• Remember when we used to read each other’s individual blogs? I miss that.

  • Looking back on 2018

    Something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately is how for all the (terrible) posting I do online, I still consider myself a relatively private person. Knowing where I went to high school and when I graduated isn’t going to help you figure out my passwords or security question answers anyway, but I don’t mean that kind of privacy. Specifically, I avoid sharing anything that I feel could be weaponized against me and/or my family. Things like my hopes and dreams, my kids’ faces and names, the ins and outs of my relationships with friends and family. Which means I think you’ll find all of one annual introspection post from me from several years ago – I love reading them from other people and celebrating their accomplishments with them across the internet, but I generally don’t share back.

    2018 was a big year for me though, and really what I’m doing right now is writing a post so that I can unpack it all for myself before deciding whether I’m comfortable sharing about it. Here we go.

  • What’s in my laptop bag, 2018 edition

    What’s in my laptop bag, 2018 edition

    Back with an update to my unapologetically-feminine tech-oriented “what’s in my bag” post. The laptop itself hasn’t changed, but the bag definitely has! All together, this weighs about 12 pounds. Previously, from May 2016.

    1. Senreve Maestra bag in blush: Kicking it off with my most major upgrade from my last post is this gorgeous leather convertible satchel. What makes it convertible? Well, the straps can be pulled through the hardware loops to go from a shoulder/crossbody bag to a backpack. It’s pretty pricey (even pre-loved, which is how I got mine), I’m not gonna lie, but if you’re like me and you like your things to be both extremely functional and look a certain way, it’s one of the very few options we have. The materials are sturdy but luxe. I don’t really know what else compares to this bag out there – aesthetically it kinda makes me think of the Céline mini belt bag, although much more functional and not $2,500.
    2. Rose gold MacBook 12″ with marble decal and color-matched rose gold keyboard cover: Some days I can feel this little 2.5 year old machine start to drag but the portability still has me hooked. I recently put on a marble decal to tone down the amount of rose gold/blush in my kit and also because I just like the way it looks. Meanwhile, the keyboard caps are starting to wear out and also the keyboard just kinda sucks anyway so I put a cover on it. It looks okay. I have to talk myself out of going to check out the new MacBook Air.
    3. Laptop sleeve: This was a random Amazon find and I have yet to see a laptop sleeve I like better. I actually really like the feature to fold the flap and use it to prop up your laptop for ventilation and a better typing angle.
    4. iPad Pro 10.5″: This is such a nice device. I don’t want to know if the new 11″ is better, I’m not upgrading 🙂 I can actually get away with doing a lot of my work on the iPad, like Slack-ing, writing docs, and doing code review. It’s also wonderful for sketching out thoughts and way easier to port around the house or take with me on day trips just in case something comes up.
    5. Apple Pencil with magnetic sleeve and cap holder: I love this device and the accessories are super helpful IMO – the cap holder keeps that tiny little cap from getting lost, and the magnetic sleeve holds it in place on the edge of the case/iPad and further prevents the thing from rolling everywhere. I also find it more comfortable to write with.
    6. Planner: This is the closest I’ve found to a layout that works for the way I work through things, short of making my own which I don’t want to do. I repurpose some of the sections as I need, although maybe it wouldn’t hurt for me to do some gratitude practice.
    7. Small unlined notebook
    8. Anker PowerCore+ 20100 USB-A+C battery pack: Crucial for charging while on the move. This one holds enough juice for a bunch of phone and iPad charges and is enough to keep my laptop running, if not charging during use.
    9. USB-A+C wall adapter: Why is it so hard to find a good high-speed USB-C and USB-A wall adapter without extra cords? I have no idea if this one is really made well or anything but my MacBook reports an very fast charge when using it and it’s nice and compact.
    10. Presentation remote: Simple but it requires a USB dongle so I should probably upgrade this to Bluetooth at some point. I don’t really walk around when I present so it’s not critical for me. I’m pretty sure Nacin had it in his possession for two years and returned it to me by sneaking it onto my home desk.
    11. Satechi USB-C hub: It’s rose gold! But also it works fine. I don’t use it very often. At my desk I have a USB-C monitor with USB ports on the back, and when I’m out and about I only really use this for presenting over HDMI.
    12. USB-C cable: I am pretty sure this is the one that came with the battery pack. Don’t think it carries data.
    13. Lightning cable
    14. Kindle Paperwhite with case: I love books and I love this case because it folds up so it can stand on its own, perfect for my favorite time to read: while eating alone. When you have small children, eating leisurely by yourself is a huge treat.
    15. Chocolate: I always need chocolate when I’m traveling, which is what I’m usually doing when I actually carry this bag. Right now I am really enjoying these dark chocolate + hazelnut bars I picked up at the grocery store, but Ritter is typically my go-to. Or if I’m in the mood for extra sugar, 100 Grand bars.
    16. Bag organizer: The last one I had was great and not all that dissimilar, but this one is definitely an upgrade. Most of the small items besides my wallets go in here (see picture at end of post), and it has a bottle holder. It also happens to match the inside of my bag very closely 🙂
    17. Pouch: I change this up sometimes, pictured is something I got from a family member so if you’re looking at it wondering “is it really…?”, no it is probably not (if you know, you know). Anyway, this is bags-in-bags-in-bags level because being organized soothes me. I like this one because it’s just the right size for more pens, but sometimes there are also pouches holding makeup or other random objects I need for that particular outing.
    18. Card cases: The black one is a slim one that I keep my main cards and a few bills in, and the orange one holds other cards that I don’t need to carry around with me for most daily activities.
    19. USB to lightning/micro-USB mini cable: I picked this up randomly at a Container Store (my happy place). I have yet to actually try it but it seems handy!
    20. USB flash drive: Sneakernet, still a handy thing.
    21. USB-C to USB-A adapter: For when a hub is overkill. This one seems to work well.
    22. 10up enameled pin: For subtle brand exposure.
    23. AirPods with case: I know it’s been said a million times now but seriously, AirPods are a magical product. I keep mine in a case because a) my spouse also has a pair and b) it adds enough grip that it stops falling out of pockets inside my bags. This case happens to glow in the dark but I don’t think I’ve ever actually needed that part. Electrical tape also makes for a cool-looking DIY grip.
    24. Regular EarPods with 3.5mm plug: For my computer, for calls or needing to listen to something in a noisy environment.
    25. Screen cleaning cloth: I absolutely cannot stand having a dirty screen.
    26. Rose gold lanyard/necklace: I got kind of annoyed at the clashing of the WordCamp blue lanyard with an outfit I was wearing and searched for “rose gold lanyard” on Amazon. I was not disappointed. Looking forward to wearing this one instead.
    27. No-slip grip hair ties: Still the only hair ties that actually stay in my hair.
    28. Bandaids: I haven’t had any shoe break in issues in a while (possibly because I spend more on them now…) but I’m a mom and I can be clumsy so they stay in my bag.
    29. Lactaid: I am even less tolerant of lactose now so there are at least two stuck inside every single bag and wallet I own. I tried a generic lactase pill for a while and it didn’t work at all, so brand loyalty it is.
    30. Compact mirror: Honestly I probably use my phone camera more for quick check ups myself but you never know when a mirror might come in handy.
    31. Mints: This is usually whatever mints I picked up at an airport or grocery store recently. Right now it’s a tin of mints from the Café Britt shop.
    32. Fresh Sugar lip balms: I carry minis of both the regular (clear) and a sheer rose tint which is very flattering. This links to a set of 6 different mini balms, which is my preferred size for my bag, but the full size ones are available alone.
    33. L’Occitane hand lotion: Love the Cherry Blossom scent, which conveniently comes in a mini.
    34. Pens and pencil: Two years later, I am still obsessed with MUJI gel pens. I usually have a black one in 0.5m, a colored one in 0.38mm, and another black one in 0.38mm tucked into the spiral of my planner. The pencil is a typical 0.7mm BIC mechanical pencil, based on its translucent glitter body I think it’s from a bulk box I bought more than 10 years ago. I haven’t yet taken to a fancy pencil, but maybe someday.
    35. 9oz Swell water bottle: I like this size for my bag, although I also have a larger size (read: taller) 10up-branded one at my desk. This particular one is the Teal Wood color. I don’t remember how I acquired it, probably one of those fancy sample boxes.
    A look at my bag with everything packed inside
  • Making changes to a GitHub PR branch on a fork

    A while back, GitHub added a setting for contributors to allow maintainers of a repo to push changes to a pull request branch of their fork. I've been doing a lot more work in GitHub recently and figured I'd document my Git process for handling pull requests where you just want to close up a couple small things in a given time frame and/or the originator isn't very responsive. IMO this makes it much easier to retain the commit history giving credit to the other person but still move existing PRs forward.

    The essence of my process is to add their fork as a remote, switch to that branch, do stuff and commit, and then push to it. It's not really a whole lot, but I've found that very specific snippets come in very handy, even if they're short and straight-forward. I also don't like the instructions GitHub gives for making changes to a fork's branch. So, that gives us (using a real recent example):

    git remote add KZeni git@github.com:KZeni/admin-color-schemer.git
    git fetch KZeni
    git checkout –track KZeni/patch-1
    git commit
    git push KZeni patch-1

    If you use hub (I don't), I believe you can skip the first command as fetch will add the remote for you if it's not recognized. There's also the popular Git Extras, which has a pr command, but from what I've tested it doesn't use the actual remote branch the PR originates from even if you specify the remote, but rather the pulls/### branch GitHub makes for you. If you use (or decide to write) a Git helper that does the remote adding/fetching/checkout for you (e.g. git pr KZeni/patch-1 or even making it so that git pr ### could detect the remote fork and branch for that PR), let me know!

  • Presenting: An ABC’s Totally Not-Traditional Lazy Double-Cooked Pork

    Presenting: An ABC’s Totally Not-Traditional Lazy Double-Cooked Pork

    An ABC, if you’re not familiar with the term in this context, is an American-Born Chinese. I’m what you might call a Lapsed and Guiltily Trying to Atone ABC, something many of my peers will immediately understand. One of the areas I’m trying to improve is my cooking – I grew up eating mostly frozen food (hence the love for Pizza Rolls) and cream cheese sandwiches with my dad, so though he did cook a few dishes, I didn’t really learn how to cook much of anything until I was in grad school.

    This particular dish, a spin on the famous Sichuan double-cooked pork (回锅肉), was taught to me by my mother last year. She is not an ABC, but between being a simplified recipe, using relatively easily-sourced ingredients, and us being Shamghainese and not Sichuanese, I think it’s fair to call this an ABC take on double-cooked pork. Lao Gan Ma is a famous and pretty common brand of sauces – I’ve seen this fried chili in oil in regular old American supermarkets and on Amazon, although of course it’s cheapest at Asian supermarkets. I’m not sure what substitutes would be beyond making your own fried chili oil, but I assume there are some. I also use Taiwanese cabbage because it still has a little bit of crunch after being cooked down, but you can use regular cabbage, it will just lack some of that all-important textural contrast. It’s more traditional to use leeks or garlic greens along with some fermented sauces, so you can sub those in or also add them if you want – the cabbage and LGM fried chili oil is far easier to source and prep, though. I’m fortunate to live in a city with two Chinese supermarkets (Asian Food Market and 99 Ranch), but I still prefer to cook simply where I can. You may want to halve the recipe by prepping the pork belly up to the point of slicing it thinly and store half of it to cook later with the other half of the head of cabbage – the full recipe is unlikely to fit in most household pots.


    • 1.5-2 pounds pork belly with skin attached, cut into strips about 1.5 inches wide
    • 1 medium-sized head Taiwanese cabbage, roughly cut into 2- to 3-inch chunks and then leaves separated
    • 4 tablespoons Lao Gan Ma fried chili in oil (adjust to taste)
    • A generous handful of scallions cut into 2-inch chunks, both green and white parts (optional)


    1. Place pork belly strips in a pot, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil over high heat. Keep boiling until just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove pork and place on a plate or sheet pan until cool. Cover and refrigerate until firm, preferably overnight.
    2. Slice cold pork belly into thin slices. Heat some oil over high heat until smoking and stir fry the pork belly slices until starting to crisp (think: bacon). If, like me, you’re down with a little straight MSG, add it with the pork slices. Remove pork belly with a slotted spoon to a bowl and set aside.
    3. Return pot and remaining oil/rendered fat to heat. Add cabbage and stir fry until translucent and a little soft – you may need to add the cabbage in batches to fit. Once cooked, the cabbage will lose more than half its volume. Turn the heat down to medium.
    4. Add chili oil (with sediment and peanuts!) and return the pork slices to the pan. Add a splash of soy sauce and the scallions and stir fry until the cabbage is mostly soft with just a little bite and the chili oil permeates everything. Add salt to taste.
    5. Serve as a part of a many-dished family dinner or by itself over rice for a quick lunch. Leftovers can be reheated on the stovetop or in the microwave, but be careful not to overheat the pork. Freezing is not advised, as it will likely change the texture substantially.