Random pics from recentness.

J with his ant farm (surprisingly compelling) and K with “robot parts”, which he seems to really enjoy.


The family at the Chabot Space & Science Center


The Wonderspark gang going fishing at Lake Chabot.


K, checking things out.


Hanging out with the high school gang in Jackson Hole. 1st time there. Beautiful place.


Catching a fish in Jackson Hole



Interesting summer.

  • Kids
  • Work
  • Parents

Ultimately, that’s it. 100% of my summer. Translated, though, it’s more like this:

  • Happiness
  • Stress
  • Insanity

K’s getting so much more verbal, and able to express complex thoughts. Sometimes those thoughts seem crazy, but it’s mostly because I don’t think he has quite enough vocabulary to describe the amazing things he’s thinking about.

J’s had his first summer, and it was full of camp. He did Avid 4 Adventure, which was a rotating list of activities – biking, hiking, kayak, and stand-up paddle, which is pretty amazing, interspersed with bunch of craft and art.

For the bulk of summer, he went to Sarah’s Science, which has been pretty amazing – outside all day at Robert’s Recreational area doing crafts, projects, experiments and the like. Pretty amazing stuff. I think there’s also something to be said for a couple days just lounging around the house doing nothing, and maybe next year we’ll be able to swing some of that. But for now, a lot of our summer was also…

Work’s been … interesting. The team’s great, as always. Some stress as we learn to communicate with each other (yeah, even a year later, it’s always a learning experience), but we’ve made tremendous progress. We just released what amounts to a full-blown 2.0 update for Give Me Fuel – a top-down revamp of the in-game UI that totally changes the experience. And hopefully makes it more accessible to new users.

The funny thing is, if you ask me, “How’s it going?” the answer is, “I don’t know.” Because ultimately, this is a really big swing at the plate, but until we start to see how it impacts our game’s performance, you really can’t tell how we’re doing, and right now, whether we’re moving towards sustainability & survival is completely unknown. We’ll know in a few days, but for now, it’s still up in the air. So it’s been a whole summer of uncertainty and stress…

And that’s been compounded by the situation with my parents, which has been really difficult. It’s a situation of fairly serious uncertainty – there are so manyĀ potential avenues to pursue, all of which are extremely expensive, but very different. So it’s a weird situation where almost no matter what we do it’ll be incredibly expensive, and some are easily alterable, and some aren’t. And there’s so much stuff that needs to happen to get anything to happen that it’s just … overwhelming at times.

I’ve been incredibly grateful to friends who have reached out to help. So many people have lent a hand, and it’s been a really amazing help in a really bad time. I love you guys.

So yeah. That’s maybe where things are at at the moment. Maybe everything will be totally different in a few weeks. We’ll see.


No real agenda on what to write. Just figured I wanted to write something.

The last few months I’ve had to spend a week every few weeks away from the kids, helping my parents since my dad’s accident. It’s rough. I know the kids are fine, I know that J understands what’s going on (to a degree) and K is okay. It’s not that I feel like being away from them will be bad for them, it’s more that being away from them is bad for me. šŸ˜›

I don’t know what kind of dad I thought I’d be when I was growing up – like my own dad, I assumed. And for the most part, I think that’s not necessarily wrong – some combination of my parents, at least. But I think at least a few years ago, it’d be like some balance of work, parenting, etc., and priorities would shift constantly. They don’t, really. They’re #1. Pretty much all the time.

I’ve been trying, consciously, to be less of a helicopter-y type than I think my instincts want me to be. To give space to the kids to let them work out their problems. To let them explore & play, andĀ take some risks. When they’re playing with each other, to let them playĀ with each other instead of with me & them together. To not interrupt them when they’re drawing, or building stuff, and lending a hand only when they’ve exhausted their own resources. “Benign neglect”, I think, is the term I’ve heard, and it sounds right. šŸ™‚

It’s harder than I thought it’d be! But the things that K draws & builds out of Lego are amazing to me. The books that J draws & writes are as well. The amount they learn, the speed at which they learn it is a constant source of wonder. K can be a bit of a spaz – there are times when I wonder if he just gets completely disconnected from reality, jumping from thing to thing, and whether he’s able to concentrate on things. And then there are other times when he gets so focused & into something that you can’t break his concentration at all. It’s always funny to find ways in which he’s so different from J that whatever expectations I might have about how things will go end up completely subverted. He made a Lego T-Rex the other day, and it had all the right features of a real T-Rex, down to using the little c clips as two-fingered hands. Brilliant.

J’s ability to write has really evolved, and the level of information & detail that he retains from things… well, it certainly exceeds my own ability to retain new information. Reptiles are the obsession of the day, and man – there are someĀ funky reptiles around. Weird snakes with bizarre faces, “worm lizards”, all kinds of things I’ve never seen or thought about before. I wonder how long this obsession will last, because while dinosaurs is a popular one, and he can see birds every day, it’s rarer to see lizards or other reptiles wandering around on a daily basis. But we’ll see. Interesting to be learning more.


An Eventful Quarter

Good lord, a lot has happened in the last few months. The good stuff? We launched Give Me Fuel. We’re iterating on it like crazy, making continuous improvements, and the game is getting better and better. Work is a pleasure most days, and few that aren’t are just due to “usual shit” that comes along with any kind of endeavor. It’s good.

The kids are great. Man, the volume of information that J takes in about animals and nature and dinosaurs and evolution… it’s insane. Insatiable. K is talking a lot more, now – he’s able to often clearly articulate the things he wants and how he feels. Like J, being three is a difficult time for K – learning about his feelings, and rules, and how you can’t always get what you want. But he’s handling it like a champ. Such a good-natured, happy kid. Heartbreaking to see him upset or frustrated, but he works through it quickly & is learning constantly. He’s way more physical – needs to be to keep up with someone 3.5 years older than him – but I’m constantly surprised by the things he can do, and how quickly he picks up new stuff.

The day we launched our game, my dad was rear-ended by someone going pretty fast, and his back was broken. Paralyzed from the chest down. The last month has been mostly trying to deal with that – closing up his office, dealing with insurance, flying out to visit & help where I can. There’s a long way to go, and a lot of things to do before life settles even in to whatever the new normal will be. We’ve got to move my parents out to California. We’ve got to close up the office & sell the house out here. And pack up everything. And find a new place in an absolutely insane housing market. And learn about how to deal with all the new things that we’re going to have to learn to deal with.

It’s been stressful. Launching a new game is stressful by nature. Raising kids is a stressful situation, often one that leaves you at a loss for rest, or downtime. This on top of all that has really driven me to pretty close to the breaking point, and I’ve held it together mostly only because Ei-Nyung’s taken so much of the load off where she can. But it’s been difficult. I’m so tired all the time, or so overloaded with things – which seems silly because they’re all so small. Any given task isn’t hard. Any given thing on the to-do list isn’t complicated. But the problem is that they’re almost all things that I don’t know how to do & have to learn AND have a pretty significant cost if I screw it up.

It’s like being buried in sand. No piece of sand is that bad. Doesn’t mean that when you’re buried it’s not a problem.

I’m looking forward to getting back to some sort of equilibrium. Really it’s just that any one of these things need to resolve. Kids sleep more. Game gets to some sort of survivable state. Parents get settled in. Once any one of those is okay, I’ll be okay. Until then, just keep moving forward.


Yeah, I know. Before a few weeks ago, I hadn’t heard of it, either. I was poking around VRBO, looking for a place that’d be either near snow, or near a river, and this was a place that happened to have both. So I booked the place for a weekend, and away we went.

There was some anxiety about taking the S up, because if there wasn’t a place to charge, our options would be pretty limited. As is, we managed to find a regular plug, which gave us enough charge to get around a bit, though not entirely without some range anxiety. šŸ˜€

IMG_1700It was K’s first time in the snow. I think this picture is from literally moments after he stepped in it for the first time. J’s 2nd time – we haven’t gone up to Tahoe in the winter in ages – mostly (for me) because I hate the drive up when the drive up sucks, and I’m not super confident driving in the snow, particularly in an RWD car. But we figured the roads would be clear, and the other day, J saw a picture of something snowing, and said, “That’s my favorite season!” – no wonder why, the last time he was in the snow was up in Ottawa, surrounded by relatives and having the time of his life.

But K hasn’t had anything like that, so we figured it’d be good to show him what it’s like. And we’d been to Sunol the last few weeks, and had been poking around a river down there, and really loved spending time by it, tossing rocks and sticks in, and just watching/listening to the water. So spending a few days riverside was high on my list of “things to do.”

IMG_1707We drove up on Friday evening, and on Saturday, decided to go try sledding. Unfortunately, the place (Adventure Mountain) was at capacity, and they weren’t letting anyone in. So we drove around a bit until we found something that looked like a place to play around, and we found a completely random little secluded spot where the snow was about 6′ tall.

Funny – while we played around, a handful of other families that were *clearly* doing the same thing we were drove by, then eventually drove back, and came to play in the same area – just a random snowbank across from a closed, for-sale restaurant building and some sort of weather station. By the time we left, the place we’d parked was full of other cars, and there were another four or five families messing around in the same area we were.

IMG_1726IMG_1733I think Ei-Nyung’s mom is happy with the snowman we made.

After an hour or so of poking around, it was time for K’s nap, so we went back to the cabin & put him to bed. J and I decided to poke around the river, which was fun. I actually don’t think I’ve been to a river that was that … loud. All the time. I thought a fan was running or something, but nope – just the river. That realization happened probably 10+ times a day.

Really pretty, though. Air was really crisp, and it felt in some ways like the cabin we went to when I’d visit my aunt & cousin when I was a kid. More modern, sure – but some things felt the same.

Today (Sunday) we hit out for Adventure Mountain a lot earlier, so we’d get there when there was still space. Great place. $28 for admission for an entire car all day. Sled (and helmet) rentals were reasonable, we bought some gloves that actually fit our kids, and had a good time J went down the run a few times, but then just wanted to play in the snow, but K wanted to keep going.

IMG_1736So we sledded, but mostly just played in this awesome area for another hour and a half. We ended up on a really “easy” hill off to the far left, but the advantage was that it was a really secluded area, so while most of the other runs had lines, there were only maybe 10 other people here total, and the kids had this area all to themselves.

We ate lunch, headed back, packed up, and drove home. Got waylaid by Ā some massive traffic in Sacramento, but made it home in one piece, having had a really great weekend.

IMG_1625Generally speaking, so far 2016’s been off to a rollicking start. Work’s chugging along at a brisk pace, and the kids are a delight every day. I’ve managed to actively try to address most of my health issues – saw an allergist, have been chasing down potential sources for what’s causing the eczema (latest hypothesis is memory foam), and overall, feeling better. Got a bit sick last week, but whatever.

Kids are good. K’s foot issue has come back a bit, but it’s on the mend again, and both kids are pretty reliably sleeping through the night. K gets up on the early side and sneaks into bed, but it’sĀ literally like night and day from a few months ago.

Diet’s been pretty bad, and exercise has been pretty bad – mostly because the two are tied up in the whole eczema thing. Trying to do a bunch of dietary changes to find a potential trigger for eczema doesn’t lend itself to eating well consistently, since everything’s constantly a crapshoot.

Bought a front lip spoiler for the M3 – will probably install it some evening over the weekend. Need to get the installation hardware – just a couple self-tapping screws & some industrial-strength double-sided tape. A few months ago the underside of the bumper got a bit trashed anyway, so figure for a cosmetic mod, it has the benefit of “fixing” some previous damage. Scheduled another track day for March 16th at Sonoma.IMG_1607

Before it started raining fairly regularly, was starting to teach J how to ride a bike. Slow going – might have been easier if we’d started him earlier, but whatever – as long as he’s enjoying the process (he doesn’t like to start, but once he’s started, he likes giving it some effort), that’s fine. He’ll get it eventually. Got K a balance bike to play with, and he hasn’t quite gotten used to it either, but the weather took a downturn before we could invest too much time with it.

Looking forward to it getting warmer in a few months & getting the kids back to the pool. I think this year, J’s gonna take off, and K might start to figure the whole swimming thing out. šŸ™‚

Trips? We’re heading to San Diego when the brother-in-law graduates, and heading to Hawaii for a few days in March. Trying to schedule some sort of group trip for a few days with the high school gang for the 40th year, and also something to mark Ei-Nyung & my wedding anniversary. Whee!


This year, I’ve got fourĀ resolutions:

  • More sleep. On average a minimum of one extra hour a night, moving my “bedtime” forward from about midnight, usually, to about 11pm. This means sacrificing whatever leisure activities I used to squeeze in in that hour, but it was usually games or TV, and feeling better via more sleepĀ is more important to me, and I’ve got to make that commitment. I also know that the rest of my health will improve with more sleep, so “fitness” is also rolled into this.
  • Wonderspark break-even. We’re going to be launching our first game early this year, and while I’ve got no illusions that it’s going to be a hit out of the gate, I think it’s got the potential to drive us to break-even in the next 12 months, and that’s our immediate goal. Profitable would be a great side-effect of getting tho this point, but let’s focus on what’s in front of us first.
  • Be present. Whether this means for my kids, or for Ei-Nyung, orĀ whatever, my goal is to be less distracted by trivial things (phone games, etc.) and be more present in the moment. It’s not to say that I’m “quitting” social media – far from it – I think it’s a great way to stay in touch with people I can’t otherwise interact with on a day-to-day basis. It just means that it’s prioritizedĀ below the present moment, actively.
  • Resolve health issues. I’ve got a number of things, from figuring out this whole soy/milk/whatever allergy that’s giving me eczema (see an allergist) to the grinding bits inside both shoulders. I keep putting them off, but hey, I’m gonna be 40. Time to make sure I get some of this sorted out while my body can still theoretically recover from this stuff.

2015 was, in general, my favorite year from the last five or six. The kids & family were great, I don’t hate work anymore, I love the team I’m working with now & what we’re making, and everything has been ticking along nicely. May 2016 resolve some of that potential, and lead to bigger and better things!

The Dinosaur Problem

IMG_1346K: “We have the dinosaur problem!”

Me: “What’s the dinosaur problem?”

K: “I don’t know!” *shrugs*

One of my favorite exchanges w/ K recently. He came up to me and said this out of the blue, and after saying, “I don’t know!” he shrugged and wandered off. It’s an exchange that feels like it’s straight out of Calvin & Hobbes. And no, it wasn’t when he was wearing this jacket, but the picture seemed appropriate. šŸ˜€


Most of the last half of this year has been taken up by two things: work & kids. And in both cases, the thing that’s been absolutely wonderful is the progress that’s happened. Work is work – if you wanna see what’s up there, go to wonderspark.co.

IMG_1227But both kids are really … blossoming. Over the last few months, K has gotten to a point where he can articulate fairly complicated thoughts. Where he used to mimic everything that anyone said around him, he’s now expressing ideas about things that aren’t just repeating others, and it’s really fun to have little conversations with him about things. He wants to do so many things, and he’s getting to a point, I think, where he canĀ do a lot more, rather than justĀ want to do a lot more.

Seeing J&K play together has been really fun, too. It’s not just J wants X and K does it just because, now there’s some push and pull as they try to figure out how to play together when they both want to play, but don’t necessarily want the same things. Of course that leads to some conflict, but so far they’ve actually been really good about working through things & compromising.

IMG_1043As K’s gotten better at verbally expressing himself, J’s gotten to a point where he’s doing a lot of reading and writing. The other day, he read his first non-trivial book cover-to-cover (Dinosaur Dig – he’d read some BOB books before, but those are all like, “Dot hit bob. Bob ate Dot.”), and he’s able to sound out & write down a lot of stuff. Yeah, this is the age when that starts happening, and it’s clear that he’s made a lot of progress because of Kindergarten, but it’s still magical to me to see this progress.

Both kids also seem to really be getting a kick out of going to the pool. Last year was the first time that they seemed to reallyĀ enjoy it, but this year’s the first time that J’s actually been making significant progressĀ swimming. K’s spending a lot of time jumping off the edge of the pool, and he has absolutely no problem going underwater, which is something that apparently surprised a lot of the lifeguards last year when he was a lot smaller, but now he’s big enough that it’s not particularly weird.

J’s made huge strides this year – he’s getting the hang of side breathing (though he breathes to the left), and he can swim across the medium pool without stopping. He’s not quite at the point where he can go the whole long way of the big pool, but that’s fine. It’ll happen when it happens. The other day, the deep end was open for rec swim, and I figured we could try diving, and that it’d probably take a while, but from literally the first try, he was fine – I held his feet for one dive, and after that, he wanted to dive again & again. So that was neat.

IMG_1207K calls the arrangement in the following photo, “Bread, meat, happy salad, and other bread.” He’s the happy salad. Seems like an appropriate nickname for him. He’s almost always so cheerful and curious. And finally, both kids are sleeping through the night, together, the vast majority of the time. K’s making progress on getting out of diapers, which will be a nice change, and something it’ll be nice to be done with until one day Ei-Nyung & I are old and need ’em. šŸ˜›

But yeah – that’s really about all that’s up. Our clothes washer fatally broke, so we got new ones, and that same week our bathroom faucet sprung a fatal leak, so that got fixed. The other day I tried to put a suction bird feeder on a bathroom window that had a small “bullet hole” like crack (from a rock that was kicked up by the lawnmower years ago) and the whole window shattered into huge shards. Fortunately, they all fell “in”, and nothing say, sliced my arm off. So that’s getting fixed. Someone backed into the front of one of our cars and smashed it up a bit, and it’s at the shop getting fixed. So lots of little repairs & upgrades & stuff.

Mobi’s still doing well. He’s definitely getting older, but there are times when he still acts like a big, dumb, excitable puppy. What a goof.

All in all, things have been great. Really just totally great. 2015 is such a massive step up from 2013-14 from a work-happiness perspective that it’s just mindboggling, and I’m so glad to be working on a project I’mĀ super excited about, that I can’t wait to have people play, with a team I love working with every day. Good stuff.


Canada Trip

We just got back from a trip to Canada. It was a bit of a strange journey – we flew SFO-YYZ on the 29th, stayed at an AirBnB in Toronto, took a train from Toronto to Ottawa on the 30th, stayed at my aunt & uncle’s AMAZING lake house from the 30th to the 4th, trained back to Toronto, and stayed at a hotel until the 6th, when we flew home.

What a fantastic trip.IMG_0920


The initial part, getting to Toronto, was uneventful, which, when traveling with kids is good. Lots of movies & games on the iPad, nothing special. Whew! Getting from YYZ to Toronto was interesting – we took a new express train called the UP, which is really nice, but also pretty darned expensive ($55 family one-way). Compared to a taxi, unless the traffic is abysmal, it’s a really difficult proposition. If they can get the price to something reasonable, though, it was really, really nice.

Immediately after arriving in Ottawa, my uncle drove us up to their place on Meech Lake. We went there last time we went to Ottawa, a few years ago, and it’s just as beautiful now as it was then, just worn in a bit. They’re building a workshop for my uncle to build boats, so they’d just poured the foundation for the boathouse before we’ve arrived. He’s going to build the rest himself (!!!). Amazing.

J’s been really into birds recently. Ei-Nyung got a bird feeder & a hummingbird feeder, and it’s been really great. He’s spent hours watching the birds as they come in to feed, and in our backyard, we have a bunch of stuff – Anna’s hummingbirds, Western Scrub Jays, House Finches, Oak Titmice (mouses?), Mourning Doves & more. But he’s seen those. A lot of those.

IMG_0923So this trip promised to be interesting because Aunt Kim has been posting tons of pictures of birds from the lake house, which is surrounded by forest. We saw a handful of neat things – Loons, a family of Downy Woodpeckers, a Red-eyed Vireo, a P-something that had nested under the house, some Great Blue Herons on the lake, Turkey Vultures & a lot more.

J also got to feed some chipmunks from his hand, which was really neat. There was a Red Squirrel competing for the food, but I think it was a bit more wary of approaching quite as close.

KĀ lovedĀ tromping around the lake, splashing things, looking at fish and the like. He accidentally fell in off the dock one time while my cousin & I were watching him, because he’d reached down to pick something out of the water, but after a moment of surprise, he was a-ok.

We took my uncle’s rowboat (that he built himself! by hand!!) out for a spin, and chased some Loons. We ended up about an oar’s length from a couple of them, and there were some fish jumping out of the water (probably to get away from other Loons hunting around underwater), which was pretty cool. Sitting in the middle of a lake oIMG_0956n a rowboat is just a really pleasant experience. Something that I think we can & should do more often on Lake Merritt.

So from that perspective, big success!

From every other perspective, frankly, big success as well. The family got to meet Mr. K, who was gestating-but-not-yet-born when we were here last. I got to hear a bunch of family stories I hadn’t heard before (including one about my dad getting arrested accidentally wandering into a protest at MIT & my uncle protesting with the Weathermen!!).IMG_0926 (1)

After spending a few days in paradise, we headed back to Toronto. My cousin awesomely had driven up to hang out with us at the lake, and then drove back down while we trained over to pick us up at the railway station. Which was pretty amazing of him. That afternoon we just crashed around, but the next day, we went to the Royal Museum of Ontario. When I get the pics downloaded from the other camera, I’ll post some, because it wasĀ epic. They had an astonishing display of dinosaur fossils, and a brilliant bird exhibit that were both utterly mindboggling.

Everything was going great, until that afternoon, J got some sort of stomach bug/food poisoning and barfed a handful of times. We went out to dinner, and the poor guy was miserable, but at least feeling a little better. I thought, “Well, better today than tomorrow, when we’ll be flying.”

IMG_0952Sure enough, a few hours later, my stomach started gurgling, and I spent the entire night in the bathroom. The next morning, we flew home, me on about an hour or two of sleep, and still feeling consistently like I was going to puke at any moment. Ei-Nyung heroically took care of the kids for the vast majority of the flight and after we returned home. After about 12 hours of sleep, I woke up feeling much, much better. And then installed a new ceiling fan.

Overall, a really genuinely spectacular trip. Up until the last few hours, I loved every second and can’t wait to go back.