“Back to the Future” – Korean adoption story

Written sometime in 2002., “Back to the Future” was my fave childhood movie about a young guy who goes back in time with a flying car. The best chilldhood movie ever made.

When the 747 Boeing finally put its wheels on the ground, I made a sigh of relief and stretched out my legs, finally moving after 4 hours of immobility. The plane slowly crawled as it looked for a gate to hug. Gazing through the window and thinking quietly, I wondered if this was really where my ticket stub stated. “Incheon, Korea. Arrival time: 3:37 pm.” If so, I had traveled roughly 7,000 miles from the other side of the world, 14 hours non-stop flight straight from Chicago, U.S.A. The plane paused and I waited to see if it finally stopped this time. Indeed, it stopped and passengers started to get up. I got up and reached for my North Face backpack in the overhead and stood impatiently as the line slowly made its way out of the plane. My hands began to sweat as I held my backpack and with almost every step, my heart started to beat faster, then into a pounding rhythm. I took a big breath and focused on where I was supposed to be going.

Any doubts of actually being in Korea were immediately put away when I saw the airport signs in Korean and couldn’t understand any of them. I followed a crowd of passengers as my guide to the baggage claims area and waited for my luggage to emerge. As I looked around the huge void and noticed that the airport wasn’t as crowded as many of the major U.S. airports were. I had expected a full traffic of people but here, only passengers were waiting to pick up their luggage.
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Harry Potter and other orphans

I made an interesting discovery tonight that there are a number of well-known, both fictional and non-fictional, characters that were orphaned. I find this personal because I was also an orphan myself before I was adopted by Deaf parents that I couldn’t imagine not having them as my parents.

My favorite comic character is Batman. In fact, I’m wearing a Batman t-shirt right now, heh. He’s my favorite because first, he doesn’t possess any superhuman powers. He’s a mortal human being just like you and me. Instead, he relies on his intellect, physical prowess, mental toughness, knowledge of science and technology, and build gadgets to enable him to do the job he needed to do. The last part is especially important because I make use of technology to bypass communication barriers as a deaf person. If it wasn’t for technology we have today, well, I couldn’t imagine, we’d probably be as dumb as next dog.

Anyway, I found this interesting article that discusses people who were an orphan.

1) Batman. His parents died when he was a young kid.
2) Superman. His home planet got exploded and the Kents family found him on a farm.
3) Spider-Man. Raised by his uncle and aunt.
4) Harry Potter. His parents were killed by the evil sorcerer Voldemort when he was a baby.
5) The Great Moses. His mother left him in a basket on the Nile river. Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him.
6) Romulus and Remus. Taken care by a she-wolf. Went on to found the city of Rome.
7) King Arthur. Pulled the sword out of the stone and ultimately became a king. I loved the animation version made by Walt Disney.
8. Cinderella. Every girl’s favorite fairy tale.
9) Dorothy in the “Wizard of Oz.”
10) Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn.
11) Dickens’ Oliver Twist and Pip from The Great Expectations.
12) Anakin Skywalker, Luke and Leia Skywalker.
13) Frodo Baggins from Lord of the Rings. His parents, Drogo Baggins and Primula Brandybuck “went out boating on the Brandywine River; and [they] were drowned, and poor Mr. Frodo only a child and all.”
14) Alexander Hamilton. An illegitimate, largely self-taught orphan from the Caribbean, George Washington’s most trusted aide, co-author of The Federalist Papers, the country’s first Treasury secretary and of course, the face of the ten-dollar bill.
15) Dave Thomas – adopted as a baby, never met his birth parents. Went to become the founder of Wendy’s fast food restaurant.
16) Leo Tolstoy – lost his mother when he was two, and his father when he was nine. Often regarded as one of the greatest of all novelists ever.
17) Faith Hill – adopted as an infant. The only female artist to have three consecutive albums debut at Number One on the Billboard albums chart.
18) Edgar Allan Poe. His father left the family and his mother died from tuberculosis. One of the America’s most well-known writers.

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I read everywhere and constantly.

I was just reading a book and to take some break from being on a computer 24/7. Then it occurred to me that it doesn’t matter what I do, I’m constantly reading—be it on signs, closed captioning, my pager, bytes on computer displays, fine print in magazines, instructions on food packages, everywhere.

I remember one conversation I once had with a girl. We were talking about how much we like to read that it was almost a must. Especially a must for people like us who couldn’t hear a word and where else could we get information? Reading, of course.

We would get so bored if we don’t have something to read. Like one time she explained to me that while she was waiting in a car, she and her mind got so bored that she was just dying to read something, anything. Guess what she ended up reading? the car owner’s manual that she found in the glove box. She also told me that each time she went to a grocery store with his mom, she would always take a magazine and read it while pushing a cart around and being engrossed in it with her elbows resting on top of handles and didn’t care what was being thrown into the cart. She would make sure that the shopping took long enough or she would pace it down so she could finish the whole magazine and put it back into the stands where she got it and quickly went back to the aisle to help her not-too-pleasant mom to load food items onto the belt. On every Sunday, she would steal her dad’s favorite newspapers subscription, the New York Times. Needless to say, she’s one helluva of a smart girl. All of those reading paid off for her.

I always thought that was a cool story and I did the exact same thing too. My dad liked the coffee at Starbucks so each time we went to Barnes and Noble, I would go straight to the bestseller aisle or new paperbacks to see what’s new. Ofc, I love magazines too and would take a few and bring to the table where my dad is enjoying his coffee. Even though my dad isn’t big of a reader himself, he was always willing to buy them for me and I would be happily reading in the car on way to home.

Whenever I’m going out with friends on some kind of a trip, I like to sit in the back, not in the shotgun seat, so I would have less distractions reading a book. One of the things about myself is that I kinda have this habit that I cannot go to a bathroom without something to read. Luckily I have a blackberry now so in case I couldn’t find anything to take with me, I can browse on my blackberry. So I make sure my bathroom has some variety of magazines and books, ha.

Now, it seems that I spend a lot of reading on the Internet. I guess it’s more convenient, free, and doesn’t take up any space but from time to time, I like to take a book and sit in a comfy chair and just read.

Ok, time for me to get back to my book. :-)

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How to date a Deaf person?

I’m noticing there are more hearing people dating deaf people largely because they are learning ASL and think we’re cool people. Here’s the list below.

1. You need to know ASL (duh) and be darned good at it or have a passion for it. It takes a long time to develop “deaf eyes”. How do you know if you have them? You don’t find yourself saying “what’s that sign or what did s/he just say?” anymore and able to talk with our Deaf friends at ease without looking at us for help.

2. If you don’t know what’s that sign or what we’re talking about, ask. Please don’t pretend.

3. Don’t over-patronize. If we want to order food on our own, let us.

4. Don’t ever feel bad for our inability to hear. It’s irrelevant like we don’t feel bad that you can hear.

5. You are not an interpreter but there will be times you will need to interpret. If it becomes annoying, you should have second thoughts about dating one.

6. If you happen to know or meet a hearing friend who knows ASL, talk in ASL. Save your voice for your non-signing friends.

7. Respect each other’s culture. We don’t mind hanging out with your speaking-only friends but not all the time and you don’t have to hang out with us all the time. Balance is nice. Example: if you want to go to a movie theater with your friends and it doesn’t have subtitles or captions, don’t feel bad. Remember #4.

8. If you really want to date a deaf person, watch “Children of Lesser God” first to get some idea.

9. It’s impolite not to tell us who you got off the phone with.

10. We like loud music. Deal with it.

Hope these help. Happy dating!

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.

My experience at a deaf school.

Before I start this post, I just want to make a little precaution that this is being written by a twenty-something guy who did not learn a single word till he was three years old, learned ASL as the first language and was stuck with a fifth or lower grade English level all the way till high school before finally getting out of the incredibly long maze to take control of English language without being batted down with some red ink from my teachers.

I don’t have a fancy phd initials next to my name and I’m just a guy whose high school senior picture can be found on the same wall along with my both parents’ black/white senior pictures frames. Yes, we all graduated from the same school at Illinois School for the Deaf. It is one of the many common things we share together, considering the fact we don’t share a single same blood droplet. Yes, that’s right, not a single drop and the reason for that is because I was born in Korea and got adopted. Our deafness and love hold us stronger than the bricks that form the Great Wall of China.

So, now you’re familiar with my little background and that I don’t claim to be an authority on subjects that talk about how to improve education and school system. I figure it’s time for somebody to talk a bit about deaf schools after having attended one and the only one since I was three years old, then upon graduation, went to Gallaudet University my first year before transferring to RIT for a change of major to Information Science and most importantly, having been around Deaf people all my life and reading tons of articles/blogs on issues that affect us as Deaf people.

If there’s one topic that is too familiar in the deaf community other than cochlear implant, which I would say is on par with abortion or stem cell research is the closing of deaf institutions. Every time when a deaf school has to be closed, it touches every Deaf alumnus’ heart. Deaf schools are like a second home after spending a big chunk of time there; for some people, it can be as long as 18 years since they were born. It also means when a deaf school has to go, ASL lost another home too. Because deaf schools are usually where most deaf kids come to learn their natural language. So, it heartily affects everybody who attended or graduated from deaf schools.

I’m not sure if this is true but someone told me that in the state of Florida, any babies or kids who are pathologically identified to have a hearing loss, they are placed or sent to Florida School for the Deaf/Blind (FSDB). It’s one reason that FSDB has one of the largest enrollment numbers among deaf schools in the United States. Well, I think that’s a great idea. I’m not sure about being automatically placed as I need to confirm this research but at least I think the state should require parents with deaf babies to visit the deaf school and get all the information, more screening tests for their kids, and actually meet people who have many years of experience working directly with deaf kids. I’d imagine they offer all kinds of advice to parents that they SHOULD know before making a decision for the future of their kids. Too often, parents either don’t know about deaf schools or are being told that deaf schools are for retarded children. If they still feel strongly about getting a cochlear implant for their kids, that is fine as long as they’ve heard both sides: us and the doctors/world at large. It’d be wonderful if all states could use this kind of policy.

Another thing about the decline in enrollment numbers, I think, has been the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). It’s really a double-edged sword because while we want equal opportunity in employment and no discrimination, public schools are forced to let deaf students enroll and provide interpreters. Naturally, parents would want their kids to be close to their home so they’d pick mainstreamed schools over deaf schools. But the problem with these public schools are some of them have zero experience or have never worked with deaf kids before so they’re clueless and just place them in one deaf class because they couldn’t afford an interpreter for each individual deaf student. They let or hire a teacher who claims s/he is fluent in ASL just because they had a childhood friend who was deaf or took an ASL class for one year back in college. That’s why I support the idea that parents should visit residential schools first before they make any decision.
One issue we all know too well about deaf schools is the lack of education. Well, there’s no denying that it’s not true. But it’s not really their fault that they have a lower education standards than other public schools. Numbers play a huge part here. Not a long ago, I read something really insightful called the 80-20 rule. An Italian sociologist and economist named Vilfredo Pareto was the one who came up with the pattern of the 80-20. While studying microeconomnics, he observed that 80% of housing income in Italy was received by 20% of the Italian population. A more broadly definition is 80% of the consequences stem from 20% of the causes. It is known as the Pareto principle.

You’re probably going “huh?” I was just like you so I found some more practical examples. In sports, 20% percent of its top players produce 80% of the scoring. In business, 80% of the sales are made by 20 percent of the sales team. Even with our work; 20% percent of our efforts produce 80% of the results. 20% of Wikipedia users produce 80% of the content.

Beginning to see the pattern? this can even apply to the recent Gallaudet protest. 20% of the protesters report 80% of the latest news (the other 20% is probably Gallaudet’s biased PR, Washington Post and other biased media). 20% of the protesters help organize/lead/rally the 80% of the protest. Even in salaries, 20% of top paid positions get 80% of the budget.

Remember, it is just a theory, not the perfect universal answer or pattern to everything but it can help understand why certain things happen and explain the numbers. So, how is this related to the lack of education at deaf schools? Okay, let’s say 20% of students make up 80% of the school’s academic success. Enrollment numbers are very small at school, like at ISD, there is about 100 students in high school so that means there would be about twenty students who are academic. Now, in mainstreamed public schools, they usually have a thousand students or even two thousand, so they’ll have 200 students or 400 students who are academically driven. With those higher numbers, public schools can afford to offer more classes such as AP courses. They’ll have students who can take AP calculus and put about twenty students in the class and others in different courses like English. You can’t expect to put all 20 deaf students in one AP class and probably only a few can take it. To principals, it’s not a good use of teachers’ time and money to teach two or three students in one class. Like I said at the beginning, it is all about the numbers and the lower the numbers are, the lower the education level is going to be. It’s as simple as that.

So, where’s the solution in this? This is going to sound simplistic. Make an exchange program with mainstreamed schools. Establish a partnership with them. Send deaf students to public schools to take advanced courses that deaf schools don’t or cannot offer. At the same time, public schools can send their students to deaf school for ASL class for those who are interested in learning ASL and perhaps want to become a deaf teacher in the future.

How did I know about this? because I was in the program before. My high school, ISD, had a partnership with Jacksonville High School and I took an AP math class and physics there. Other deaf students also took psychology or history. JHS also had their own ASL class for those students who are first year and second year ASL class is taught at my school for deeper interaction with deaf students. I remember how those ASL classes were always seem to be full of hot girls and I had a crush on one girl who was an all-state volleyball player. Also, one girl from the class is now an English teacher and another girl is taking up deaf education to become a teacher too. I would say this exchange program is a win-win situation.

The only thing I’m going to add is a tutor program for those deaf students who go to public schools. If they wanted to take classes at public schools, they’d be required to attend tutor sessions because they will receive tons of homework. They couldn’t meet teachers after school or end of classes because they would miss their transports to take them back to deaf school. Also, tutors know ASL and would be able to explain concepts more clearly and assist with whatever questions they may have.

I’m going to talk about sports now. I’m not very tall or big but I was fortunate to be a starter on varsity teams (football, basketball, and track). If I went to another school, I would never been a starter and would be lucky to make a varsity in one sport, not three. Sports can play a big recruiter tool; look no further than those college teams that offer big scholarships to top athletes in the nation. If there’s going to be one thing that deaf schools can attract students from mainstreamed schools, it’s the sports. I personally know two guys who transferred from mainstreamed schools to our school so they can be starters instead of benchwarmers at their schools. Who would want to be on a bench all the time knowing you could be a starter at another school? Coaches and players find difficulty communicating with deaf players and they just find their way back to the bench and be a fan supporter. That is one thing deaf schools have an
“advantage” over other schools. However, it’s the scheduling that is entirely a different story.

We play in a very tough football conference called Western Illinois Valley Conference that consists of twelve teams and is split in two divisions: North and South. This conference is one of the toughest conferences in the state of Illinois and three or four teams would be ranked in top ten every year and has brought state championships for many years. Their enrollment numbers are growing while ours would stay the same or decline. Also, smaller schools would consolidate together to boost their enrollment or to solve their small budget problems by merging together. For us, no, we’re definitely not going to see more deaf babies being born. Their schools are becoming bigger while we stay the same or smaller. So, it’s no brainer that we always end up with the worst record.

In my freshmen year, we were 0-9 but was awarded a forfeit win because IHSA busted one school for letting an over-aged kid play. The next year, we’re 0-9 again, junior year same again, 0-9. So, my first three years of playing high school football were combined 0-27. I’m not going to count that forfeit win to make myself better. It’s no fun coming in the game, knowing you’re already doomed. There is probably no worse feeling than that. It really sucked. But during our senior year, having the largest class in five years and growing up together during those rough three years and a revamped new offense system that showed a lot of reverses and fakes with two wingmen, we finally WON a game. That was against Meredosia, which had about the same number of students as we did. We went on a winning streak, defeating Routt Catholic (our biggest upset win), Virginia, Northwestern in our homecoming game, before losing to Triopia, which was a state-ranked team. We were 5-3 and had to beat Greenfield, a perennial playoffs team to earn a playoff bid in our last game and guess what? we beat them! Then we played against a powerhouse football team, El Paso, that had almost 400 students versus our 130 students. Needless to say, we got beat badly. As for basketball? for all four years I’ve played, we’ve never had a winning season, so there’s not much to say about that.

So, what’s my point in all those? Make deaf schools independent of those non-sense conferences. I’m jealous of other deaf schools that find a way to play a few deaf schools in their schedule. Model Secondary School for the Deaf (MSSD) in Washington, DC often play against deaf school teams during their seasons including flying to California and Texas. Some deaf schools host deaf-schools-only tournaments. My dream would to create a new kind of conference for deaf school teams if that’s ever possible, so those so-called Deaf National Team of the Years honors will be legitimate instead of questionable. My fondest sports memories came from playing against deaf teams in Central School Sports for the Deaf (CSSD) tournaments. Our enrollment numbers are similar, we share same disability, we can actually talk to each other after games and make friends. I never did that with any hearing teams, so to speak. I’m not trying to sound as if I am against hearing people but it’s just the way things are. You can’t help it if you wanted to.

I realize this post is becoming very long and if you’re still reading this, well, I’m glad. I realize this is more of a personal experience than specific ways/suggestions to improve deaf schools. One more thing I’m going to bring up is the people or staff who work at deaf schools. I really think that there should be at least 50% or more deaf people working or teaching at deaf schools. This ensures that deaf kids will have an exposure to deaf role models and for deaf people to have a job. I’m not against hearing people who want to work with deaf kids and be a teacher but there are hundreds of schools elsewhere that they can get a teaching job while deaf people would prefer to teach at deaf schools where they can use ASL and without interpreters. That’s not saying deaf people cannot teach at public schools as they can use an intepreter but I don’t think hearing students would be as responsive if they had to use an interpreter to talk to the deaf teacher. It’s almost like hiring an English teacher to teach a Spanish class and use Spanish interpreters to translate English to Spanish. In dorms, deaf residental advisors can share stories or teach deaf kids how to get through life and in the real world as a Deaf person when oralism or cochlear implants didn’t work for them. I spent 15 years at ISD and all of my role models were Deaf, no hearing, to be honest.

That goes my post with my experience at a deaf school along with some suggestions that can help make deaf schools better. What I would really like to see is any hearing parents with a deaf child should go to visit a deaf residential school first before they make a decision. If they feel strongly about getting cochlear implant for their child, that is okay as long as they’ve considered all options but I don’t want to see them to feel that by not getting one means their child won’t be successful and cannot function in the world as we know it. I think that the sooner we realize or accept our deafness, the lesser we are going to struggle with our identities and where we belong to, also the sooner we can get on with learning. Deaf children would have developed a foundation in language development through ASL and be able to express their feelings or thoughts without spending tons of time in front of a mirror trying to pronounce between D and T. I know it’s hard for hearing people to see through that because they want to see their children as normal as they can be but they are normal, just a little different like everyone else is different.

I don’t regret for a single moment that I went to a deaf school at Illinois School for the Deaf and I’m looking forward to our 10 years reunion coming in 2009. It’ll be great to see both of my parents’ frames and mine on the wall one more time.

Speaking of cultural difference – Brazil vs. Turkey

Thought this was funny…

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A Series of Interesting Guesses

If there could be one thing I’m envious of hearing people, other than being able to talk on phone and enjoy music, it’s to eavesdrop other people’s conversations. Like when I’m in the airport, waiting for my flight in a hub, I get curious what they are saying. Or at a bookstore and I’d pretend I’m reading a book but actually eavesdropping someone’s conversation. I suspect this is how hearing people become well-versed in English while we deaf people have to rely on a lot of reading to catch up.

Today, I went to Barnes and Noble bookstore to use up my giftcard someone gave me for my birthday. I bought this book titled “Neither here and there.” by Bill Bryson, about his travel experience in Europe. Wow, I really want to go to Europe so badly. Bill Byson is definitely my favorite author; something about his writing that totally captivates me and how much I can relate to his thoughts. As I was reading, I froze upon this paragraph and made me wonder that perhaps it’s not so bad I cannot eavesdrop people’s conversations.

“When I told friends in London that I was going to travel around Europe and write a book about it, they said, “Oh, you must speak a lot of languages.”

“Why, no,” I would reply with a certain pride, “only English,” and they would look at me as if I were foolish or crazy. But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.”

Except mine is a lifetime on a series of interesting guesses. :-)

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My gross diet

I just ate a can of spaghetti boyardee, 8 sticks of new Oreo, turkey sandwich (with one bread) with mustard and cheese, beef ramen, and a leftover steak with A1 sauce. Oh, I had a milk to go with that too.

+ + + + + =

Anyone care to count how many calories altogether?

all pics are found from images.google.com.

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My first ever hole-in-one!

Something happened to me that’s never been happened before. I made a hole in one! That is every golfer’s dream—to make a hole in one, especially from a par 3—in our lifetime. Today after work, I decided to go out to the University of Maryland golf course (I wish I was a student there, so I’d become a member and get discounted fees). My friend, Luke, had a meeting at 4:30 pm so he couldn’t meet me there on time. He’d meet me later at the 10th hole, since I had enough time to do 18 holes. So I went ahead and played by myself.

This happened on the 3th hole, par 3, 187 yards marker, but the white tee was moved back about 3 yards behind the marker, so that made it 190 yards long. I was deciding whether to go with an iron 3 or 4, but since it was a little downhill and virtually no wind, I chose iron 4. I did some warm-up swings, trying to get some rhythm and feeling confident with my swing. Then I stood behind the ball, visualizing my shot and which direction I’m gonna aim and shoot at. I usually pick a tree or some easy spots where I could see from the corner of my left eye. (it helps when my left eye is dominant over my right eye, thus I shoot a gun left-eye, not from my right eye and don’t worry, I don’t own a gun myself). I set my shoe spikes into the grass underneath me, grip my Cleveland TA7 iron, wiggle my wrists a bit to keep loose, and I looked up at my target (a tree, rather than straight at the flagstick) for one more time, took my break for the last time, started my backswing and just let it all go. I felt the ball struck solidly, flew high through the air, I could see the ball a little left of the flagstick, about 3 feet, and was going exactly where I was aiming at. Then, the ball went down and hit hard onto the green, rolled till I couldn’t see it anymore because the slope was curvy downhill.

I walked up to the green, expecting to see my ball on the green but it wasn’t there. Could it have rolled off the green and into the rough? So I looked around the rough; nothing there. Ahh, not again! I didn’t wanna lose my damn ball again, which had happened countless times, but I had an idea that I’d look for the divot instead where the ball had landed onto the green and try to figure out where the ball might have gone. I looked at the divot, and formed an imaginary line where it rolls off. It was pointing at the flagstick. Then it suddenly registered to me that the ball could have gone into the cup…. A possible hole-in-one!? it cann’t be… I walked to the hole and looked down. The ball was there; I had made not only my first hole-in-one but my first eagle too!

Man, I can’t even begin to describe the feeling when I started to realize that the ball had indeed gone down into the cup. I’m sure it’s different for others but to me, I feel like it’s an acknowledgment that my golf skill has become good enough that it’s capable of making a hole-in-one. What is a greater satisfaction is that I can proudly say I’ve made a hole in one in my lifetime, although there was no one to witness it. I don’t care as I know for a fact that I made it. It tells me that after all those hundreds, no, make it thousands, of swings, countless hours of practice, that it has paid off and that it wasn’t a waste of time. It is as if God has rewarded me.

It flashed me back to the days when I was about 12 years old and my dad had a really old golf clubs (he bought them in the 70s after seeing Jack Nicklaus won more than 10 majors and 8 more majors after that) but only used them a few times. My dad is not big of an athlete, so I practically blew the dust off the clubs and went to the backyard and tried to swing at the ball like I’d see them do on the TV. Since we weren’t very affluent nor a member of a country club, I never actually played at a real golf course till I was about 16 years old. I’d save up enough money to buy my own golf club set, bought them for only 100 dollars at Target, with a driver (it was really a wood 3 with graphite shaft, wood 5, wood 7 and iron 3 through pitch wedge). To compare how cheap that was, my current putter alone costs $90 dollars.

Since I turned 16 years old and able to drive alone, I drove to a public golf course and started playing golf. I believe it was at Nicholas Park Golf Course in Jacksonvile, IL. They had a pond between two holes and I hit, like, 4 straight balls into the water before finally hitting it long enough to get over the pond. Since then, I’ve played more often but to the limits of my budget and didn’t really play much during college since I was almost always broke and my eyes constantly in front of computers while chowing down junk foods. Now I’m receiving steady paychecks from my employer and able to afford green fees, before was I able to take up golf more seriously. Let there be more hole-in-ones to come!

Pics taken from my Sidekick companion:

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Five years later…

An old friend of mine found this pic and emailed me the link. So I clicked on it and it showed the pic of me when I was a freshman at Gallaudet University before I transferred to RIT the following year and graduated from there. I looked at the old picture and couldn’t believe how different I look now, so I look at my recent pics and decide to make a “before/after” picture like you’d see in weight loss or plastic surgery informericals. So, that’s what four years of college, spring breaks, and plenty of kegs can happen to you. :-)

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