Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy New Year!

Happy New year

This year hasn't been easy. It only makes sense that I'm spending the last day of it with advil, blankets, chicken tortilla soup (minus the tortilla strips), and The Godfather. Bring it on, 2013.

Big Bear Skiing

I had such a blast skiing at Big Bear. Despite having to get up early in the morning, fighting crowds at lunch, and taking roughly 8 hours to drive home, it was incredible. I can't stop thinking about it.

I had been alpine skiing once before and had a lot of fun, but this was even more fun because I got to go with Forrest and our other friends from high school. Once I got the boots and skiis on, did a trial run down the bunny slope, I headed for more challenging runs.

My first time on Summit Run I fell 3 times. (I actually lost my pole the first time. Somebody was nice enough to drop it off for me as I slid quite a ways down after I dropped it.) I could not get enough after that. Summit Run was cool, and after I completed it without falling and at a pretty good pace a few times, I decided to try the moderate (blue) part of Miracle Mile. That wasn't much different than green, so the next time the ski lift brought me back up there, I tried the whole Miracle Mile run (which included a black diamond part). Woo hoo! That was fun.
My last time going down Miracle Mile, I fell again (my 4th fall). The photo above was taken right after that. 

While I had an absolutely awesome time skiing, I have to say that my favorite part of the day was getting on the ski lift with total strangers. I'd bury my face in my scarf, close my eyes, feel the snow fall on my cheeks and eyelids, and listen to friends' (though strangers to me) warm chatter about skiing, the beautiful day, their plans for New Year's Eve, gossip about mutual friends, etc. It was so beautifully serene.

photo by Jon Reuter (easily my favorite picture of the day)

After my 8th run down the mountain, I decided to ski back over to where Forrest was and we skied around on the bunny slopes for a while.

We got back to the parking lot to start heading back, and it was like we entered a parallel universe where nothing was going right. Because we had a beautiful snowy day on the mountain, we needed to put chains on the tires to get down. I'll spare you the whole story, but instead of being back at home (like we had planned) at 8:30 pm, we were, oh, just a couple of miles into our journey. There was a lot of traffic, Forrest and I froze our fingers off trying to put chains on the car, broke one set, tried to get past chain control with only one tire chained, encountered several sketchy people trying to offer their assistance. We finally made it home at about 2 am.

(More photos here, if you'd like to see.)

Friday, December 28, 2012

2012 Wrap-Up: Things I Learned


Things I Learned
1.   How to play guitar
2.   Never say "Well, that's stupid." in an interview
3.   (American) Football rules
4.   Check (and triple check) for your wallet before leaving for the airport
5.   "for the birds" expression. (Example: Waking up at 6 am on a Sat. is for the birds.)
6.   The only thing to do with failure/disappointment is to learn from it and let it go
7.   How to make kids laugh (Prat fall is the most effective!)
8.   Don't wash your hands with your coat on (unless you like wet sleeves)
9.   Scarves and cats shouldn't be left together unattended
10. Not all Shepherd's bread loaves are created equal
11. Being lonely and being alone are different things
12. How to properly frost a cake
13. I like breakfast burritos (way too much)

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Epic Cat Photo

Tigger looking up at Forrest

Friends, I'm pretty sure I took the most epic cat photo yet. (That's it, above.) Forrest came down from San Francisco for the weekend, and stopped by my apartment to say hi and let me use all his best prime lenses. So fun. This photo was taken with the 50mm f/1.4 lens. It was doing a great job considering the terrible lighting conditions.

Here are some more photos that I took, if you'd like to see. What do you think?

2012 Wrap-Up: First Times


Things I Tried for the First Time and Liked
Wearing dark nail polish
Staying in a $600+/night hotel with the softest pillows (paid for by Google)
Paying off my school loans
Fine jewelry
Owning a cookie jar
Having on-site interviews at companies I only dreamed of visiting
Everlane (box cut) T-shirts
Going to a concert
Black jeans
Brightly colored toothpick ankle-length jeans
Pencil skirts (I have a black and a "crimson maple" one)
Learning how to use my DSLR camera
Powder concealer/foundation
Getting my ass kicked in ballet class (also, this leo and these shorts)
Making travel plans
Organic cotton bed linens (way worth it, and way better than high thread count)
Driving rental cars
Donating money to organizations I believe in (thisthis, and this)
Not waiting to get married to cook in the kitchen of my dreams

Things I Tried for the First Time and Didn't Like
My car intermittently refusing to start
Being told I'm "not worthy of love and respect" by my best friend
Mistakenly tearing my bonus check in little pieces and throwing it away
Not playing ultimate enough
Spending a lot of money
Buying a $200 sweater (I returned it.) (Gah. I wish I hadn't seen it's on sale now.)
Organic non-GMO corn tortillas, and everything else at Hugo's
Waking up sick on the day of my interview
Getting rejected from I'm-embarrassed-to-say-how-many companies

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Hope you had a joyful holiday! 

I did. I loved watching people open my presents, eating delicious Chicken Tortilla Soup (new Christmas tradition?? I think yes), and making/eating a very rich Yule Log (sans the intricate wood-pattern in ganache - wow).

What did you do? Do you have any family traditions for the holidays? I'm really curious.

Photo: We don't celebrate Christmas in Russia, but we still get Santa for New Year's. I got to sit on his lap for reciting a poem. I was scared shitless, but still totally intent on touching the man's beard. It was 1994. I was 3.5.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Hiking Through Snow


Yes, I know. I've talked about this trip ad nauseam. I just wanted to share a few of my favorite photos and not feel like I lugged 2.5 lb. of camera for nothing.

IMG_4777 IMG_4814 IMG_4842
I had been tracking a man on skis with a dog since I started on the trail. Finally spotted the two in the distance on their way back to the trailhead. They were nice enough to stop, and I got a lot of much needed dog time with Bailey-boy. (Meeting dogs is one of the best things about hiking in my opinion.)
My trusty Asolos kept my feet dry in snow. Christmas-themed long underwear and thick socks to boot.
"This is an adventure." - Steve Zissou

IMG_4876 Lunch break
There was sourdough bread and St. Andre's cheese to be had at the summit. Also, (not pictured) chocolate sour-cherry bread.
Two sweet friends going for a hike.
Coming back into Frazier Park was beautiful. The fog was rolling through the mountains, and there was a plot of land with exclusively black cattle. I couldn't resist pulling over and taking a few pictures.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

2012 Wrap-Up: Movies/TV Shows I Watched

Movies/TV Shows I Watched
1.   Breaking Bad (Season 4, 5 part 1)
2.   Homeland
3.   Better Off Ted
4.   Sister Wives (Don't ask. It was my brother's recommendation.)
5.   Argo
6.   Dear Zachary
7.   Bernie
8.   Hitchcock
9.   Psycho
10. The Iron Lady
11. Mansome
12. The Cabin in the Woods
13. The Grey
14. Silver Linings Playbook (Meh.)
15. Fantastic Mr. Fox

Movies I Wish I Had Seen
1. Life of Pi
2. Moonrise Kingdom
3. Silver Linings Playbook (Yeah, I'm a chick.)

For someone who claims to not watch a lot of TV, I sure watch a lot of TV (and movies).

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

2012 Wrap-Up: Unfortunate Places My Cats Peed/Pooed

The New Year is upon us. I usually don't like New Years, but 2012 hasn't been too kind to me, and I'm totally ready to move on. Because I love lists, I'll be making several before the end of the year. I'll begin with the (literally) shittiest.

Tigger on the potty

Unfortunate Places My Cats Peed/Pooed in 2012
1. A potted plant.
2. My favorite loafers.
3. Their cat carrier.
4. A brand new bath mat.
5. My guest's purse. (So sorry, +Tess Baklor!)

Acceptable Places My Cats Peed/Pooped in 2012
1. The toilet.




Even though I dealt with not an insignificant amount of cat excrement this year, they, of course, still own my heart.

Incredible Photo of Mt. Everest

You guys have to see this. I've become addicted to reading Hacker News to keep up with tech news while my project is building, and this is one of the gems from there.

It's a 2B pixel photograph of Mt. Everest. Try to find the climbers! (You can use arrow keys on your keyboard. It's much easier than using the mouse.) It's difficult to find them unless you know where to look. So, let me help you out. Here is the climbing route people take:
photo via alan arnette

How amazing is that? I lost all sense of proportion when looking at it. But following an ant-like trail of people attempting to summit the Earth's highest peak truly gives you a feel for how gigantic this mountain is.

Did you spot all the tents at Base Camp? It's like a small city! And the orange tents at Advanced Base Camp?

PS. If you're in the mood to be spooked, read about the dead bodies that line the way to the top of Everest (here, here, and here). People are crazy.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Codility: Yay or Nay?

Have you guys ever tried Codility? It's basically a way for employers to weed out applicants for a coding position. They give you a problem and an IDE in which to solve it in some limited time. You can code in pretty much any language you're comfortable with, compile your code and even add test cases before you submit.

I tried doing the demo problem tonight and it was kind of fun (albeit stressful). Here are my results:

Screen Shot 2012-12-18 at 10.40.46 PM

I still prefer doing a coding test in person, I think. Your interviewer can steer you in the right direction if you get off track, or don't have a very efficient solution. They also, at least in my experience, don't care whether you find the length of the array with "count" or "length" or any other reasonable word. Granted, I can pop up another browser window and pull up the necessary documentation. But you have limited time, and...well, in my nervous stupor, I must have scanned the page 3-4 times before I saw what I was looking for.

I actually spent about 5 minutes, of my allotted 30, trying to figure out why I had a complier error in my for loop. Turns out I was declaring my loop counter inside the for statement: for (int i = 0; ...). I had totally forgotten this was a no-go in C. Isn't that silly?

You should give it a try and tell me what you think!

Pantone Color of the Year: Emerald

Pantone came out with their color of the year for 2013. It's Emerald 17-5641. Are you super excited? 

Personally, I like green. It's the color of (American) money, grass, mint chocolate chip ice cream (although they just dye it green - lame), tree leaves, Keira Knightley's dress in Atonement, my cat's eyes, Hawaii landscapes, and all things good. I'm not really sure how Pantone picks their "color of the year", but I quite like the tradition. It challenges me to wear more of one specific color, if only for the first few weeks of the new year. 

It's also how I justify wearing bright colors in case anyone at work tries to make fun of me. "It's the Pantone Color of the Year, you unfashionable doofus" usually gets them off my case. 

PS. My favorite green-ish shirt (from here).

Monday, December 17, 2012

Contrasting Landscapes

Taken by Forrest in Hawaii
taken by Forrest

Forrest is in Hawaii right right now. I'm totally jealous. But I wasn't about to just lay down and let him surpass me in adventuring this winter. (Yes. My competitive nature took part in my last minute decision to go to Mt. Pinos last weekend.) I messaged him a photo of the snowy trail I was hiking. He responded with "I see a human, dog, and one legged pirate tracks" and a photo of his own.

Gah. It's beautiful. Doesn't it look just like Lost? Apparently it raining over there and all I can think of is the shot of Locke taking in the rain. Yeah. I've never been to Hawaii. So whatever I know about it I learned from watching Lost. Can you tell?

Sunday, December 16, 2012

First Snowfall on Mt. Pinos

Friends! I went hiking in the snow this weekend. It was gorgeous. I just got back and haven't uploaded my photos, but it looked something like this (except with far less pictures of me and more of my boots).

photos by JT from this set

If you've never been snowshoeing, I highly recommend. Especially if you get to live where it snows and don't have to drive a very old car with starting issues up a slippery mountain road. Yikes.

Update: Here are my photos. I know you've been dying to see my hiking boots and pine-needles covered with ice.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Some Days Are Better

Not feeling all that great lately. It could be my trusty old car having problems, or gloomy weather, or another "gun-free zone" shooting. or not having enough dessert, or an interviewee insisting that C has classes. These two little prints I got for my desk are making me feel a tad better. That is all.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Cat Poetry

How brilliant is this? A book of poems from cats. This one is my favorite.
Cats are annoying funny like that.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gift Guide: Your Favorite Lady (Yourself?)

1. Diptyque scented oval ($45) - because no matter how small her closet is, it could be improved by smelling like "roses and blackcurrent leaves".
2. Handy tote ($35) - because it's utilitarian, and she'll reach for it morning after morning.
3. Studded loafers ($158) - because she kicks ass, so should her shoes.
4. Color of the Year mug ($25) - because it's a beautiful tangerine orange, and it's something to remember the year by.
5. Happy socks ($12) - because they're just the right thing to peek out from ankle length jeans.
6. Kinfolk subscription ($65) - because it's a great read for lazy winter mornings over milky coffee, and the issue will go on her bookshelf (instead of the trash) after she has read it.
7. Nail polish ($6) - because navy nails are all the rage, and this is the perfect navy! (See?)
8. Pear sweater ($98) - because she'll wear it through the winter and well into spring.
9. Camera strap ($59) - because the strap that came with the camera is not as chic as she.
10. Hammered cuff ($59) -  it didn't make the image above, but it should have. It's beautiful and goes with everything.

Zeitgeist 2012

Google came out with their Zeitgeist video today!

More here.

one year ago | two years ago

Monday, December 10, 2012

Gift Guide: Your Older Brother Who Is the Cat's Pajamas

That is if he was into photography, could play frisbee without hurting his puny ankles, and didn't already have all the cool tech shit.
1. Sky Ball ($10) - because it bounces 75 ft in the air. Need I say more?
2. Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens ($299) - because a prime 50mm lens is where it's at, and he'll appreciate the extra f/1.4 stop in less than ideal lighting.
3. Chaco sandals ($94) - because sandals are a totally appropriate shoe of choice in the middle of California winter.
4. Pebble watch  ($150) - because it's awesome and all his friends will be green with envy.
5. Patagonia flannel ($89) - it's the best flannel money can buy. (I actually couldn't resist getting it for myself a couple of years ago. It's still incredibly soft.)
6. Frisbee disc ($8) - because only the 175g regulation weight will do for tossing disc after Christmas dinner. Also, I'm convinced that a frisbee with a poem "sharpied" on the back about the recipient's awesome frisbee skills is the best gift I've ever given.
7. Backpack ($60) - because he needs his hands free when skating home with groceries. (Oh wait, that's me.)
8. Pocket dictionary ($11) - because sometimes you gotta know how to say "ass waffle" in German, and this one will last him forever.
9. fitbit ($60) - because it's fun to compete against your friends and he might accidentally get a workout out of it. Also, this review.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Buttermilk Pancakes

Yeah. These are perfect. And they don't require separating eggs, which is just too much work for a Sunday morning.

(recipe from cook's illustrated book which you should own anyway)

2 cups flour (10 oz)
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs
2 cups buttermilk
3 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup sour cream

Mix together the dry ingredients, mix together the wet. Then gently mix the two together, for the love of everything holy, don't over-mix the pancake batter. Let it rest for 10 minutes while getting your slightly oiled skillet nice and hot. Make pancakes.

EXTRA CREDIT: Put an empty half-sheet pan (fitted with a wire rack, if you like to get fancy) in the oven and turn it to 200F before you start. Stack the hot pancakes in the oven to keep them hot while you're still flipping.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Song for YOU

Not sure...

I say the same thing twice, I'm awkward when I speak
Ain't go the perfect smile, don't turn heads on my street
Trying to be a superstar like everybody else

Ahhh! Do it!!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Red Beanie

via tumblr

How awesome would it be to give a soft red beanie to a Life Aquatic fan? I have a lucky (pinkish) red beanie (as seen here) that I've worn to most of my finals at UCLA. Its main purpose was to hide my incredibly dirty and tangled hair from several days of neglect, and keeping it out of my face. Feeling badass and ready to rock was just an added bonus. (I always get the urge to say "Phillip, dynamite." when I look at myself in the mirror.)
This hat looks like the perfect Steve-Zissou-Red. And it's cashmere, so it won't be itchy on the forehead. You'll see your favorite member of the Zissou society adventuring in it forever and a day!

A Haiku


blooms from friend prompt gloom
surprise box reveals this game!
good things are to come

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

El Circulo

Forrest, Olga and Michael
Forrest, myself, and Michael

(Yes, it seems as though I've become one of those people who applies filters to their photos to counter the serious lack of quality in them. BUT HEY! That's not what matters, is it? What's important are the beautiful people in the photo.)

These are my good friends! I actually have no recollection of our first meeting, or how I got assimilated into "el circulo" (as we call it), but we've been friends shortly after I moved to California my junior year of high school.

We hung out in the Math Honor Society classroom at lunch, tutored AP Computer Science (read: dicked around on computers), planned world domination, Michael and I were in the same Calculus BC class while Forrest was off taking Linear Algebra and Differential Equations at a community college during his senior year. Despite our nerdy inclinations, our favorite class was AP Spanish. It was such great fun speaking Spanish in class that it would sometimes spill into lunch. We worked on projects together (culminating in this epic video) and even lip-synced Maná's Eres Mi Religión for extra credit. (I'm totally kicking myself for not videotaping that gem.)

After high school, Forrest went to Stanford and Michael and I went to UCLA. We all majored in Computer Science and now program for living (although Forrest some more lucratively than others). I'm totally lucky to be good friends with such smart cookies. I learn something new every time we get together. Also, Forrest is exceptionally good at figuring out the best travel itineraries and I'm super excited to get to travel with him at some point in the future.


I ludd yo ass, guys! :) 

Sunday, December 2, 2012


The first season of Homeland became available on the iTunes store (here) on Thursday. And just in time. I definitely used it to drown my sorrow in TV over the weekend. I watched the whole season in one weekend. WADDUP! I love, love, love Claire Danes' character (and her!), as well as Mandy Patinkin's.

I was a bit perplexed at the amount of screen-time (nude) titties were getting, but it seemed to mellow out toward the latter half of the season. Or maybe I just got used to it. It's hard to tell at this juncture.

And if that doesn't intrigue you, consider this short clip.