Sunday, November 23, 2003

One of the best ever.

This is one of my favorite pictures ever. It's my crazy family, doing our crazy Tseng (and Su) thing. We're all in North Carolina, celebrating my grandma's 80th birthday. In case you can't tell, that's her in the middle of the picture. I think she's having fun. Notice how all the guy cousins responsible for carrying on the family name are down on the floor in front? This photo is aptly named, "Big Laugh".

Sunday, October 26, 2003

Caroline and Yu tie the knot

Caroline and Yu started dating all the way back in high school. After four years of college and another few after that, they were practically common law already, but made it official with a beautiful bash at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. The ballroom was grand, and the food was delicious, and Caroline changed outfits twice! It was also pretty cool seeing a lot of folks whom I hadn't seen since we graduated, but this time in SF. Take a peek at the festivities.

Thursday, October 23, 2003


There are few greater feelings than walking into a room, (somewhat) unsuspecting, and finding all your friends in there, shouting "surprise"! and wishing you a happy birthday. A very honest and jittery c pulled it off when I turned 26--the happy event was replete with good friends, presents!, and legolas (who eventually was banished to my closet door).

It's hard pulling off a surprise, especially when people are on asian time, and you aren't there to drill-seargeant everyone in to place because you're busy keeping the surprisee busy. But it's the tiny mishaps along the way that make surprises funny and memorable, like n, m, and d trying to hide behind the mailboxes in the entryway to me and e's apartment, doing their best not to be discovered!

In any case, tow has, hands down, the best pictures. He makes everyone shine!

Friday, September 26, 2003

Goodbye, Fremont

Many people don't know this but I didn't learn how to drive until I'd graduated from college. Because of this, while deciding on a place to call my post-collegiate home, choices were limited to areas accessible by BART, so that I could commute to my job in SF in the mornings. I was very lucky at the time--completely naive, I didn't even have a roommate and ended up finding Old Roomie on an alumni mailing list. she was a few years older and so much more liberated and worldly...she certainly made life very fun.

We settled in a four room single family home, just off the bridge in fremont. Through the years, a number of 3rd roommates cycled through the place, some real cool but some just plan psycho or difficult to live with. For four years we lived there! I never thought time could pass so fast. Despite the stigma of living in Boring Fremont, I found that when the time came for our landlady to sell the place (and us to move out), I was sad to leave.

Reasons why Fremont is a great place to live.
1) Half Price Books - my favorite bookstore to this day. Spacious, clean, and browseable, they carry a very current selection of new releases at very reasonable pric
es. and they pay cash for the stuff you trade in!
2) Largest afgan community in the United States, making for some great Afghan restaurants - my favorite was the "Kebab Place" on Fremont blvd, a literal hole in the wall with two grandmas behind a charcoal stove. The lamb kebabs were excellent, as were the stuffed potato crepes served with yogurt. If you could get past the grit, so delicious.
3) Uncle Yueh's - this place closed down, but they had the best scallion pancakes I've ever had in my life (except yours, grandma :) ) peppery, and crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside. they also had excellent shao bing jia rou (sesame pastry with beef & cilantro), lots of cantonese slow cooked soups, and a very tasty taro and duck dish.
4) Pho 99 - in its day, excellent pho, vermicelli bowls, rolls, and pearl tea. cheap, too!

5) Accessible: to 680 - a beautiful drive to pleasanton as I did for about a year, 880, 84, and 237. Fry's electronics, what used to be Tri-City sports, Old Navy and Marina Foods
6) Little Taiwan. enough said. If you like hot, look for ninji hot pot, which comes in three intensities: mild, hot, or searing.
7) it's cheap, cheap, cheap. we had a huge place, and the landlady liked us...I think I paid around 650 a month!

When you've been living in a place for a while, a home is like a living entity, it becomes a part of you with a personality of its own. In the four years we lived there, we had collected various furniture and had gotten things to a state where they were "just right". It was hard to leave when it was time.

Tuesday, July 08, 2003

I heart NY

I love, love love love new york. It is one of my favorite places in the world and I would seriously consider living there if the right opportunity presented itself. My affinity for this city that so many people say is cold, unfriendly, and impersonable is in a large part due to the guide I've always had. Having lived in boston her whole life, n knows its close cousin well, and has always been a terrific guide, showing me the beautiful insider's view and ignoring the ugly. And of course, the fact that Cousin lived smack in the middle of downtown manhattan helped matters.

My happiest times there have involved walking so much the whole soles of my feet had blisters. And typically, we would walk to destinations involving food. Whether it be ginger mint lemonade on a bench outside of balthazar cafe, sipped along side petit fours and raspberry tartletts, finding the perfect cup of pearl tea inside the ten ren in Chinatown, to actually eating sweet and salty chicken off a stick purchased off a street vendor outside H&M (unheard of under typical circumstances!) n and I scoured avenues and streets alike to find new culinary delights.

and OH. H&M. a new world opened for me when n showed me H&M. my understanding of the world we live in changed. Even with my spoiled retail outlook resulting from years of living in hong kong...i could recognize that the ikea of clothing would revolutionize the industry in the US similarly to her furniture-producing brother. i loved it!

Friday, July 04, 2003

We're free--let's roast marshmallows!

Ahh....there's nothing like the smell of a wood burning fire. Unfortunately, with California's environmental laws, wood fires are few and far between. You can hardly even find them in home fireplaces anymore as new homes are mandated to be built with gas--a shoddy substitute. After some research, I found that one of the only places in SF to create this elusive scent in public was at Ocean Beach. I few friends and I donned windbreakers, packed up the tiki torches and campfire forks, bought plenty of marshmallows (and other roast-friendly foods) and were on our way.

It was ridiculously hard to get the fire started. 100% of the attendees were engineers and more than 90% were EE/CS, so I guess you could say weren't well versed in the material science/chemistry aspect of the exercise. After numerous attempts using a variety of methods, materials, and a dangerous (and probably not appetizing) amount of lighter fluid, we finally threw in the towel and "bartered" for a flame from some of our fellow fire lovers on the beach. In no time at all however, we had a cheery blaze going, and started on our way to quenching the flame of hunger.

A few notes about roasting things to eat on the beach: 1) it's sandy 2) it's windy too, so sand will likely get in your food no matter how hard you try to block what you're eating with your body 3) foil is your friend 4) curry fish balls and pre-cooked sausages work well 5) potatoes and corn do not 6) no matter the sand, the cold, the wind, and the consumption of undercooked food--everyone is guaranteed to have a fabulous time.

Photo credits to t and jk--thanks guys!!

Sunday, May 25, 2003

Adventures in San Diego

Memorial Day 2003--c and I took a trip down to the warm and beautiful San Diego, by way of Tijuana, Hotel Del Coronado on Coronado Island, and finishing off with a lovely dinner at Cliff House in the ritzy town of La Jolla. The trip was a bit spur of the moment--the weekend before memorial day c and I realized we didn't have any plans for the vacation and took advantage of a last-minute travel deal on yahoo travel.

Plans got adventurous when we decided to take our love for tacos to the next level and seek them out in San Diego's close cousin, Tijuana. After tickets were booked, we started to figure out ways to get into Tijuana and were a bit alarmed to find that all travel guides were adamant that under no circumstances should Americans drive into the country itself, due to the high probability of car accidents and insurance scams! The recommended approach was to part one's car in "secured" parking lots just ou
tside Tijuana (on American soil) and walk into the country.

Tijuana had a rough and somewhat desparate feel that border towns often do. I definitely got the feeling that people were always trying to make a buck off us. I'd been to Tijuana once when I was young and remember my parents and I finding lots of interesting things to buy--ponchos, marble chess sets, agate wind chimes carved in the shape of a bird, lots of pretty silver jewelery, and mexican jumping beans! but things had changed in the 15 years since I'd been. I wasn't that interested in many of the seemingly mass produced knick knacks that were avail
able, for the most part devoid of craftsmanship.

c and I still managed to have fun, though. We were determined to find a local market we'd read about in our research, the mythical Mercado Hidalgo. armed with a not-to-scale walking map, and the solitary spanish phrase we had between us--"Donde esta mercado Hidalgo?" we set out on an ambitious plan to walk what turned out to be a multiple mile journey, oftentimes with only the direction of a local pointing vaguely and reassuring us, "three blocks". c definitely started to get nervous, and we attracted our share of attention from the locals, at one point even prompting a mexican police trooper to slow down and ask if everything was ok. But the
destination at the end was well worth it. stalls of exotic and fragrant mexican fruits and spices, and the best tamales, fresh from what was sure to be a local woman's kitchen--warm, sweet, and redolent with that distinctive masa flavor that I've grown to love.

After an uneventful return to US soil, historic Hotel del Coronado on San Diego's Coronado Island was the next stop. Built in the late 1800's, the hotel was someone's grand vision to be the best resort town in the united states. We enjoyed a nic
e breakfast at a cute cafe in the downtown coronado area, and then spent the rest of the time prowling the grounds and beach.

We capped off the evening with a stroll around the lovely La Jolla, and dinner at the Marine Room. The restaurant is built so that the ocean comes straight up to the walls and windows of the restaurant! When the tide is up and the water is stormy, the waves will actually beat against the window panes. and the food wasn't half bad, as you can see.

More pictures available
, although none of Tijuana--we pretty much didn't bring anything of value, including a camera!

Monday, March 03, 2003

One of Many Ski Trips

March 2003, I was still learning how to snowboard at this time and getting tutored by someone with personal incentives in me picking it up. :) A few of us hit the slopes together, staying close to Reno during one night of the two day trip so that we could follow a frustrating day of falling on one's butt by the exhilaration of winning lots of money! It was during this trip that I hit my head so hard on a fall I blacked out for a few seconds, scaring the people around me (although it was sort of cool riding the snowmobile down the mountain into the infirmary). I swear my memory hasn't been the same since...but maybe that's just old age?

We followed the trip with a group stop at Claimjumper's--my first time. They have humungous portions, as is evidenced by this
large-portion lamb shank. But the food is not half bad--comparable to max's, but bigger.