Friday, April 29, 2011

beneficence and tacos

The First Exposures benefit went really well; we raised over $33,000 (last year's total was somewhere north of $17,000).

Probably the best part the evening was the tag-team speech from a student-mentor pair from 1993 (the first year of the program). They had fallen out of touch after one year together, but a few months ago, the student (now in her 30s) contacted Erik through Facebook and asked if he could find her mentor's last name. She then emailed the mentor, saying that she never forgot her, or her birthday (the mentor choked up while reading the email). It was so, so touching, and just really hit home for all of us that these are significant relationships that we're building with other humans.

I also gave a speech, but couldn't remember half of what I said, not that it was important. However, since I was so nervous about it, I didn't get any photos during the event. I only have these two from the afterparty at Otis Lounge. And of course there was a taco truck:


Thursday, April 28, 2011

First Exposures benefit TONIGHT!

Come one, come all! Buy some amazing photography pieces (seriously; the students have some crazy good stuff in the auction). Here's a sample of student work:

Isabella Fogel-Molina

Franchesca Hernandez

Curt Demafeliz

Keelan Sunglao-Valdez

Jenesh Dobie (my student -- squee!)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Easter Weekend, Day 1: Pescadero

Saturday involved a FX field trip to Pescadero.

mentors and students

Pescadero is one of my favorite places in the Bay Area, so I was excited to go with the group. I met everyone at San Gregorio beach for lunch (it would have been too out-of-the-way to drive down with them from the city when I could just pop west through the mountains). People spent a fair bit of time exploring the shore and estuary.

walking through the estuary

After that, we went to Pie Ranch for a tour. I had been before, but had never been guided around the farm. Our guide was Nancy, who is one of the owners.


I did the following things:
  1. Ate a radish flower.
  2. Met a cow named Dulce du Leche.
  3. Ate a strawberry.
  4. Avoided getting stung by bees after getting too close to the apiary.
  5. Rescued a chicken who had escaped the fence.
  6. Tried, and failed, to climb a rope.
  7. Ate pie.

feeding Dulce
radish flowers
Lucas in the fields

My friend and co-mentor Julie shot a great video of the day's events.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Iron and Wine cover George Michael

After I posted a commemorative video for They Might Be Giants Appreciation Day, my friend Jason linked a terrible cover of "Birdhouse In Your Soul" by Titus Andronicus to mess with me. My immediate feeling was an overwhelming desire to key their tour van. However, proving that good opportunities can come from bad, I skipped over to the Iron and Wine cover of "One More Try." I know Sam Beam isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I really do enjoy his unaffected style of singing.

[I'm waiting for one of the bands participating in the A.V. Club's Undercover 2011 project to say something valuable about why they chose the songs they did, instead of pretending like they hate music.]

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Diane Emond, "The Beginning of the End"

This is my best friend's mom when she was 15 years old. She had moved from Canada to become a singer. She unnervingly looks like Melissa in the video screenshot.

Here's Melissa and Diane the day before Melissa's wedding:

Melissa and Dianne

Thursday, April 21, 2011

goodbye, Jackie

Music world has been buzzing about Gerard Smith's death yesterday from lung cancer. I find my heart catching every time I hear someone has been diagnosed with, or has lost their life to, cancer.

As saddened as I am to hear about Smith's death, however, there was another person closer to me who lost her life to cancer yesterday as well. My middle school friend, Sharold, has been keeping in touch with me about her mother's trajectory through (and ultimate release from) metastasized throat cancer. I spent time scouring FDA trials for treatment options, sent analysis and definitions of complex medical jargon, and unsatisfactorily tried to provide comfort when I realized that there was nothing left to do.

I feel like I failed her as a friend. I think about how my dad was almost there, or that he could still almost go there. I try to avoid that thought.


the POTUS has landed

Obama held a town hall at Facebook yesterday, and they used the field across the street from my office as the landing site for the helicopters. We all pressed against a window on the third floor to catch a glimpse of him taking off. We gave nervously friendly waves to the Secret Service guy watching us with binoculars from the top floor of the parking garage.

I got some photos through the window. In the second photo, you can see Obama waving between the trees.

Obama visit to Facebook
Obama visit to Facebook
Obama visit to Facebook
Obama visit to Facebook
Obama visit to Facebook

2011 First Exposures Benefit Auction: "Looking Forward, Giving Back"

My mentoring program is holding their annual benefit auction on Thursday, April 28 at SF Camerawork from 7-9 pm. If you're local, please come. Both the student and mentor work will be available for purchase during the silent auction.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Place in the Sun / Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

Elizabeth Taylor double feature (A Place In The Sun and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof) at the Stanford Theatre yesterday. Her repertoire is long overdue for me; the only other film I had seen her in is Father of the Bride (also at the Stanford). I imagine these films were paired up because they are both adaptations of a literary piece.

First, I need to get this out of the way: it is truly unfair that both Elizabeth Taylor and Paul Newman share the screen for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof due to how overwhelmingly gorgeous they both are in this movie.

A Place in the Sun was both hard and easy for me to like. It's based on An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser, which is one of my favorite novels. I went into the movie sympathetic to George, because I knew the back story for that character; however, since a lot of that background was given cursory treatment in the film, I kept thinking, "why am I sympathetic to this character again?" I found myself longing for the book in order to revisit the scope of this character.

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof was typical Tennessee Williams melodrama, which means amazing. I know there were some issues with the plot of the play versus that of the movie. Normally, this would bother me (see: above). This time, I don't care. Superbly acted. Riveting story arc. The end.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

TMBG, "Fingertips" (fan video)

This is something that I would have wanted to do in high school, but would inevitably lose interest in before completion.

creators of heavy metal

Cream was heavy; Hendrix and Led Zepplin were heavier still; in Japan, the Flower Travellin' Band was shockingly heavy; but Black Sabbath, from Birmingham, England, was heavy metal. No joy here, nor any wisp of psychedelic whimsy. From the first note, this band sounded ancient, oppressed, as if shambling forward under supernatural burdens.
-- James Parker, "Notes From the Underworld." Atlantic Monthly, May 2011.

Monday, April 11, 2011

sourdough bread

First loaves of sourdough bread from Linus (from this starter recipe begun on February 21, 2011). Recipe here.


A few notes:
  1. I doubled the recipe, so that I could get rid of some more starter. Also, since bread baking takes so much time, increasing the recipe means twice as much bread for about 1% more work.
  2. I decided to do loaves instead of boules, which is a decision I had made with other bread recipes recently. It's just easier to handle, control the rise, and store when in loaf form.
  3. I did the second rise in the fridge instead of the first. This was for convenience (otherwise, I would have had to wake up at 3 am to do the shaping, then again at 6 am to do the baking, and I am not actually a baker that gets paid to have those hours). The recipe recommends doing a long first rise in the refrigerator to develop the flavors; I'll probably modify my baking schedule to accommodate this.
  4. The sourdough character was not that strong (although since my starter is relatively young, I shouldn't be surprised). I'm hoping that this will develop more as the starter matures. I might also add more salt to the dough for flavor.

Baking schedule:
  • Sunday, 9 am: create sponge with 8 oz of starter + 4 oz flour + 2 oz water.
  • Sunday, 7 pm: mix in 16 oz flour + 8 oz water. Add 2 t salt + 2 T olive oil. Knead, first rise.
  • Sunday, 10 pm: halve dough, letter fold, and set into prepared loaf pans (olive oiled). Put in fridge for second rise.
  • Monday, 5 am: pull loaf pans out of fridge to warm, continue rise.
  • Monday, 8:30 am: bake for 45 minutes

SF Vintners Market 2011

Ted and Whitney invited us (and Nathan and Cindy) to the SF Vintners Market at Fort Mason, which basically killed two birds with one stone for me. One: visit to Fort Mason. Two: opportunity to apply my beer tasting skills to wine.

SF Vintners Market 2011

Turns out, I know very little about wine. I mostly stuck with the reds, with some whites to cleanse my palate. Also, that is the extent of my wine description skills.

To be fair, the vintners market is pretty much the exact opposite of a beer festival. Everyone's dressed up. People are asking a lot of weirdly specific questions, and vendors are giving a lot of "wine-speak" answers (I heard the phrase "fruit forward" at least five times within the first 3 booths). What changes the tone of the entire event is that at the vintners market, the vendors are trying to sell you wine. There are some incredible deals, and if you were a wine collector/restauranteur/serious oenophile, then this was a great place to try things out before purchasing large quantities. However, it means that people are way serious about exchanging wine culture information. Because the beer festivals I've been to only involve tastings and not sales (at least, not directly), vendors seem a bit more relaxed. They also don't ignore you for 3 minutes while trying to talk up a wine serious-face.

SF Vintners Market 2011

I can't pretend that if I had the same educational handholding with wine that I had with beer, I would be more equipped to hang on to these conversations. But there's just so much wine, and so many vinyards, and lots and lots of backstory, that figuring out where to start is overwhelming. It's the same reason I haven't learned Chinese history.

The day was glorious, however.

SF Vintners Market 2011
SF Vintners Market 2011
SF Vintners Market 2011
post-wine dessert

Friday, April 8, 2011

TV On The Radio, "Will Do"

Not a huge fan after the first once-over, but it usually takes me a few listens through a TV On The Radio album to get into it. However, this song is perfect.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

hiring talent

Kevin Rose on hiring during a high growth trajectory: the early days of Digg when we started bringing on employees, we were growing so fast from a traffic standpoint that our solution to problems was throwing warm bodies at the problem. So we needed more coders, so we’re just bringing coders as fast as possible, hiring, hiring, hiring. And all of a sudden, I woke up one day and I looked around and there is 20, 30, 40 people around you. I don’t know these people, I didn’t interview this people. We got in a lot of some B and C grade talents. You get some B and C grade developers and they bring their C and D grade friends in and then all of a sudden you have a big challenge when it comes to getting rid of those people...

- "This Week in Tech," episode 293

I've not heard Rose speak quite as candidly about, well, anything. Apparently, this took other people by surprise as well.

Working in academia, I don't have quite this same problem, but I do know in the past when we've been pressed to get someone in a position, we've sometimes gone with someone who wasn't a good fit but we had hoped would grow into one. You can guess how well that turns out.

stop it, Japan


USGS record

NY Times article

Monday, April 4, 2011

the bell was rung

I got to participate in a two-fer Silicon Valley experience on Wednesday: the ringing of the bell at the Rose and Crown, and the shared excitement of someone having sold their start-up.

It started with the 21st Amendment Brewing night. I had gone in after work to try out some Monk's Blood (very tasty). Rachel was still there after her work shift, so we had dinner together and a couple of beers. We also chatted it up with Shaun O'Sullivan (co-owner of 21A) and Lloyd Knight (manager of 21A), and got another round courtesy of the latter. Our friends started trickling over until we had a pretty good proportion of our regular game night crew.

And then we heard the bell.

The Rose has a big metal bell hanging to the right of the bar, and if you ring it, it means that you buy the entire bar a round of drinks. I have never been present for this the entire time I've been going there. My friend Ted jokes that he's going to come in on a Sunday morning and buy the entire 3 people in the Rose at that time a round. You also apparently get a GIANT pour of beer for yourself.

It turns out that someone named Tony had sold his company. I had never even incidentally been associated with someone who had actually sold a start-up. But I got a few photos.

Tony Lillios rang the bell at Rose and Crown
Tony Lillios rang the bell at Rose and Crown
Tony Lillios rang the bell at Rose and Crown
Tony Lillios rang the bell at Rose and Crown

Afterwards, my friends tried to push me to show Tony the photos, since he may have wanted them. I wasn't brave enough to do it, so Ted grabbed my phone to show him, and after a few minutes, I followed him to lurk on the periphery. Ted pointed me out to Tony, and I started to take my phone back. As I was doing it, Tony pulled it back to him and turned it over so he could see the case. He pointed to the logo, and told us that the case was made by his company. That he had sold. Tony then gave me his e-mail address, and told me to let him know what kind of new case I might like, and he would send it to me. Crazy...

Tony Lillios rang the bell at Rose and Crown

sunburn by the bay

No finds this month at the Alameda flea market (I was on the lookout for a wire basket, cake pans, and scarves), but I did eat delicious corned beef hash, chatted someone up about their clinical exam table, and almost bought a Yashica.

I also got this pretty sweet photo:

pay no attention to the magazines behind the curtain

If it's vintage, it's art, right?