Dexter

If you had to ask who is Dexter, then you probably haven’t heard of TV drama show named Dexter.

I have a friend who’s pretty much a film buff himself. He’s like Ebert except he doesn’t do movie reviews in writing but in ASL discussions. From time to time, we’d bring up movie/TV shows conversations and talk about these plots, meanings, acting or how bad these were. The conversation came to Dexter and he was telling me how good it was. Finally, I got to watch the drama and it took me longer that I’d expected to finish all of the episodes (8 seasons, 96 episodes).

Well, you can read all about Dexter on Wikipedia or movies stackexchange forum to get a broad idea of what Dexter TV show is all about. In a nutcase, it’s about a guy who is a serial killer himself yet he works as a blood splatter analyst in forensics and homicide investigations. That’s the “hook” this TV show drama has and the guy carried the TV show like no one else’s business. He does a good job of being cold to people around him like if you needed to talk to him, he’d tell you he has somewhere to go to and that he’d talk to you later. He has that impression about him yet he remains invested in what’s going on and would be able to give you advice, as long as you’re not in his way or a threat to him.

In many ways, it reminds me of another TV show and more well-known at that—Breaking Bad and Walter White. We see his transformation from teaching chemistry to high school students to the mad scientist that he’s become, with the best meth not just in town but in the whole nation, and with his new ideals that justify his actions and the purpose in making meth and ultimately, money and security.

We see similar transformation with Dexter and he was convinced at first that he was born a serial killer because of his unimaginable trauma of witnessing his mother getting murdered cold-blooded. Apparently, he thought he was destined to be one, after what had happened to his mother and to himself too, enabling him to be a serial killer. So, he’s trained himself to be one and in controlling his ever urges to kill someone, his father taught him the code, in which he acts as a vigilante to kill others who have committed murder themselves and that gives Dexter a sense of justice while appeasing his urges to kill. That’s the idea of the code. However, over time and through episodes, Dexter learns more about himself and what it really means to be a serial killer, and naturally, fatal mistakes that he’s made. It took a long while before he realized he can stop being one but of course, just one more killing he needed to do, then he’d be all done with that business, as he seeks to wrap up things for good. That came with a dearly cost and a tragedy. The TV drama finally came to a bizarre ending and it looks like he’s not done yet and perhaps, he’s born to be a serial killer.

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100 Notable Books of 2014 by NYTimes

100 Notable Books of 2014 by NYTimes.

Looks like I’ve got some reading to catch up. Maybe 10 of them.

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NYC visit

My wife hasn’t visited NYC yet so I took her to the Big Apple. Took a few shots of the city. I’m surprised at how well our smartphones are capable of taking decent photos. Took subways, Central Park, tried new restaurants, and saw the new Freedom tower.

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Superhero for a day

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Is South Korea the world’s thirstiest drinkers?

I happen to come across this article that says South Korea has the most Starbucks coffee shops in the world, besting major cities such as NYC and London. In addition to that, Starbucks isn’t even the only coffee brand in South Korea; there are other coffee shops as well. Caffe Bene, Pascucci, and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, to name a few. Among OECD countries, South Koreans work the most hours and young Koreans are always studying to pass college entrance exams, so I suppose they do need their caffeine fix. Reading this article also reminds me of another article I’d recently read, that South Korea is also the world’s highest per capita alcohol consumption, mostly with soju beverage, consuming more than 3 billion worth of bottles. So, as a country that has the most coffee shops and lead the world in alcohol consumption makes South Korea the thirstiest drinkers in the world?

Links
KOREAM: CAFFEINATED NATION: SEOUL HAS THE MOST STARBUCKS LOCATIONS IN THE WORLD

The Guardian: Soju the most popular booze in the world.

Your typical Communist town

Apparently, North Korea has a regular visitor named Aram Pan, a 37-year-old Singaporean, who took a spin around Pyongyang on his GoPro camera. The city looks like a typical Communist town that isn’t overflowing with cars.

Thirty-three

It’s time to write another birthday post, right? I know I haven’t been able to keep my blog updated at all. Need to work on that but here goes my birthday post. As I read my last post, I realize I accomplished almost all of them. Ran a marathon in SF. I ran 4:05, was hoping to run under that, but mile 15 hit me again (this was my 2nd marathon and in my first marathon, I withdrew because of bad cramps) and I started having cramps again. I had to walk a few miles and tried to get hydrated. Then I’d try to jog again. That went on for another 11 miles and crossed the finish line. 5 mins past 4 hour mark. That’s ok, I’ll try to run faster than that next time.

Another thing I did in 2013 was traveling to Japan and Korea, which I did mention in the last post. I did climb Mt. Fuji! See the pic below. I actually did some training prior to climbing, mostly running and lifting some weights. Then, I did some hiking with my brother in Seoul. I’ve hiked 5 peaks around Seoul. The next one will be the big mountains in Gangnam with my brother and do some real camping. That’s next. I learned something about myself that I really like hiking/climbing, so that’s something to look forward in 2014.

2013 also was the year I did a lot of thinking, reading, and walking. On my work breaks, I go out and walk around the campus a bit. Sometimes, to get fresh air, a drink, or try some new fruits. I need to eat more fruits tho. Then, I’d get back to my desk and resume working.

Towards the end of 2013, something happened. I met a girl. Last summer, I stayed mostly local in SF and explore new coffee places and restaurants. Hm, I need to work on my Yelp reviews, the goal is to become elite member this year. I also tried to meet friends, some are far away, and that’s how I met her. We met a few times during summer and had a BBQ. As I was working the grill, my eye started to glance at her, then follow her around. I notice she was attentive to things and would try to help out if she can. So I asked her if she could help with this and she did. When the meats got done cooking, she would stand by and hold a tray next to me and I flip into it. Once the whole table was set up and the foods ready, we started eating. I had a question to her. “How was the steak?” “Good!” she replied, still chewing. Remember we can sign while eating.

Looks like I’ve already got some plans ready this year, 2014. It should be fun and I’ll try to write more often!

More pics here.

Yongin Korea, Washington DC, & Chicago IL

Nice travel pictures of us. Bottom pic’s in Washington DC around 2006. Middle pic’s in Yongin (south of Seoul) Korea, 2011. Top one in Chicago, 2012.

Look at my mom’s scarf…

Yonggungsa Temple near Busan, South Korea

Great picture. Went to see this temple back in 2010 with my sis and her family.

Thirty-two

I’ve recently turned thirty-two years (32) old. As some of you may know, I’d write something on my birthday or relatively close to it. I’ve just gotten back from snowboarding in Lake Tahoe. Kirkwood resort, to be precise. It got some snow last week, which was why I went, and it was great! Kirkwood is known to have decent snow based on its location since it’s at the highest base, 7,800, and its summit is at 9,800 feet. So, I went up there and boarded all the way from top to the bottom. It was fun and I’d try to do little jumps off bumps, and switched on both stances—goofy and regular. It’s amazing to see how far I’ve learned in snowboarding and I am trying to do more jumps with bigger air. It just takes practice and commitment to improve upon yourself. This year, I am staying local as I am saving up money to go to Japan later this summer and climb/hike Mt. Fuji. It’s been a goal of mine and I want to do some extra traveling around in Japan. Also, my sister and her family just moved there, for her husband’s Christian services. I hope to be in a good shape by then and will be training for a marathon in SF before that. A good friend of mine, Jess Conboy, will join me in the race. It’ll be his 9th marathon and his life goal is to qualify for the Boston marathon someday, with a time of 3:05 or faster. This one will be only my second, ha. I plan to run in a few races before the marathon to help me get ready. :) So, I’m trying to stay active, do fitness things because I realize how much I spend sitting on my ass by the computers. Not kidding you.

I’ve been living in SF for over a year, well almost two years, and yes, I’m one of these Googlers who takes the shuttle bus down to Mountain View, as my commute. It’s pretty nice except traffic is godly horrible. So I try to read news or a book. Sometimes, I do some work in the bus but the constant bounce in the ride makes me dizzy, so I’d sit quiet and look outside, enjoy the daylight, and just think generally, and be ready to hit the keyboard once I get in the office. Speaking of working, I’d need to make some statistics of my work and use it for a summary report once annual performance hits. Google is still a great place to work, although I’ve been on the horizon for something different, something more personal, like giving service to the deaf people or help with their program funding. Last summer, I actually went to the NAD conference in Louisville, KY to give a workshop on the new Google products—Google Plus and Google Hangouts–and also showed third-party plugins that connects you to an interpreter from VRS and another in captioning. It was a cool experience and was nice to meet some familiar faces, as deaf community is small. Plus, I also contacted several people from Diversity team and asked for a grant. So, this is something I’d like to do more, getting more grants and help support deaf programs or organizations.

As I’m getting close to the halfway between 30 and 40, I’m starting to realize that I’m not as young as I used to be. I remember before, I’d be pretty careless about my age. Nonetheless, I’m becoming more conscious of my age, which does enable me to know more about myself and what I’d like to do. Getting into Google was great, moving to California was great, working abroad in Korea was awesome, now I’m back here in CA and in the heart of San Francisco. I’m trying to go out as much as I can because I know not too far ahead, I’d probably have met someone and likely will have a family. How that will be, I have no idea but I’m up to the challenges and experiences it may present.

-nathan

THE 7 HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE HABIT 1 : BE PROACTIVE

“Your life doesn’t just “happen.” Whether you know it or not, it is carefully designed by you. The choices, after all, are yours. You choose happiness. You choose sadness. You choose decisiveness. You choose ambivalence. You choose success. You choose failure. You choose courage. You choose fear. Just remember that every moment, every situation, provides a new choice. And in doing so, it gives you a perfect opportunity to do things differently to produce more positive results.”

link

Exploring

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
-T.S. Eliot

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Global Power City Index 2011 and my thoughts

I have a keen interest in learning about the economics and how cities can attract talent and capital. First, I started off by reading this Wikipedia article — Global city.

A global city (also called world city or sometimes alpha city or world center) is a city generally considered to be an important node in the global economic system. The concept comes from geography and urban studies and rests on the idea that globalization can be understood as largely created, facilitated, and enacted in strategic geographic locales according to a hierarchy of importance to the operation of the global system of finance and trade.

There are some different indexes but the latest I could find was this one — Global Power City Index 2011 (in pdf). The top 20 global cities are below:

1) New York 320.)[1 (322.6)]
2) London(320.6)[2 (313.6)]
3) Paris(308.7)[3 (303.1)]
4) Tokyo(304.3)[4 (300.3)]
5) Singapore(255.3)[5 (244.2)]
6) Berlin(234.8)[6 (232.9)]
7) Seoul(233.4)[8 (228.5)]
8) Hong Kong(231.1)[9 (223.8)]
10) Amsterdam(226.6)[7 (230.8)]
11) Frankfurt(225.1)[13 (212.3)]
12) Sydney(215.8)[10 (219)]
13) Vienna(215.3)[11 (217.4)]
14) Los Angeles(212.2)[14 (210.7)]
15) Zurich(211.4)[12 (215)]
16) Osaka(205.8)[18 (205.6)]
17) Boston(205.7)[20 (203.3)]
18) Geneva(205.2)[19 (205.4)]
19) Beijing(204.2)[24 (199.2)]
20) Copenhagen(203.2)[17 (206.3)]

I’ve gone to 13 of the 20 cities. Here are my short thoughts:

1) New York – I’ve gone there four times during my college days. One of my friends worked in the Financial district there and we did some sightseeing including the Empire State building and took on some ferry boats. I suppose it’s a financial powerhouse due to banks like American Express and JP Morgan. Central Park, museums, and the subway system pretty much define this city! Also, you can rent a boat at boatfinancing.co. Boat financing is rapidly growing nowadays, lenders are very conservative and strict about a boat’s age, model, and even its location, in order to reduce their financial risk in case a borrower defaults on their loan. Because of this, there is a huge limit to the type of boats that actually qualify for traditional financing.

2) London – this is the reason why I was excited to type this post because I just visited London! It’s a close call between NYC and London but I’m afraid that London got the call in my own book. I can’t really summarize London in a single sentence since it’s got much history to it–the British museum, National Gallery, Westminister Palace, and so on. One thing that impressed me the most is the sense of regulation/security in this city. Your baggage get thoroughly inspected at the airports, rules are posted constantly everywhere, and there are people to help you along to get to your destinations. Trains, the Tube, taxis, London buses, etc. On the last day, I was able to return my Oyster card, which I got my deposit fee, and its remaining amount left, as I walked back into the airport. That’s efficient.

3) Paris – not visited

4) Tokyo – visited! I visited there two times. It’s got everything and more. Its subway system is the best in the world. Proof was when my ticket card got stuck into the machine. There was a Japanese lady right there, standing, and she walked forward, unlatched the machine and retracted the stuck card and handed it back to me. She said please try again and my card got all the way through out. It’s also got the best fish market in the world, and ofc, sushi is the best. Service is best too. I think you get what I mean.

5) Singapore – visited! I went there with my friend as part of the 17 days Southeast Asia trip which included five different countries. Both my friend and I had a great time there — weather really warm and tropical. Subway was tops. We stayed at a nice hotel and service was great. Could feel the city was thriving, diverse, however, its land is extremely small, so it depends on tourism a lot. Development is similar to Tokyo.

6) Berlin – not visited yet

7) Seoul – well, Seoul! I had the privilege of living in Seoul for one year where I worked for Google. And that’s in the Gangnam district! For sure, the city is competitive, carrying four million passengers everyday in subway. Koreans like to drive too, with cars in a traffic jam endlessly and not just that, there are motorcycle bikers who are eager to take your delivery to wherever you want it to be. It’s also the city where people consume most alcohol per capita, so as soon as you get there, expect to drink some soju! Many beautiful women too. It’s a city that is caught in the frenzy of modernization, competition, and transformation from the old city.

8) Hong Kong – visited! in my opinion, I think it has the best airport in the world. Express train is right there at the airport, walkable only by few hundred steps and in just 25 minutes, you’d be right there in the Hong Kong downtown. Lots of skyscrapers, since land is tight. It was colonized by the British, so no surprise there. My friend and I stayed at the Langham hotel, one of the best in the world.

10) Amsterdam- not visited yet

11) Frankfurt – visited! that was during my trip to Zurich as my co-worker has a sister in law who lives there. Seems like a nice quiet city but not as populous as in the Asian cities. Got a beautiful landscape around it and rivers. Despite that, I think it’s on the declining trend tho.

12) Sydney – not visited yet

13) Vienna – not visited yet

14) Los Angeles – visited! – that’s one big sprawling city, which can take 4 hours or longer to get from the west to the east. It’s home to Hollywood, the beaches, surfing, bodybuilders (Arnold Schwarzenegger), skateboarders, the porn industry, drugs, the Lakers basketball team. Don’t think I need to say more. In relation to body builders, for the safest, most effective and 100% legitimate legal steroids, look for https://roids.co/

15) Zurich – visited! it’s got one word and that’s called Zurich. Really nice city, seems like everyone is smart and rich. Everything is just in place, like the Swiss clock and it’s got the best public transportation (trams, buses) in the world. Swiss Army knifes, Swiss watches, and the Alps mountains. That’s Swiss.

16) Osaka – yet

17) Boston – visited, although I’ve only gone there twice and for a really short time. I did cruise around the Fenway park, which was smaller than I’d expected. Saw some universities like Harvard and MIT. A college town, that’s for sure. Other than that, didn’t see much, need to visit again. :/

18) Geneva – yet, although I visited Zurich

19) Beijing – visited. I visited this city way back in 2001. I think it’s changed a lot since then, maybe less polluted this time. It recently hosted the 2008 Olympics and I’ve been hearing some good things about the city. I’m not too sure about the high population and public transportation system though.

20) Copenhagen – yet, high on my list to visit, along with Amsterdam and Paris.

So, there you have it, some short bursts of my thoughts on the Top 20 Global Cities. I intend to visit the remaining cities and will be sure to share my thoughts. :)

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형 축하드립니다!

ExamiNation: a look into test preparation in South Korea

ExamiNation: a short documentary from Judy Suh on Vimeo.

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