Two week countdown, commence!

Exactly two weeks today until I leave for Europe! People keep on asking me if I’m excited, but I don’t think I am yet – even though it’s coming up quickly, I still feel like it’s a million years away. I’ve been planning this for so long that I can’t quite wrap my head around the fact that it’s almost here.

However, what I can wrap my head around is the fact that I am definitely feeling a time crunch. Classes are really starting to ramp up, and I’m starting to wilt a bit underneath the huge mountain of reading that I’m supposed to be doing – which is a different experience for me because normally I welcome reading as a break from my programming. It’s a bit odd not taking any computer science courses this semester. I almost feel like I’m missing a limb or something. I have this weird voice in the back of my head that keeps on whispering “Shannon, why aren’t you coding anything?”

The falling-behind situation isn’t helped by the million things I need to accomplish before I leave, such as getting to the bank, organizing my travel, the dreaded packing (something I am notoriously horrible at…) But I did get to take a break and go to Seattle this past weekend and visit one of my really good friends. I’ve been to Seattle often, but usually for a very specific reason – we’re passing through to the airport, we’re hitting up the outlets, whatever it is. Consequently, I’ve never actually done a lot of the “touristy” things so the combination of that and good company made it a lot of fun.

Chihuly Glass Museum

Seattle Space Needle

Down by the Olympic Garden

I think my favourite was the Space Needle – there was a bit of a line to get to the top, but the view was beautiful. I could’ve sat there and stared at the ocean all day (and in fact did spend quite a bit of time doing that). We also ate at some pretty good places, including a really cool place called Poppy. Dishes were served in platters called thalis, which consisted of seven small plates of different foods, so you were able to try a bunch of things. I think the best was the duck leg with peaches – I’m drooling slightly thinking about it.

I think that was my only break between now and when I’m sitting on the plane, though – I can just feel the whirlwind of things-to-do-before-I-go coming. Time to go tackle some medieval literature. Fourteen days!


Back from the dead

Er, so I may have taken an unanticipated hiatus. Sorry about that. Life got a little insane, I went a little more insane, and before you know it – poof! A month and a half goes by.

Well, no point bemoaning the inevitable. I’m back in school now, my internship being donecompletefinito and put behind me. I never have to think about statistics. Ever again. (Now that I’ve said that, the stats gods will come down and smite me with their wrath and I will discover that I actually have to take a missing stats course or something). Looking back, my summer was a good one – perhaps busy and stressful, but also one in which I made some good friends and learned a ton. It all works out in the end. Of course, it’s much easier to say this now than when I was working away at 2 AM, cursing my choice of major. Everything is nicer in retrospect. It has definitely been refreshing, though, to not be working full-time. I took a few weeks to relax a bit, see my friends and family, and just unwind before everything started up again. I went camping, I made some food, and I let the little workers in my head rest. Temporarily.

It seems weird to contemplate, but even though I’ve only been home for a few weeks, I’m already in the midst of organizing my next trip – this time to Italy! I am actually really excited for this, as I’ve been planning this for almost two years. I’m visiting Prague and Vienna for a few days each and then spending two months studying in Prato, which is located near Florence. We learn Italian, we read amazing things like Dante’s Inferno, and in general I get to immerse myself in literary geekdom for a while. It’s going to be fantastic. I’m a little apprehensive about travelling by myself in countries that speak another language, but I think it’ll be a really good experience. Plus, apparently there’s a hugeass castle in Prague that has my name written all over it. (Not literally. Though that’d also be pretty cool). I had my first Italian class today, where I learned how to tell people what my name is and how I’m feeling. Useful things to know, right? I can’t ask directions to the best pasta place, but I can tell people who I am.

I’m going in three and a half weeks, though, so there’s lots of preparation to do before then. I’ve been a bit conflicted – simultaneously extremely excited and rather melancholy as I’ve been travelling so much this year that it’s been stopping me from seeing the people I love. But now’s the time to do it, before I get chained to a desk for the rest of my life, and I’ll be better for it. Travel does so many things, but I honestly believe it opens up your mind, heart and soul, and gives you the capacity to appreciate what you have even more. It’s one of the best things in the world. I travel because I’m passionate about it, and I just have to trust that when I come home those who love me will still be there.

Visiting the land of overwhelming happiness

I am so tired, but it was so worth it. I spent this weekend in Disneyland with my family, being amazed at how absolutely cheerful it is and screaming my lungs off on various rides.

In line for Indiana Jones

I haven’t been to Disneyland since I was about six, so I didn’t remember too much of it (other than It’s a Small World, which I vividly recall forcing my parents to ride multiple times). I am still a small child at heart, however, so I had a great time. I loved how detailed everything was – I was so impressed with the amount of thought they put into everything, from the sets to the rides to the random small details of the park. I especially loved Toon Town (it just made me laugh) and the Pixar-themed sections of the park, because I am a huge Pixar fangirl. The rides were fantastic too, and actually suited me really well because they didn’t often involve a lot of spinning (which usually results in me wobbling away feeling extremely nauseous). My favourite was Space Mountain, which my sister and I rode three times. We would’ve gone more, but the line up started to get a little crazy.

There were some other really good rides too. The best rollercoaster was California Screaming, which shoots you upwards at some crazy speed. There was a cool interactive Toy Story ride, where you got to shoot 3D lasers at targets. Soaring over California was my mom’s favourite – it’s basically a huge Imax theatre where you feel like you’re flying over California. It’s so realistic that I was actually clinging onto my seat. I have terrible memories of the Tower of Terror (as a child I cowered the entire ride) but it was actually a lot more fun than I remember. I held hands with my sister and shrieked the entire way. Actually, in all honesty, I shrieked on most of them. It’s more fun that way.

It was also really nice to see my family. We had a delicious early-birthday dinner on Saturday at a tiny Italian hole in the wall – if you’re ever around Disneyland, go to Rufino’s. It’s amazing. I had the best fettuccine alfredo of my life. I think they tired me out, though, as we got up at 6:30 each morning to go to the park early. Not that I’m complaining – it was a great weekend and I can’t wait to come back home to my family in a few weeks. It’s been pretty busy over here, and I think I’m looking forwards to a break when I come home. This week should be fun, though – there’s a boat cruise on Thursday and my birthday on Friday, so I definitely have things to look forwards to.

ByteNight and Batman and other non-B adventures

I was supposed to get some work done today, but my computer has decided that today is a good day to throw a temper tantrum and refuse to connect to my linux desktop at work. My computer is like a child that I have to placate with kind words and loving pats in an effort to console it and make it work properly half of the time. Apparently my consoling hasn’t been up to par.

I haven’t been up to anything too crazy this week. I geeked out on Thursday night and went to an event called ByteNight at the Computer History Museum. I was a little disappointed because we were told food and drinks and the food was MIA (yes, I know, it was terrible), but the museum was kind of interesting. I feel like it was cool to go but I wouldn’t have paid money for it. It could’ve also been that I’d already been at work all day and wasn’t quite in a museum-going mood, but I saw some friends and had a good time overall. One thing I remembered, though, is how much I hate making small talk when I’m tired. It’s exhausting trying to think of interesting yet not invasive things to say to a stranger you met five minutes ago. There were a bunch of interns there and I met a few nice people, but I was a little relieved to escape away with my friends and wander through with people I already knew. Perhaps I’m just lazy.

I was going to have a quiet Friday night evening at home and do some work, but my internet decided to die completely so that was a bit of a fail. I managed to finish season 3 of Community instead, which was amazing. (But totally unproductive on my part). I also tried experiment two of cooking with polenta, and this one turned out to be much better. I like to think of it as pizza polenta, and it was ridiculously easy.

Pizza Polenta (for one)


  • Half a package of prepared polenta
  • Marinara sauce
  • Cheese
  • Meat of your choosing, chopped into small pieces – I used sausage, but this could easily be changed


  1. Cut the polenta into 1/2″ rounds. Lay them out on a baking pan (or in my case a casserole dish, because I don’t have a baking pan in this apartment).
  2. Spoon generous amounts of marinara sauce on top of each round, covering it fully. Sprinkle your meat on top.
  3. Add a layer of cheese – I like lots of cheese so I was pretty heavy handed with this.
  4. Bake in oven at 375 for about 25 minutes.

Yesterday I went to go see the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. I liked it, but I wasn’t too impressed with the character development of the bad guys. I spent a lot of the movie trying to figure out why the bad guy was so pissed off at the world, and what kind of fashion statement he was trying to make with his mask. It’s worth seeing, but I felt like that part could have been fleshed out more.

Today I made my customary trip to the farmers’ market, did some laundry, skyped my parents – nothing too exciting. I will leave you a picture of the tomatoes we saw this morning though. If a fruit can be beautiful these ones definitely were.


California fights back

On my time, that is. It’s been insanity over here – I feel like I haven’t stopped moving long enough to breathe lately, let alone blog. Let’s see, what’s been happening. It seems like so long ago already, but I had a really great fourth of July holiday: Google is awesome and gives us five days off, so my boyfriend came down to visit and we did fun touristy things. One of my favourite parts was the fireworks in SF on July 4th – they were beautiful! I love fireworks, and I’m sad that I miss the Celebration of Lights ones in Vancouver because I’m in California, so it was really nice to see some this summer. We also had a really cool experience when we went for breakfast the next day – we went to Dottie’s, which has amazing food but an even more incredible line, and ended up chatting and eventually having breakfast with the couple behind us. They were really nice people and it was really fun to randomly meet someone and like them enough to share a meal. The food was totally worth the line too, but I’m a foodie and might not have the most sound opinion on these types of matters. I also went to my friend’s place for a BBQ and made some amazing potato salad, so if you want a light tzatziki-like potato salad, I highly recommend making this one at smittenkitchen.

I went to go see Les Miz last night, and it was amazing. I didn’t know all of the music (only the biggies, like I Dreamed a Dream and On My Own) but the singers were really talented and the musical is excellent. It was so sad though! I cried twice. I feel like I’ll have to add the book to my infinitely growing reading list. We also went for dinner at a really random resturant located right smack in the middle of the Nordstroms in Westfield Mall in SF. It’s a little odd to go for dinner in the midst of a bunch of clothing, but we trusted Yelp and it turned out to be really good! I had sweet pea risotto with scallops.

Then today I did some interview prep at work (which made me realize how awful I am at interviews), hung out by the pool and cooked some dinner. I tried making polenta, which was really interesting. I’ve had it at work a couple of times now and I was intrigued, but I’m not sure the best way to make it – I’ve seen polenta all mushy and soft, and I’ve also seen it grilled and in a more solid form. I tried sautéing it and it turned out pretty well, so I’ll have to experiment a bit more. I think it’d be good with some kind of sauce, so I might try that.

I was fighting off a cold this past week and so I’ve been kind of walking the line between sickness and health. I think I’m finally veering towards the latter, though, which is good because I really can’t afford to be sick right now. If this is even possible, work is starting to ramp up – I’m realizing I only have five weeks to go, and the amount of things I need to accomplish is definitely still a long list. There will definitely be some late nights this week. I’ve just made plans for my birthday, though, and I’m going to Disneyland and seeing my sister and parents in two weeks, so there’s that to look forwards to!

And that’s when Shannon got consumed by work. Omnomnom.

And it’s only halfway through my internship!

Wow, it’s been an insane week. Sorry for being so MIA – I’ve been at the office until 9ish every night this week, and by the time I get home all I have the energy for is collapsing on the couch with some tv or my book. I kind of feel like I’m back in school, only with a lot more perks and free food. It was just a very busy week, though, so hopefully it’ll settle down. We get three days off next week for July 4th, and someone I miss very much is coming to visit me, so I’m just going to look forward to that. It did mean that I was in the office for most of my day today, but I’d rather work over the weekend than work over the holiday.

I had a crazy busy fun-filled weekend last week with one of my favourite SF events, which I didn’t get a chance to blog about earlier. Pride! Saturday was filled with dim sum, wandering around Fisherman’s Wharf, a mad dash to get to Ike’s Sandwiches before they closed (which, by the way, was totally worth it), and BRAVE! I’ve been so hyped to see that movie. I was literally doing excited dances around the movie theatre. It ended up being pretty good, though I think not my favourite Pixar – I still think Wall-E is brilliant. SF was extremely busy as well, which was to be expected. At one point we took a bus where I could not move a single part of my body because I was sandwiched in between so many people. I now know what a sardine feels like.

Sunday was the Pride parade, which was a lot of fun but extremely exhausting.

We marched with Google, which is always exciting, but since we were farther back in the parade we had to wait for ages to actually get going. It was a good hour and a half of just standing around, and our friends in Facebook were even farther back. By the time it was all over, we were so tired we headed back to my apartment in Sunnyvale and collapsed by the pool.

Anyways, this weekend has been pretty quiet – some shopping, stuffing my face at the Cheesecake Factory, and work today. Also, I always have to mention something food-related because I’m obsessed, so here it is: I got some wild boar sausage from the farmers market yesterday, and made it tonight for dinner with pasta and squash – SO DELICIOUS. I had a foodgasm. I’d post a recipe, but it was extremely simple. I pan-fried the sausage, cut up a yellow squash and sauteed it as well with coconut oil and some salt, added the pasta and some cheese and devoured it. The sausage fat was enough to give the pasta flavouring, so I didn’t need any pasta sauce – it was perfect.

Two more days until a rest!

Does climbing a mountain justify stuffing your face?

I think it does.

Well, it’s my last full day in Boulder. I have to say that I’ve throughly enjoyed this trip – Boulder turned out to be much more interesting than I anticipated, though I think I can also safely say that we’ve pretty much experienced every touristy thing this town has to offer in about a week. I think I might quickly get bored of living here (no offence to the Boulderites) but it’s been a fun visit.

We went for a really gorgeous hike on Sunday. The sun was testing its strength and sending down some 35 degree rays, but a combination of wind, altitude and waterfalls kept us cool on the trail up. We went to Roosevelt National Park and hiked the Hessie trailhead up to Lost Lake, which turned out to be much more of an uphill climb than we were expecting. It soon became very clear that we were climbing a mountain, but the scenery was amazing. I felt like I had wandered into the Sound of Music, and I kept expecting Julie Andrews to come trilling out from behind a nearby bush. My host was awesome and took a ton of photos, which meant I didn’t have to lug my camera and still have stuff to show for it!

The hike made me feel less lazy, though in fairness even if we were home I probably would have failed at going to the gym, given all the late evenings and early mornings we’ve been keeping. The food has been great though, which contributes to the whole feeling-lazy thing. We’ve had amazing French, Mediterranean, Nepalese…I commend Boulder on their eats. Nom. I’m going to tell myself that they’re all vacation calories, which are equivalent to birthday calories, sadness calories and post-and-pre-exam calories: they mean nothing. (You know, I really should be a skeleton with the amount of non-calories I consume).

“Going to Boulder? Is that a really special rock?”

That’s what my friend said to me right before I left. I mean, as cool as it would be spending a week cuddling up to some interestingly shaped rock, that’s not quite what I meant when I was telling her about this trip.

I’ve been in Boulder for a few days now (I’ll be here until mid next week) and we’ve been pretty busy cramming in both work and play. My time zone is kind of off, so I think I’m accumulating a bit of a sleep debt as I’ll go to bed late and then wake up early to go to the office, but it’s still been pretty fun. I like visiting new places, and Boulder has a very interesting vibe. It seems pretty small, and I kind of get the feeling that you could run out of things to do relatively quickly, but overall it’s very cute. The word that comes to mind is hipster, but in a good way.

We’ve been at the office for most of the weekdays (which has also been really interesting, because it’s so different from the main office back in California) but the weeknights we’ve been going out for dinner with the team here. So far, the food (which had to be mentioned, because I’m an obsessive) has been great. The lunches at the office are delicious, and when you’re having first world problems that consist of being too late to lunch to try the fried rattlesnake, you know life is too good to you. We’ve gone for Ethiopian, continental and pizza so far. Nomming is definitely occurring.

We’ve also explored the downtown area of Boulder, Pearl Street, quite a bit – it’s not too large so it’s easy to walk from one end to the other, but there’s lots of interesting little stores and restaurants along it. Tons of bars, but it’s a university town so that’s understandable. So far we’ve stopped at some bookstores, an art store or two, and a tea store. It’s interesting how the street changes depending on the time of day – for example, at night there’s lots of people wandering around going for dinner and such, but today during the day the amount of buskers and street performers was astounding. It was literally a different person every ten meters or so.

Boulder’s surrounded by mountains (hence the name, I suppose) so yesterday night we drove up to Chautauqua Park/Mountain/Area I can’t remember the name of and walked around a bit. The views at the top were gorgeous! My host took lots of pictures so I got to be lazy and just meander around.

Today we checked out a meadery and brewery and took tours of their facilities. I must say, it’s annoying not being 21 here, especially since I’m legal at home. It’s not that I have a raging urge to go out or anything, but I think I’ve gotten used to having the option and now it’s like someone took away the favourite toy I’ve had for two years. But the tours were cool – did you know that to make a dessert honey wine, they use 800 pounds of honey? That’s roughly seven Shannons. It’s ridiculous.

Why I love American grocery stores

I went grocery shopping this morning. Sounds like a pretty mundane, ordinary way to spend your Saturday morning, right? Not that fun? Wrong! (Or at least wrong if you’re anything like me).

During the school year at home, I’m not in charge of the groceries so I usually make do with whatever shows up in my fridge or cabinet. Admittedly, I don’t need too much food here because I eat my weekday dinners at Google, but weekends are a time for me to wander aimlessly through the aisles of Trader Joe’s and happily indulge in the illusion that it’s wise for me to fill up my fridge. When I’m talking about grocery shopping, though, I’m really talking about Trader Joe’s and Sprouts and Whole Foods – all of the kind of hippy places that we don’t have at home. Reasons I love these places include:

  • The variety of things you can get, including items that you wouldn’t normally think of. One of my favourite purchases from today was coconut oil, which made my squash DELICIOUS. Which also leads me to my second point:
  • It’s reasonably priced. I’m not saying we don’t have a lot of these foods at home, but they tend to be way more expensive. Case in point: Greek yogurt. I’m addicted to the stuff. At home there’s maybe one or two kinds that cost twice as much as normal yogurt, but here I’m confronted by shelves and shelves of cheap probiotic goodness.
  • It’s easy to find healthy options! I really do try to keep an eye on what I eat and not ingest too many heart-threatening things, and there’s always tons of options that let me feel better about what I’m eating and enjoy it at the same time.
  • Last, and this is kind of a silly reason, but the stores are pretty. Er. Yeah. I’m a girl, alright? The labels are all so cheery. I love it.

Anyways, I actually really enjoyed picking up food and my foray to the farmer’s market afterwards. It’s definitely a first world problem, but sometimes I wish I had more opportunities to cook.

I fit this all in my backpack and biked back. Be impressed.

I did make an amazing dinner for myself, though. My mom’s been advocating going wheat-free for a month now, and really pushing me to try it. (She read this book about how we’re all going to die because we eat wheat. Er, maybe not that extreme. But it’s something to do with how wheat is genetically modified and making us fat). She keeps on telling me how much better it’ll be for me, etc, etc. Anyways, I’m a little skeptical, but I’ve decided I’m going to give it a chance and cut out wheat from my diet. I’m not going to be uber strict: if I’m going out on the weekend and I order a bowl of pasta, it won’t be the end of the world. But in my everyday meals, I’ll be veering away from wheat and eating corn, quinoa, rice, that sort of thing. The hardest part will be bread, because it’s one of my favourite things. To try and stick to this rule, I bought quinoa linguine – and was amazed and happy when it tastes exactly like normal pasta! I also got to eat the squash I bought at the farmer’s market. Yum.

Squash and Salmon Pasta (serves 1)


  • Two small yellow squash (by small, I mean a couple of inches), cut into rounds
  • Coconut oil
  • Salt
  • 1 small pack of smoked salmon
  • Pasta of your choice (I used quinoa linguine)
  • Marinara sauce


  1. Set water to boil, add some salt, and cook pasta to al dente.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, add some coconut oil to a pan (probably about a tablespoon). Add squash and a sprinkle of salt. Saute until the squash is tender – about five minutes or so.
  3. Add marinara sauce, smoked salmon, and drained pasta to your squash. Stir them all together and inhale when it’s all piping hot and delicious.

My favourite part about this was the flavour of the coconut oil and how the smoked salmon added a hit of saltiness. So good.

I also got to try out a restaurant on Thursday called the Boiling Crab, where they basically plunk your food in a bag on the table and you eat with your hands. It’s all seafood – crab, shrimp, clams…it was absolutely delicious and absolutely cavelike.

Wow, this has been a very food-related post. Hope you’re all hungry now!

So You Think You Can Dance should be renamed “Feel awed and inadequate.”

Seriously. I’m a big So You Think You Can Dance fan, and I just finished watching their Atlanta auditions, and now I am sitting here thinking about how I was whining today about my legs being tired. These people are INSANE. They have muscles where I didn’t even know muscles existed! If I had a quarter of their muscle definition I’d consider myself ripped. (Shows how high my aspirations are, huh?) I am so amazed at some of the talent on the show, though – there are some people who really are extremely gifted (and have impossibly flexible legs that go on for about a million miles). I find it really interesting that SYTYCD Canada had one really amazing season, and then it flopped. We pretty much exhausted all of our dancers in one season. Big cheers for my giant country with a tiny population.

I’ve been really exhausted all day for some reason. I think I didn’t sleep that much on the weekend, and I’ve been pretty busy the last few days and it’s starting to catch up with me, so I’ll probably be passing out once I finish writing this. I had a pretty good weekend – I made dinner with my girls on Saturday night, which was nice, and Sunday I went to Santa Cruz with some of the other interns in my office. I forgot how busy of a beach it is, but it’s fun, though the boardwalk is super overpriced so we didn’t go on any of the rides.

This is only a few of them, but one of my favourite parts about Santa Cruz is the sea lions. There’s this part off the dock where there’s this huge crowd of them, and they just lie around and yelp at the people who come to gawk. They’re really loud, too – you can hear them all the way from the other end of the beach. It was a beautiful day though and I had a good time walking the beach, swimming and just generally hanging out. Any time I’m in the sun, I’m generally pretty happy.

I’m starting to get excited about my trip to Boulder next week – work is flying me out to the Google office there to work for a week! I’ve never been to that area, so I think it’ll be a really cool experience (really, it’s a vacation within a vacation, who am I kidding…) Tons of stuff to do before then, though, so it’s simultaneously exciting and stressful. I really am about to pass out, though, so it’s time for me to hit the sheets.