March 4th, 2013
I wrote out my goals for the year in January but am just not getting around to posting them (can’t believe it is already March!). I tried to keep it to a smaller list this year to stay more focused on fewer goals:
- Redesign personal website
- $1000/mo in passive income from websites
- A2 level in German
- Visit 2 new countries
- Get rid of extra/unnecessary possessions
- Contribute to an open source project
Previous goals: 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007
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February 9th, 2013
Since I never got around to posting my goals for the year (or post much of anything to this blog), I decided to just write up a quick summary of my personal highlights of 2012:
- Defended my master thesis and graduated from ETH Zürich
- Co-authored 2 academic papers
- Developed and soft-launched two websites (functional but incomplete)
- Started a new job in analytics at KAYAK.com
- Ran 366 miles – including 38 miles in the last 4 days of the year (and never once on a treadmill!)
- Ran the SOLA relay race with ETH Runtime Systems group (Leg 3 – 6.2km), Greifenseelauf 10k, and the Zürcher Silvesterlauf 8.8k
- Swam across Lake Zurich in the Seeüberquerung
- Big trips:
- Visited 3 new countries – Indonesia (Bali), Lithuania, Chile (Patagonia)
- Travel stats:
- 12 trips to 12 countries
- 30 flights on 6 airlines (Air Asia, Jetstar, Lufthansa, Swiss, Turkish, United)
- 55,253 miles flown
- 114 days traveling or away from home (~30% of the year)
|Skiing in Chamonix (with Eric)
||TR, TH, VN, ID
|Provence (with my parents)
|Berlin & Leipzig (with Max and Denise)
|Chautauqua & Charleston & Wilfong wedding
||US (NY, WV, PA)
|Boston & Cape Cod (work/family reunion)
|Paris (with Mieke and Max)
|Zermatt (Xmas with my parents)
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January 13th, 2012
Final Count: 6/8
Graduate from ETH (finish my masters in computer science) – This was my main focus for the year. Although I technically did not finish in 2011, I am still going to give myself credit for this one because my thesis was turned in on January 4th, 2012 and the work was pretty much finished by the end of 2011. I finished about 2 months earlier than normal because I was able to start my thesis in the summer (before I even finished my exams from the Spring semester). In the end, the whole Masters program took less than 17 months (Sept ’10 – Jan ’12).
- Visit 1 new country – Although I still traveled a lot this year, we focused on exploring Switzerland and returning to our favorite places around Europe instead of visiting a new country.
Develop and launch an Android app – As part of an ETH project, Max and I ported XQuery to Android and developed a demo app to show it off. Although the app was not published in the Android app store, the source code for the app was publicly released so I think it still counts as a “launch”.
Develop and launch at least one new website – 1/2 credit for developing the majority of a new site that has not yet launched…
Maintain and improve minimotivation.com – Launched a new version of the site that includes permanent links and sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and StumbleUpon.
Maintain and improve DevCheatSheet.com – 1/2 credit for maintaining the site but did not make any significant improvements.
Weigh 210 lbs – Continued my healthy eating habits and was able to achieve my weight loss goal for the year.
Workout regularly all year-long (at least 2-3 times per week) – Running, cycling, basketball, soccer, weight lifting, and a little swimming
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August 14th, 2011
On Sunday, Emily and I ran in the Basler Bruggelauf (Basel Bridge Run). We recently decided to start training for a half marathon in the fall, and this was our first warm-up run. Neither of us had been to Basel yet, so the race was also a good excuse to visit a new city in Switzerland.
We ran the 6km Altstadtlauf (Old City Run), which went right through the center of town along the Rhine river. The course consisted of two laps around a 3km loop that spanned both sides of the river (that’s why it’s called the “bridge run”).
The weather was perfect for running: sunny and warm but not too hot. The run felt great and my time was was much faster than I had expected. I finished in under 29 minutes with a pace under 8 minutes per mile. (Emily also had a good run and finished 25th in the Women’s group).
Full results on datasport.com
||21st in Men’s group
Category: Health & Fitness
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July 4th, 2011
For Emily’s birthday last year, some of her friends from eBay gave her a voucher to MrAndMrsSmith.com. Mr & Mrs Smith is a website for boutique, luxury hotels around the world. We looked into using the voucher several times, but the hotels listed were always so expensive and extravagant that we always ended up finding a cheaper option and saving the voucher for a special occasion. But the day before the voucher expired, we had to finally use it so we decided to go to one of the few hotels listed in Switzerland, the Cambrian hotel in Adelboden.
Adelboden is a picturesque little village in the Alps that is best known for hosting one of the World Cup downhill ski races every year. Getting from Zurich to Adelboden took about 2.5 hours and involved 2 trains and a bus. The Cambrian hotel is a very nice design hotel that strikes a nice balance between modern and comfortable. The hotel also has a nice spa and a small pool with a great view.
We spend the first day relaxing around the hotel, taking full advantage of the pool and spa area. We had dinner at the hotel’s restaurant, which a friend had recommended to us, and it was very nice. The next day we checked out and went for a hike on the Hörnliweg trail. The trail began right near the hotel and took us on an easy 2-3 hour loop with great views the whole way.
This weekend was a nice chance to explore more of Switzerland and see yet another beautiful part of the country.
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June 20th, 2011
Now that Emily and I have been living in Zürich for 2 and half years (on and off), we have found a lot of great restaurants around the city. Here is a list of our favorites so far. Let me know if you know of any other great restaurants in Zurich we should try!
- Don Leone – Probably my favorite restaurant in Zürich, definitely my favorite pizza (pasta is also very good). Reservations are required. The location by Stauffacher is smaller and a more festive.
- Santa Lucia – My second favorite pizza in Zürich. Multiple locations all over town.
- Bodega Berta – A nice, local place near Idaplatz (Emily’s favorite platz)
- Restaurant Rosso - Great ambiance and good pizza. Make reservations early.
- Accademia del Gusto – A more upscale Italian restautant with very nice pastas (but small portions). Crowd is older and quite dressed up.
- Blokhus – A small place with a lot of character and great steak tartar (with truffle oil!)
- Raclette Stube – Best fondue in Zurich
- LaSalle – A slightly fancier place with great food. A good choice for celebrating special occasions.
- Zeughauskeller – Touristy, but good food
- Restaurant Eisenhof – House specialty is steak on a hot stone with pommes frites. The beef and horse filets are both nice. Thanks for the tip Christian & Bertrand!
- Kings Kurry – Best Indian in Zurich. Good lunch buffet for ~26 CHF
- Ah-Hua – Best Thai in Zurich
- Nooch – A casual Asian place with sushi and great stirfry noodle dishes (Beef & Zen is my favorite)
- Samurai – Very good Japanese restaurant. Good sushi for Emily, Japanese curry for me.
- Angkor – A great Asian restaurant with a huge menu near Emily’s office
- Bimi Japan-Restaurant – Another good sushi place with stuff that I can eat too (teriyaki, etc)
- Le Cedre – Great Lebanese mezze (small plates). Our standard order is hummus, baked cheese, artichoke, and a lamb kebab.
- Maison Blunt – Another good Lebanese mezze place
- Bohemia – Best brunch in town. Great when you want a big, American-style breakfast/brunch.
- Zum Guten Gluck – This cafe is a hidden gem. Good dutch pancakes.
- Bubbles – One of the only places in Zurich that sells bagels (that we’ve found). Pretty solid.
- Hiltl – Delicious, high-quality vegetarian food. They have a buffet or you can order from the menu.
- Cafe Conditorei Schober – Best hot chocolate I’ve ever had in my life. The interior is very cool/interesting also and changes drastically on every floor.
- Les Halles – A funky bar with great moules-frites (that’s mussels with french fries for you non-French speakers)
- Outback Lodge – Australian bar/restaurant. Mondays are all-you-can-eat wings and wedges for ~30 CHF, aka “Wedge Night”
- Churrascaria Rincao – I’m a sucker for churrascarias and this is the only one in town. All-you-can-eat meat for 50 CHF.
Category: Food, Travel
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June 2nd, 2011
Thursday was Ascension Day, which is a public holiday here in Switzerland. We decided to spend the day hiking in the beautiful Swiss countryside. We decided on this route in Appenzell around the Seealpsee and up the Ebenalp mountain. Emily and I managed to convince David Jaffe to join us on this “leisurely stroll”. Little did we know what we were getting into…
Instead of starting with the cable car and hiking downhill, we decided to do the reverse route which meant hiking all the way up and then taking the cable car down at the end. The beginning was mostly flat with a short climb up to the lake. It was a really beautiful area, an alpine lake in a valley surrounded by meadows full of cows. Sidenote: This is the area that is on the label of the Hell Quöllfrisch Appenzeller Bier label (pictured on right).
This was the easy/relaxing part of the hike; then we really started climbing. From the Seealpsee to Mesmer there is a steep path of switchbacks that crosses a stream twice and climbs over 500 meters in elevation. There was even still snow at the top. Once we got to the top, we stopped for lunch at the Berggasthaus Mesmer, where we ate some of the best rösti ever. It is really amazing to hike to the top of the mountain, in the middle of nowhere, and have a restaurant with delicious, warm, high-quality food waiting for you. Only in Switzerland!
After lunch, we thought that the hardest part of the hike was over. The elevation at Mesmer is 1613m and the final elevation at Ebenalp is 1644m so we (falsely) assumed that it was going to be flat the rest of the way. However, that was not the case. The trail was never flat as we climbed over and around two more mountain peaks. We climbed right into a thick layer of fog too, so we couldn’t really enjoy the view. The second half of the hike was much longer and more difficult than we had anticipated, but we eventually made it to Ebenalp and found the cable car station (which was actually quite challenging with all the fog). In the end, the hike took a little over 5 hours, and we were all quite ready for an Appenzeller beer on the train home.
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May 8th, 2011
Last weekend I ran in the SOLA relay race in Zürich as part of the ETH Systems Group team. The race has 14 segments and covers a total of 115 km. The relay begins in Bucheggplatz, does a big loop around the whole city of Zürich, and then finishes in Irchel.
I ran Stage 9, an 11.3 km stretch from Fluntern to Forch that was slightly uphill. Each stage has a different length and mine was the fourth longest of the relay. I hadn’t been training very much since I was still recovering from some old injuries, so 11 kilometers seemed like a very long distance and I wasn’t sure how it would go. But I felt great on race day and ran much faster than expected. In fact, because it is a relay race, we had to tell our teammates our estimated time so they knew when to arrive to start the next stage; I estimated 1 hour 20 minutes but finished in just over 1 hour. My estimate was off by 20 minutes! Luckily, the next runner, Tamineh, was there early so it worked out ok… although she was very surprised to see me and might not have been fully prepared to start quite yet.
Overall, the race was a lot of fun and I’m really glad I got a chance to participate in it. It was a good excuse to explore more of the city and make some new friends.
||Rank (out of 825)
Results online (Team #115)
Category: Health & Fitness
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April 12th, 2011
This was our big trip for the year. We booked our tickets all the way back in January! Ok, that was just a few months ago, but that is pretty impressive planning for us since we are now accustomed to more spontaneous, last-minute travel. Anyway, we were super excited and counting down the days to meet my parents for a proper beach vacation in Mexico.
New York City
We managed to get a quick one-night stopover in NYC on the way out to Cabo. It had been awhile since either of us had been to the Big Apple so it was nice to get to catch up with some old friends, even if we were only there for 18 hours. Jonny G was nice enough to take the day off work, pick us up at the airport in Newark, and let us crash at his place (Thanks Jonny and Chris!). We also fit in an amazing dinner at Frank with Jonny, Chris, Nied, and the Chappells. Try the burrata, trust me.
From NYC, we flew to San Jose del Cabo where my parents picked us up at the airport. My parents have had a timeshare in Cabo for around 10 years now. I had been there once before with them, and Emily had been to Cabo once before also on a trip with some of her VT friends. So we both were familiar with the area and looking forward to a week of perfect weather at the beach.
We stayed at the Dreams Resort on the corridor between Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo. Every day started with fruit and fresh squeezed orange juice on the patio, then the afternoon was spent relaxing on the beach or by the pool, and then we went out to fun and delicious dinners with my parents every night. It doesn’t get much better than that. Oh, and we also did some whale watching from the balcony and from the beach (we saw whales almost every day).
The two most memorable meals of the trip were when we got away from the tourists and ate with the locals. The first was authentic carnitas at Los Michoacanos. The second was dinner at Mariscos “El Jarocho” on a dirt road north of Cabo San Lucas. My parents had somehow discovered this hidden jem on one of their previous trips to Cabo. We made a reservation for Mariscos “El Jarocho”, and when we arrived the hostess and chef were waiting to greet us. We were also the only people there; it was like we had rented out the whole restaurant. The highlight of the meal, other than the personalized service, was the delicious shrimp. After dinner, we took pictures with the staff and promised to distribute some business cards for them at our hotel to help them out.
Thanks again Mom and Dad! We had an amazing time. Hope we can make an annual tradition of this!
On the way back from Cabo to Zurich, we planned another stopover in Washington DC for Eric Wilfong’s 30th birthday bash. We stayed there for the weekend with Eric, Emily, and Winnie. We had a great time and were excited that it worked out to be there to celebrate with Eric. It was also great to catch up with a lot of other friends in DC while we were there too.
I should also mention that this wasn’t the official spring break for ETH. But the good news is even though I missed a week of classes, I haven’t really fallen behind at all in my studies. SPRING BREAK!
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March 21st, 2011
Emily and I just spent an amazing and very relaxing weekend in Locarno. Even though we knew we were leaving for Cabo soon, we needed to get away for a couple days. We found a last-minute deal online and stayed at the Esplanade Hotel, a nice wellness hotel and spa in Minusio (walking distance to Lake Maggiore and Locarno).
It was our first time visiting Ticino, the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland, and we loved it. We had heard rumors about this little, hidden piece of paradise where it is always warm and sunny, even when it is cold and rainy in Zurich. We got a bit worried when our train went through a heavy snowstorm at the top of the Alps, but on the other side of the mountains, the sun came out and Ticino lived up to its reputation. They even have palm trees! Ticino is a bit of a cross between Italy and Switzerland – authentic Italian food (including risotto and gelato) plus Swiss punctuality! What’s not to love?
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