Category Archives: Nostalgia

The Evolution of My Bed

So I finally moved into my new house, after much struggling for the past 2 weeks of moving, dealing with contractors, cleaning, etc. As I was assembling my bed, I just realized how fast I managed to make it. Thinking back, I vaguely recall all the times that I moved this old piece of junk…

1) I just got this bed the summer after my freshman year of college. I remember I didn’t really have much of a preference except I wanted something larger than the twin XL beds they made us sleep on in the dorms. At that time, I just moved to a place on Francisco (yeah, I bet even most Berkeley kids won’t know where that is – it was pretty far) and had IKEA ship it me. The day when i got it, it was an all out furniture build-fest. I remember this bed being particularly difficult due to the retarded design of how to affix it to the headboard. It took David, Danny and me a good 1.5 hours filled with colorful curses before we got it down. Finally, a bigger bed.

2) Sophomore year passed by like a blur and it was time to move out. I joined the SLC that year and met someone who actually lived close to me, Ran. After bumming at his place watching basketball with his roommates a couple of times, he agreed to help me move at the end of the school year. Now this was truly the most hilarious move ever. Kevin, my future roommate, decided to come help out. We got so tired of moving things up and down the stairs (I used to live on the 3rd floor) that Ran suggested we toss my foam mattress down from the 3rd floor and he would catch it. Needless to say, we threw it. He did not catch it, I don’t think he even tried. As for the bed, we decided to move it down as is, with the headboard removed. This beast scratched that staircase pretty badly, leaving black marks everywhere. Probably should’ve taken it apart.

3) After sleeping on it for 2 more years (and surviving a room change between me and Kevin), I found a job up in Vallejo and had to take it up north. Lawrence’s dad helped me move all my junk up there via van into the new house. At that time, it was pretty exciting. The house seemed big enough to actually do something in and I was gonna spend some time chilling with Lawrence while doing some actuarial work. Didn’t quite work out though as Lawrence decided to continue bumming around Berkeley (LOL) and I moved into the house in the back. I did manage to get some actuarial work experience, but it was in pension. Dark, dark days.

4) Then, due to a miraculous twist of luck, I got a job offer from AAA (they called me about applying one random morning at 9AM – I’m pretty sure I ended that conversation with “good night”). So lo and behold, I borrowed my boss’s minivan and moved my bed and other larger stuff down to Walnut Creek. This move took me 5 trips with my small camry, but it was pretty relaxing figuring I didn’t try to do everything at once. Life was getting better!

5) Finally, I am at where I am now. After one exciting year at AAA, I decided to buy a house in Concord and stay for the long haul. I saw the opportunity and the appeal, why not stay for the ride? So after battling through studying for exams, getting a contractor to repaint and refinish my floors, I finally moved my bed in (one of the last things I moved from my old apartment – since I needed a place to sleep). Now what originally took 3 guys 1.5 hours to build, took me a measely 5 minutes to finish. What a journey it has been. Throughout college, through multiple moves, I’ve always had to rebuild this bed. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, but I seriously need a new bed.

Good Company Culture

If you’ve ever been to any of the infosessions I’ve held on behalf of AAA, you’ll know that one of the things I emphasize most about AAA is its awesome company culture. Some examples that I give include the trust managers give to you in terms of projects, the study dinner and study program that brings all the actuaries together on Mondays and Wednesdays, the Tuesday/Thursday basketball “meetings”, Poker Nights, Game Nights, etc. A lot of that makes us sound like the Google of insurance companies – and in many cases, we are (except the market share, haha). But when you boil that down, all that really consists of is just time for fun and games. That’s something that should be consistent across all companies with a younger workforce (which, as I’ve learned, is actually pretty difficult to find in the insurance sector). But to me and my short 1+ year tenure, AAA is something different, its something that transcends that – I have just never been able to formulate exactly what and have always chocked it up to the infamous “Honeymoon phase”. Well, last Friday, I had my epiphany.

So maybe some background on the situation.

Around 3 weeks ago, in our Quarterly Actuarial communications meeting, our head actuary told us that the Research manager, James, would be leaving us in 2 weeks. From what he described, the issue was more personal related as opposed to company related – which implies negotiation is probably out of the question. To most of the actuaries in the room, 80% of who (including me) have been directly a product of the expansion of the actuarial department, this came in complete shock. For the whole last year, we’ve seen more and more people join the department, seen more and more events to accommodate the growing population, it seems almost inconceivable that people would be leaving right in the midst of that. I still remember, after the head actuary announced this news, the whole room was silent. Now, for those who know me, I’ve never really been bothered by silence in my life. People have always used the phrase “awkward silence” to describe situations, but I really have never felt that. I have never felt the urge to fill any sort of silence with meaningless chatter or random jokes. But this was different – this silence was deafening. I couldn’t handle it. So being the inconsiderate prick that I sometimes am, I asked the head actuary “What is your timeline in filling the position?” I think I regretted that question as soon as it left my mouth. Interestingly enough, while my question sought a professional response, the head actuary did not give me one. He said that he was still in shock and would like to get to the bottom of the situation and he began recounting some of the feats that James had accomplished while he was with us. From the head actuary’s words you can tell – he was in emotional denial and James, in many cases, is irreplaceable.

Coming out of the meeting, it was evident that the shock was only just dissipating. The usual random chatter that would fill the first floor as we left these large meetings wasn’t at its normal decibel. I went through the rest of the day with a heavy heart and it was quite strange. To be honest, I have not really interacted much with James during my tenure at AAA. He was in a lot of my meetings earlier in the year, but didn’t say much. I went to Berkeley with him during a career fair during the Fall of 2011, but, while I got to know James a lot better during that trip, I wouldn’t consider it as something that would make me react this way to the news. James really was your typical quirky, super intelligent, yet not extremely outgoing individual. He was always smiley, always polite, but never said much.

Now fast forward two weeks to last Friday. After successfully dodging the elephant in the room during our goodbye lunch to James, it was finally the time for James to leave AAA. After receiving the final goodbye email from James, telling us all to keep in touch and thanking us for our companionship, I tried my best to summarize my sentiments:


It will be tough to see you go.

Best of luck to you and all your future endeavors.”

I don’t know if he read it, I don’t know if he even got a chance to. But before you know it, he was passing by my cube on his way to the elevators. With the head actuary accompanying him out, James smiled and waved – “Goodbye Alen.” And really, it was at that moment that I finally realized what good company culture really meant.

Any company can segment days out for fun and create game days, basketball days, poker nights and call it team building. But really, only companies with a good company culture can “team build.” The perks are only there as a mask to attract those seeking it. In fact, “company” culture doesn’t have anything to do with a company’s policy. The real “company” culture lies in the quality of its employees. Sure you can have all the game days in the world, but what use is it if there are consistently people thinking they have better things to do or people who just can’t get along with others? The attraction that AAA has to me is not about all the time we have to hang out, to go to happy hours, to play games – its about mutual respect. The terrific company culture comes from the hiring of people who are just excellent, upstanding individuals (note: there is a subtle difference between this and people who are quantitatively strong – which has been and continues to be a typical hire for most companies) . Then, when you mix in all the fun and all the parties, your coworkers no longer are just coworkers – they’re like family (cliche, I know). The real reason why I was so sad to see James go is not because I had some deep spiritual connection with him – it was because deep down I knew, that at the next event when I turn around expecting to see James smiling at one of my dumb jokes about credibility or statistics, I won’t see him. There will be a missing cog in the team, an absent member in the family. And that, my friends, is always sad.

With that being said, you can take it as a plug for AAA, or maybe just as evidence to my over-sentimentality – either way, I’m pretty fucking happy to be here.

What it means to be young and fucking hilarious

Reblogged from Andrew Lee, 9/25/2006

College is convenient. Unless youre not in the same building. Then stuff like this happens:

blagoonga 123: ask gong
blagoonga 123: he’s the nerd here
the REAL AnTyMaN: ok
the REAL AnTyMaN: lemme AIM him
blagoonga 123: okay
blagoonga 123: yay
the REAL AnTyMaN: A1en Gongst3r: fart in a can and then put a plunger through it
the REAL AnTyMaN: punch him for me

blagoonga 123: i have to punch you for anthony
blagoonga 123: but i’m not in your room
blagoonga 123: so i’ll ask allent o do it
A1en Gongst3r: okay

blagoonga 123: hey
blagoonga 123:
the REAL AnTyMaN: A1en Gongst3r: fart in a can and then put a plunger through it
the REAL AnTyMaN: punch him for me
blagoonga 123:
blagoonga 123: i have to punch you for anthony
blagoonga 123: but i’m not in your room
blagoonga 123: so i’ll ask allent o do it
A1en Gongst3r: okay
blagoonga 123: punch gong for me and anthony
ut0psych0: aahh
ut0psych0: and for alen apparently
ut0psych0: A1en Gongst3r: allen, punch me for anthony

Yaaaaaay, but wait it gets more complicated!

blagoonga 123: NHK ni yokoso
blagoonga 123: tight anime right thur
the REAL AnTyMaN: haha
blagoonga 123: omg
blagoonga 123: punch me for saying thur

the REAL AnTyMaN: gong thought i said it
the REAL AnTyMaN: so he came ot punch me
the REAL AnTyMaN: A1en Gongst3r: ut0psych0: the REAL AnTyMaN: blagoonga 123: punch me for saying thur

A better question, is why the hell did I suggest to fart in a can?

I think we made a breakthrough…

me: oh wow

ray allen has OCD
Andrew: lol really?
i wonder if he has to do a ritual if he misses a 3
me: LOL
Andrew: every time he misses he has to dance or osme shit
me: he stabs paul pierce in the back
me: he saves it up
until he gets 7
Andrew: and then stabs him 7 times LOL
Andrew: i guess you can say he was pierced lololol

6 AM

So I went running this morning to the Xiang River and I have got to say, my hometown looks a lot nicer 6 AM in the morning.

Its not so much that all of a sudden the pollution went away and the sun was shining brightly through, but more of a “wow, there aren’t a bajillion people on the streets.” There were some middle aged people up for early morning exercises, some high school students going to school early for all the prep classes they have to take, and that was about it. It even surprised me how nice and orderly the pedestrian shopping center looked.

I don’t know, maybe I’m still bitter from having to squeeze out of an elevator when I came back a few summers ago.