Beijing Restaurant

I had lunch today at Beijing Restaurant in SF with Eva. I found good reviews on Yelp and saw that Yao Ming had been there so I wanted to give it a try.

We had:
- Hot and Sour Soup: It was sour but not very spicy.
- Stirred Flour Balls with Chicken: Shapes were more like cubes rather than balls. Texture was similar to rice cake.
- Fried Sweet Cake Beijing Style: Mochi texture with red bean filling.

From 090917

In the afternoon we picked up Eva's younger sister from school and had drinks at Java Beach Cafe. Eva also gave me more Taiwanese tea and snacks.


Buns II

Today I didn't have to go home for lunch because Oscar gave me a couple of buns that Hsinni had made with their new bread machine.

The buns were chewy with meat inside:

From 090909

I guess homemade buns are becoming more popular.

It's nice to have a wife that can cook...


Oscar's BBQ

Today we had a 2nd annual BBQ birthday party for Oscar. Last year our manager Wen hosted a BBQ at his house. This year Oscar and Hsinni invited our team and his neighbours for a BBQ. There were 11 adults and 3 kids.

We had a lot of food cooking on the grill including thinly sliced pork, chicken drumsticks, beef shortribs, shrimp, mackerel pike, and mushrooms. For drinks we had diet coke, Hsinni's iced tea, juice, and a variety of beer such as Tsingdao, Asahi, and Corona. For desserts we had a Trader's Joe ice cream cake from Wen, a honey cake made by Eva, and brownies that I made.

Our BBQ started off slowly with Oscar and I putting pork and chicken on the grill. After Wen arrived he took over the cooking duties for a few batches of pork. Chi-Ching was the next cook for more pork and started on the shrimp. Eva decided to speed up the cooking process by poking holes in the aluminum foil that covered the grates. After a few more minutes the shrimp were done and Eva and Eddie decided to remove the foil completely for the shortribs and additional drumsticks. I hope that Oscar won't have too much trouble cleaning his formerly pristine grates. The rest of the cooking was handled by Eddie.

Oscar didn't want me to get a cake but since he told me to arrive around 4:30pm instead of 4:00pm I decided that I had time to try baking brownies. We had a very difficult time getting the brownies out of the container. Instead of squares or rectangles we used a knife and spoon to scoop out odd shapes. I guess maybe I didn't grease the pan enough. Next time I think it'll be easier to just use parchment paper to line the pan. Hsinni helped to clean the pyrex dish after the party.

It seemed that not everybody was aware that it was almost Oscar's birthday. I accidentally let this news slip out so even though it wasn't planned, Oscar received happy birthday songs in Chinese and English. Oscar's candle on the ice cream cake was a number "2" that was previously used at Henry's birthday.

In the end there was an abundance of food. Everybody had leftovers to take home. Note to Oscar - 10 lbs/~40 drumsticks is too much for 11+3.

We spent most of the time listening to stories from Hsinni's father and Eddie. I didn't understand all of the conversation but was content just eating and drinking away. When it was getting dark I asked Oscar to turn on the white christmas lights on the overhang. The atmosphere reminded me of Taiwanese dramas. It would be even better with twinkling lights. I'm looking forward to Oscar's next BBQ gathering where we can try using the charcoal chimney and enjoying more good food and company!



I visited Vancouver for the past week to renew my passport and tn status. The passport was ready in just a few days but I had to pay an extra fee for the express service. Most of my time in Vancouver was spent with my parents and friends eating at various restaurants.

From 090609

From 090609

I usually visit Vancouver twice a year so it was nice to meet up with friends again. One friend had moved to HK and it was my first time to see her for over 9 years. Another friend had worked in Silicon Valley but moved back to Vancouver. After dinner Sam took Mike and me sightseeing around UBC, Stanley Park, and the downtown area. Vancouver can changed a lot since I moved away in 2000. Aside from infrastructure improvements such as roads and the skytrain, there are many new high-rise buildings and a new convention centre. A lot of work was still ongoing to prepare for the Olympics.

From 090609


Weeds and Pests

Last Tuesday Lisa helped pull weeds in my garden. It was really neglected and some weeds were over a couple feet high. We filled up 2 garbage bags in the end. When I bought my townhouse I was told the HOA would perform all landscaping work including the individual patio areas but the information was incorrect.

For the past couple weeks I've noticed an increase in the amount of tiny bugs, ants, and spiders in my townhouse. I guess the ants like to eat the bugs and the spiders like to eat the ants. I spent part of the long weekend trying to track down, block, and spray for the ants. It's not easy trying to figure out how the ants are getting in.

Home ownership comes with benefits but also more hassles.


Hakone Matsuri

Hakone Gardens held their annual matsuri today and I decided to go with Mike, Lisa, and Grace. We had lunch at A&J Restaurant in Cupertino and then headed over to Saratoga. The parking lot at Saratoga High was full and we had to park on a street nearby. It probably wasn't a good idea to have the festival on the same day as another event at the high school. We had to wait a bit for the shuttle bus to take us up to the gardens. It was a very hot day and the sign at Saratoga High read around 104F. The bus seemed at one point to almost get stuck while straining to climb the slope up towards the gardens. I heard that maybe the unused bus in the parking lot had overheated.

From 090517

We walked around the grounds and up the short walking trail. Some areas were closed that day. There were a lot of people and we skipped some of the crowded activities such as the tea ceremony. We were able to enjoy some of the music performances.

It was a very hot day and we decided to walk back to the car rather than stand in line for the shuttle and be stuck in a hot bus for 10-15 minutes. On the way back we stopped at Big Basin Cafe to rest and get drinks.



At CASPA's Career Development Seminar I was able to hear Stanley Yang's story about NeuroSky. The company started in 2004 and around 5 years and $5 million later they are ready to launch by selling their sensors to their customers. NeuroSky makes a sensor that can read brainwaves. The technology evolved from being implemented as a $300+ board to a <$5 single chip. At the seminar he showed videos of people controlling toys such as RC cars and video games solely by using the headset device with the dry sensor. In the past sensors had to be implanted inside the head or use contact gels to read the brainwaves accurately. Unlike competitors such as Emotiv Systems, NeuroSky does not sell products themselves and allows customers to set specs and pricing.

So far the announced toys and video games only use the device to measure concentration levels. It will be interesting to see if the technology really works and if it's mature enough for the mass market or too simple for people to get really excited about.



Lately I've received a few snacks from Indonesia and Taiwan.

A coworker gave me this from Indonesia:

From food

Nancy brought these for me from Taiwan:

From 090505

Oscar gave me stick things from this company. He told me they are very popular. The purple item below is the taro snack from Nancy:

From food