Monday, January 18, 2016

Exiting x86 at Sun Oracle

Cyndi displays the plaque
I can have my cake and eat it too since I get to stay at Oracle!
Thanks to all of my coworkers at Sun Oracle for the last 12 years! I had a wonderful send-off on Friday, Jan. 15, 2016 at a spacious conference room at the historic Oracle Santa Clara campus. Special thanks to those who organized the event: Denise O'Dell, Christopher P. Johnson, and Ralph Woodley.

I was delighted to have so many well-wishers in the room. When I heard that 1740 was reserved for the event, I told Denise that I wasn't sure we would need to have such a large room, but she said it was all reserved and "that's that." We had scrumptious mocha cake from Bon Appetit, a large and enthusiastic crowd, and even our  executive attendance! At one point, my senior VP, the humble Ali Alasti, embarrassed me by getting on his knees and pretending to beg me not to leave. (Wish someone had taken a photo of that!)

Cyndi, Kevin Wiramihardja, Mark Stanton
Ralph presented me with a special plaque that was custom engraved for my years of service. They also presented me with a blue phalaenopsis orchid with a card that said they'll be blue without me.

Cards and custom chocolates decorated with service labels
Denise Silverman from the Human Factors, User-Centered Design group gave me a customized box of chocolates, decorated with x86 service label snips! Very clever.

I remarked that I joined the Solaris group as an employee in 2003. I also had at least three or more previous stints as a contractor at Sun Microsystems as early as 1984 when the hot start-up was headquartered in Mountain View. I transferred to NSG (what did that stand for? network systems group, I think) in 2005 after the product I documented, Sun Management Center, was transferred to India.
Ralph Woodley, Cyndi, Mark McGothigan 

Fortunate for me I had met George Salem (now at Google) at a Harvard alum event and had told him that I wanted to look for a job as a program manager. He told me that Ada Chiang had some openings for program managers so I applied. But Ada took a look at my resume and saw "tech pubs" all over it and said she needed a tech pubs manager/writer and wanted me to apply as a writer with the understanding that I would most likely become the manager.

I interviewed with seven people in NSG and I recall clearly that six of the seven said thumbs up and one person said NO. I can guess who the NO came from. That person was laid off soon thereafter so I got my just desserts!?

I had many highlights over my ten years in NSG, now called x86, including two trips to the Shanghai engineering office which Ada opened. I begged her to send me and she approved after I justified my trip with many training sessions for the engineers, including leadership training from Toastmasters. So off I went in 2008 and again in 2013.

My other supportive x86 managers included Thomas Yu and Christopher P. Johnson. Chris was especially encouraging when I initiated a video and animation program. Over the years and not without plenty of ups and downs, my stellar team (Ralph Woodley and Ray Angelo, in particular) created dozens of animations and videos of technical procedures and concepts.

In addition to my work projects, I also cherish the fun and excitement of organizing the Oracle contingent to the SF Pride Parade with Sujesh Sundaram, Vincent Coville, Cathy Melior Benoit and others.

Here are groups at Santa Clara are dear to my heart (apologies as I know I've missed people):

Sue Young, Pam Parrish, Nancy Moreno, Sujesh Sundaram, Neng Xue
  • Speakeasy@Sun Toastmasters Club (formerly in the Menlo Park Sun campus) with many of the members present like Cornelia Koch-Stoschek, Salomon Chavez, Neng Xue, Sujesh, Becky Xu, Sumit Jyoti
  • Oracle Women's Leadership (OWL) with Nancy Moreno, Joy Lee, Sue Young, Pam Parrish, Jeewika Ranaweera, Beth Beasley. We put on some fantastic events including International Day of the Girl, Women's right to vote, mentor circles, and many more.
  • Pubs and usability people: Shripad Patki, Anathea Lolen, Barb Jugo, Anne Juan, Alta Elstad, Mike Bechler, Andrea Marra, Sharon Veach, kristin Travis, Ralph Woodley, Mark McGothigan
  • Engineers and managers: Paul Ryan, Prafull Singhal, Albert Lau, Tamra Smith-Wasel, Dan Benefiel, Todd Creamer, Chad Amsler, Jim Vasquez, Yi Cai, Tony Huang, Obehi Ukpebor, Ali Vahedi, Helen Liu
Thanks to all of you who came and those who sent me your wishes. I appreciate your kindness, cards, and gifts. One executive wrote to me:

I can easily say you have done far more for our x86 team and I than I have ever done for you. I appreciate all of our years together. I wish you the very very best. I know you are very smart, passionate and caring. It is a hard combination to come by. Any team would be lucky to have you.
Santa Clara campus by Ray Shr

Sunday, November 1, 2015

You're invited to the movies (Nov. 2015)

I just looked at when I last posted! December of 2014. That's pretty sad.

Or maybe not. Life has been a blur with work, school, some travel, some medical challenges and some highlights, too.

I was inspired to write because there are two things coming up that I wanted to share:

Operation Marriage, the short film, will be playing at the
San Diego Asian Film Festival on Saturday, Nov. 7, at 7:35 pm.

Here's a link to the shorts program it's in:
Shorts program (Mommy Queerest)

I'll be attending and will be in the post-screening Question and Answer.

The San Francisco Peninsula Alumnae Chapter (SFPA) is hosting a screening of the internationally award winning film "I Am A Girl" on Monday, November 9th at 7pm in Menlo Park.

The San Francisco Peninsula Alumnae Chapter (SFPA) has been serving the greater San Francisco Peninsula area for over 35 years. Located in the heart of the Silicon Valley, SFPA is strategically focused on deeply impacting our communities through service, programs and partnerships.

I'll be on the post-screening panel. My Oracle co-worker, Sharonda Faison, is helping with this event and that's how I got word of it.

WhenMon, November 09, 2015 at 07:00 pm
Where: Guild Theatre, 949 El Camino. Menlo Park, CA
Cost: $10
Watch the amazing trailer:

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

See and share "Operation Marriage"

Here's a gift to you from everyone who made Operation Marriage the movie possible:

Quentin Lee, director
Alan Reade, producer
Reach and Teach, Derrick Kikuchi and Craig Wiesner, publishers
Lea Lyon, illustrator
all of our generous donors and supporters

To see the film (about 10 minutes), go to:

Click the video (and enlarge if you like). And share it with your friends, family, and enemies...we want it to go viral.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Holiday greetings for 2014

Holiday Greetings 2014!

Joshua, Peter, and I are doing well (sort of, if you don't count Joshua's back injury and walking pneumonia and Peter's shoulder injury and and their sleep apnea.) So what's perfect?

Joshua's now a 6th grader at Summit Denali charter school in Sunnyvale where each kid gets a personalized learning plan and a Chromebook. I continue as a publications manager at Oracle (my 11th year at Sun and Oracle). Peter's managing a home remodel, which has temporarily stopped to work on long-overlooked health issues. Vanessa skypes with me weekly from Kunming, China and has had adventures in Thailand and Laos as well as in southwest China.

Earlier in the year, I hosted a lunch in memory of my mother, Nancy Wong Chin-Lee, who passed away in October 2013.
Cyndi and Aunt Doris at my mom's memorial in Palo Alto

Friends, Faith and Hayden Lee

Second cousin Debbie Larkin, Aunt Frances Chan, Cyndi, Uncle Peter Lee, cousins Mike Chin, Lydia Bartlett
Miriam Rhew, Cyndi, Brian Lee, Joshua
Samantha Chin-Lee, Vanessa who as back in the US for two weeks (she's usually in China)

Although we decided not to join the cohousing group in Mountain View, we build community in other ways. I'm active at First Presbyterian Church in Palo Alto where we get together often with other families. Here are some of the families and the kids from middle school to college.

Kids from the church covenant group send another one to college. Yes, that is Joshua on the far right.
The parents don't get old; only the kids.

This year, I had several trips back East to see my dad and for a family reunion on his side of the family. I also got a quick trip while recruiting for Oracle at Carnegie Mellon University.
My second cousin Heather and me on the way to the Chin Family Reunion in southern Maryland.

Joshua, Peter and I made our bi-annual trip to Family Vacation Center in Santa Barbara.
Whoa, that's a big one.
First time surfing lesson for Joshua
Joshua made some friends from Taiwan.
Joshua, Peter, and me at the beach at Santa Barbara.

Partying with other parents at the Family Vacation Center, Santa Barbara
This was the year of the movie of Operation Marriage. Quentin Lee, director, and Alan Reade, producer drove up to Palo Alto in the spring to create a promotional video. Thanks to many of you we raised the money by August and filming took place at the end of August. The director has submitted the short (it's about 10 minutes) to the Academy Awards and to film festivals. The movie will be made public and free in June of next year.
Kathy Merkle-Raymond, whose family was the basis of the story, is being interviewed for promo video with Alan Reade in blue and Quentin Lee aiming the camera
Director, Quentin Lee, me, Derrick Kikuchi (publisher), and Producer Alan Reade at the LA premiere of Operation Marriage, the movie.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

How my book, Operation Marriage, became a movie

Joshua Ching, my son, with the book
Blockbusters like Harry Potter, the Hunger Games, or classic favorites like the Lorax or the Secret Garden get to be movies. So was I surprised and delighted when Quentin Lee of Margin Films called me to see if he could make a short movie from my picture book, Operation Marriage. It started with a connection.

Howard Fong
Many years ago Howard Fong an actor, showed up at a book signing I did in the Bay area for my first book, It's Who You Know. It was one of those signings where two people show up and it’s such a relief that anyone comes at all. He’s been a friend ever since, always trying to keep me in the know with Asian Americans in media and entertainment, stuffing my mail slot and now my email inbox with articles and links. Howard knew about my book, Operation Marriage (Reach and Teach, 2011).

Some time in November 2013, he emailed me a link to a short video/public service announcement, called the Wedding Plan  about a gay man and a lesbian, who pretend to marry in order to get their parents off their back. The wise mom of the gay man confronts the pseudo-couple urging them to be themselves. I was impressed by the production values of the video, the honesty of the acting, and its authentic message. I’m not gay (though I sometimes call myself a wannabe lesbian!); I’m a straight ally. As a Chinese American and a Sinophile, I loved seeing this video set in contemporary China.

I sent the link to the Wedding Plan video to the Lambda email list, the Oracle LGBT network. For those who don’t know, I’ve worked as a technical writer or publications manager at Oracle and Sun Microsystems (acquired by Oracle) for over a decade. I thanked Howard for sharing Quentin’s video with me and didn’t think further about it.
Quentin Lee
Several weeks later, I got a call from Quentin. I remember it clearly because I was not at home in California, but in DC with my father, right after the passing of my mom. Quentin loved the book and asked me if it would be OK to make a movie of it. I was thrilled, of course, and told him I had to talk to my publisher, Reach and Teach. The owners of Reach and Teach, Craig Wiesner and Derrick Kikuchi, agreed it would be a good thing for the book and contacted Quentin.

Quentin put the book into a script and along with Brad Stocking made a few minor changes. He created a web site on the movie project Quentin recruited producer Alan Reade and they drove up to Palo Alto from Los Angeles to shoot a promotional video in my house.

Alan Reade
Since my house was being remodeled, I asked the family, the Merkle-Raymonds, on whom the book is based if we could use their house. Kathy Merkle-Raymond, daughter Alex, and I were interviewed for the promo video. I was touched by what Alex said in her interview, something like: “If everyone else’s parents were married, we wanted our parents to be married. We thought we were normal until Prop 8. That’s when some people said we weren’t normal. We just wanted our family to be accepted like everyone else.”

Quentin and Alan posted the promotional video on the web site and they set up the fundraising site. The fundraising race began. Quentin and Alan also created a Facebook page and we tweeted, emailed, and called friends, coworkers, and family.

My sister was among the first of my family and friends to call me and to donate. Some friends and family emailed me with a terse note that they were not interested in the project. Translation: they didn’t approve of marriage equality. Those folks were far and away the minority.

Thanks to the many people who donated and worked on this labor of love, the movie (a short) premiered in Los Angeles at the send of September 2014.

Want to know more about the making of the movie? See Quentin's blog about it:

See the Facebook page for photos of the LA premiere and the Palo Alto showing and more:

Monday, May 12, 2014

My mother's legacy (a speech)

My mom and sister Sandy

Note: This is a speech I gave for the Speakeasy@Sun Toastmasters Club  speech contest a few months ago. It won first place at the club contest so I gave the speech for the District 4, Area F2 contest. It won first place there so I represented Area F2 at the Division F speech contest where it did not place.
Mom, Sandy, and my nephew Zach Hays

“Get in the closet.”

“I don’t want to, Ba.”

“Get in the closet now!”

When my mother was six years old, the truant officer came to her door and my grandfather ordered her to hide in the closet. Why? Because he didn’t want to have to send her to school.

My mother was allowed to go to school the following year because she could then walk her younger brother to school.

At 19, my mother graduated from high school in Washington, DC. A talented artist, she was asked to apply for a scholarship at Corcoran Gallery of Art Art School. She won a two-year scholarship and when she told her parents, my grandparents, they sighed and told her, “Nancy, we don’t want you to go to school. You stay home, work in the restaurant and help your brother go to college.”

Despite the discouragement, my mother’s art teacher urged her to take the scholarship. The art teacher, in fact, went to the Corcoran Gallery of Art and persuaded them to give my mother the second place prize of a 1-year scholarship and give the 2-year scholarship to another student. After that, my grandparents relented and allowed my mother to take the 1-year scholarship.

After art school, my mother worked for a few years as a mapmaker for the Navy and then married my father. She had five kids, stayed at home, helped my dad’s career and took care of the five of us. She used to tell me, “Cyndi, you will go to college and have a career. You will have the choices that I didn’t have.”

I was lucky; my parents paid for my university and my mother encouraged, almost demanded that I get an education and have a career. But many girls are not so lucky. In fact most girls don’t have the chance to get an education or even have a decent way of making a living. They may be pushed into having sex just to feed themselves. They may have no education, no social networks, and no access to financial services. So they marry early or are sexually harassed or abused.

We have the ability to help others around the world. But what is the best way to do that?

Invest in girls. Why? Because research shows that when you invest in girls, you get a better return on investment or ROI.

Educating girls can break cycles of poverty in just one generation. Research from the World Bank (1) shows that investing in girls so that they reach the next level of education would mean a gain of lifetime earnings equal to 54 percent of annual gross domestic product.

When you invest in a girl she will return about more of her resources to help her family and community. This phenomenon is so startling it even has a name. It’s called the Girl Effect.

When you invest in educating a girl, she will more likely control family planning. She will have fewer children, not more, and she will to take better care of her children. If you don’t help educate girls, they will have more children with the hopes that one of them may survive.

My mother passed away a few months ago so I’ve been thinking of the legacy she gave to me and the legacy I’d like to give the world.

I have both a daughter and a son. My daughter is grown and graduated from college. I have every intention to help my son to get an education as well.

But here is my call to action. When you give to others, such as a charity or a non-profit, consider giving to organizations that help girls and women.

Imagine yourself a girl, 11-years old in Afghanistan, whose parents are forcing you to leave school and get married. Or imagine yourself a 14-year old girl in Nepal who works as an indentured servant from 6 am to 9 pm at night. Then imagine someone you don’t know in another country sends money so you can go to school. Will it make a difference? You bet it will.

If we invest in the education of girls and we can make the world a better place, not just for the girls, but for the boys, the men, and the women, for all of us. Help get girls out of the closet and into school.

(1) Jad Chaaban and Wendy Cunningham, 2011, Measuring the Economic Gain of Investing in Girls The Girl Effect Dividend

Links to check out:

Saturday, December 21, 2013

2013 Holiday Greetings from the Ching-Chin-Lee-Pan Family

William and Nancy Chin-Lee

The folks

My mother,Nancy Wong Chin-Lee, passed from this world on October 21st (at age 85), but her spirit lives on. I miss her but I know she’s in a better place. Because of her Alzheimer’s, she had been unable to take care of herself the last few years and we were so fortunate to have two talented caregivers, Irene and Namukale.

My father continues to live in their condo in Washington, DC, with the help of our caregivers. I’m also happy that Douglass Chin-Lee, my nephew, is living with him and my niece Allyx Chin-Lee lives next door. We celebrated dad’s 90th birthday in April with a large gathering and a family reunion.

Peter's mom, Wanda Ching, has had several setbacks, including 4 surgeries this year, but maintains a sunny disposition. Luckily, Peter's siblings are nearby (she's in Arlington, VA) and they have been taking excellent care of her.


Oracle x86 Engineering Office in Shanghai
I marked my 10th anniversary of working at Sun/Oracle in November, the longest time working at one place by a large margin. Thanks to my team, we've been able to do more work in animation and video as well as publications. This work gave me a reason to organize a panel on animation, video, and data visualization at the wonderful Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing in Minneapolis. 

Shanghai and Kunming

Oracle sent me to Shanghai to do leadership training for our office there. 
I took this chance to visit Vanessa, who has given up the corporate life for now and is teaching English in Kunming, Yunnan province.

Caitlin, Vanessa, Nancy (all expats) in Halloween costumes

Vanessa & Cyndi at Erhu Lake, Dali

Cyndi at Emerald Lake, Kunming

Joshua and Peter

Joshua is enjoying his last year (sigh!) as a fifth grader at Ohlone Elementary in Palo Alto. He posts to
his own YouTube channel where he shares his exploits in video gaming, likes collecting Pokemon cards, and singing sea shanties (his class did an overnight trip on the tall ship Balclutha in SF harbor). He’s had some difficulty this year, breaking his foot while playing kickball, but overall he is taking things in stride.
Peter and Josh at Lake Boronda, trying to fish

Joshua, actor, at Palo Alto Children's Theater

Derrick Kikuchi, Craig Wiesner, Cyndi, Josh, and Peter at Reach & Teach Store

Peter has been actively helping in Joshua’s class and indulging his photography and video interests. We had two relaxing vacations in Carlsbad, CA (near San Diego) and in Calistoga (in the Napa Valley) where Peter got respite from our cats (he has allergies). I think we’ve come up with a pretty good solution as they are now more outdoor (than indoor) cats and we’ve built them a small house with heat pad and electric lights!

We are fully converting to electronic communication and also trying to reduce our carbon footprint. We bought a plug-in hybrid car (Ford CMAX Energi) and after viewing the, trying to give experiences rather than stuff as gifts. The only exception, of course, is a good book!

Chimecho (the purrfect cat) and Cyndi