Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
May 8th, 2010
Emily and David Jaffe decided to have a joint birthday party this year. The theme was the 80′s and costumes were required. There were plenty of flourescent colors, Tom Selleck mustaches, leg warmers, side-ponytails, retro sunglasses, scrunchies, and pegged jeans. Oh and Back to the Future was playing on repeat on the TV. Good times.
More 80′s Party photos on Flickr
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January 6th, 2010
I am slow in posting this big news, but Emily and I are engaged! I proposed on December 16th when we were in Thailand on the island of Koh Phangan. Emily and I have been together for nearly six years, and I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with her.
Engagement pictures on Flickr
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December 7th, 2009
Emily and I had a bunch of our friends over on the Sunday after Thanksgiving for a traditional American feast. The menu: turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, green beans, and pumpkin muffins – plus Rich and Julia made a homemade lemon meringue pie for dessert.
It was a bit difficult to find all of the necessary ingredients in the Swiss grocery stores, but we managed to find just about everything. We bought the only turkey they had at the Coop near our apartment. It weighed a little over 8 kg, or about 18 pounds. And turkeys are quite expensive in Switzerland too; the price was CHF 120 but luckily happened to be 50% off. The other big challenge was that the ovens are very small in Switzerland. The turkey fit but it filled up the entire oven (it was on the lowest rack and the foil covering it touched the top). So we had to cook the muffins the day before, the stuffing after we took out the turkey, and everything else on the stove.
All of the food came out perfectly, if I may say so myself. Literally everything. The turkey was nice and juicy, Emily’s famous stuffing was delicious, the buttermilk mashed potatoes were a big hit, and even the gravy was great (even though Emily had never made it before).
The group ended up being 10 people including us. Everyone seemed to enjoy the food, but I think the biggest hit of the night was the turkey baster. Apparently turkey basters are exotic and fascinating in Europe, who knew? After dinner, everyone hung around our apartment and played Taboo. We all had a great time, and it was fun for Emily and I to be able to share this American holiday with some of our European friends.
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November 8th, 2009
I have been unemployed for over two and a half months now. The startup where I had been working for the last year was unable to secure its second round of funding (fell through at the last minute), so the company was forced to dissolve and now I am on my own. It was very unfortunate but completely out of my control, so “que sera sera”.
Some people ask me how I am “coping” with being unemployed, and the truth is that I am really enjoying myself. Luckily I had planned ahead and saved up some money so I can support myself for awhile without having to desperately grab the first job I find. I am trying to take full advantage of this opportunity and often find myself just as busy as when I had a job. It’s funny how when you have a job, you have plenty of money but lack the time to enjoy it, but when you have no job, you have plenty of time but lack the money to take advantage of it. I have been trying find the right balance between utilizing my time and trying to conserve my savings.
Here is what has been keeping me busy lately:
- Working on Personal Web Projects – I have been spending a lot of time learning Python and Django to create a new site to help developers find cheat sheets (I will write more about this soon). Over the past few years, I have accumulated lots of ideas for websites and have started to horde domain names for these projects. I think that being unemployed has finally given me the push I needed to start developing these ideas. I’m really excited about my new site and can’t wait to start working on some of my other ideas as well.
- Intensive German Course – I finally signed up for an intensive German class at Allegra! language school that meets 5 days a week for 2 hours each day. I just finished week 9 of the course (beginner level A1). I feel like I have made a lot of progress, although I am still very much in the beginner category. However, I definitely notice a difference already in being able to understand a little more of what people say and what signs mean, which is an important step in the transition to living abroad.
- Travel – After my crazy summer of traveling, I was ready to stay put in Zürich for awhile…but that didn’t last too long. In the past 2.5 months, I have been to the Black Forest, Prague, Munich, and Amsterdam. Plus I am currently in Berlin and have plans to go to Copenhagen and London later this week. Have I mentioned that I love to travel?
- Job Search – Looking for a job is basically a job itself. I have been working with a local company in Zürich, Spouse Career Centre, to help me prepare a Swiss-style version of my resume and to help me in my job search. Looking for a job actually does consume a lot of time between revising my resume, searching job listings, reviewing technical skills, preparing for interviews, and then attending the interviews themselves.
All that being said, I am looking forward to finding a job in Zürich. I have a few good leads so hopefully one of them will work out. But in the meantime if anyone knows a company that is looking for an English-speaking programmer/developer/software engineer in Zürich, let me know!
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October 3rd, 2009
I’ve always been a big fan of Picasa – it is a great, free application for organizing (and making small edits to) your photos. I especially like the ability to easily straighten, rotate, and crop pictures. And now it just got a whole lot better with facial recognition built-in to the latest version (finally!). This has been a web-only feature for Picasa Web Albums for awhile now, and I have been waiting for Google to integrate it into the desktop application too. Fortunately, the wait is over and it works very well.
Facial recognition is like magic. After it scans your entire photo library (which can take awhile), Picasa will ask you to identify the faces it has found. This is linked to your Gmail Contacts to make it easy to find people’s names. After this, it will start suggesting other pictures that it thinks are the same person, and I’d estimate that over 90% of the time it is correct. Even if the person is wearing a hat, making a funny face, turned to the side, or wearing a fake mustache, Picasa is usually able to identify the person correctly. Like I said, magic.
And the best part is that after you have gone through the minimal effort to label everyone, you instantly have a very well organized photo collection. You can easily find any picture with a particular person in it, or even a particular combination of people. Awesome.
Tricking Picasa with the “Tim Face”
So I went through a phase where I made the same face in just about every photo taken of me. I’m sure you’ve seen it before, it’s not particularly original – I just have my mouth wide open like I am really, really excited about something. (It was college. I didn’t know any better). Anyway, some of my friends started referring to this expression as the “Tim face” and often copied (i.e. mocked) me in their own photos. Apparently they must all do a really good impression of me because it was good enough to fool Picasa. That’s right, Picasa’s facial recognition assumed that anyone making the Tim face was me! See example below:
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September 8th, 2009
Today is the two year anniversary of the first post on this blog way back in 2007. It’s hard to believe I’ve been doing this for two full years already. I must be getting old.
As a special celebration, I’ve updated all of timothyrchurch.com to be valid HTML! (Yes, I know how to have a good time Go ahead, check it out:
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July 31st, 2009
I just got my first DSLR camera the other day, and I am very excited about it. Ever since Emily and I took our around-the-world trip, I have been getting more and more interested in photography. I had just been using the Canon point-and-shoot cameras, which I love and take great pictures, but I was ready to step it up to the next level.
After doing some research I narrowed it down to the Nikon D60 and the Canon XSi. In the end, I went with the one that was on sale. I got the Nikon D60 kit which included two VR lenses and a 16gb memory card among other things. I am just starting to learn how to use it, but so far I love the camera.
Look for improved photographs coming soon!
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May 3rd, 2009
I’m an uncle! Ok, that is old news but now I have finally met my baby nephew.
I spent the last five days in Seattle (well, Sammamish technically) with my brother and his wife and their baby boy. Lochlan Kemsley Church was born on February 6, 2009, which means he just turned twelve weeks old on Friday. He is a happy and healthy baby who really likes his Uncle Tim.
Welcome to the family, Loch!
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March 7th, 2009
Emily and I moved out of the hotel and into a temporary apartment on Thursday. We are enjoying having a little bit more space and being able to cook again! While the restaurants are good here, eating out every night was starting to get a little old (and expensive!). One of the things that I will miss most about San Francisco is the amazing food (and the prices). I thought I would write down some of my favorite restaurants in San Fran before I forget.
Best SF Restaurants
- Burma Superstar – Most Unique. I had never eaten Burmese food before (and I was slightly scared of it) but this place is amazing. Samusa soup, tea leaf salad, noodle dishes, curries, and amazing coconut rice. A must try when in San Fran.
- Q – Best Comfort Food. For some reason SF has an obsession with comfort food and Q is the best of the bunch. Good atmosphere and good food. Try the mac & cheese with tater tots!
- Darbar – Best Indian. Emily and I were regulars here. Everything on the menu is delicious and cheap. Great naan. Chicken makhani (butter chicken) and chicken tikka masala were always our go-to dishes.
- Neecha Thai – Best Thai. This one is more sentimental than for the actual food. Good local place with very friendly staff. Pad thai and massaman curry are all we ever ordered.
- Jake’s Steaks – Best cheesesteak. Whiz wit, the real deal.
- Mama’s on Washington Square – Best brunch. I love the crab eggs benedict.
- Gary Danko – Best meal. By far the most expensive place I ate in San Francisco (maybe ever). Only ate here once.
- Bobo’s Steakhouse – Best steak. I only ate here once and it was the last week I was living in San Fran. Second most expensive meal I had in SF. Get the bone-in filet, trust me.
- Myconos – Best Greek. We have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Myconos. Love the food, hate the service. But we keep coming back because the food is great.
- Okoze Sushi – Best Sushi. I don’t eat sushi (no raw fish for me, thanks), but Emily loves it. She is a bit of a sushi connoisseur and this is her favorite sushi restaurant in SF so I thought it deserved a spot on the list.
Best SF Taquerias
- La Taqueria – My favorite Mission spot. All the ingredients seem fresh and high quality. I go for the tacos here, not the burritos. Get a crispy taco with either carne asada or carnitas. You won’t regret it.
- Taqueria Cancun – Two locations. I frequented both. Great carne asada super burrito.
- Taqueria Papalote – Slightly more classy than the average taqueria. High quality food. Good burritos.
- Taqueria San Francisco – Only found out about this one right before I left town. Solid carne asada burritos.
- Rico Mex – I’ve only ever had the breakfast burritos here, and they are amazing. The eggs are cooked to order and it is only $3 for a chorizo and egg burrito. You can’t beat that.
Best SF Lunch Spots
- Muracci’s Japanese Curry – I had never heard of Japanese curry before this place, but now I am hooked. Delicious.
- Naan ‘n Curry – Great Indian buffet. Chicken tikka masala, tandoori chicken, vegetable curries, naan, fruit, soda….all for $10.
- Oasis Grill – Amazing chicken shwarma. To go only. On nice days, great to grab food here and eat outside in the plaza by the Ferry Building.
- Taylor’s Automatic Refresher – Best burger. A little expensive for lunch, but it is a good place to splurge. Try the Western Bacon Blue Ring burger and garlic fries. Especially good on nice days when you can eat outside.
- King of Thai Noodle – Great place to grab a quick, cheap Thai lunch.
- Escape from NY Pizza – Best pizza by the slice in SF. Big slices, cheap.
- Boudin Sourdough – Very SF. Clam chowder or chili in a sourdough bread-bowl. I like the O’Farrell St. location way better than the Market St location.
- Tara – Another good Thai restaurant. Way better than the nearby Osha Thai.
- Manhattan Hub – Good deli/sandwich place in the Financial District. Went here often.
- Chipotle – Ok, I know I’m not supposed to admit this, especially in SF where Mission burritos reign, but I love Chipotle. It was also the best place downtown to get a burrito (without walking down to Taqueria Cancun or getting on the BART).
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June 27th, 2008
I’ve been at the new job for 4 weeks now. I was coming from a small company (~30 people), but this is a different level. Right now there are just two of us, in a room with no windows (“The Dungeon”) that we are subletting from another company. We are right in the middle of their office, so we have to walk past their cubicles to get to our area. The location of the office is great, though; it is right in downtown San Fran, just 2 blocks away from my old office. But even though it is close in proximity, the work environment of a startup is definitely different, and I love it.
Today, the whole company went out to the movies for the premiere of WALL-E. Of course, this is much easier to do when the whole company is only 2 people, but still the spirit/mentality is much different than in a larger corporation. I had expected that theatre for a matinee would be pretty empty except for a few kids on summer vacation, but the place was pretty packed. And the best part was, we fit right in – I think the majority of people there were startup employees. Only in San Francisco…
Another benefit of the startup life is being able to work where you want when you want. Don’t have to worry about the usual corporate bulls*** like “face time”, all that matters is that you get your work done. A couple weeks ago, on one of those beautiful summer days that are so rare in San Francisco, I spent the afternoon working outside in Golden Gate Park. This was like a dream of mine come true. I love being outdoors and enjoying warm, sunny days, but on weekdays (ie work days) these days often go wasted while everyone piles into the office buildings with their air conditioning and artificial lighting. It was always seemed like a pipe dream to spend time outside on these gorgeous days, but now it has a become a reality for me.
While some people may think that this is unreasonable and leads to lower productivity, I actually believe the opposite. I think that if companies remove some of the unnecessary restrictions/rules and give employees more freedom to work when, where, and how they want to, then those employees will be happier and more productive. This is one of the themes of a book I recently read, The Seven-Day Weekend by Ricardo Semler, which I recommend.
Finally, while our office itself may not be very impressive, we do have some nice tech equipment. How do you make a developer happy? Easy, give him a brand new MacBook Pro laptop and a 30″ Monitor! Now, I have always been a Windows guy, so the Mac is a bit of an adjustment for me but it is definitely a very nice machine.
All in all, I am enjoying the startup experience so far and definitely learning alot.
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