I’m teaching Japanese now?

September 20th, 2019

So, a while back, I went to Japan with some friends at work for a conference so I thought it’d be fun to make a video about useful phrases for tourists. Surprisingly, it became one of my more popular videos on YouTube.

And then I remembered this one time when someone asked me how parents tell their kids they love them in Japanese and I joked that I had no idea since my mom never told me that, so that led to a video about useful phrases for friends and family.

And then I had this idea about how there really isn’t swearing in Japanese, which led to a video about swearing in Japanese.

This latest video came about because I was thinking about my experiences working in Japan and then in Hawaii at a sorta Japanese company. I only spent a few summers and then one year working in Japan and it was a long time ago but hopefully, the information is still relevant.

I loved my time working in Japan and at the other company that was sorta Japanese. Those were crazy and fun times. But the work culture is pretty intense over there and I’m thankful that I work and live in America.

12 Lessons Learned from Pixar and Google

September 4th, 2019


I don’t talk a lot about work much in my videos or on this blog, because I like to focus on the stuff I do outside work in these places. But over the years, there were some interesting things I learned at work that had an impact on the sort of things I do outside of work. So I started jotting them down.

At some point, this started to become a list, and then I thought it might make for an interesting talk because, hey, I like to talk. But then, I couldn’t think of an appropriate place to give such a talk. But then, it occurred to me that I’ve got a YouTube channel, so there it is. I don’t know if anyone else will find this interesting to watch, but I had fun making it. Actually, more than fun, I found it satisfying to make.

This is also something that I’ve been trying to work on: It makes me happy when people enjoy the things I make but I’m trying to worry less about that and concentrate on the work itself. In other words, focus less external validation and more on internal validation. Hmm, maybe that’s another video…

Mach vs. Pyramid of Cans

August 1st, 2019


So … my friend at work had a drinking problem, by which I mean he would drink those awful, slightly flavored soda waters day in and day out. But he wouldn’t throw away the cans, he’d just pile them up on his desk. So then we had the bright idea to stack them up into a pyramid on an unused desk in the office, which was great.

But then someone needed that desk.

So we were faced with a dilemma of how to dispose of them and I came up with the bright idea of kicking them down with vague thoughts of trying to do a backwards roundhouse kick that I had once learned in high school. Then people decided to film it, and then I decided I wanted to have some fun with the footage.

I grew up on cheesy 80s action movies so I wanted to try to recreate that. I cut them together, added a little effects, created a silly music track in Garage Band, et voila: a cinematic masterpiece. The most time consuming part was creating the little face that shows up on the pyramid 7 and a half minutes in. Dyson thought it would be funny. He also liked the repeating kicks. I was hoping I could get him to try doing a roundhouse kick but he wasn’t having any of that.

Also, he thought a front kick would have been better. Everybody’s a critic.

Pigsy Banksy

May 5th, 2019

Last weekend, a few friends and I participated in Ludum Dare where people try to make a game in a weekend. The theme was “Your life is currency” and we came up with Pigsy Banksy (follow the link to download it for Windows, Mac, or Linux):

  • You’re a flying piggy bank.
  • You collect coins, which are also your life.
  • You shoot coins to hit objects, but they cost life.
  • The more coins you have, the heavier you are and the harder it is to fly.

To make the game, we used the Unity game engine and I used Tilt Brush and Poly Toolkit to create some assets, including the main character:

The main things I worked on was the character animation (Pigsy squints when she takes damage, her legs swing as she flies, and she does little idle animations like blinking and snorting). I also did some work on the controls and some other animation things like the coins bouncing in and numbers popping up for your coin count.

It was a ton of fun to do and I learned a lot. The main things are to keep the idea simple and it helps to know your tools. In my case, I burned a couple hours getting git to work with two-factor authentication on my laptop. In particular, I learned I had to:

If anyone’s curious, the entire git repository is available here.

Blindfolded haircut

March 8th, 2019


The video goes into what led me to cut my hair while blindfolded but this was also a bit of an experiment with social media. I put a shorter version of this on Instagram and I’m curious how they’ll compare.

Also, the thing at the restaurant bathroom actually happened. I get mistaken for a woman pretty regularly. It doesn’t bother me and it’s kinda funny to see people startle when they hear my voice. Ah, the joys of being androgynous.

Incidentally, I made this entire post on my phone while on the bus to work, which was an interesting challenge.


January 5th, 2019


I am physically incapable of growing a beard, which is weird because my dad had to shave, like, twice a day. But the men on my mom’s side all lacked facial hair so I guess I take after that side. On the plus side, they all kept their hair well into old age. Anyways, it’s kind of a toss-up whether Dyson will have much facial hair or not. But now he’s ready!

Also, this kinda started with No-Shave November which I participated in once, but nobody noticed.

Useful Japanese Phrases for Tourists

January 5th, 2019


In a bizarre twist of fate, I became an engineering manager at work last year. And shortly thereafter, everyone that was reporting to me decided to go to a conference in Japan. I hadn’t planned on going to the conference (because I was feeling kinda travelled out from work stuff already) but what with my whole team going, the fact that I was their manager, and I also happen to speak Japanese, I decided to go.

I thought it might be handy to teach them some Japanese before we went and then I figured, I might as well make a video about it. So here we are.

Inktober 2018

January 5th, 2019

My brother has been doing Inktober for a couple years and last year, he posted a sketch wishing me a happy birthday. At the end of his post was a picture of a sketchbook, ink, and some pens. I thought that was a pretty cool gift and decided I was going to commit to doing one drawing a day for Inktober myself.

Well, it turns out that his last picture was of a sketchbook, ink, and some pens that he bought for himself and it coincidentally arrived around my birthday. But by the time I realized that, I felt mentally committed to the idea of doing a drawing a day, so I decided to go through with it.

I usually spent a couple hours on each one, split between thinking of an idea, sketching some ideas, doing a pencil drawing, inking it, and coloring. For the inking and coloring, I used a set of brush pens that I got at a Japanese stationery store, which were fun to use but kinda limited in color. In particular, it was tough getting shades of brown. I feel like my drawing style is all over the place, but there are a few that I felt pretty good about.

The drawings are all on my Instagram account but they’re here as well:

Magic Hair Color Remote

August 11th, 2018


I had decided to dye my hair again when I came up with this silly idea for a video that took advantage of my changing hair color. But it involved me using the same camera setup (ie., my laptop) over the course of several days as I changed my hair color. That … turned out to be a lot trickier than I had anticipated.

Note to self: try to avoid doing multi-day shoots with the same camera setup.

On another note, Dyson is getting more reluctant to appear on camera. But he gets super embarrassed if I try to The Floss dance and will run up and stop me if he sees me start to do it. Ah, the joy of embarrassing your kid.

Go See Incredibles 2!

June 13th, 2018

MachIncredibles2It’s been years since I’ve worked at Pixar. But the very first Pixar movie I worked on was The Incredibles and I’ve been eagerly anticipating the sequel for a while. I was an effects artist on the original movie and did Violet’s force field, Frozone’s ice walls and ice bridges, and a bunch miscellaneous effects like the explosion in Edna Mode’s suit test room. So I was very curious about the new version of those effects.

Well, I had a chance to see an early screening and they look amazing. Also, the movie is a blast. The action sequences are exhilarating, there are lots of laughs, and the family dynamic is just as strong as ever. It’s funny, so much has happened in the 14 years since the first one came out. I’m a dad now and I can relate so much more to the challenges of work and family. Someone asked me if I thought the sequel would struggle now that there are so many super hero movie. I don’t think so. The Incredibles movies are really about that family and their love for each other. It just so happens that they have super powers.

Funny story: I got an email a couple years ago from my friend Vincent Serritella who still works at Pixar. He was starting to work on the sequel and wanted to know if I remembered how I did Violet’s force field. Unfortunately, I have a terrible memory. But I did remember that Sarah Vowell, the voice of Violet, came to give a talk at Pixar around the time I was working on the first movie. And I thought, it’s kinda cool that I get to hear her talk since I worked on the effect for her character. And then I thought, it’d be neat if I got her to sign a copy of the shader code that I wrote as part of her force field effect. She thought it was pretty funny and graciously signed it. Years later, lo and behold, I still had that signed copy. So I scanned it and sent it to Vincent.

I don’t think Vincent or the rest of the team actually used any of the code. But it’s kind of neat to think that a part of what I did there lived on in spirit in the sequel.