INTELLECTUAL MERIT and BROADER IMPACTS. These are both VERY important. Never forget them as you work on your application. They are described in more detail on the NSF website, read the descriptions carefully and try to craft a story about how you satisfy BOTH. I cannot stress this enough. You need to be a rockstar in academics and research AND show that you are someone who is going to change the world (don't get discouraged by this. You could change the world in a small way, that's ok).


First things first, get your stuff together. Once you've decided to apply, you need to get your recommendations. I'm going to assume you're like me and tend to procrastinate: well get over it, because asking your recommenders for recs is not something you can procrastinate! It doesn't matter if you write your essays the day the NSF is due (well, you probably shouldn't, but I have to admit I was working down to the wire) but you CANNOT procrastinate asking for recs. Just imagine this scenario: your research advisor, sitting there stewing trying to write you a rec with only a day or two left before the deadline. Yeah. How do you think that rec is going to sound? Not so good. Give them lots of time so they have a positive view of your organizational abilities. Remember: they are doing you a favor.

Also, don't just shoot them an email with "can you write me a recommendation? Here's the link, thanks!" I had been out of school for 3 years when I applied, but even if you're still there, you need to remind them of your accomplishments. I gave each letter writer my resume (one page. this is a pet peeve of mine. no one under 25 should have a resume of longer than one page, period), grades in all CS and math classes, a bullet-point list of accomplishments, and descriptions (cut and pasted from the NSF website) of what their letters should cover. I also added very clear definitions of INTELLECTUAL MERIT and BROADER IMPACTS and asked them to please try to address those two criteria. This is all really easy to read (notice there are no long research papers or anything) and will help a lot when they're trying to remember why they like you :) If you have your essays ready, it might also be a good idea to give your rec writers those so that they can reinforce anything that you mention while not going over the same stuff too much.

In terms of who to ask, at the time I applied the NSF requested 3 letters. If you are reading this way ahead of time, you should start trying to forge relationships with 3 people who you could ask to write letters for you -- believe me, 3 is a lot. I had 3 close professors in undergrad, one who supervised my undergraduate thesis (research), one who I took a few classes with and I talked to often, and one in the Math department who I took several classes with. Think about what you'd like them to say about you (in ideal circumstances) and think back to what kind of experiences you should have with them to make them say that. Do research! Go to office hours! Ask questions and show an interest! Participate in class! Don't be the person who sits in the back turning in perfect problem sets, but never showing a deeper interest in what you're learning.

An important note: it is your job to make sure your recommendation writers submit their stuff on time. If you have wacky zany professors who aren't always with it (this is de rigueur in theory), make sure you check up on them. Leaving out a recommendation is not an option.

The Essays

Ah, the essays. If you're in the process of applying, this is the only part of the application you really have control over right now. This is where you tell your story.

When I applied, there were 3 essays: Previous Research, Personal Statement, and Research Proposal. You don't have to address INTELLECTUAL MERIT and BROADER IMPACTS (like how i keep capitalizing them? they're that important!) in all of them. BROADER IMPACTS really came out in my Personal Statement, though I tried to explain why both my past research and future research proposal were important to the world. And remember, I applied in theory. Sometimes you have to stretch a little.

Feel free to be technical and to cite other research in these essays. You have to choose on the NSF app in which subarea you want to apply (in Computer Science, stuff like theory, systems, AI, etc) so the people reading your essay will be experts. Choose carefully! If what you did/want to do covers multiple areas, think about the one in which you'll look the strongest -- taking everything in your application into account. Also, this is totally non-binding to your future graduate school plans. You can change everything around once you've won that fellowship.

And the most important part of your essay writing: Have people read your essays! Everyone! Your mailman! Your dog! Your next door neighbor! Professors, students, grad students, your boss, your tech lead, everyone! Here's the beauty of it: they expend energy trying to think about how to make you sound better, but you don't even have to take their advice! Get over your self-consciousness and just do it.

I got fantastic advice from a two grad students, one who had previously not won and then won an NSF. My essays became much better because of those two people.

The Proposed Research essay is insanely scary. Personally, I was terrified. I knew I didn't want to study exactly what I had done for my undergraduate thesis, but I didn't feel like I knew enough about the area I was interested in (game theory) to craft a well written proposal. Again, this is where you talk to people! By getting recommendations on papers to read (I scoured that year's PODC proceedings) and having chats on what was hot in these areas of research, I narrowed down my possibilities considerably.

And here is one of the real differences between applying for an NSF and applying to grad school: the NSF wants a REALLY SPECIFIC research proposal. They don't want a summary of some area or a hand wavy proposal. They want to see that you know what you're talking about and that you are just waiting for the check to clear to immediately start tackling this specific, deep, impactful problem. Of course everyone really knows that you might get to grad school and totally change your mind (as I did) but we all have to go through this process anyway. When you apply to graduate school, it's better to be somewhat general so as not to narrow yourself out of an advisor.

Also, I think it's nice to create a path from your previous research to your proposed research, using your experience as support. Mine was a bit of a stretch (distributed algorithms to complexity in game theory, with distributed systems work along the way) but I think it made for a compelling essay.

So What Does It Take, Anyway?

Do you like how I put this at the end? I did so because I don't think there's a formula to winning an NSF -- and any formula you could come up with probably would have disqualified me. I found hundreds of reasons to think that I would never win it (my scores weren't good enough. My research wasn't prestigious enough. I had been working for 3 years. I'm not the most amazing student ever to graduate from my school) but I think I managed to put together a persuasive story for why I should have a chance anyway. And that's what it's really about -- your story. You have to believe in something so much that you know you could change the world doing it -- even if the length of time you believe in it is only the length of time it takes you to create your application! I applied for the NSF in theory and then I ended up applying to work with systems professors in most of my applications. But for the few weeks I was working on my application, I was convinced that I was going to change the landscape of computer science, economics, and mathematics research by doing work in game theory.

But enough of the fuzzy stuff. I know what you want, you want to know my GRE scores, my GPA, in which conferences I was published, etc etc. Well I'm definitely not going to give you that. I think I was well positioned in terms of those things (which you have to be) but I wasn't the absolute best. What I think that I did successfully was to paint a picture showing that I not only had a powerful vision to get something accomplished that would be worth the NSF's money, but I also had evidence of the background, skills, and work ethic to make it happen. And that's what it's ultimately about. The government is not trying to award the most hardcore science students. The government is trying to invest $120,000 somewhere where it will get a return.

So that's it. Feel free to email or comment with questions, and good luck!

Friday, August 17, 2007

If you're going to San Francisco...

When it rains it pours. I enjoy this column in the WSJ called Act One, which is written by Emily Meehan, a twentysomething writer who used to live in Alaska of all places. Act One is supposed to be about issues facing our age group, and she's written about things like dealing with income disparities among friends to deciding when to move back in with your parents. All with the sort of dryness you'd expect from the WSJ.

The most recent article is about the job situation in San Francisco. Emily recognizes that a lot of recent college grads are interested in moving here since it's so lovely and less crazy than New York, but due to its appeal and tight job market a lot of them end up working in a coffee shop while waiting for a more worthwhile offer. The comments in the forum are particularly interesting, SF inspires polarization -- to some it's the best place on earth and to others it's absolute hell. It's also interesting to read the comments from people who moved away from smaller cities like DC to San Francisco and are completely happy with their choice -- I wonder if there's an element of self-delusion to validate their choice, or if they're really getting enough value out of living here to put up with the cost of living and the insane local politics (and in case you haven't figured it out by now, I tend liberal).

I'm still trying to work out exactly how I feel about this city. Many of us have a tendency to find problems with what we have and idealize what we don't, so this is probably not a question I can answer objectively. I just keep telling people it feels so fake, but I'm not sure what that means.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

cafe vittoria

A really delicious cappucino in boston's north end.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

sunset on the charles river

View from JFK park. maybe i should move to boston.

the tree

I was sleeping under, in my salwaar kamese(sp?)

rema and paul

Omar's cousins, celebrating their marriage in Boston.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Why live in a major city?

where i choose to live is something that i've been thinking about a lot lately. Happiness is a complicated subject, and it's pretty clear that people aren't always good at making decisions that will make them happy in the long run. i'm from a boring suburb 40 miles away from chicago, and i went to college pretty much in the middle of nowhere, so when I graduated I was dead set on living in a city no matter the cost. I moved to the bay area for a job in Mountain View but always intending to live in SF, and I drove down to work 5 days a week for 2 years before there even was a shuttle (uphill both ways in the snow, of course).

But lately I've found myself daydreaming about living in a small town. Which is so weird! I'm 25! Small towns are for married people with kids who are looking for good schools and low crime rates. I want culture and wine bars.

But at what price? SF is sort of a hard city to live in. I live in this super trendy neighborhood which gets written up in the nytimes, but gangs run rampant and someone was shot 2 blocks from my house. Compared to anywhere but Manhattan, my rent is off the charts. My local bus line (the 14/49) is full of more crazies than an insane asylum, and I'm pretty much guaranteed to get harassed walking to the bus stop (in multiple languages). All these things are little balls of stress that add up and make me less happy.

It's interesting to examine the assumption that living in a larger city is automatically better if you're young. I'm not going to talk about people who have children or are married and want to live a quieter lifestyle -- that's not me and I think there's something to think about even for young people who want to go out a lot. There are just so many people I know who see the major cities as the center of the world, and feel that living anywhere else would be inconceivable. I think people underestimate the costs they're really paying and overestimate the benefits that they get.

There are other cities besides LA, New York, and San Francisco

And almost all of them have bars, wine, opera, symphonies, parties, young people, books, fashion, a tech community, public transportation, and parks. And often times the rent and crime rate is a lot lower.

You don't need the best

I think this is something that I have a hard time admitting to myself. I don't need to live in the city with the most Michelin stars. I've never even been to the French Laundry. I don't need the city with the tallest skyscrapers or the trendiest new bars. Guess what: you're not Donald Trump, or a member of the Astor family. You are not going to own a pied-de-terre overlooking Central Park. You are not going to sleep with models every night. Which brings me to another point...

Sometimes you can do better without the best people

This applies in two different ways. I think the recent article in the nytimes about working millionaires shows one of the great problems with figuring out what makes you happy: sometimes it's beating your peers. If you make your peers the richest, most beautiful people in the world you're probably going to get very depressed.

But this also makes sense career-wise, as well. People talk about the concentration of highly intelligent people, venture capital, and entrepreneurs in the bay area, and I totally get that. But guess what? There are startups in smaller cities too. There are tech communities in Seattle, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Austin, Orlando, Madison, Burlington, Hanover, and all sorts of other crazy places. And they do great stuff! I think there are a lot of people who instead of thriving off of the tech community in the bay area, get discouraged and might not pursue something because they feel like they're not as good as their peers. Being surrounded by brilliant people, and knowing that you're not in the same league, can occasionally be a downer. If you've got an idea in the bay area, you've got to compete with all the other entrepreneurs out here vying for talent, attention, and venture capital. Granted, if you're in Pittsburgh, there's a smaller pool of all three. But there's also fewer startups -- and I think the benefit of that outweighs the reduced resources.

People need space

I lived in New York for 2 months in 2004. I actually had a really nice apartment in a great neighborhood, and I was still going nuts at the end of it wanting to see a tree. I think living in high density areas without reprieve can be really bad for people, though this totally varies from person to person. My parents' house in Barrington Hills is at least 30 minutes away from ANYTHING. But I can't describe how relaxed I am when I visit, even though I drive more. The last 15 minutes on the way home is through these narrow, wooded roads that pass through meadows with horse farms. It's beautiful. And even though everything else is packed with strip malls, it's all clean and new and I can *park*. Never underestimate the mental benefits of free parking.

Relationships are more important than opportunities

Another thing I didn't realize when I graduated. I never understood the people who go to college in the same state they went to high school, or the ones who come back and live in the same city where they grew up. Living in different cities and breaking out of what you know is such a cool experience. And there's a part of me that still wants to live in Berlin and New Delhi. But I know now that regularly seeing people who love you is more important than your job or how much money you make. You can't put a dollar value on distance from your family. Hard lesson to learn.

So the result of all this? I don't know. I'm questioning whether this city is really worth it.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

women workers in NYC earning more than men

No Quick Riches for New York’s Twentysomethings (Gotham Gazette. June, 2007)

Some interesting points:
* comparing all 20somethings in NYC, in 2005 women earned more than men (117% of what men earned)
* comparing college educated workers in NYC, women earned less than men (89% of what men earned)
* way more women than men have college degress.
* across the US, women still earn less than men, college or not.

so more women are going to college, but it seems like in the highly educated positions women still aren't getting the same paychecks. I wonder if it's because they aren't attaining high positions or if paychecks for the same levels vary by gender.

ordinary millionaires

this article is totally depressing:

ny times

makes me think I need to get out of silicon valley sooner rather than later.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

daft punk

I went to Lollapalooza yesterday. Normally giant music festivals in the searing heat aren't my thing, but it was definitely worth it to see daft punk. I also got to see Blonde Redhead (good), LCD Soundsystem (awesome) and I caught a bit of moe. who were ok.

The chicago skyline as it started to get dark and the area in front of the main stage started getting more and more packed. You don't want to know what I had to go through to get close to the stage.

The crazy pyramid and light show that they put on.

The two space robots at work.

More music and lights. That arm in the way is my sister's coworker, who totally couldn't remember where he parked and had us walking around a giant creepy parking garage forever trying to find his car.

The real end of the show, after the encore. they had this awesome special effect where red light seemed to drop down the scaffolding, up the pyramid, and lit up their suits.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

if abortion were illegal

then what should happen to women who have abortions?

I would embed it but it's been disabled. It's incredible to see how people who campaign for making abortions illegal haven't even thought about what that would mean.

This article has more, and I originally found this through jezebel.

finding the funny parts of dorky comics

I hate it (and love it) when I find an easy solution to something that has bugged me for a long time. Do you read You should, it's awesome. Anyway I have spent months hitting Ctl-u and Ctl-f to find some part of the funny tooltips on that site, and now I just installed this:

Long Titles :: Firefox Add-ons

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

i am never playing risk again

Strategizing, originally uploaded by lucyz.

I went on a rampage and kicked Steve out of South America. It took forever because he was unable to roll the dice and properly land them in the box top. I lost many armies.

Monday, July 16, 2007

"I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major Googler"

the youtube video is just audio, but it's still hilarious! Done by Lauren Weinstein:

Saturday, July 7, 2007

movie reviews: transformers and ratatouille

short version: both these movies are AWESOME. Go see them.

longer version:

I absolutely loved transformers. I very vaguely remember the cartoon, and I think I had a transformer toy as a kid. Other than that i don't really have a strong connection to the cheesy show of the 80s, so I think it helped that i didn't come into the movie with a lot of expectations. Well, strike that, I came in with expectations to see a lot of things get blown up. It is a Michael Bay movie. This expectation was completely satisfied, and I think that Shia LaBeouf was great and helped the movie be a little quirky instead of just totally over the top. Also I like him and it intrigues me to see him grown up given that I used to watch Even Stevens on the Disney Channel in the summers at home with my sister. Nothing beats watching a giant truck barreling down the highway morph into Optimus Prime (plus momentum). Though as one person pointed out if you're really fond of the law of conservation of mass this might not be the movie for you.

Ratatouille was completely adorable. Great story, great humor, and Pixar is really outdoing itself with the animation. We got lucky and saw this on a digital screen. I haven't seen it on a regular screen so i can't compare, but the fur on the rats was so realistic. It's incredible. And I love that I kept alternating from being grossed out by rats in a kitchen to feeling empathy for the little guys. Just beware: you will be STARVING after this movie. I was looking longingly at all the animated cheese and wine. I highly recommend Cafe Claude for dinner afterwards. Also, I really need to go to Paris.

Monday, July 2, 2007

a really pretty flower arrangement

That i put together yesterday and made me a little less cranky when i got home from work. flowers are nice. and smell good.

Friday, June 29, 2007

racial unrest in Jena, Louisiana

While Seated

crazy. nooses? i can't believe places like this still exist.

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Start-Ups Make Inroads With Google's Work Force -

Note, this will expire soon. I have done you non-subscribing miscreants a favor by laboriously emailing it to myself and posting the link. I hope this doesn't violate something. Anyway, whoa. They really lay it all on the table. I don't think i'd have the guts to give an interview to the WSJ remarking upon my net worth.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


After dinner at daniel, on the upper east side.

Monday, June 25, 2007

teddy r

How bad is it that most of the reason i was excited to be here was cause of night at the museum?

Saturday, June 23, 2007

welcome to new york

The lovely (disgusting) delta terminal at jfk where i have been waiting for the past hour. Fun.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


Well, I was completely wrong.

I'm pretty American. It took me a while to finally come to terms with this, but after travelling internationally, I realized that even though i don't fit the traditional Abercrombie stereotype, my values are completely and truly American. I like things big and spacious. I'm brash, independent, idealistic, and ambitious. I believe in working intensely on something you're passionate about for your entire life, and if what you do is valued you'll be rewarded. I like big cities, big tvs, wide open spaces, and modern bathrooms.

Part of being American involves having this (possibly subconscious) faith that ultimately the United States is the best there is. That it truly is the best place to live on earth, with the best government, opportunities, quality of life, currency, education, weapons, diplomacy, economy, and healthcare. The number one country. My parents went through a fair amount of hardship to immigrate here in the 70s -- a new culture, a new language, leaving family far behind, starting with nothing. They came here to be doctors. Why would they have done that if this weren't the best country ever?

I didn't realize I had such faith in my country until it was shaken after seeing Sicko, Michael Moore's new movie about healthcare. Our government makes tons of decisions I don't agree with. But even on things like the war in Iraq, I understand where the other side is coming from. I see how there's a choice to be made with imperfect information, and though it's not the choice I would have made, I see that ultimately these people are acting on what they really think is the best course of action for all of us (even if they're wrong).

But healthcare. Oh god, healthcare.

It's a disaster. We're living in the dark ages here. We are denying people a basic right. Hospitals and health management organizations are incentivized to deny people treatment. People lose their houses and are forced into bankruptcy because they were unlucky enough to contract cancer. Even regular people, the ones with health insurance! And let's say you have a basic problem, and you've got "good" health insurance (a PPO) and you're covered -- you still have to deal with paperwork, and that dread that the insurance company is going to come after you and extract more money out of you based on a labyrinth of rules that it's your responsibility to understand and navigate. All of it designed to keep them from paying, and to keep you from getting what you need.

This is ridiculous.

And what's funny is that I fell for the hype, I said stuff like "well maybe in Canada it's free but how long would you have to wait for a surgery or an MRI?" And "Maybe your drug prices are lower but where's all the cutting edge drug research happening, huh? Here." And of course my parents are doctors, and I know that if we had universal health care they'd be paid less. And they work so hard -- they had so much schooling, and they do a job that I view as so important. It didn't seem right that they should be paid less. I felt like maybe our system could be better, but hey, we're the United States of America. This is the best country ever. Obviously our way isn't wrong -- it's just a gray situation, and we've chosen one way that has its pros and cons and the rest of the western world has chosen another way. No better, no worse, just different.

Total bullshit.

We need free universal health care. End of story. This is the equivalent of women's suffrage and civil rights. It's time to move forward.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


iWANEX STUDIO - Professional Photo Retouching Services

Click on portfolio and check out the before and after versions. scary that this is what people aspire to look like -- it's not even possible.

Friday, June 15, 2007


Personism > Blog Archive > Parking -

I love this. Urban rituals -- the stuff we put up with to live in a city draws us together.

Friday, June 8, 2007

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Remember The Milk implements Google Gears

Remember The Milk - Blog

This is so cool. RTM is my todo list of choice (it's so cute!) and now they've implemented offline access! I haven't tried it yet, but accessing your todolist offline can be pretty vital. They have a good mobile interface so it hasn't bitten me yet but I'm quite excited about this.

The Profit Calculator

The Profit Calculator -- New York Magazine

Fascinating. I've always wondered how those crappy little storefronts in the Mission make money, and this provides some insight on how various markets work.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Whales disappear -- rescuers believe they're back at sea

Whales disappear -- rescuers believe they're back at sea

The whales! They apparently did an about-face yesterday and booked it for the ocean. I hope they made it. All reports said they were looking healthier -- I so wanted to stand on the golden gate and watch them pass under though.

Friday, May 18, 2007

my workspace

I know you've been dying to see where i work. Here is my glorious 30 inch monitor. It's a beast.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

rock picture

Where i wait for the shuttle (which is late).

Saturday, April 28, 2007

perfect sunny sf saturday

At ti couz with adrienne

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Human Rights Watch

I went to a terrific talk yesterday by Ken Roth, the director of Human Rights Watch. He gave a fascinating lecture on the concrete steps his group is taking to battle human rights violations across the globe. Reading the news, I often feel completely overwhelmed and ineffective in the face of atrocities like Darfur or Rwanda. It's motivating to hear that there are real solutions to these problems.

Some things I learned:
  • Omar Bashir really, really sucks. He's stalling on letting in 20,000 UN Peacekeepers. The US can pressure Bashir to make this happen by imposing a certain set of sanctions on Sudanese companies -- no longer allowing them to conduct business in dollars. This would create a huge impediment to the oil trade in Sudan, thus cutting off money to the government and hence the Janjaweed. These sanctions have stalled though, because the current SG of the UN wants to try more diplomacy first. HRW confronted him, and is working on it.
  • China is starting to realize that they can't continue their noninterference policy, as it's the policy of a weak government, not a strong one. They are worried about the perception of the 2008 olympics in Beijing, especially given an article in the WSJ recently by Mia Farrow calling it the "Genocide Olympics" (China gets a lot of oil from Sudan).
  • The enemy combatant stuff in the US is incredibly scary, but Ken is optimistic that this horrible loophole in habeas corpus will be closed.
  • The branches of the military don't talk to each other, as evidenced by the fact that the army used cluster munitions in Iraq, even though the Air Force deemed them unnecessary and too harmful to civilians.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

renewing subscriptions

How much do you pay for your New Yorker?

I managed to get a sweet deal where I had a year's subscription (47 issues?) for $27. My subscription was up for renewal again, so I called in and asked if they had any deals. They did: a year for $30, or 100 issues for $53.

I took the 100 issues. I love the New Yorker, and though it often piles up, I always come back to it. I can't believe that I'm going to be receiving it until July of 2009 though -- this is the longest-term commitment I have.

Monday, April 23, 2007



I really don't just want to rehash kottke's link blog, so maybe this isn't appropriate. But I think a lot of people I know would find this site really interesting -- a collection of lectures! I've just started browsing but it looks like there's some great stuff.

A Polite Letter from the Smithsonian

A Polite Letter from the Smithsonian: "Thank you for your latest submission to the Institute, labeled '211-D, layer seven, next to the clothesline post. Hominid skull.' We have given this specimen a careful and detailed examination, and regret to inform you that we disagree with your theory that it represents 'conclusive proof of the presence of Early Man in Charleston County two million years ago.' Rather, it appears that what you have found is the head of a Barbie doll, of the variety one of our staff, who has small children, believes to be the 'Malibu Barbie'."

Ha. I love It points me to the funniest stuff.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Friday, April 13, 2007

Post Magazine: Too Busy to Stop and Hear the Music

Post Magazine: Too Busy to Stop and Hear the Music -

Follow-up questions and answers between the author of the Joshua Bell story and his readers. An interesting question -- he said his story made a lot of people cry, and he wants to know why.

This article made me think about how more often than not true beauty is outside the reach of the majority without time, patience, and diligent work to understand it. It might be the case that people were just too busy to even listen, or it might be the case that only people who listen to classical music could enjoy what they were hearing. Probably only people who study and critique classical music could truly appreciate what they were hearing. Does that make it any less beautiful? What does it mean that so much beauty is outside the reach of the masses?

Update: Now I feel like I totally missed the point. One of his readers wrote in this:

Washington, DC: I'm one of the criers. My first answer is I don't know why I did. After further thought, I realized that we Americans or really people in general rarely do whats really important, instead we waste our days doing things we don't like, just to meet ends meat. We give up our dreams just....well I don't know why. Maybe because we are scared. I work on the Hill and I think every day what it would be like to pack it all up and move to California and make wine. I want my life to have meaning and even though I get great meaning from my relationships, my work and my busy pace really sometimes makes me sick. I think the tears are from not knowing whats important and not using our important time on this earth wisely.


Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Cara Barer

Cara Barer Photographer

Beautiful images of wet books. Trust me, it's cool. Via

NextBus Wireless Access

NextBus Wireless Access

NextMuni for phones! This is awesome! Now I can tell how long till the next 14 or 49 when I'm out.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Guantanamo Bay inmates in mass hunger strike

Guantanamo Bay inmates in mass hunger strike over new solitary cells | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited

Keep in mind that these prisoners weren't actually TRIED or CONVICTED of anything. And now they're being kept in solitary steel cells 23 hours of each day.

Pearls Before Breakfast -

Pearls Before Breakfast -

One of the finest classical musicians in the world plays in a train station in DC (for money). What do you think happens?

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Spring-cleaning for your financial house

Spring-cleaning for your financial house | Money Magazine

Great article about how long to keep receipts, statements, etc. Found via lifehacker.

Friday, April 6, 2007

childhood television

This thread on yelp is reminding me of all the great tv I used to watch as a kid. This stuff intensely formed the person I am today! The shows, in no particular order:

Fraggle Rock
Eureeka's Castle
David the Gnome
Square One
Under the Umbrella Tree
Salute Your Shorts
Are you Afraid of the Dark?
Clarissa Explains it All
the Snorks
Saved By the Bell

and these are just the ones I remember. There was some show on Nickelodeon (around David the Gnome time) that was about a girl and her koala... I wish I could remember the name. And I'm fairly sure it's NOT The Little Koala. OH MY GOD GOOGLE ROCKS. It's the Noozles! Yeah. Ok.

Update: Oh my god. I found a THEME SONG. here. And this guy has a fairly accurate description of the show.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

the world won't listen

Phil collins (not the one you're thinking of) had this awesome exhibit at the carnegie art museum which showcased people singing karaoke to smiths songs. Never say that pittsburgh is a cultural wasteland!

Friday, March 30, 2007

a massive sushi boat

For 3 people, and we had some rolls beforehand.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

me holding a koala

Seriously! They let us hold koalas! It's a real koala!

And they are just as soft and fuzzy and cute as they look in the picture.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

First day in Sydney

Edited: Stupid picasa. Pictures fixed to not refer to "localhost"

Yesterday. The opera house, the Harbour Bridge, and some paragliders (chuters?) jumping out of plane and into the water. It's the 75th anniversary of this bridge.

I fell asleep at 7 PM (Sydney time) that day, and woke up at 4:30 AM this morning. I also missed Saint Patrick's Day due to the time change :(

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


From anna karlin's house.


The trail of our boat on lake washington.

Monday, March 12, 2007

i really am old

Kids, the Internet, and the End of Privacy: The Greatest Generation Gap Since Rock and Roll -- New York Magazine

Bah. The internet culture I so arrogantly rejected is now... COOL! Who'd have thought?! I remember how I could never read a website in print that I hadn't already heard of -- oh how times have changed.

SFist: You May Hereby Consider This Text Marked

SFist: You May Hereby Consider This Text Marked

Cool. nextmuni via text message!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Saturday, March 10, 2007

wine tasting in paso robles

On my birthday! I'm so old!

Friday, March 9, 2007

SMS interactions with my dad

From: Dad
Happy Birthday !

From: Neha

From: Dad
I want to be first.

From: Neha
Well congratulations you are.

From: Dad
U lose brain cells after 25.

Jeez. I am at my peak in terms of brain cell quantity. It's all downhill from here!

Awwww. Land Before Time when his mom dies! I was traumatized for weeks!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Saturday, March 3, 2007



the charles river

Notice the pylon. MIT is seriously ugly! the rest of boston is not so bad though

in boston

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Yodlee - Finance Manager


I just started using Yodlee, and so far I LOVE it. I'm slightly worried about having all of my financial information aggregated in one place, so I plan on removing some high-net accounts, but it's so easy to use and convenient! It's like MS Money or Quicken, but online, and without syncing and reconciling. I've got all my bank accounts, credit cards, credit card rewards, investment accounts, utilities, cell phone, and even paypal on here!

Goodmagazine - The 51 Best* Magazines Ever

GOOD Magazine | Goodmagazine - The 51 Best* Magazines Ever

Interesting. The New Yorker is #2, which is cool, but the rest seem sort of ridiculous.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Blogger Help : What is BlogThis! ?

Blogger Help : What is BlogThis! ?

So, I realize that I don't post very much. However, I do find a lot of interesting links (I just can't be bothered to form thoughts into a coherent post). I was thinking of posting lots of little links for a while, to see how that worked out. This is my first test, and also the tool I'll be using to do it!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

up at high camp at squaw

I think this is right before I went down some blues! Woohoo! I'm such a beginner skier :)