Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Hindsight is 2020

Top 10 things we learned in 2020*

*adapted from the AARP Bulletin

10. Our trust in one another is frayed, but it can be slowly restored.

If something sounds wrong, then verify the facts in multiple places. I got 3 scam phone calls from the Social "Secruity" office in one day alone. I was stunned by the attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 but tearfully celebrated the inauguration of Biden and Harris later that month. Pre-pandemic I attended anti-Trump rallies and wrote letters to promote voting for

9. Save for a rainy day.

Having a good cash savings fund took the stress off the near constrant threat of layoffs. In 2020 and 2019, I regretfully had to lay off a staff member. If possible, have an emergency fund of one full year of expenses.

8. Work, school, and social life can be anywhere.

With technology, I worked from home completely, Josh schooled from home, and we Zoomed with family, friends, church, and others. As a kid I loved the Jetsons and it's now true (well, except for flying saucers.)

7. Take care of yourself.

Whether you're a paramedic or parent of young kids, the stress has been enormous. Take care of yourself with meditation, exercise, diet, good sleep and sharing time (even remote) with friends.

6. The pandemic made us use technology and there's no going back.

We already did a lot online but for the first time, I ordered groceries on the computer. And finally more organizations trusted us to work from home.

5. Age is just a number.

If you're over 65 and healthy, you're more likely to survive COVID. If you're under 65 and have "underlying conditions," you may be in trouble if you catch it.

4. We can thrive without vacations and flying around the world.

Yeah, we're bummed that our vacation to Hawaii for an East-West conference (I'm an alum) and to visit Peter's extended family was cancelled. But we lowered our carbon footprint.

3. Race matters. And so does sex.

I always knew that race mattered, but I'm grateful that the conversation has expanded. One day I'll write a blog on why my last name is Chin-Lee and why my mother went to primary school at such a late age.

2. Family, blood and chosen, matters more than we knew.

Thank you to Peter, Vanessa, and Joshua. You all helped me keep my sanity.

1. There but for the grace of God go I.

Pray like hell! 😂 As I write this, I'm anxious about an upcoming biopsy for a lump seen on my annual mammogram. Sure, I'm grateful for my health, but I take it for granted as well as my education, financial security, and heterosexual, cisgender privilege.

Be more than an ally. Be an accomplice for those oppressed by poverty, war, sickness, race, gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

* * *

Over here in Half Moon Bay, CA, we’re doing as well as can be expected. I know we’re among the lucky ones with our ability to work and study from home.

Before the pandemic, I enjoyed a trip to exotic Pasadena, CA, where I met up with my jetsetting daughter Vanessa Pan (in LA for work). As an experiment, I took Megabus (cheap and fast) with no regrets. A trip to Los Angeles without a car? Yep. We used the subway and when needed took Lyft or Uber. Our favorite activity was visiting the Huntington Gardens and Museums.

Post pandemic, my former 4-day at home job became a 5-day at home job. My team was global so Zoom was already our best friend and now we commiserated over the restrictions and swapped stories on who got COVID and how. Many of my colleagues suffered with it as well as neighbors. Peter’s still sanitizing our groceries though I tend to think that’s overkill. When in public, we mask up and sometimes goggle up to protect the eyes. I’ve shared this blog on Facebook on how to avoid the risks of getting COVID.

You may have noticed I write about work in the past tense. On Feb. 5, 2021, I retired from Oracle as a senior manager of information development (tech pubs) with 4 different Zoom goodbyes. My generous coworkers sent a big chocolate cake to my home as well as party decorations and a large gift certificate to my favorite bookstore,

It was hard saying bye to all my warm, funny and gifted coworkers, but not too hard to give up 7 am PST meetings! I also got to leave with a bang as I lead a hackathon team (the Blind Moles) during my last few months. Our project won the People’s Choice award within Oracle. I must say it was a brilliant idea (blind or non-biased recruiting), which I hope Oracle will implement internally and which it’s offering as a feature of its Oracle Recruiting Cloud product. See the video we created with advice from resident video expert, Joshua.

My children’s book, Women and the Right to Vote, part of Scholastic’s True Book series came out in Sept 2020, right in time to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th amendment. If you have any ideas on groups I could speak to, let me know.

Joshua graduated from high school last year and is studying online at Foothill College as a first year student in computer science. Peter doesn’t miss driving him to the campus, but Josh misses the in-person interaction. In his spare time, Josh flies drones, does animation, and posts his original videos to YouTube.  If you want his channel, text him at 650.815.8793. He’s even making a steady income from it. He’s also coding his own video game and has regular Virtual Reality (VR) chats with friends in Japan.These gen Zs!

Vanessa has been busy fixing up her new flat in Guadalajara, MX and working for She’s even installed a climbing wall in her home! She’s thinking of becoming a business or life coach, but in the meantime she manages Maxable’s partners as well as some staff members. And she still enjoys composing and singing.

Pre-pandemic, Peter was driving Josh to school and taking PE classes. At home now, he’s developed a keen eye on the stock market, and his abilities have helped us grow our investments and help me retire early. It’s hard to believe I can retire after 39 years (but hey, who’s counting?).Doing those catch up investments in the 401K, IRA, and Roth IRA helped as well as the market’s banner year in 2020.

We finally got our solar panels up and running as well as a backup battery. I’m almost wishing for a blackout so we can test the battery. We had a short blackout during the infamous California wildfires in August. The CZU lightning blaze came within 18 miles of our house, enough to get us packing our bags (though we never had to evacuate). We're sorry that so many suffered. 

We're saddened by the sudden death of my brother-in-law Alan More (husband of Diane Ching), who passed away last year from cancer. And we're thankful for his being in our lives.

We look forward to getting our COVID vaccines and hearing from you.

Cyndi and family

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Celebrating our 1st year in Half Moon Bay

Celebrating our 1st year in Half Moon Bay

Cynthia and Vanessa

Before we moved to Half Moon Bay last December, we had not actually spent one night in HMB. So it was a calculated risk when we decided to buy a house here. But … we like it even better than I was expecting. Clean air and friendly new neighbors. Easy living by the beach with a short drive to the bank, stores, yoga, and the library. Joshua, whom we worried about the most, has made some good friends for video gaming and hanging out.


Some downsides: power outages (3 days total), less diversity, and that drive over highway 92. I will probably get a new electric car because my old Leaf isn’t great on the winding roads, especially if it’s foggy and dark.


Some highlights 

  • Getting out of my stabilizing boot after breaking my left foot. The good news: I'm now evened out after I broke my right foot 3 years ago!
  • Being an Impact Coach for a Techwomen team from Zimbabwe, who won a coveted grant from the US State Department to fund their social action project to help disabled girls learn STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math) in their country.
  • Going to the Out & Equal Summit in DC for the first time and getting to meet Oracle Pride Employee Network (OPEN) coworkers from around the world.
  • Finding out that I'm not 100% Han Chinese with a decent percentage of Dai Chinese (a minority mainly in Yunnan) and Vietnamese. 
  • Working on a yet to be finished children's book on Women and the Vote for a book packager.
Joshua in Osaka with classmates

Joshua is a senior in high school, doing his high school requirements at Foothill College and enjoying it. He's also organizing Smash Bros tournaments, his favorite video game, at our wonderful (and new) Half Moon Bay library. Peter and I got practice at being empty nesters when he spent 3 months in Osaka, Japan as a high school exchange student. We'll have to visit Japan some time to test his new language skills. He plans on continuing at Foothill and then transferring to a California university though he may try a stint at the coding school Silicon Valley 42.


Vanessa is now Chief Operating Officer at Maxable (, a California startup that focuses on providing homeowners the education and resources needed in building an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit). She spends most of her time working remote from Guadalajara, Mexico, but still travels a lot for both work and leisure. Outside of work, her greatest news is that she recently invested in a one unit of a duplex in the historical district of downtown Guadalajara. She hopes to build a community towards co-housing eventually and is excited to get her hands  into homeownership and plans to renovate in early spring. She’s still playing music and learning languages and hopes that once things settle down in the summer that she can return to producing an album once a year.

Josh, Cynthia, Peter and friend Hayden in Santa Barbara

Peter is doing well, but had a few minor health complications from cracked ribs to his continued battle with sleep apnea. He enjoys collecting and cooking local seaweed and being the family historian by taking lots of video and photos. 
Seaweed soup!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Adios, Palo Alto, and Here We Come, Half Moon Bay!

Adios, Palo Alto and Here We Come, Half Moon Bay!

Our old house, new house on the coast, work, and Foothill

Two years ago our annual letter was called “Blur Blog,” but 2018 seemed even more fast-paced than then. The year started out as usual, but in July after many months (and years) of thinking about moving and looking for new homes, we put a deposit on a yet-to-be-built house in a 19-house development called Pacific Ridge in Half Moon Bay, CA on the California coast, a 20-minute drive to San Mateo.

Our new 2-story home in Half Moon Bay
We then sauntered through our usual vacation at the Family Vacation Center in Santa Barbara which had one dramatic twist: a wildfire aptly named the Holiday fire in Goleta that burned 113 acres and had us wondering if we had to evacuate (we didn’t). Santa Barbara was followed by a ramble through Rome, Venice, and Verona, Italy where we got to catch up with my sister’s family.
At the top of the leaning tower of Pisa

Then August was the month of reckoning. Could we get our house of 20 years at 666 Wildwood ready for sale? We interviewed real estate agents, scoured online reviews of contractors, and researched storage options. Our Palo Alto house was legally renamed 668 (better sounding than 666), emptied out, painted, had electric work done, and the roof re-coated. By mid-October, our “midcentury modern charm in Palo Alto” which was “lovingly maintained and thoughtfully upgraded” hit the market during a stock market tumble and real estate slump.
The real estate agent sells our Palo Alto home
Bad news: we really didn’t get the price we had hoped for. Good news: we got an offer in less than a week. So we can’t complain that we have a hefty capital gains tax to pay. While fixing up the house, we led something of a nomadic life, gratefully housesitting for neighbors and then enjoying the guesthouse at Mountain View Community Cohousing. Our house sale closed on Nov. 19, but our new house in Half Moon Bay wasn't ready until December, so we stayed in an apt in Santa Clara for a month.

On an auspicious rainy day in December, we moved to our dream home by the beach. We love the fresh ocean air and spectacular sunsets. We even like the foggy, drizzly weather though Josh whines about the croaking frogs at night.
5-minute drive or 15-minute walk to the beach

I’m still an information development manager at Oracle, mostly working from home with a weekly jaunt to Redwood City HQ. Peter’s cooking up gourmet dinners in his new chef’s kitchen, and Joshua is completing his junior year of high school by taking classes at Foothill College and has a straight A average.

Still mostly living in Guadalajara, MX, Vanessa launched a new business called Glolocal exchange program that brings non-Spanish speakers to Mexico to learn Spanish and Mexican culture through living with a host family. She continues to do business development for Gobox, which makes multi-use takeout containers and for a Mexican apps development company. I got to be her guinea pig (pre-pilot) Spanish language student in June.
On the tourist bus
Cyndi as wrestler

Other news of note, I have a Wikipedia page and a new website thanks to her. Go take a peek. Sorry, no news on the writing front; I took some time off from writing in order to manage the move.

Much love,
Cyndi, Peter, and Joshua

Learning Espanol

Monday, February 19, 2018

Happy Year of the Dog 2018

Joshua, myself, and Peter at Oracle HQ

Happy year of the dog, Feb. 2018

Peter and I are both year of the dog so this should be a lucky year for us. Since we lost Peter's mom, Wanda Ching, in 2017 and my dad, Bill Chin-Lee, in late 2016, we're hoping 2018 will be better. See how good your math is. In 2018 we turn a multiple of 12 that is greater than 48 and less than 72.

Quick update on each of us:
  • I continue as a manager of information development at Oracle and split my time between HQ in Redwood Shores, Pleasanton, and home.
  • Peter takes care of the house but spent four months last year in Arlington to help take care of his mom.
  • Joshua is in 10th grade and enjoys his online and in person classes at Foothill College in Los Altos. 
  • Vanessa lives in Guadalajara, MX, creating music, teaching English and learning Spanish, and consulting for
Vanessa debuted in her first music video, created by Quentin Lee. Please watch and share. You can ask her for links to her videos of Mexico, too. Her email:

Joshua created two videos of his month-long trip to Tokyo, earning his first $100 as third-place winner in Langubridge's video contest. 

Me and Peter at Green Gulch Zen Center (Sausalito), remembering our parents.
Carolyn Miles Broughton, me, Judi Miles at San Diego Comic Con
Josh at Google HQ, Mountain View
Robin Maybury, me, Jean Maybury and their daughter Charmian at the Tandem Reunion
Me, Patu Ndango, Mpara Faith of Team Cameroon, where I was an Impact Coach.
Vanessa and Josh in a park in Guadalajara
Peter's silhouette, Palo Alto Baylands
Find the hidden figures, Tlaquepaque, MX
Sharing my treat, Guadalajara
Josh, Vanessa, and me in Guadalajara
Me (impact coach for Techwomen), Team Cameroon, Mimi Hills, and Melissa Biggs at awards night
Climate March, San Jose, CA (Jan) with Gail Thompson, Pat Kinney and others
See how balanced my aura is? Thanks to Joy Ohguen Lee, my yoga teacher at Silicon Valley Body and Brain
Danielle Akini of Cameroon and Vanessa
Peter and me, Human Rights Campaign Gala in SF
Old photo: Henry, Peter, Wanda, Philip, Diane, Ronnie Ching
Ashley and Michael Ching wedding, Chambersburg, PA
Booth duty at Oracle Open World
Peter, me, Josh at Young Family dinner, San Mateo
Peter and Josh at Red Rock Canyon near Las Vegas
Tara Simms, our Education Specialist at Ocean Grove, and Joshua
Red Rock Canyon
Jan 2018, Barri Singer, me, friend, Carole Eittreim at Women's March, SF (Jan 2018)

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Blur: a restrospective of 2015 and 2016

Blur: 2015 and 2016 speed by! 

Joshua and me on New Years Eve 2015

National Harbor, MD, Joshua, Peter, Alan More, Diane Ching

Uncle Kenny and me, Washington DC 2015

Oracle Women's Leadership (OWL) friends at the Professional Business Women's of California Conference, March 2015

Now 2016 has come to an end. So here is my biannual blog post of 2015 and 2016. Maybe I will get back to an annual missive in late 2017? BLUR pretty much describes how life sometimes feels. What with working, commuting, cooking, cleaning, shopping, homeschooling, and even squeezing in some time for writing.

Fortunately, we've enjoyed many vacations, weddings, and family gatherings in the last two years. And I still find plenty of challenges and interesting events through my friends, family, neighbors, church, and maintaining an old house and work at Oracle.
Oracle co-workers in Santa Clara doing our fitness challenge

Joshua's first catch: a salmon at Bass Lake, California, April 2015

Yosemite, April 2015

Gray's Hall, my freshman dorm at Harvard, for 35th reunion

Quick snapshot of 2015 and 2016:

I'm still working at Oracle, but transferred from the Systems (hardware) business unit in Santa Clara to Human Capital Mgt software (applications) business unit and work from home 3 days a week and then go to headquarters in Redwood Shores one day and the Pleasanton campus one day. I'm still an information development manager but with a global team with writers in India, England, and the U.S. I like the change and the challenge and I enjoy not commuting three work days a week.

Peter is helping with the many home projects that an old house seems to have from roof leaks to electrical issues. He also drives Joshua to Foothill College where he's taking Japanese classes and participates in the Japanese and Anime clubs.

Joshua is a freshman in high school, doing online classes, a microschool class in biology, and Japanese at Foothill. He's now the tallest person in the house and with his curly mop of hair, he dwarfs me for sure. He's enjoying video gaming, video editing, and school.

Vanessa spent most of the last two years in Kunming, China, teaching English, singing in clubs and songwriting. She created a wonderful CD called Limbs with a crew of musicians through a Kickstarter campaign. She's temporarily came back to California but is now off again in Guadalajara, Mexico. She may be able to continue part-time with her current role as business development manager for, an eco products company.

In November 2016, my dad passed away at 93. We miss him and I'm grateful for the legacy he left us. More photos of 2015 and 2016:
Joshua at Harvard's Memorial Hall, May 2015

Harvard's Widener Library

SF Pride Parade 2015
Peter got to ride in the Oracle car 

Blake Chin-Lee and Gina Nam marry in San Diego, 2015

Vanessa at Chapel of the Chimes, Oakland, 2015

Oakland smoothie place and the formula for life

Look carefully, Amelia to Zora en francais
Joshua at Obon Festival, San Jose 2015

Dad moves to Peter and El's home, Silver Spring, MD

Barbara Hardy and me, Women of Color STEM Conf.

Rainbow over Detroit Rennaisance Center
Halloween with Denise O'Dell, Santa Clara 2015

Joshua in Halo costume
Christmas 2015 in DC with cousins
Peter, Josh, Diane, Michael 2015
Home construction, new floors are done
Hardware to Software send-off at Oracle

Devin, Bruce, me, Ady Hom, Russ at film festival 2015
Operation Marriage plays at the San Diego Film Festival

Duckies at Oracle Santa Clara

Fall colors in Palo Alto (not DC!)
Amanda and Doug, 2015
Christmas 2015, Peter & Kai

Brittany and Alex Skinner, Feb. 2016

Vanessa and Rachael Hays

Joshua graduates 8th grade
Josh and classmate
A sleep study for Josh
Oracle colleagues in Pleasanton, CA & Pride Parade in SF, 2016

Santa Barbara, Family Vacation Ctr

Racquet ball, anyone?
More home construction, shelves done, 2016
Richard Wong and Rachael marry in DC, July 2016
My dream car: self-driving
I'm a Techwomen Cultural Mentor
Techwomen event in San Juan Bautista
Peter, Josh, me, Ruby Yang filmmaker, Vanessa, Luca
Happy techwomen, SF, 2016
At HRC gala in SF
William Chin-Lee, 1923-2016
Blake, Brittany, Alex, Vanessa, Doug at wake
Cyndi, Josh, Peter at Blake and Gina's wedding
Craig Wiesner, me, Quentin Lee filmmaker at CAAMfest, SF

UC Santa Barbara 2016

 OPEN: Oracle Pride Employee Network award 2016