Half Boiled Eggs Recipe
8 April 2024 | 12:00 am

Now that I live so far from home, I have to make my own half-boiled eggs. Half boiled eggs are not the same as soft boiled eggs: they come out of the shell almost in a liquid form, not in the shape of an egg that is starting to firm. So it's less cooked than a typical soft boiled egg.

Growing up in Singapore and Malaysia, this was a typical breakfast food. Half boiled eggs were really just vessels for soy sauce and white pepper. Eat them with kaya toast, with a large slab of butter (at least 1cm of butter).

There are lots of recipes for this online but here's what I do.

  • Bring a small pot of water to a rolling boil
  • Turn off the heat
  • Gently lower 2 medium-sized, fridge-cold eggs into the water
  • Cover
  • Leave it in the water for 7 min for medium sized eggs, add 1 min if you like it less runny

For larger eggs, try 8-9 min with fridge-cold eggs.

Use a spoon to crack all around the eggs, and then pour into a small cup. Use a spoon to scoop up anything left on the shell. Add as much or as little light soy sauce or white pepper as you like.


Launch of Public Sector AI
2 April 2024 | 12:00 am

I've been busy. Over the weekend, I launched:

The motivation for doing so is, I am noticing an increasing amount of YOLO and FOMO with regards to artificial intelligence. Government is at once trying to regulate, as well as to determine how to engage.

I'm hoping my perspectives as the director of product management at San Francisco Digital Services, the digital arm of the City and County of San Francisco, as well as my personal interest in the ethics of and latest developments in artificial intelligence, can help my fellow public servants around the world make sense of what's happening and how we can meet the moment. Or not.

Especially if your boss says, we need to use AI! Here are some questions to ask; here's what other people are doing, and what you need to know.

For now, I'm envisioning the site to be a resource on 'what you can do' / 'how you can think about' AI' and for the newsletter to be on 'state of AI / public sector' (there's a lot of news about AI now, and a lot of hype. Which ones are relevant to you).

Let me know if you have any thoughts, questions, feedback.

Bawling at Birdsong
19 March 2024 | 12:00 am

From a late night Mastodon thread about homesickness.

Two years before I moved to the United States, I wrote something called ‘things I will miss when I have to leave Southeast Asia (because I am queer)’. I predicted that I would be deeply homesick, not for Singapore specifically, but for the entire region.

Even though I was born in Singapore, I lived many years in Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

What I could not predict: that even watching videos of people in YouTube documentaries about Southeast Asia, the birdsong is enough to make me bawl.

I have such a deep affection for and attachment to that part of the world. The weather makes sense to me. The languages make sense to me. And oh my god I miss the food.

I’ve been lucky to have such a deep familiarity with so much of it. I went to a hippie run shop in SF the other day and they played ‘mor lam’ on their record player.

It instantly brought me back to long overnight bus rides through Thailand with my mother.

In San Francisco, there’s a neighborhood called the Tenderloin. Looking it up on the Internet will tell you it’s the worst place in the world; apparently a literal war zone.

I live there. There are Thai people, Lao people, Vietnamese people. I walk my dog in my batik pajamas and sandals, just like I would back home. There’s fresh galangal in the grocery store. Sometimes a Vietnamese uncle goes fishing and I’m invited to pick some fish, with other Vietnamese aunties.

Sometimes people ask me why I don’t live in a nicer neighborhood. But I struggle to think of how any neighborhood where I can’t buy fresh galangal, speak my languages, get free soy milk, buy the only tofu I find acceptably good, is possibly nicer in any conceivable way

But mostly I am afraid that if I move, my yearning for home will give way to a bigger hole in my soul. Leaving Southeast Asia is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.

My neighbors go to the food pantry every day. They don’t have money. They came here on a scary boat ride, all those decades ago. The trauma of war and that journey still haunts them in many visible ways. They also insist on giving me vegetables that they get from the food pantry. I tell them I am not poor and I feel bad about taking free food. They laugh and say, they just want to give me something. I am the only young person who still speaks to them in their language. They like that about me.

With the benefits of community also comes the downsides. My neighbors nag at me as though they are my relatives. Don’t order food. It’s expensive. Get a house in Hayward. It’s cheaper. I help them set alarms on their phones so they can wake up to get into a shuttle to go to a temple in San Jose for Tết. They are surprised that I don’t know many traditions, like being vegetarian on the 1st day of lunar new year.

I don’t know how to say, ‘my evangelical Christian upbringing robbed me of my cultural traditions’, in either Vietnamese or Teochew or Cantonese.

Every Vietnamese American old person who speaks to me asks me, ‘why did you come here? Isn’t your country better? Cleaner?’

I also don’t know how to say ‘my country doesn’t accept me because of who I love, so I am here’. In any of the languages that I know. Which is, quite a few.

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