Mason Tang

A highly inefficient chemical reaction that turns food and coffee into code and dance.

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Where do I start?

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Where do I start? That’s all I can think about as I’m trying to sit and write and make sense of everything happening. What can I do? Anxiety, confusion, and then quickly followed by a pang of guilt. Why do I get to sit here, safe and comfortable, and write about racism, injustice, and inequity while it has been a dangerous lived reality every day for generations for Black Americans? Why aren’t I doing more? Is this writing actually a misguided example of performative allyship to cleanse my own conscience, gather kudos from others, and prove that I’m a “good person”? At some level, I’m sure it is.

I’ve been struggling with how to understand and untangle those selfish impulses, so that I can feel more confident that my actions are truly helpful and compassionate. I’ve seen too many examples of questionably intentioned social media posts, videos of...

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2019 in Review

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I’ve always looked forward to the holiday season. Yes, I love big meals, endless desserts, gifts (giving them especially), ice skating, and the crisp smell of winter air, but there’s something deeper that I love about the holidays. Specifically, there’s something to how the holiday season shifts my perspective on time. Normally, life sweeps my attention down countless disparate paths: a chaotic montage of past achievements and mistakes, future hopes and anxieties, and occasionally—if I can manage it—the present. But every year, sometime after Thanksgiving, Mariah Carey’s voice first drifts down a department store aisle to tell us exactly what is on her Christmas wish list (hint: there’s only one thing), and reminds me to reflect with gratitude on the past year, to be present with the friends and family around me, and to look forward with intention and hope to the new year. The holidays...

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Treasure Box

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My mom is the best cook. I know I’m far from the only person to feel strongly about a parent’s cooking. I’ve had many conversations with friends about parents’ cooking where we recall stories of improvised last-minute masterpieces, treasured secret recipes, and aversions to measuring anything. It warms my heart to think of all the people lucky enough to grow up with an amazing cook for a parent. Yet I remain convinced that even ranked among other mothers and fathers surrounded by culinary superlatives, my mom really is the best cook.

She makes mostly Chinese food, with as much skill and grace as you’d expect from someone who has been doing so for over 50 years. It wasn’t until after college, when I started cooking for more than just myself, that I started appreciating how impossibly difficult it is to put five different hot dishes on the dinner table in under an hour—something my mom...

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Mountain Climbing

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Sometimes, to try to gain some perspective, I like to imagine dialogs with versions of myself who had ended up doing more difficult or dangerous work. What if I had been a mountain climber instead of a software engineer?

Hey there! What are you up to?
Just climbing this here mountain, you see!
Trying to get to the top?
Only 2500 meters left!
Won’t that take a while?
Absolutely!
Aren’t you uncomfortable?
In so many ways!
To get to the top, couldn’t you just take a helicopter or something?
I suppose, but that’s not the point. I’m exactly where I want to be right now.

On a journey like climbing a mountain, you probably spend the vast majority of your time doing the climbing, and only a tiny fraction at your destination. What if you were a mountain climber that only felt happy standing on summits? Would that be enough to compel you to trek mile after mile, meter after meter, for that...

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