Future iPhone for Deaf people

Last weekend when my buddies and I were en route to upstate NY near Vermont for our snowboarding trip, we were talking about different technology and VRS services for deaf people, then I had this sudden idea/imagination. The future is soon here. Why? look below at the mock-up pictures I’ve made.

VRS interpreter on iPhone

Video conferencing with two people on iPhone

Yup, the future is soon here.

We’ve been dreaming how nice it would be to use ASL to place calls on our mobile phones. Guess what? That is gonna happen soon, with next generation (maybe third generation) iPhone when it has a built-in camera with a wifi connection. I’ve made a mock-up pics using photoshop.

Imagine when you’re at a restaurant or dealing with a hearing person, all you have to do is to call an interpreter from your iPhone and s/he will interpret everything what you say and what the hearing party say. I can’t wait!

If you are tempted to buy iPhone when it comes out this summer, I understand but I’ll be waiting till it has a built-in camera. While you’re at it, you might as well want to buy some Apple stocks. :-)

North Face bionic apex jacket

I got a Dick’s gift card from my parents for my birthday. After some naked shopping, I decided to get this.

Twenty-six years old

I turn 26 years old today. Twenty-six.

So I have gotten on the shorter leg toward 30. 25 was a perfect middle number between 20 and 30. Now, 26. Four more years left before I reach thirty. There’s something about 30. It seems much more adult. I suppose it is because at 20, you couldn’t wait to turn 21 so you can drink legally without using fake ids. 40. Well that’s a number that looks old. Wow, time’s going too fast. I’ve been saying that quite often lately.

I’ve been running this blog for more than three years now and it’s become a tradition for me to blog a bit about my birthday. The first two:

The Existence of 24 years old on this Planet Earth.

I turn 25 today.

I’m going to do like this every year so I can look back and remember what I was like back then. Heh, last year, I said I was thinking about trading my car for an S2000. Well, I didn’t quite get an S2000 but I did get myself a new car. A 2005 Subaru WRX with premium package. I decided that it’s more practical than an S2000 as it only has two seats and WRX has four doors, more practical that way and easier for my friends to get in whenever I need to haul them. Plus, it’s an AWD so it’s awesome in snow and has a turbo. I’m happy with my car. But I will become an S2000 owner in the future, probably when I turn 40.

*re-reading my birthday posts*

So, I have four years left before I reach 30. I’m still not ready to settle down and get married. I still feel as young as I have been. I’ve found a passion in snowboarding and will keep riding till 30, maybe 35. I’ll play more golf when the season isn’t winter and lower my handicap and will see if I’m good enough to compete in the Deaf National Golf tournament or earn a spot on a USA golf team. I’m going to read more about finance/investing and do my best to contribute more to my 401k account till it gets maximized at 15k. Meanwhile, I’ll be saving money till I have enough to secure a mortgage loan, then buy a condo. Hopefully I’ll be a homeowner before I turn 30. That’s my financial goal. I will keep in a shape; been playing with the thought of running in a marathon. I’ll take a more responsible role to look after my parents and keep in close touch with my family. They’re all what I have and I’m all what they have.

What about my birthday wishes? nothing. I wish for everyone to be in a good health and be happy. :-)

Ralph Emerson quote

“To laugh often and love much; to win the respect of intelligent persons and the affection of children; to earn the approbation of honest citizens and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to give of one’s self; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to have played and laughed with enthusiasm and sung with exultation; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived – this is to have succeeded.”

He definitely nailed it right.

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Korea

After thinking about it for a while, I need to go visit Korea again. Even better, it’d be so awesome if I could move to Korea like for a year and find something to do. Perhaps try to improve deaf awareness or be a Deaf advocate like I notice there was no Asian hockey team participating in the Deaf Winter Olympics.

I met the owner of the only Deaf-owned restaurant in the world.

And the restaurant is called Abbondanza Pizzeria in West Seattle. The owner’s name is Robert Esposito.

We happened to meet in the bar across from the lobby at the Little America Hotel on Sunday night. He was getting his drinks and I was writing on my postcards to my family and close friends. I’m not exactly sure how we “bumped” into each other but I remember I was sitting there at the table and took a little break from writing postcards and casually had a glance around the room. That’s when one lady caught my attention and asked me what’s my name. I told her my name and we sort of got into this small talk where you tell where you’re from, what do you do, etc, etc. As the small talk came close to an end, the lady suddenly signed “Do you know who this guy is?” I replied “No, I’m afraid I don’t. Should I?” Then, she went on to say that he owns the only Deaf-owned restaurant in the world.

I said, “Really?” and I was thinking about my blog, how Bill Bryson inspired me to notice small unique things while you’re traveling and put it in writing. I’m like, “Gee, I better interview this Deaf guy or I’m gonna regret missing this opportunity.” So I did.

———————————————————————

Me: Are you really the only Deaf person to own a restaurant? I do recall there was a Deaf-blind chef who owns a restaurant in Seattle after moving from Louisiana and President Bill Clinton ate at his restaurant?

He: Yes, you are correct. However, his condition as a deaf-blind has gotten worse and he closed the restaurant in 2001. I opened the restaurant in 2000.

Me: Ah that explains. Ok cool, so, are you really the only Deaf person to own a restaurant in the entire world?

He: I believe I am. I haven’t heard of another that owns a restaurant but if there is one, I’d love to know.

Me: That’s great. What is it like running a restaurant business? what inspired you to open a restaurant?

He: Well, like every other business, it wasn’t easy at first but after the first year, we started having a steady number of people returning and more people know about us. I’m not really a chef myself. I just manage the restaurant but I do help out if there is a need. I was inspired to open a restaurant because of my father. He owns two restaurants in the DC area.

Me: Oh really? can you tell me the names of restaurants your dad owns?

He: Yeah, one place is called Pul Cin Nella and is located in Mclean. Another is called Esposito’s Pizza and serves new york style pizza like ours. Pulcinella is a wood oven style.

Me: That’s awesome. Since I live in VA, I will definitely stop by those places. Do you employ any deaf employees?

He: Yes I do. We have ten deaf employees. One of them is a chef. We also employ hearing people.

Me: Wow, that’s cool. What are the popular dishes at your restaurant? what time is it open?

He: Popular orders are pizzas and salads. It’s open from 4:30 pm to 10 pm.

Me: I bet they’re good. Are the customers mostly deaf or hearing?

He: You would think since I own the restaurant, a lot of deafies would come to my restaurant but that’s not true. Definitely more hearing patrons come eat at my place but deaf people occasionally come to eat too.

Me: Oh I see, you can bet I will come eat at your place whenever I get into Seattle. Thanks for your time, do you have a business card?

He: Yes, I do. *handing his business card* then he shows me how to sign the name of his restaurant. It is signed like voila! but with two hands or like two lights brightening from the ground to the top with a little shake.

Remember, the only Deaf-owned restaurant is called Abbondanza Pizzeria. Its address is 6503 California Ave SW in Seattle, Washington. It’s open from 4:30 pm to 10:00.

See you there!

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Barack Obama for President 08!

I just made my first ever contribution to a politician! $25 dollars. I joined in this facebook group called One Million Strong for Barack Obama.

Barack Obama donations

I feel he represents what America’s all about: dreams, hardships (like he started out as a community organizer that earns $13k a year and drove a rusty tercel car and look what’s happened to him? he’s now a U.S. senator with a desire to become the President. Also, his father wasn’t around when he was young and her white mother had to take care of him and experienced racism), diversity, hope, and vision.

Frankly, I’m just tired of what’s going on in Washington with Iraq War and bickering between two parties. We just need something new to start with and get the economy back on the track.

Let’s hope he wins the democratic nomination bid, and then to the White House!

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Salt Lake City, Utah

Man, what a trip that was. It’s impossible to describe everything what I’ve gone through or experienced but I’m going to sum it up into a list.

Mountain View, CA:

The trip opened with bad plane delays in Dulles, VA. Supposed to arrive in San Jose at 7 pm but finally arrived at 11 pm and checked into a hotel by midnight. Grabbed a burger and fries at IN-N-OUT. Was absolutely worn-out.

Woke up at 7 am to get ready for the tour/visit to a group of deaf students from CSDF. Gave a welcome presentation and another one about my job. Had a lunch with them. Funny, they couldn’t decide which cafeteria to go to since Google has 11 of them! with three more cafeterias due to be open. I enjoyed giving a presentation, ofc, in my native language, ASL.

Met Joseph Davis for a short time at Ohlone Community College in Fremont. Interesting campus as it’s on the hill. Was rainy and cloudy at that time. Had to catch a plane at 6 pm; sped down the highway. Caught my flight in time, whew.

Salt Lake City, Utah.

My first time being in Utah! Bak and Anthony picked me up. Went to University of Utah’s ice arena to watch Canada play against Sweden. Canada was beating them pretty badly. Then, we went to this bar called Port o’ Call. Saw many people there like Blake, Erwin (my old classmate), and the Arizona boys (entered same year at Gallaudet.)

Then I got myself a beer mug. When I was halfway through the mug, I hardly felt anything, then suddenly remembered that Utah limits alcohol content to 3.2% in every bottle. So, basically, I have to drink two mugs to get one mug’s worth. Ugh. Wish I could have brought my own flask with some rum to make up the absence of alcohol.

Park City, Utah.

After the bar, we drove to Park City, Utah where we’ll be staying for the next three days. A pretty nice town, obviously built for skiers and snowboarders. We stayed at this nice cozy ski cabin. The next day, we got up early and went to Park City resort. Huge resort. They had like thirty lifts. Not to mention, lift passes were expensive. They were supposed to be $77 dollars but with the Deaf Winter Olympics ongoing , they offered a discount to $55 dollars.

I tagged with Anthony while Bak needed some refreshing on his snowboarding skill since it was his first time back on the board since last year in Colorado. So, Anthony and I rode together. Then we kept wanting to get higher on the mountains, switching lifts till we got on the highest lift provided by the resort. We got all the way up to 10,000 feet! The view was absolutely beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like that in my life since I grew up in the cornfields in Illinois. I understood how some people couldn’t live without mountains. It was really breathtaking.

The snow wasn’t that great since it hasn’t snowed in a week but it was not that bad, not too icy but one deaf female Canadian we met at the top said she was disappointed with how snow had turned out. Oh well. I later found out she was a renowned athlete, being the only Deaf athlete to compete in the Sydney Olympics for Tae Kwon Do and former top athlete at Gallaudet University.

We rode for like seven hours straight and met up with some deaf friends like Blake, Charles, and Mark. Shit, they were speeders, zooming down the mountains and I tried my best to keep up with them.

By the end of the day, I was absolutely worn out by the evening and jumped into the spa behind our ski lodge. It was a perfect day.

Brighton, Utah

The next day, we got up early again, ate at this really good breakfast place called the Eating establishment. If you ever got yourself in Park City, you must go there if you want to get some good hearty breakfast. We stuffed ourselves with eggs, home fries, bacons, and homemade orange juice. Boy, what an excellent breakfast.

Then, Bak dropped us off at a bus stop that would take us up to Brighton. I found the resort to be a lot different than Park City. For starters, it’s a lot cheaper, only cost us $23.50 for a lift pass with a discount for deaf people. It’s smaller but I found it to be a nice resort that has a local feeling to it with smaller paths, more trees and definitely more friendly for snowboarders like they have more jumps and parks. Park City was purely a tourist place where tons of skiers go there with huge wide paths.

We all rode hard. Later in the afternoon, it finally snowed! it was a picture perfect, with snow falling down and brushing our goggles. It was exactly what I envisioned. You know, walking up the mountains, holding a board in your hands, you have your goggle on, everything is white and watching those calm snowflakes falling. It was gorgeous. Also, my confidence kept getting better and I was riding down faster and faster. Jumps weren’t as terrifying as in the beginning and I go faster and faster on those jumps.

Needless to say, I was hooked to snowboarding. There’s nothing like riding down the mountains and carving up the snow. It was a great day of snowboarding. Lots of deafies were there. It was just awesome. We’re talking about doing this every year at different places. Vancouver (Mt Whistler), Colorado, Vermont, and Lake Tahoe. I must go to each of them before I turn 30 in four years.

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Snowboarding @ Brighton, Utah

Mark Farr was the one who captured this photo, using Erwin’s camera. Thanks, Mark and Erwin!

mejumping1.jpg

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@ 10,000 feet in park city!

Whoo! Sent via BlackBerry from Cingular Wireless

En route to San Jose

Ugh, I’m being squeezed between two chubby women in the plane. Its
going to be a long unpleasant flight. Its already been delayed for an
hour. -_-

DIY Blood Typing Test Kit

Although I’m fairly sure that my blood type is O (hence my love for steaks and starch foods like rice or noodles), I’m gonna order this DIY Blood type test.

Link: DIY Blood Typing Blood Test Kit @ thinkgeek.com

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testing

Telecaption II

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In what language do deaf people think?

Someone typed “do Deaf people learn ASL faster?” in the google search and my post came out on the first page. Thought I’d repost this for Deafread.com to pick it up.

I’m assuming that the person who typed that search wanted to know if Deaf people actually learn ASL faster than hearing people.

In some ways, yeah, I do think that deaf people learn the language faster since they rely only on their eyes to learn. However, they need to be in a place where ASL is the predominant language where everyone is signing so it gives off a strong stimulation. Gallaudet University is a very good example of this. I know a few hearing students whose ASL fluency was ok, not great till they go into Gallaudet University and a year later, I see them again and their ASL “sky-rocket”, almost as good as next deaf person.

Personally, it would be so cool if deaf schools or any schools require teachers to have at least two years of internship or enrollment at Gallaudet University as part of the qualifications to apply for a teacher position. This ensures that teachers will be fluent in ASL and in turn, kids would benefit from their ASL competency.

I remember when I came to the United States for the first time when I was adopted. I landed in the O’Hare airport and my deaf parents were anxiously waiting to hug their first and only child. Of course, I was clueless as to why they were excited with big smiles and tears in their eyes. I was bewildered why they were acting like that and for looking directly at me. Like why were they waving hands at me, not others? as I had no idea who they were? No one “told” me that I was going to meet my parents, way out of my home country.

So they squeezed me hard after our distance finally closed and gave me a snoopy doll. I was still puzzled by all of this till my dad started signing to my mom. Pow! I don’t know how to describe it but it was like a light turned on in the dark room and you could see everything. I was only three years old and knew nothing about ASL but I felt like I can understand what my dad was signing. Maybe it’s not so about him using ASL but the fact he didn’t use his mouth and used his hands instead. Maybe it told me that he was deaf….like me. All the nervousness and apprehension I had went away after leaving my orphanage for the first time, getting on the plane for the first time, and meeting two complete strangers for the first time. Our deafness and ASL made all of those feelings disappeared. We made a connection. We didn’t need to share same blood.

On the way home from the airport, which was about four hours drive, my mom brought a children’s book and she was ready to teach me signs right there in the car. My first education happened in a car! We were sitting in the backseat, with my dad on my left and my mom on the right. My uncle was doing the driving. My parents showed me how to sign those pictures in the book like animals, trees, etc. My mom said by the time we got home, we had finished the whole book and I’d learn all the signs from the book. After one week, I had learned enough signs that we were signing normally as if we were together since I was born. One week was all it took from being complete strangers to a happy family.

Imagine if my parents tried to teach me how to speak or learn oralism? I couldn’t imagine.

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Saw this on the Digg website. I like the article so much that I have to post here.

In what language do deaf people think?

Dear Cecil:

In what language do deaf people think? I think in English, because that’s what I speak. But since deaf people cannot hear, they can’t learn how to speak a language. Nevertheless, they must think in some language. Would they think in English if they use sign language and read English? How would they do that if they’ve never heard the words they are signing or reading pronounced? Or maybe they just see words in their head, instead of hearing themselves? –Cathy, Malvern, Pennsylvania

I’m not going to post the entire article but to highlight some paragraphs.

The profoundly, prelingually deaf can and do acquire language; it’s just gestural rather than verbal. The sign language most commonly used in the U.S. is American Sign Language, sometimes called Ameslan or just Sign. Those not conversant in Sign may suppose that it’s an invented form of communication like Esperanto or Morse code. It’s not. It’s an independent natural language, evolved by ordinary people and transmitted culturally from one generation to the next. It bears no relationship to English and in some ways is more similar to Chinese–a single highly inflected gesture can convey an entire word or phrase.

Wow, who would have thought that our ASL is more similar to Chinese than English!

Sign equips native users with the ability to manipulate symbols, grasp abstractions, and actively acquire and process knowledge–in short, to think, in the full human sense of the term. Nonetheless, “oralists” have long insisted that the best way to educate the deaf is to teach them spoken language, sometimes going so far as to suppress signing. Sacks and many deaf folk think this has been a disaster for deaf people.

The answer to your question is now obvious. In what language do the profoundly deaf think? Why, in Sign (or the local equivalent), assuming they were fortunate enough to have learned it in infancy. The hearing can have only a general idea what this is like–the gulf between spoken and visual language is far greater than that between, say, English and Russian.

Yet hearing students keep thinking it’s easier to learn ASL than Russian in their high school foreign language requirement. Just because ASL doesn’t have a written form doesn’t mean it’s easy to learn ASL!

I remember one time when I was working for the Nestle Beverage Company in Jacksonville, IL after my senior year in high school. I had two managers and they wanted to learn ASL. One manager was the head of the factory and with his job, he would travel to many countries to do business and meetings, so he knew quite some languages, so he thought it should be easy to learn ASL, being that it’s right on the tip of our fingers instead of our tongue. The other manager was a short friendly guy from Texas with a great sense of humor. He was responsible for internal operations and didn’t travel elsewhere as much as the other manager did. So, suffice to say that he didn’t know another language but English.

Everyday during lunch or office breaks, I’d say hi to both managers and try to strike up a conversation to help teach them some ASL. Ofc, first with ASL fingerspelling, then gradually moving on to learn different signs and build up a vocabulary base. Toward the end of my internship, which manager ends up learning the most? It was the Texan. And the other manager? he was still struggling with sign alphabets. The Texan learned so much that we were able to converse smoothly with a minimal stoppage for interpretations (which sign is that? that kind of question). His sense of humor probably helped as much, for we would always make jokes and laugh.

I learned from this experience as much as they learned ASL and it leads me to believe that people who rely on audio so much—I think that’s called an audiophile?—-that they’re unable to grasp the concept of the language being visual instead of audible. Like the article above, the gulf between ASL and English is greater than English and Russian.

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