Saturday, December 30, 2006

New favorite drink

1/3 green Chartreuse
2/3 white grapefruit juice
shaken w/cracked ice

Hat tip to my longtime friend, the inimitable Peterangelo Vallis

Thursday, November 30, 2006

San Francisco

I moved apartments, and this is what I get to see as I walk to the Google Shuttle stop in the morning.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Go Grandma!

In an Fresno Bee article about Brain Fitness, a cognitive training program designed for seniors, my grandma has this to say:

At Fairwinds retirement community in northwest Fresno, Violet Vartan, 91, can't get enough of the program. The residents pay $100 for the eight-week course.

"I want to keep doing it again," Vartan said. "It's easy and fun to do. And I think it is working on me."

Vartan and several other residents said they feel better after doing the computer exercises.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Sushi rollups

At Google we have TGIF every friday. It's basically a weekly all-hands meeting + food festival. Typically, some combination of Larry, Sergey, and Eric (or occassionally another member of EMG) hosts, and they highlight important business events of the week.

Since I've moved across the street from main campus, I usually attend a telecasted TGIF in my office. Today, our building's culinary team created a beautiful, clever, and extremely unhealthy dish: Sushi Rollups. I was so awe-struck that I took a picture with my new fancy cameraphone. Can you tell what the sushi is made of? It's twinkies, wrapped with Fruit Rollups, cut sushi-style, topped off with slithery gummi worms.


Saturday, October 14, 2006

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Don't go to germany,10.205221&spn=0.003187,0.005826&t=k

(Via Case)

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Squandered Opportunity

Last week I registered the domain name I didn't have any specific use in mind at that point, but I thought it might be a good domain for some kind of theme blog. It's kind of long, but...

Any ideas?

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Highly Recommended

These are some goooood cookies. Peep 'em next time you at the Waysafe.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


You know what's kinda good? Dried apricots soaked in white wine.
Ok bye.

Friday, July 14, 2006

.:: beedogs ::.

This website is pretty weird:

.:: beedogs ::.

Saturday, June 10, 2006


I ran across George Clinton's funk•cyclo•pedia and it's just about the best site i've seen all month. Did you know that a black hole is a prime zone of funkativity? This guide clears up a lot of long-standing questions I've had about the P-Funk universe.

And you know what, I bet all the definitions in the 'pedia are completely internally consistent, too.

Chicken....but also a PIE!

Today, instead of going for some eats at one of the many yuppie slophouses in my neighboorhood, I went to Mel's Drive-In and had a Chicken Pot Pie special.

I forgot hot much I liked Chicken Pot Pie. Next time i'm in Fresno I'll have to hit up the famous Chicken Pie Shop.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Tamed 11,400 years ago, figs were likely first domesticated crop | Science Blog

Tamed 11,400 years ago, figs were likely first domesticated crop | Science Blog
The scientists compared the ancient figs to modern wild and domesticated variants and determined that they were a mutant selectively propagated by humans. In this variety of fig, known as parthenocarpic, the fruit develops without insect pollination and is prevented from falling off the tree, allowing it to become soft, sweet, and edible. However, because such figs do not produce seeds, they are a reproductive dead end unless humans interfere by planting shoots from the parthenocarpic trees.

'Once the parthenocarpic mutation occurred, humans must have recognized that the resulting fruits do not produce new trees, and fig tree cultivation became a common practice,' Bar-Yosef says. 'In this intentional act of planting a specific variant of fig tree, we can see the beginnings of agriculture. This edible fig would not have survived if not for human intervention.
The neighboorhood I grew up in Fresno is called Fig Garden, because in the early 1900s, a crazy farmer/developer had an idea to plant 10,000+ acres of fig trees in the area that is now north Fresno. When the trees didn't produce good fruit (because of the soil -- he had to blast through the hardpan with dynamite to plant the trees), he switched it up and marketed the land as residential lots. In backyards or on roadsides you can occasionally see a wild fig baby fig tree pop out of the ground from a long dormant root.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape

I'm reading C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters for the third time -- but this time, I also have a blog. This passage, from Letter 12, struck me:
As this condition becomes more fully established, you will be gradually freed from the tiresome business of providing Pleasures as temptations. As the uneasiness and his reluctance to face it cut him off more and more from all real happiness, and as habit renders the pleasures of vanity and excitement and flippancy at once less pleasant and harder to forgo (for that is what habit fortunately does to a pleasure) you will find that anything or nothing is sufficient to attract his wandering attention. You no longer need a good book, which he really likes, to keep him from his prayers or his work or his sleep; a column of advertisements in yesterday's paper will do. You can make him waste his time not only in conversation he enjoys with people whom he likes but also in conversations with those he cares nothing about, on subjects that bore him. You can make him do nothing at all for long periods. You can keep him up late at night, not roistering, but staring at a dead fire in a cold room. All the healthy and outgoing activities which we want him to avoid can be inhibited and nothing given in return, so that at last he may say, as one of my own patients said on his arrival down here, "I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked." The Christians describe the Enemy as one "without whom Nothing is strong." And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away a man's best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and fuddled to shake off.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Awkward rays

Last Friday night, in between Pizzicato 5 albums etc., I moseyed on down to the Pizza Orgasmica for some eats and had one of the first vicariously-awkward moments i've had in a while. I was waiting in line behind a tired looking, semi-dorky thirtysomething lawyerman when we he caught sight of a lady law school classmate (I guessed) and her beau. Since I was standing behind Snore McBore Esq., and the place is pretty small (and well lit), I was able to intercept pretty well the Awkwardrays zooming back and forth between Snore and Lady:

LADY: just finished placing order / turns around and walks to the side and makes way for husband, who starts ordering / makes a quick turn of the head / bounce-back-beautiful hair goes into action / Snore now visible / faint inkling of familiarity evident on face / but eye contact not yet made.

AWKWARDRAY: <zoooom bingg peow> lands on balding head of Snore.

SNORE: "i'm just standing here, hungry for some pizza, got my flip flops on, my old comfy law school sweatshirt and adidas windpants, can't wait for some pizza, gosh these glasses are dirty let me wipe them off with my t-shirt, i sure would love sausage..." / glasses back on / isn't that Lady, hey you know what it is /

AWKWARDRAY: <peeeeeeowwww blingbling sizizizizzzzzz zz zzz> bounces back on to Lady, just below the eye

LADY: oh isn't that a guy i went to law school with / i thought i heard he's working for the state dept in africa...or was that... / oh no he's looking at me / damn

AWKWARDRAY: <sheeeeooooooowwwwww ding ding> reflected back, some photons hitting me

...well this went on for a while. In their 2 minute conversation (little did they know) I was a part of, I developed the following backstory for them:
  • Snore probably considered Lady to be a "friend" in law school, but she just thought of him as the 'nice guy' in the library who would always try to turn a homework-help question into a 10 minute conversation
  • Lady's beau was probably her husband / serious boyfriend, who she met 6 months into her first job out of law school
  • They were about 5 years out of school
  • They went to a top tier law school back east
  • Snore remembered lots of things about Lady and the good ole' days
  • Lady forgot Snore's name (had she been tested on it at the time, we would have learned that she actually forgot his name 9 months after graduation).
  • Snore knew that Lady forgot his name, and was in fact gracious enough to save Lady from embarassment and intercepted the introduction she would have had to make when her husband came 'round.
Thinking up this backstory and witnessing the conversation made me feel very awkward, especially when husband / boyfriend Niceguy McPhee and his what looked to be fratbrother buddy Redhair Superdrunk came up. There is nothing more awkward than making smalltalk with the buzzed boyfriend of a former what-turned-out-to-be-a-not-friend and his drunk buddy at 10:30 pm on a Friday, in a cramped Pizza-by-the-Slice deal in the middle of the chatchball district of SF. NOTHING. Thankfully the conversation ended, although it was broken off not by Lady, not by Niceguy, of course not by Snore, but buy Redhair (?!?). The two parties separated, with Lady et. al. nearing the door with their slices and Snore getting back to menu reading. After a few minutes I finally got my pizza slice, and went home, having collected some awkwardrays and feeling exhasuted as a result.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mexico Is Offering Bonds to Cover a Major Quake - New York Times

Mexico Is Offering Bonds to Cover a Major Quake - New York Times

I wrote a paper on cat bonds during grad school. They are fascinating securities and have lots of attractive features for investors, including effectively zero correlation to other asset classes and high yields. My paper modeled Berkshire Hathaway's super-cat reinsurance business and showed that it was responsible for more of Berkshire's success than most people gave it credit for. Cat bonds finally let a wider class of investors in on the market Warren Buffet has cornered for more than thirty years.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Yesterday I filled up my tank at the Chevron. Except I forgot to put the gas pumper thing back in the cradle before I drove off. Now, I have only done this one other time in my entire life, and it was pretty embarrassing, but the gas pumper thing just fell out of my pump and hit the ground and I went on my merry way.

Well this time, Ms. Volvo had her lips locked around that gas pump thing and she just didn't want to let go, so as a result the entire pump handle and rubber house operation ripped out of the pump standup deal, and I drove for basically two miles with a gas pump and 10 foot hose dangling out of my car. Finally at an intersection a crazy-old-man in a crazy-old-man-truck yelled at me repeatedly and I finally realized what the fudge was I had done. I was so disoriented by the complete absurdity of the situation that I got lost trying to drive back to the gas station. Thankfully, there was no damage to either my car or the gas pump, and the perturbed man who ran the station managed to reattatch the pump lickity-split.

That is all I have to report. Also sorry for my gas pump terminology ignorance.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Fresno Times

An article about Fresno in the NYT Travel section, and a shout out to Fresno's own Sparkys Electronics store in a business piece -- all in one week!?!? Crazytalk!

Fresno, Calif. - New York Times

Business Article Thing

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Biz Stone, Genius: The Wise Old Owl

Shamelessly copying from Biz

Biz Stone, Genius: The Wise Old Owl:

The Wise Old Owl

The wise old owl lived in an oak;
The more he saw the less he spoke;
The less he spoke the more he heard:
Why can't we all be like that bird?
—Edward H. Richards

Saturday, April 08, 2006


These are the best. Unfortunately Flash doesn't do the vocals justice.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Fresno students take to the streets

Hundreds of students from all around Fresno walked out of school yesterday and today to protest the immigration bill going through Congress right now. I don't remember a protest/walkout anywhere close to this magnitude in my 12 years of Fresno schooling. Awesome video.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Why I smell like a satsuma

Also, before last night's listening fest (see below), I had an outstanding early sushi dinner at Zushi Puzzle. It seems there must have been a translation or transcription error, or something, as the Kirin beer my waiter delivered to me was hobo-sized. Now I hate waste (though maybe the kids who sit next to me at work might take issue with that assertion, given the quantity of empty plastic Crystal Geyser bottles I toss in our recycling bucket on a daily basis), so I of course drank all that was presented to me.

However, this meant that I was a bit tipsy when walking home. I happened to pass by The Body Shop, and for some reason I noticed the window display which featured an impressive number of Satsuma-infused products. I tittered when I saw this, and those of you in the know understand why. The satsuma mandarin orange is my most favorite fruit in the whole world (my family grows them commercially just outside of the 'No), and ever since I was a kid I eagerly eagerly eagerly anticipated the very short satsuma season so we could go out to the ranch and pick them off the trees ourselves. And it was news to me that the satsuma moniker (technically, it's not a fruit name -- it names a specific variety of mandarin orange) has gained such marketing equity that it would be used in such a way. (Same deal with Meyer lemon and blood orange, which Williams-Sonoma uses in their dish soap and hand lotion). I admit that a part of me doesn't like this one bit. Satsumas are my little secret. What's next, Minneola tangelo toliet flushers, or Siamese Sweet pummelo after shave?

Anyhow, my excitement got the best of me, and as I was standing in front of the display at the front of the store, the aggresive saleslady came up to me. I proceeded to tell her my entire satsuma story and told her how incredibly excited I was that The Body Shop had satsuma-essence products. She saw what an incredibly easy mark I was in my semi-sloshed condition, and before I knew it I walked out with a $16 thing of extra-extra-strength satsuma bath oil (I do love to take baths, and just like Alan, get lots of reading done in the tub).

Well, apparentally I'm not quite expert at this bath oil operation yet, because I just got out of the tub after putting in a bit too much oil, my entire body is oiler than I'd like, and now I smell like a satsuma.

Music Night

I've been having some pretty good luck with music lately. It started a few weeks ago when I discovered The Go! Team via iTunes' lovely shuffle function popping up a random podcast I had forgotten I had subscribed to (I blogged about this previously).

Then, my (somewhat-embarassing) obsession with Japanese Shibuya-Kei music and it's flag-bearering superluckyfun group Pizzicato 5 led me to discover Fantastic Plastic Machine.

And that's when it started to get weird. So the deal with Shibuya-Kei is that it's this wacky fusion of Brazilian bossa nova, old school soul, French lounge-pop, hip hop, and 60s movie soundtrack grooves, seen thorugh the spectacles of talented Japanese producer/DJs. Which of course means it's perfectly natural that Fantastic Plastic Machine would lay down a highly-addictive interpretation of the Eurythmics' "There must be an angel" (on his Luxury album). Which i've pretty much been listening to at least 5 times a day for the past three weeks. I don't even like the Eurythmics! And i'm not Japanese! But anyway, of course I downloaded the Eurythmics version of the song, which now I'm into, but mostly because of the hot Stevie Wonder cameo. Unfortunately, you have to endure Annie Lennox's "la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-ing" for a few minutes before Little Stevie Wonder's harmonica shows up in your earhole.

But I digress. This post was really sparked by my four hour listening session last night, during which I rediscovered dozens of hot tracks in my collection (including DJ Nu-Mark's funky "Hot Track", which features a lovably racist Persian skit at the end), some of which hadn't ever been given the privledge of being sonically instantiated by my wonderful Sennheiser HD-555. And as luck would have it, two albums I had been highly anticipating were released last week (I never manage to keep track of album release dates beyond a vague "Aren't xyz releasing something, ummmmmm, this year?): Mates of State's "Bring it Back" and Prince's "3121", although the latter wasn't available on iTunes. I also picked up Black Star's hot "Born & Raised" from Dave Chappelle's Block Party OST, and a few other random tracks and two used CDs from Amazon I will not name but blame the second scotch for telling me to buy.

So, even though I was Coughy McHermit last night, and basically wandered back and forth from my bed to couch over a period of 4 hours, it was still a good evening.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Blogger party!

Members of the Blogger team and other assorted Googler's at our Blogger party at SxSW in Austin. Fun times were had by all.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Ararat Anomaly

Mt. Ararat has been the defining symbol of the Armenian nation since antiquity. These days, of course, it's in Turkish territory, tantalizingly near the border of Armenia. Linked below is a great article detailing the continuing saga of the Ararat Anomaly. The Turkish government hasn't allowed anyone to make an archaelogical expedition, but the Anomaly is reported by the Kurdish mountain-folk to be most certainly man-made. -- EXCLUSIVE: Satellite Sleuth Closes in on Noah’s Ark Mystery

Writely -- So hot!

Yay! Writely's on board. I worked on this acquisition (from the marketing side) over the past few days. They're a great group and have created a nifty product. Welcome to the 'plex!

Official Google Blog: Writely so

Sunday, March 05, 2006


Let's see...

1. Brunch with the Chronicle at Lettus (HORRIBLE french toast. So bad i'm going to write an email).
2. Brunch #2 with the Guardian at Judy's after unsatisfying #1.
3. Read Forbes in the bath, Alan Greenspan style.
4. Interneting on the bed.
5. Decided to brave a muni ride to Union Square (through Chinatown).
6. Got lost in Banana Republic, and felt guilty buying clothes from a store I actually don't like.
7. Rode muni back home. Three foul-mouthed 13 year old black girls and a cholita hopped on. They were talking loud and swearing. Apparentally I was staring at them, though I don't know what they expected me to do given their behavior (one of them was sitting next to me), because when they got off the bus, all three of them gave me the finger and started yelling obscenities at me. I didn't even sigh, or give them a dirty look, or anything!
8. Ate two apples and popped the cork on some wine and read some books and watched three episodes of Weeds and two Arrested Developments and for quite some time.
9. Flaked out on a party I was invited to.

1. Three more episodes of Weeds and two more Arresteds.
2. Brunch with Forbes at Home Plate: "Special Scramble". Topped it off with a cinnamon roll while walking home.
3. Two phone calls.
4. Read Car&Driver in the bath, Lee Iacocca style.
5. Wandered in the rain (with an umbrella of course!)
6. Dinner: Alex's Magical Mush. Oatmeal + Fiber One + flaxseed + raisins. Microwave until mushy. Add milk and honey and enjoy -- your colon will thank you 30 years from now.
7. More interneting in bed and reading and musicing.
8. Cleaned my bathroom and removed a massive amount of lint dustbunnies from behind my bed.


Thursday, March 02, 2006


The Chronicle had an article today about Google's amazing foodservice operation. There are a lot of fantastic pictures, too (great photography if you ask me).

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Spore? Spore!

I'm a big big big Maxis fan, and cut my teeth on the original SimCity back in yesterdayland. In fact, if you tally up the sum total of my life that I've spent playing every version of SimCity, weeks would be the appropriate unit of measure. I even played SimAnt, SimFarm (really!) and SimTower. Oddly enough, I've never played The Sims, though -- I think I'd probably get far too into it for my own good. (Maybe when I take my someday-sabattical I'll put that on the to-do list).

But, man, Will Wright's new creation looks incredible. When this comes out, expect to not see me for a while. And when you do see me again, I might be applying to med school or something...

Oh, FYI, I'll also be out of touch when that new slim model of the DS comes out. (Super Princess Peach!)

Sunday, February 26, 2006


How do YOU discover new music? I just found the neatest group, The Go! Team, and this is how:

1. Got a job at the Big G
2. Assignment: Blogger
3. Via aforementioned assignment, met Karen W.
4. While waiting in line last summer for the Big G shuttle, noticed Karen W. was unraveling her iPod headphones in anticipation of the mighty trek down 101.
5. Asked if she had any favorite podcasts she listened to on the regular.
6. Reply: "Check out KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic"
7. Subscribe to podcast in iTunes, listen to a show. "Eh."

...7 months later...

8. While listening to my "Recently Added" playlist, forget to pause iTunes as I take off my headphones to go eat.
9. Return and put headphones back on, listening to the middle of Morning Becomes Eclectic, featuring "The Go! Team".

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Google Page Creator

Well, the product i've been working on since I started Google has finally been released! Check out Google Page Creator at It's an awesome product and I know will only get better ;) Hats off to the entire team: Justin, Ojan, Dana, Nathan, Julie, Eric, and Lilly. You guys are my heros...and made me realize that I miss writing code :)

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


My cousins at my Uncle & Aunts 50th anniversary:
Brother and sister John the Chessmaster & Anna in the first picture (& me), marker-faced Alexandra & Alex in the second.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Sony BRAVIA - The Advert

This is pretty much the coolest commercial EVER (it was shot in SF, without special effects)

Sony BRAVIA - The Advert

Thursday, February 09, 2006


There are just so many reasons why this is hot.
Also, a year and a half ago I knew 75% of the lyrics to this song. (I need to brush up on my mix-a-lot.)


Elizium Lemmings - Menu

When I was a youngster, I used to play this goofy computer game called "Lemmings". Basically, in each level, a bunch of lemmings start falling out of the sky, and all they do walk to the right. If there are barriers, they bounce off, and if there are pits, well, they're lemmings, and they plunge to their death. Your job is to assign particular lemmings roles (i.e. "Builder", or "Digger") in certain parts of the level, with the goal of getting a certain percentage of the lemmings to the end of the level.

It was a really awesome game with a very unique premise. And now, someone has implemented it using fancy web browser teknologies! (link above). AWESOME.


Red grapefruit good for heart, cholesterol | Science Blog

Awesome! Time to plant more grapefruit...

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Ski trip

Vivian and I in one of the three themed rooms of the thursday night party on the company ski trip. Crazy times. Vivian calls this my "before" pic :(

And yes, that is real mink. You go girl.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Rain Man

Fantastic article about an autistic savant who can explain how he performs his computational feats.
Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | A genius explains

Sunday, January 29, 2006


This woman gives a bad name to an entire religion.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


So last night I was IMing with Amy, and as we were saying goodnight, as a silly term of endearment, I said "'night birdo". I'm not quite sure where this came from, but I frequently have thoughts that seem to bubble up from wacky, wacky places in my brain:

Amy: birdo?
Alex: google it
Alex: actually
Amy: that's one of the bad guys in supermario 2 [she said this without having time at all to google 'birdo', and obviously, the SMB character is what i was alluding to.]

Amy, thats hot you down with the birdo crew.

Incidentally, like 4 years ago, even before these old school SMB characters started showing up on t-shirts hanging from the walls at the spencer's gifts and the hot topics and the urban outfitters, i thought about trying to get a license from nintendo to create a birdo t-shirt. maybe i should still go for it. any takers for Crazy Al's Birdo Wear?

Of course:



This is some hot ish.

How Meditation Works

How Meditation Works

This is a really neat article about meditation.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Fluffy Mackerel Pudding

Maybe i'm late to the game here, but this is the Most Awesomest Website Ever:

Also, you'll like it if you're really really into collectable ceramics.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

09012da680032928_16x9_bb.asx (video/x-ms-asf Object)

09012da680032928_16x9_bb.asx (video/x-ms-asf Object)

BBC did a segment on Google at CES and has pictures of some APMMers and our booth.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


Kerrygold: Our Products - Dubliner Irish Cheese

This cheese is really really good! And you can even get it at Safeway (at least the ugh-inducing Marina Safeway)


Apple - MacBook Pro

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Living Forever....It's the Cheese

There is this island, Sardinia, maybe you've heard of it, where there are lots of old people. Like 100+ years of age. And the weird thing is, in some parts, the ratio of male to female centenarians is 1:1 (as opposed to 1:4 in the rest of the world)!

How to Live Forever