February 7, 2006

Seattle 2.4.2006 025This past weekend, I went up to Seattle to visit Rose (and watch the Seahawks lose 😦 ). On Saturday, we went shopping at Bellevue Square (a large upscale shopping mall in Bellevue, WA) and Rose bought an iRobot Roomba Discovery. I was pretty skeptical about the Roomba; after all those advertisements for Dyson vacuum cleaners about how important suction is, I figured the Roomba wouldn’t be very effective at all. However, Rose was pretty sold on not having to vacuum anymore and I thought it looked like a fun toy, so she made it hers 🙂

Seattle 2.4.2006 027We got back to her apartment and while she was cooking dinner for me and some guests, I set up Roomba and let it charge up. After we finished dinner, we noticed the pulsing amber light had turned to solid green, announcing that Roomba was ready to rock. So with much anticipation, we hit the “Clean” button and stepped back…

do doo doo doooo! said Roomba and started cleaning. It wasn’t the smartest about choosing a path around the room, but it did pick up a ton of stuff. I wasn’t sure if it was psychological, but after Roomba was done, the room definitely looked much cleaner. Nice job Roomba! 😀

Now it makes me want to get one… must… resist…


Beautiful Victoria, BC

August 30, 2005

This past weekend, Rose, her parents, and I went to Victoria, BC to check it out. We spent Friday night in Vancouver and then took the first ferry (7AM! :O ) to Victoria for the entire day on Saturday. Here’s us on the ferry:

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The ferry going to Victoria was pretty cool. It had a cafeteria, a buffet, and a work lounge ($7 admission, but you get free continental breakfast). The only thing not cool about the ferry was that all the seats had arm rests so you could lay across multiple seats and take a nap. That’s probably by design to stop people from monopolizing multiple seats when the ferry is full, but it’s quite annoying when you want to nap and there’s no one else on the ferry using those seats…

When we got to Victoria we headed to Buchardt Gardens, quite a photographer’s dream! It was a bright and sunny day so we got some great shots. Here are some from my camera:

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Our cameras were filling up quickly so we really had to start being picky about which shots to take; I can easily see someone filling up gigabytes of flash memory here 🙂

After Buchardt Gardens, we went to downtown Victoria for a stroll. Along Government St (which is the main street in Victoria), there are lots of shops with big stuffed animals in front. We’re not sure why it’s all the rage there, but we took some pictures of them too 😛

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We walked around everywhere, taking in the sights and sounds. It’s quite a beautiful little downtown area. Quite touristy, but oh well, that’s what we were anyways.

While taking all these pictures, I started playing around with the more advanced controls on my Canon Powershot S400 (which I think has been discontinued now). It’s got some cool adjustments for those who like to tinker – exposure, color balance, ISO modes, auto focus settings, etc. But I quickly found myself frustrated with the menu interface (which requires you to use the screen and is also slow to navigate) and the inability to precisely control the auto focus. It makes me think that perhaps it’s time to upgrade, but that presents me with a major choice: is it time to go dSLR?

My co-worker Terry is quite knowledgeable about cameras, optics, and photography in general so I consulted him. He convinced me that in order to get the best photos, I’ll need to use a dSLR. The problem though is that those things are huge, especially if you’re also toting around a few lenses. I keep asking him why I can’t get awesome photo quality out of a compact digital camera and he keeps telling me that it’s the physics of it all. You just can’t get good optics in a compact point and shoot. Argh!

Anyways, I’ll probably end up with a Nikon D70s or a Canon EOS 20D if I decide to go dSLR. If I decide to stay with a compact, Terry highly recommended the Casio Exilim EX-Z750, so I’ll probably check that out.

Here are a few cool pictures I got my S400 to take, check out the rest of my Victoria set at Flickr if you’re bored at work 😉

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Rose took the last one of the big government building – pretty sweet shot 🙂

Microsoft Company Picnic.7.30.05 007This past weekend, I visited Rose in Seattle and we went to the Microsoft Company Picnic. It was my third time at the company picnic and I must admit the allure is waning. But hey, who can resist the call of all you can eat free food, being outside in nice weather, and bumping into a few old co-workers?

This year, strangely enough, there was a Disneyland 50th Anniversary theme. Not sure how that got put together, but they probably figured what better place to sell expensive vacation packages than the picnic of a company that has made thousands of millionaires. Maybe in a few years, it’ll turn into something like Warren Buffet’s annual shareholders meeting where all sorts of vendors gather to hawk their wares.

Actually, that wouldn’t be half bad if they gave the MSFT employees awesome discounts like they do for Buffet’s friends.

One thing that was really lame was Rose signed up for a bus that was supposed to pick us up around noon from the Nordstrom Rack at Factoria. We got there just before noon and saw a line of at least 30 people in front of Nordstrom Rack. We got in line and waited… and waited… and waited. No bus ever came. After waiting 45 minutes, we just decided to drive to ourselves to the picnic booo 😥

While at the picnic, we were chatting with some friends and they told us that there was a bus, but it picked up on the other side of the shopping area and was hard to find. ARGH

Anyways, I didn’t take too many photos, but you can check them out as usual at flickr.

Card from SCACI’m looking through my mail today and what do I see but a nice card sent to me from my friends at Seattle Chinese Alliance Church. I admit I haven’t been very good about keeping up with them one on one since I’ve moved down to San Francisco, but since at least one person is tech savvy, they subscribed to this blog and saw my baptism and testimony posts.

Inside of Card from SCACWell, well, well… it looks like the original purpose of my blog is being fulfilled. For those who’ve been reading for a while, you know that I originally started my blog to keep in touch with friends and family – a way to let them all know what was going on in my life now that I had moved to San Francisco and started working for Google.

Of course what actually happened was a media frenzy over my initial postings, I got fired, and then another media frenzy about that. Oh well, that’s life! At least I can’t say it hasn’t been a wild ride 🙂

But on a larger scale, this is what blogging is all about! Keeping connections vibrant, making new connections, sharing with the world… Hmmm actually kind of reminds me of Plaxo’s mission: keeping your strong ties (people you already know) stronger.

Thanks to my friends in Seattle! You guys should all start blogging so I can keep track of what’s going on in your lives too. Leave your blog URLs in my comments so I can add them to my blogroll 🙂

This past weekend, I went up to Seattle to visit Rose and we went backpacking in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. As always, I have a full set of pictures available on flickr. But here are some choice ones and a story…

Alpine Lake Wilderness 060me and rose in front of the lake

It had been a while since I backpacked (the only other time I’d backpacked before was around the north side of Mt. Rainer 2 years ago), but now I’m itching to get out even more. The scenery was beautiful and it’s definitely great exercise.

Last week, we looked around online to find a trail to do and found a nice 14 mile loop in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. The trail circles around Hyas Lake, hitting up Cathedral Rock and Deception Pass. It was a relatively light hike (only a few thousand feet of elevation gain) and the views were pretty neat.

I didn’t think too much of the cautionary statements in the trail guide about how wooded the trail would get and how we’d be crossing some crazy rivers, so those things came as a bit of a surprise. Being heavily forested isn’t so bad, except there are a ton of plants that try to poke you and bugs that try to bite you. Rose got bit on the lip which wasn’t too pleasant; it swelled up pretty good for a day, but fortunately it went away almost as fast as it came.

stream 5Crossing the rivers made this hike extremely exciting. Fortunately, there wasn’t too much snow this winter, so the rivers weren’t running at full force – if they were, I’m not sure we would’ve been able to cross without getting drenched. Even at their current levels, we had to jump between rocks and we almost slipped a few times. The picture really doesn’t do the river justice because it looks like a tiny little stream, but if you look closely, you can see what looks like a few branches in the middle of the river. Those aren’t branches; they’re huge fallen tree trunks.

When we found a place to camp, Rose started cooking us some ramen (yummm 🙂 ) and I tried to start a campfire. Rose was infinitely more successful than I. First of all, I didn’t bring a hatchet, so I wasn’t able to collect any good firewood. Second, I have no Boy Scout skills, so starting a fire with just kindling is not my forte. And third, it had just rained the night before, so all the wood we could find was wet. Here’s my failed attempt at a campfire and our tent setup:

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Since this was my second time backpacking, I was able to carry forward a lot of hard lessons learned from my first time. This time, I knew to pack light, plan ahead, and that good equipment would be essential. For the backpackers out there, here’s the gear I have:

I’m pretty pleased with the performance of the equipment, but I could sure go lighter! Loaded up, my pack was at least 35 lbs. – before filling up my hydration pack and nalgenes with water, which put the total above 40 lbs.

Anyone have any tips on starting a campfire, suggestions on equipment, or recommendations on where to go next? 🙂

oops this is really belated, but two weekends ago i went up to visit rose in seattle. while i was up there, we hiked up mt. si with jon, one of my childhood friends. here’s a picture from the top of mt. si:

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truly breathtaking, eh? (and scary too if you’re afraid of heights)

here’s the rock face at the top of the trail you have to scale to get up there :O

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anyways, if you’re the outdoorsy type and are in seattle, i highly recommend you check out mt. si. it’s a great day hike; it’s 8 miles round trip and it only took us 2.5 hours to get to the top of the trail. if you want to get to the summit, figure in another half hour for scrambling up the rock face. and of course, if you’re more of “enjoy nature from the comfort of your couch” person, you can check out the rest of my mt. si photos on flickr.