Writing Samples for Angelica Oung

As a reporter for the Taipei Times:

Taiwanese Web-users take emoticons to another level


As a writer/bilingual project manager for Next Media Animation:

Steve Job’s autobiography flies off the shelves

Currency Rap – A rap battle between Barack Obama and Hu Jintao

WSJ interview about Currency Rap

28 Oct 2012 links

Genetic basis for placebos

Emily Carroll’s awesome comics

Little green gods of agony — web comic by Stephen King

Boy with a coin by iron and wine

Rich and tasty pasta sauce

No photo, because it pretty much just looks like every other ragu-like sauce out there. But I will write down the method of the pasta sauce I improvised the other day for a dinner party down.

First, start with cutting up five rashers of bacon and frying in a dry pan with 1 chopped onion. Once the onions are cooked down a little, add a pound and a half of 80/20 ground beef and brown. Add 1/2 teaspoon of allspice and about 2 tablespoons of red pepper flakes. After the beef is well-cooked, add a cup of strong red wine (I used PKNT Carminere which was perfect). Throw a jar of store-bought pasta sauce on top. The brand matters not. Simmer with a stick of butter and three tablespoons of capers. Coats two pounds of pasta thinly, which is OK as it is a very strongly flavored sauce.

I don’t really know what’s going on here…butter? Capers? Bacon? Wine? All are good pasta sauce friends, but in the same concoction? It seemed like they would fight. But it was just intensely delicious and well-rounded in flavors, actually. Would make again. It fed seven people quite heartily and cheaply.

Auntie April’s Fried Chickens and Waffles

Dear People of Yelp:

Are you crazy? 277 reviews giving Auntie April’s Fried Chicken and Waffles an average of 4 stars? I just got back from this dubious establishment and my mouth still feels greasily redolent of stale crisco, my tongue numb from chewing on lumps of MSG-laden chicken. This place is no bueno. The service was lackadaisical at best. We were kept waiting even for our coffee. The chicken and waffles themselves took an eternity (or about half an hour). My brunch companion opted for breast strips, I for the leg and thighs. He said his chicken tasted like something you pop out of a CostCo bag. My chicken leg looked promising, with a thin coating and moist-looking meat. Alas, it was horrendously over-seasoned and over-fried. But it was the waffles that were the true abomination. They were dense, wan and rubbery. The puddles of butter-flavored something sat in the indentations of the waffle, refusing to sink in. I was so hungry I scarfed half the waffles down anyhow, plus all the chicken. I was left feeling clogged with grease and somewhat unwell. Not worth the calories. Not even close.

Maybe they had an off day. Maybe our expectations were set too high (my previous bay area chicken and waffle experience, at Brown Sugar in West Oakland, was superlative). Maybe. But I don’t think so. This is not a four-star restaurant. This is a two-star restaurant, at best. I am going to give it one-star, however, to balance out all those unearned 4 and 5 star ratings, and hopefully warn future diners to stay away.

How could you, people of Yelp? How could you?

Tasting notes from the 10th annual Firkin Fest at Triple Rock Brewery

On Saturday, Gene and I went to the 10th Annual Firkin Fest at Triple Rock brewery.

A firkin is an old English unit of measurement meaning a quarter of a barrel. Gravity in this context means draft beer that is not dispensed under pressure with CO2, but just allowed to flow unforced out of the barrel. So put it together and you get lots of different small barrels of beer on draft that has been naturally carbonated with yeast…some aficionados considers this “real” ale. For our $20 we got four generous pours…which were enough to get us quite tipsy. Pro tip: if you are going to an event like this, let the big white guy go and get the pours…Gene’s glass would get filled almost full while mine would be filled up half way at most. Even if you don’t want to drink that much beer, this is still a good option because then you can pour out the substandard stuff and enjoy more of the real quality brews.

At an event like this, it’s all about the variety. Gene and I had eight tickets between the two of us, plus the two free pours he scored (none for me!) makes ten different beers we tasted in one boozy afternoon. Here are our tasting notes:

Triple Rock Ipax **1/2
Extra hopped-up West Coast IPAs are big this year at Firkin Fest. The Ipax is lacking in the kind of intensely aromatic top notes I look for in this style and is perhaps not as clean tasting as I would desire, but is otherwise quite drinkable.

Triple Rock Bug Juice ***1/2
Much greener and aromatic in its hoppiness than the Ipax, the Bug Juice, also by Triple Rock, is something I imagine I would enjoy on a warm summer’s day after some gardening. Very refreshing. Citrusy.

La Resistance by Drake’s Brewing **
Usually Drake’s fine brewed products get high marks from me, and their IPA is a firm go-to beer that’s available at the corner store. Alas, La Resistance was such a stinker I think we poured most of it into the bucket. They tried to make a Belgian-style beer…and failed. It’s thin, with a wavering, uncommitted acidity, as if they thought it might be a nice idea to make a gueuze or lambic, but lacked the conviction to go all the way.

Something Mild by Drake’s Brewing *1/2
Yet another black-eye for Drake. But this time it might not be their fault…it could be that I just don’t like mild beers. I was intrigued enough by the mention of New Zealand Motueka hops to try this, hoping it would be subtle and refreshing. Nope. Just insipid.

Old Brick Bitter by Dying Vines Brewing *
This definitely went down the slop bucket. Just bad. Very lacking in character and flavor. Reminiscent of cold, day-old tea. Wan. I feel like so many of the “English Bitters” style beers are wan and lacking in characters the way real English Bitters are actually not. I hope they don’t give this style a bad name.

Barrel-aged Old Glory by 21st Amendment Brewery *****
This…this was the star. A beer I’m determined to track down because it is both excellent and most unusual in style. The tasting notes say it is an Imperial Red aged in Maker’s Mark barrels. But even before I read that I was struck with the beautiful rounded oak notes that integrated seamlessly with the rest of the flavors in the beer, not lurking sullenly underneath or too grating against the tongue. I don’t know if this is just me being too suggestible, but I feel like the richness and soft vanilla-y oakiness of this is redolent of burbon. It fills your palate.

Erin Go Bragh by Oakland Brewing Company **
I remember from Breastfest that Oakland Brewing Company was a bit mediocre. And so their Irish dry stout proved to be. A bit watery.

Citrus Vendetta IPA by Speakeasy Brewing ****1/2
Oh yes. This is our second favorite of the day. We had so many super hoppy IPAs (West Coast style I guess they call it) that they all kind of blended together after a while. So for this one to stand out took some real quality. What I look for in an West Coast IPA is intense, clean, aromatic hoppiness without too much bitterness, like sniffing fresh hop cones (which I’ve done since I do homebrewing). It should be almost floral. The body of the beer should be medium-light, without maltiness, and nothing harsh on the tongue or palate. This…was it. The genius touch was the addition of the orange peel, which is subtle enough to be undetectable unless one is cued (to me anyhoo). But it just adds that something something. Will have to taste again to determine whether it’s a true 5 star.

East Bay IPA by Ale Industries Brewing ****
I was a little worried that this would be bad because the logo looked kind of wonky and hand drawn, generally indicative of a new or unestablished outfit. But I was pleasantly surprised. A very solid West-Coast IPA. Hopped up but not bitter.

Jupiter IPA by Jupiter Brewpub ***1/2
And yes…yet another West Coast IPA. It’s a style I like, and it’s executed well here. I put it a step down from the East Bay IPA and a step up from the Ipax and probably on par or just beneath the Bug juice.

5things: 3 Apr 2012

Green Graffiti
Did you know if you blend some moss with buttermilk, and then paint it on a brick wall very precisely, you can make a stunning green graffiti? There are more examples of ‘green graffitis’ in the slide show, but the moss one is my fave.

Chocolate caramel tart
I can vouch for the deliciousness of this Chocolate tart, with chocolate pastry, caramel filling and ganache topping. People rave.

Gilian Michaels’ 30 Day Shred
In ironic proximity to the chocolate tart, I will recommend Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred, a fitness video nwgitahi04@amherst.edu very kindly shared with me. Both Gene and I did the easy version today, and to our surprise we were both sweaty in 20 minutes. I like it because…is only 20 minutes, but she packs in cardio, strength and a bit of abs. That’s a lot of variety. Also, Michaels explains the moves quite well and really keeps the energy up.

Yet another crafty thing I probably won’t do
But hey, it’s so clever and cute! Using chalkboard paint on mason jars to make reusable labels!

Yesterday’s Enterprise
I would like to endorse a classic episode Star Trek, TNG that Gene and I recently rediscovered as we work through all the TNG episodes on Netflix. In an alternate universe the Federation and the Klingon Empire are not allies…but at war, and the Klingons are winning. The production team did a stunning job of presenting an alternate version of the Enterprise as a Battleship…everything is familiar…but wrong. The amount of emotional resonance contained in this episode is amazing because we got to see characters we already know and love under completely novel conditions. I cheered when Denise Crosby’s character Tasha Yar was killed off early in the 2nd season. But her reprise of her role as a parallel universe Tasha was just touching and perfect.

5things: 2 Apr 2012

Tips for nomads
Travel tips are usually incredibly mundane. These are good because they obviously came from her personal experiences, are fun to read, and I’m pretty sure would come in handy for me one day. One thing I am in absolute agreement with her about…traveling alone is not lonely because it’s a great way to meet people.

White until proven black
Alana’s tweet was not the most offensive or nakedly racist of the bunch (that award could go to Cliff Kigar, who dropped the N-bomb, or to @GagasAlexander, who complained of “some ugly little girl with nappy…hair.”) but perhaps the most telling. “Awkward moment when Rue is some black girl and not the little blonde innocent girl you picture,” she wrote. She cc’ed a friend on the tweet, @EganMcCoy.

How overturning Obamacare could lead to Single Payer
I can only hope, as I watch the freakish Supreme Court proceedings (Broccoli broccoli broccoli). It pisses me off to have to defend the individual mandate. It was a Republican idea and it is inferior to the solution pretty much every affluent or semi-affluent country has figured out…single payer universal healthcare, or at least a strong public option in competition with
private care.

Marques Toliver — Deep in my heart
Ooh! This song gives me goosebumps the very first time I heard it. Oh and by the way, the Mahogony Session in general seem to be awesome. It’s a series of live recordings done exclusively for a music blog called The Mahogony Blog. The musicians tend to be acoustic, in nature, strong depth of field, so that everything around them is artistically blurry.

PVC pipe shoe rack
I want this shoe rack made out of sections of big PVC pipe stuck together It looks great, doesn’t seem hard to do, and is actually practical. In general, whynotdoityourself.tumblr.com seems like they have decent projects.

5things: 31 Mar 2012

8 Tracks
Stephen works at this start-up as a “Finance DJ” which is their way of saying accounting person, I guess. It looks interesting and I’ll probably sign up. You make music collections like you used to make mixed tapes. Then you find and favorite other mixes.

George H.W. Bush, a.k.a. “Rubbers”
Did you know that George H.W. Bush was so pro-family planning back in the day that he sent Planned Parenthood a glowing letter congratulating them on a new stamp commemorating Margaret Sanger? In fact, he was so obsessed with family planning, his nickname in congress was “Rubbers.”

Odesk was recommended to me as a good place to get surprisingly decent contractors for all sorts of skilled web stuff. It seems like they make the process very easy and very legit (taking care of tax forms and all). Definitely a service I’m keeping an eye on.

If Shakespeare wrote today’s music…
There are only two, which is not enough. Cee-lo Green’s “Fuck You” and Daft Punk’s “Around the World” reimagined in iambic pentameter.

Car that drives itself
It is amazing to see this self-driving car in action. I hate driving. I’m a terrible driver and if Google some how make this car happen for realsies, I will love it again.

A few things that are more likely than winning the Mega Millions
Being in a plane crash this year. Being killed by a vending machine. If you are a Floridian, being killed through contact with a venomous snake or lizard.

Chuck the Boxer welcomes soldier home
There is a whole bunch of youtube videos that is basically returning soldiers getting exuberantly welcomed home by their huge dogs going nuts after a long deployment. They’re like crack to me. The mixture of dogs, emotion and that slight reminder of mortality in the background (soldiers don’t always come home) gets me every time. This is a good example of the genre. The dog is big and exuberant. The soldier is hunky. And as always there is the off-screen female voice directing it all.

Healthcare isn’t broccoli
I haven’t the heart to go into the latest travails of Obamacare in the supreme court. So just read Paul Krugman. When people choose not to buy broccoli, they don’t make broccoli unavailable to those who want it. But when people don’t buy health insurance until they get sick — which is what happens in the absence of a mandate — the resulting worsening of the risk pool makes insurance more expensive, and often unaffordable, for those who remain. As a result, unregulated health insurance basically doesn’t work, and never has.

5Things: 28 Mar 2012

How can I not link to Inkling? I am cheering them on to disrupt the hell out of the textbook market, not just because Josh is nice but because carrying heavy-ass/expensive-ass/clunky-ass textbooks are a liability for everyone except textbook publishers.

No (paid) Apps for you!
One piece of app-related information I was able to share with Josh…not that it’s all that useful. Google has suspended Android Marketplace in Taiwan because of a disagreement with the Taipei City Government over the return period of apps. This seems like a lose-lose-lose to everyone concerned and I do know Taiwanese friends who are not buying android phones because of this situation.

Minimum Viable Product
The idea is…deploy first, code later. In the meantime, record how much interest there is in your product and shape it accordingly. Basically, do it before you get it done. Another one I have to think on for a bit and absorb.

Things that seem normal when you live alone
Hilarious. True. And more relevant than ever as more Americans live forever alooooone. Also, girl farts on camera while doing a rendition of “Jeremiah was a Bullfrog”.

Saw this on George Takei’s FB profile. I didn’t get it at all. Then suddenly, I DID!

5Things: 27 Mar 2012

Walking while black
The Trayvon Martin case wasn’t just about Trayvon Martin. His tragic story is resonant because many many many black people have experienced being perceived as suspect as a result of the color of their skin. Here’s the ‘walking while black’ stories of a female journalist. They’re pretty hilarious, which helps the horror of it all go down.

Bella’s mittens
kleahey03@planworld.edu and I are knitting these mittens from Ravelry. They look lovely. Anybody interested in a planworld knit-along? I’m knitting them in red so that people won’t think I’m deliberately knitting them to look like Bella from Twilight.

How to find a mentor
I’m at a point where I’m comfortable with networking among my peers, but the thought of approaching someone way ahead of the game still frightens me. And yet that is part of what successful people do. I love this video because this woman breaks down the process in a way that is very reassuring. Basically, grow a thicker skin because you get nothing if you don’t try; remember that successful people didn’t get where they are by being unresponsive, probably; be careful when asking favors to make it really count and finally remember one day it might be you who might be able to help your mentor in some way.

The cult of Done
I’m putting this on 5 things not as an endorsement, necessarily, but as a good description of the philosophy I find surrounding app development/start-ups. It’s one part liberating, one part intimidating and one part facile in a way I dislike. Hmm.

With FaceBook Friends like these…
A Taiwanese woman announces that she was going to kill herself on FaceBook. Then she does it by burning charcoal in her room. As she slowly perished from CO2 poisoning, she kept chatting with friends on facebook and even uploading pictures of the burning charcoal. This went on for about an hour. Then she died. Nobody picked up the phone to call the police. She’s the Kitty Genovese of our day.