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. 😀


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

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 can do a lot more, rather than just 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 really enjoy it, but this year’s the first time that J’s actually been making significant progress 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. 😛

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’m 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.

loved 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 was 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.



You’dIMG_0269 think that after sixteen years of working, I’d have some idea of what I want, right? Something that I could clearly articulate, that I could defend, that I could state without compromise.

It’s strange, then, that 2015 has so far been a year of realizing that it’s really, really hard to understand what it is that you actually want. Or rather, that it’s really easy to get distracted from it.

So here’s what I want out of work. I want to be able to build things that are amazing. That I am deeply proud to have brought into the world. That make other peoples’ lives better in some meaningful way. I want to control that, and not ever be put in a position where I have to give it up for any reason.

I want to be able to use work – my time at work – to help people become better people. To be more empathic. To help other people achieve their dreams. Maybe that’s a message that I can get to the players, or maybe it’s a message that’s for the people I’m working directly with.

If we’re fortunate enough to be successful, I want everyone to share in that success in a genuinely equitable way. If we’re fortunate enough to simply be able to continue doing the things we love doing, I want to give people opportunity. I want to help the underrepresented get a foothold in game development.

I want to build something amazing.


2014, like 2013, is a year that contained huge swaths of stuff I’d much rather never think about again.

I’m not going to go into it here, for reasons that I wish were obvious to most folks, but it’s been made clear to me over and over again that they’re not. Regardless, even as vague as that is, that’s all I’m gonna write about it. Professionally-speaking, the first half of 2014 can go fuck itself over and over again until the end of time.

IMG_8175Personally, where it’s possible to separate the two, 2014 was awesome. The kids are great. 2014’s driving characteristic, honestly, is “lack of sleep”, but aside from that, we’ve got two of the greatest kids I could ask for. They get along great, they’re funny, they’re constantly learning and growing, they’re generally really positive and happy, and if K slept through the night, we’d be in a really great place. Ei-Nyung’s mom has also helped us a TON this year, and we’d be much, much worse off without her help at critical times.

This was a year where we spent a huge amount of time at the Piedmont pool. Since I was unemployed, I started swimming a bit, and I brought J&K to the pool as well. J went from hating it to loving it in the span of a day or two, and K has zero fear of the water, which is both awesome and terrifying. That’s been one thing that’s been a really clear distinction between the two kids – J had tended to be inherently cautious, while K is just like blaaaaaaah!  And for the record, both approaches are great, and valuable, and it’s really interesting to see how differently they both approach things.

We did a good amount this year. Had a great trip to Maui, went to El Sargento, made some new friends, spent a lot of time with old ones – never enough, really, but our lives are all different than they were, and given what they are now I’ll take what I can get and appreciate it. I *deeply* love the friends that I have, and whether I see them one day a year, or they come IMG_5620over for dinner a few times a month, or we grab lunch every few weeks, it’s great to have such a bunch of caring, generous, and god-damned brilliant people I can call my friends. I’m really, really lucky in that regard, and I never, ever take it for granted.

The latter half of 2014 turned around when Ei-Nyung suggested we do a startup together. I wouldn’t have ever expected that before, but this year it made perfect sense, and thus Wonderspark was born. It’s been a really satisfying, really interesting experience so far, because even though this is my 2nd startup, this phase of it is stuff I didn’t have to do with the previous one. So it’s been a really good learning experience. I think the one key takeaway is that your message can never be simple or clear enough, and when you’ve got it down to the least it can possibly be, you’re still an order of magnitude off. Every time the message gets simpler, it gets better.

We’ve now spent a good deal of time talking to investors, and it’s clear that in this environment, raising money is going to be an uphill battle. That’s fine – it’s what we expected, and we’re fortunate enough to be able to crank away at this for a good long while without needing to go find other jobs. The disappointing thing is that we can’t just bootstrap and hire other people at this point, but well, it is what it is. Either we’ll find some folks who are interested in working with us for equity, or we’ll find some way to get a product out with what we have. Either can work.

I had a bunch of resolutions last year. With any of the “lose X pounds,” I failed miserably. I did get a public speaking gig this year, which was one of my bigger ambitions. I gave a talk at the Lean Startup Conference, which you can find here. “Um” is the thing I’ve gotta fix the most, I guess. 😀 Maybe in 2016, GDC. If you watch it, and have any other feeIMG_8080dback, a comment would be greatly appreciated.

Went to a lot of trackdays, and found that the real cost of these is (for me) in brakes and tires. Ha. Gotta get some trackday-specific wheels & tires at some point. I’m thinking I might try it by just switching to Yokohama Advan Neova AD08r’s on the stock rims, trying that, and then if that works, getting a set of dedicated wheels. During the summer, when it’s guaranteed to be dry. Learned a ton, though, and had a lot of fun with friends. Not much to complain about there.

The last of my resolutions for the year, though, were that by the end of the year, I’d control my own destiny. It’s weird, and it cost a lot in many, many ways, but that is something I was able to accomplish in 2014. And it’s the reason 2015 is gonna be fucking awesome.

Cabo Trip!

Trip Notes

We left Oakland at 9am. Picked up Halmoni and headed to the airport for an 11:20 flight to Los Cabos. Everything went well, though traveling with two kids & two carseats is never trivial.

The flight was smooth – 3 hours and change, but what I hadn’t expected until reading the notes that day was another 2 hours of driving on the other end of the journey. The flight was a bizarre juggling of Kuno & Jin with me & Ei-Nyung + Halmoni, with a C & P thrown in in completely random places for good measure.

After arriving, we needed to get the car rentals, which was more of an adventure than it should have been, even though we were forewarned of the additional $45/day in *mandatory* insurance, which more than tripled the base cost of the rental. Some folks who hadn’t read up on things ended up quite surprised, and at least one other person in line ended up storming out of the place in a huff. This is really dumb, car rental folks. Just put up honest rates and you’re gonna have a lot fewer angry customers.

We needed to get supplies & food, and we weren’t sure what was going to be in El Sargento, other than the house owners had said it was a small place, without even an ATM. So we decided to stop by a nearby supermarket, where we picked up a bunch of food. Ended up eating there, since we were all pretty hungry. Was about as good as any other lousy steam-tray style supermarket lunch, which was to say, “Not particularly good.”

Next up was the 2+ hour drive from Los Cabos to La Ventana to El Sargento. Eric led the way, and we were just following, and by the time we were on the road after getting our stuff, getting the cars, and getting food, it was already completely dark. The drive was fun, though – lots of twisty turny bits, and it was only at the end where conditions got a bit dire. I don’t know why folks put speed bumps in large streets, though, other than a handful of folks probably nuke their suspensions hitting them at way to fast, because there’s no warning they’re coming and few clearly posted speed markers. Still, we noticed them all, nothing bad happened.

Last bits of the drive were on dirt roads – turns out El Sargento is a pretty small town. The house we’re in is pretty nice – a main living area connected to an open kitchen, along with three bedrooms & two bathrooms. You can go up onto the roof easily & look at the stars. It’s not a huge place, but it does have direct beach access by walking down a bunch of stairs, which makes it TOTALLY AWESOME.

Every day basically starts on the beach. Eric’s done a lot of kiteboarding, but for us, it’s mostly just playing in the sand and some in the surf. I went out and snorkeled for a bit – it’s fine – there’s some coral, and there are a handful of cool fish, but at least so far it’s been too murky and too choppy to really be something to *cough cough* write home about. Eric also got stung by a jellyfish, so I’ve been a little paranoid floating around out there.

We’ve cooked a lot of fish tacos, made tons of guacamole and had a lot of good food, mostly home-made. We went out to eat at Las Palmas last night, and it was fine, but it wasn’t leagues better than what we’re making out of the local ingredients. The one notable exception was their beef tacos, which were delicious. I could have eaten a bunch more of those. We’ve been getting fish from a local place that catches whatever that day, and it’s been great.

The kids are getting along as well as can be expected. They squabble over stuff here and there, but for the most part, are content to run around and have adventures basically non-stop. It’s nice to see J & K so happy to be running around on their own. J & I read through “How to Train Your Dragon”, and I was surprised by how not at all like the movie it is. We also read through “The Complete Book of Dragons”, which was fun – J’s drawn a lot of dragons over the last few days.

K has really gotten down his “Yes” on this trip. He’s been using it sporadically before, but now you can ask him almost anything with a yes/no answer, and he’ll answer you. You might have to ask a few times to get an *accurate* response, but he’s way more communicative now as a result, which is awesome. He’s been having a *blast*, and it’s great to see. He runs around a lot with the bigger kids, and when he’s not up to that, he’s hanging out/spending time with Halmoni. He’s still not sleeping well, which is not great, but ah, well. What can you do?

We’ve shuffled sleeping arrangements around a lot. Most nights, J is in Halmoni’s room, but one night I slept in there while J & C slept in the same bed. Last night, I slept with K while Ei-Nyung slept out on a couch in the living room, and that didn’t go particularly well for anyone. Still, feels like things are slowly getting better. Or I’m delusional. I dunno. K was sick for a bit, and he’s still stuffy, but it seems like he’s on the upswing, at least. Nothing gets that kid down. When he’s awake, he’s happy. When he’s asleep, he’s fine. The only time he’s sad is when he’s making the transition either way.

Today we hiked for about an hour up and down the beach trying (unsuccessfully) to find hot springs. More later, but so far, it’s been a really nice trip.

Professional Unfulfillment

I’m just trying to sort through some feelings. I don’t mean for this to come off as a humblebrag or anything else. I’m just trying to work through things, so I’ll be talking about how I feel about things. If you’re sensitive to that sort of thing, skip this post. I’m probably going to sound like a jackass.

Over the last fifteen years, I think it’d be very difficult for me to make a serious argument that things haven’t gone well. I assumed it would take years to get a game design position, much less a position where I’d do anything other than execute on whatever someone else told me. Instead, I made quick career progress, got to work on a wide variety of fun stuff with a decent hitrate for success, I founded a company (mostly) that did *extremely* well, we made a number of things all of which I’m quite proud of, and yet, I find myself feeling like basically my professional life isn’t even close to being a success. In many ways, it feels like a total failure.

I think the problem is that we achieved a certain level of monetary success that allows us to be comfortable, but not to have *control* over our lives – that is, we don’t have enough that we can essentially not work for the indefinite future & do crazy shit like travel the world. Well, I mean, we certainly could in the short term, but my worry is that unfortunately, both of our careers have “short fuses”, where if you’re out of the industry for a few years, getting back into it is not all that different than starting completely over. So I don’t feel like we can fully take a break and not suffer the consequences of that in the longer term.

And the frustrating thing about that is essentially the result we got was the *best* we could. We made what has been at times the #1 grossing app in the App Store, and over its lifespan, one of the most financially successful games on iOS, period. And you’d think that might be enough to retire on, but due to the circumstances of how it was started, and how it all ended, nope. And I’m realistic – we’ll certainly try to make something great again, but hitting that sort of financial jackpot is *always* a huge roll of the dice, even if you’ve done the best work you can. No one can predict with any degree of serious accuracy what will succeed. So we’ll give it our best shot, and see what happens.

But that’s not really what it is. Because I don’t really care about the money. I mean, I care, sure, but it’s not like I set out to make $. I set out to try and build an amazing team that could make amazing games. And I *did* succeed at that. Much, much better than I would have hoped. For a while, it was *exactly* what I wanted. And maybe that’s part of the problem. I know it’s possible. Or at least, I know it *was* possible. And as much as I want it to be possible again, I don’t know how it’ll work out. Sometimes, I just want to work with the same folks again, and try to recapture that magic. But time has passed. Everyone’s at a different phase in their lives now. I constantly worry that one day, when we can secure funding, or whenever it makes sense to hire someone, that we’ll hang our shingle out there… and no one will show up.

That *constantly* terrifies me, and I feel like the fact that it does is a fundamental indicator that things aren’t right.

All I want is to love what I’m working on, and work with people that I care deeply about, who are also passionate, and driven, and creative, and crazy. I want for us all to work in service of the same cause – to make something awesome that no one’s seen before, that people *love* to play. And for all that to happen so many things need to line up just right. Because what it comes down to is that at this point in my life, I don’t *want* to start over. I don’t *want* to start with a team of strangers, even though many of the strangers that we hired in the past are now close friends. I want us to start this thing with people we care about, because the *reason* we’re starting this thing is to make something better, not just for players, but for the team. Even before, the driving force was always to try and make a company that treated its employees extraordinarily. Not just with perk-related bullshit, but by actually caring about people, and building a real team. And right now, we’re not there.

I feel like for a while, even though he has *no idea who I am*, Stewart Butterfield & I lived in semi-parallel worlds. He was running Tiny Speck, which made Glitch, and we were building Fleck. Two games that some folks put in the same pool, and we had such similar arcs to the games, from smallness to a passionate userbase that never grew to ultimate failure. And Tiny Speck continues on into Slack, where they’ve now achieved the double-whammy – tremendous financial success *because* they’ve built something people absolutely love. I’m jealous. Honestly. I don’t mean that in a mean way, I don’t wish them ill. I’m just jealous.

I guess it took him from Flickr to Tiny Speck to Slack, and for me, I’m maybe in the middle phase – the entire arc of the previous company was the first act, and the third act is where it comes together. Maybe I just need to be patient, work out where the funding comes from, and just keep cranking away at things until we crack that nut. Maybe I’m just insecure, and I think the team I wanted to work with doesn’t want to work with me anymore. I don’t know.

So much is going so well, and that one thing eats at me constantly, because if it’s true, it means everything I thought I’d succeeded in over the last six years wasn’t actually a success. And even dealing with that potential is a frustrating, strange, and bitter pill to swallow.

Last Day

Tomorrow morning I head to the airport, to home, to the family.

Tonight, I try to sleep.

The last few nights, I’ve had a persistent cough, the kind that keeps waking you up every 30 minutes. I think I finally went to bed at about 11:30 last night, and I got up at 4:11 and then read all the Ferguson stuff, and couldn’t get back to sleep. So that’s two days in a row with about 4 hours of cough-interrupted sleep.

I was more or less fine until I got back to the hotel, and then felt like someone dropped a sack of bricks on me. My eyes are stinging from tiredness, my whole body’s just sort of spent. I ended up getting dinner at the hotel, because the nearest place is about half a mile away by foot. Had some schnitzel & fries – the schnitzel was delicious, but the fries were too salty. Ah, well.

Work went well. Very productive, I think. So, yeah – back in East Berlin. Got a 30 minute ride to the airport tomorrow for a 9:15 flight, so that probably means I’m leaving here around 7:45ish. Getting home at something like 2pm PST, but there’s 12 hours between those two points, somehow. 12 hours of misery, if the way here was any indication. Whee. :)


Fun day today, but mostly work. Got up at 4am and couldn’t get back to sleep (which meant about 4 hours of cough-interrupted sleep, total). Headed to the breakfast buffet at the hotel which was shockingly good. Really high-quality food – meats, cheeses, pastries, fruit, all delicious. I was feeling lazy & so I didn’t want to go far, but on Wednesday morning, I know where I’m getting breakfast. Weird.

We took a car to go from Berlin to Szczecin, and it didn’t occur to me until we were going 115 that this was an autobahn. The car ride was about 2 hours, even still, but we made it, and I got to meet the team I’d be working with. Solid folks, honestly. They all spoke English, which was… super useful, as if it was gonna be Polish, I’d be pretty well useless. (I have literally *zero* Polish vocabulary, and even looking things up, I can’t figure out how they’re pronounced. I only got “Szczecin” by getting Google to say it for me a few times (Stet’zin, sort of)).

We spent the day working, and I feel like things went quite well.

It’s funny, though – I am *very* confident at this point that I know how to run a team. I know how to run a very *specific kind* of team, and it’s weird realizing how much of what I know works works because of some fundamental assumptions you make about who you hire, why you hire them, and what you expect them to do, and if you’re in a different context, *everything* has to change again. So a lot of today was trying to reframe some of my assumptions about what would work in a different context, where the variables both on the team and what they’re building and who they’re building it for are all quite different than my natural assumptions. But again, it was really good stuff, and it’s neat to see a bunch of smart people working in their native environment. Can’t say any more than that, of course, but it’s been a good experience.

We went to dinner at a local restaurant (whose name again I couldn’t possibly remember, and even now, can’t figure out how to look up). I had a traditional Polish “sour soup” and it was delicious. I just had that and a small dessert, because my body clearly thinks that it’s some other time than what it actually is here, and everything’s a mess.

I’ve been trying to kick this cough, and it’s frustrating, because I can be lying down and totally fine, as long as I’m not trying to sleep, but the moment I *try* to sleep, I start wheezing, and am then unable to actually get to sleep. So that kind of sucks, given that this is a week where I have a legit opportunity to actually *catch up* on sleep. Argh.

Still, another day of solid work tomorrow, we drive back to Berlin in the evening, and then I fly out Wednesday morning. I can’t wait to get home – I miss the kids (and Ei-Nyung) a LOT. Mobi, too. 😀

But the little I’ve seen of Poland has been beautiful. Parts of Szczecin feel like Berlin, parts feel like Osaka, and then parts of it are, “Oh, of COURSE that’s what Poland looks like.” Hard to describe, but when you see it, it’s obviously “correct”.

That’s it for today. Time to try to get some sort of sleep. Whee.

East Berlin

A few years ago, I started having some trouble with my tailbone. Apparently started around the time that J was born, when we spent a lot of time bouncing him on a yoga ball, but basically when I have to sit on a chair for hours at a stretch, my tailbone starts to hurt, and the longer I sit, the worse it gets. So 10 hours on a plane isn’t my idea of fun. After about six hours, it’s just basically agony.

I also had to sprint to make my connection, hustling quickly through customs in Frankfurt. Was told the wrong gate by the agent, so I ran halfway through the terminal, then had to run back the other way to just barely make my connection.

All in all, things were sort of as good as they could be, but I wouldn’t want to have to make this trip particularly often. 😛

Arrived midday yesterday, but the hotel room wasn’t ready, so I called up the guy I’m visiting (consulting for his company over the next few days) and we went to get coffee. Walked through East Berlin – it’s a very Oakland-like place, where the transitions between “nice” and “not nice” are abrupt – and got the best latte I’d ever had at a place called “No Fire No Glory”.

After coffee, I went back to the hotel and zonked out for a few hours. First time I’d slept in about 35 hours at that point, and I don’t have any idea how some people work shifts this long in any situation without fairly rapidly losing their minds. Had dinner at a place called “Umami”, which is weird because it was fairly obviously a Vietnamese place. Good, not spectacular. Walked over to a club made up of shipping containers, where we got a drink, talked a bit more, listened to some music. Lots of people smoking here, which I’d almost forgotten is still a thing people do.

Went back to the hotel, got to sleep around midnight, and woke up at 4. Was fully awake for about 2 hours, then back to sleep, woke up again at 11.

Headed over to Mauerpark, where there was a big park, a flea market, some food. Got a bratwurst, which got currywursted, ’cause I think the guy didn’t understand what I was saying. Which was fine – it was tasty, just not what I tried to order. Also got some fresh-squeezed orange juice, which was nice. Stopped off in the park and listened to a pair of drummers that were really good – had a very odd bass drum setup – sort of like a marching band drum mounted sideways, and the pedal was attached to the frame & hit the drum from the bottom-up. Guy had his pedal hooked up with something like the 2nd pedal in a double-bass setup. Weird. But it was neat – one drummer played sitting down (with the bass drum), had a snare, a weird stand w/ 6 cymbals on it, and a bunch of differently-pitched cowbells on the other, and a snare. The other guy played the *top* of the bass drum, what looked like 4 bongo drum heads without any kind of bodies, and two other low toms.

They made a lot of noise, and it was a lot of fun to watch. I tossed a couple Euro into their collection jar (an overturned djembe), and then decided to walk back to the hotel. Which was a bit of a dumb idea, because I didn’t actually know how to get back, other than a quick glance at a map before I’d left. I also knew that I was staying at the Leonardo, but there are apparently *two* Leonardo hotels in Berlin, and I didn’t know how to describe to someone where the one I was was vs. the other. But I knew the general direction I was going, and I knew where the giant radio tower was relative to the hotel, and figured I’d seen a few landmarks the day before so maybe I could find my way around.

If I had cell phone/data, it’d be no problem, but I’d forgotten what it was like trying to navigate around a new space without that as a crutch. Took about 40 minutes, but I made it back. It was nice to walk around and just see what the city is like. There’s a lot of graffiti – some of it is good – high quality art that people have invested a lot of time into, but a lot of it is just shitty vandalism that really brings down the atmosphere and makes things feel junky.

There are also a lot of interesting parks for kids. Stuff that wouldn’t fly in the much-too-coddled US environment. Stuff where concrete sections have built-in trampolines. Yeah, if you do something dumb, you’ll break a leg. If you *don’t* do something dumb, you’ll have a blast. Tons of families out and about. Made me miss my family, even though it’s only been a day and a half. This will be the longest I’ve been away from them in a long time, and the longest I’ve ever been away from K.

After Mauerpark, went back to the hotel, and met up with Anton. We went on a boat tour of the Spree (, and got to see a bunch of buildings from the river, basically a lot of juxaposition of old & new, which in East Germany is a lot weirder than in many places, I think. After that, cabbed over to Checkpoint Charlie (the touristiest of the places I’ve been so far), then over a bit more to get a kebab & some coffee. Walked back to the hotel, and here I am.

I’ve got an awful cough, which is kind of suck. Will be meeting up with Anton and Wibe, who’s coming in to town, for dinner. Strange – I met up with Wibe for coffee a few months ago in Oakland, and met Anton for the first time a month and a half ago, and now we’re all in Berlin having dinner. Also had a number of “small world” moments talking with Anton, just because since he’s a Finn, he knows a lot of the Finns in the mobile game scene. I don’t know many of them directly, but there were a lot of second-hand connections.

Tomorrow, we head over to Szczecin for a couple of days, then back here Tuesday night, and heading back home Wednesday morning. Can’t wait to get back to the family, but it’s been an interesting trip so far to be sure. Will post some pics when I get them off my phone (something weird is happening w/ iCloud ATM).