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Rooster of the year and Murakami

This year marks 12th year since I wrote my first birthday post. So, I’ve completed third cycle based on the Chinese calendar. Perhaps it was in my own subconscious that I was inspired to write my first birthday post because I realize it’d be the rooster sign that year and to my own surprise, I kept up with my birthday writing and here I am, 36 years old, in my third cycle of the Chinese calendar. As you know, Lunar New Year doesn’t happen on the first day of the new year (Jan. 1) but later in the year, on January 28th. Know who has a birthday on the same day? It’s my mom’s birthday. :) All sorts of different connections there.

So, today, I turn thirty-six years old. Or 36 times around the Sun. This time, I’m closer to the 40 years old mark than I am towards 30 years old. It has that feeling of running more than halfway to the first mile on your daily treadmill run. Since average life expectancy is around 77 years old for men, 40 years is like middle age, so I’m quickly reaching that halfway point. I am a believer of the law of averages, so I expect to be deceased by the age of 80. Anything longer than that would be considered bonus to me. That’s how I shall look at my life, the scarcity of it, not that there’s anything despair about it, just how life is.

The funny part when I turned 30 years old, it wasn’t in the United States but in South Korea, where I wouldn’t have had the wildest dreams of being able to live in South Korea before that. I had thought the only time I’d be in South Korea was when I was born and that’s it. Speaking of finding my roots in South Korea, I’d come across an excerpt that I thought sums it up very well. It was none other than Haruki Murakami himself, one of my idol authors. Here’s what he has to say:

INTERVIEWER: You can’t have a detective unless something’s missing.

MURAKAMI: Right. When my protagonist misses something, he has to search for it. He’s like Odysseus. He experiences so many strange things in the course of his search…

INTERVIEWER: In the course of trying to come home.

MURAKAMI: He has to survive those experiences, and in the end he finds what he was searching for. But he is not sure it’s the same thing. I think that’s the motif of my books. Where do those things come from? I don’t know. It fits me. It’s the driving power of my stories: missing and searching and finding. And disappointment, a kind of new awareness of the world.

After reading that excerpt, I’ve finally found my own answer, in that I was like Odysseus trying to find his way home and to be reunited back with his family but of course, the gods kept messing around with him and one certain goddess who had taken a liking to him. After discovering my family in 2002 and having met several more, I feel like my own identity has grown more firmly, knowing where I came from and how I’ve gotten at this point, almost like how a star is born. Whenever people got curious about my adoption and asked why I’d want to find my birth family in Korea, it can be pretty difficult to give an answer but this Odysseus experience sums it up well for which I can give as an answer, given if they’d know about the story of Odysseus and the Virgil.

Here’s what Murakami said at the end:

INTERVIEWER: Disappointment as a rite of passage?

MURAKAMI: That’s right. Experience itself is meaning. The protagonist has changed in the course of his experiences—-that’s the main thing. Not what he found, but how he changed.

I agree completely with this, that when I visited South Korea for the first time ever, it was the experience that gave me a sense of meaning, rather than what I found. I suppose it was a good thing I was able to keep an open mind, not expecting South Korea to be exactly the same as the U.S. was, or any country for that matter. It’s just what it is, and like everybody else, everyone has their own shortcomings. With that said, I believe I was given up for a reason, and that’s all it matters. The rest of it, is utterly up to me and how shall I want to spend my life.

If you’ve kept up with my posts, you probably could tell I’m a big fan of Murakami. It was from reading his books that I’ve come to the sense of myself, and whatever thoughts I may have in my mind is not all that weird. Like a true fan who wants to bid on lunch auction (worth $1 million or more) with the billionaire Warren Buffett or to shoot a round of golf with Tiger Woods himself, I’d love to run a 10k with Haruki Murakami and have a beer afterwards and discuss on the finer things in life and women. I can only hope I can persuade him to a glass of Sierra Nevada Pale ale, my favorite beer.

-nathan

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Thirty-five

My blog has turned into another year for 11th time. So am I, into 35 years old. Recently, Asian countries celebrated Lunar New Year this early month and it’s the monkey’s turn too. Know what’s next? Rooster? which is my animal sign!

Yuka and I recently celebrated our first year, getting married on Sept. 20th, 2014. Most of the time, we spent either working or traveling to somewhere new, like the one we went to Chico, CA where it’s home to my favorite beer, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. That was fun and sampled lots of beers and got pretty drunk in the process. Then, we stayed at a campground nearby, in our tent, costing $20.

We had like four friends’ weddings and went to each. I had a chance to re-visit Washington, DC where I spent 3 years working there and got my start with Google as a datacenter technician. So, that was fun to go back and it’s definitely more populated this time than the last time I was there. I had fond memories with DC, home to Gallaudet University.

I also spent time playing golf and disc golf. It’s a good exercise and it’s something that you can’t rush your game like playing football or basketball. I do some running to stay in shape, which is surprisingly effective. You don’t have to be the fastest man on Earth but just give yourself a chance to work your body through running. That’s pretty much all you need. I do pushups too and occasionally go to gym couple times a week. I think that’s how I will spend my life, doing fitness things.

Well, I feel like 2015 really went by fast and this time, I have someone I spend my time with, which has been profound. It’s like my memories became more significant because there’s someone in it. I’ve also been reading books on my Kindle, and this year was a productive year on reading books. I’ve read more than 15 books and read all of Murakami’s books, which I should do a review of. I find a lot of things in common with Murakami, which makes me feel thankful and normal in an odd way. I shall share these feelings one day.

Also, this year, I feel like I know more about myself. I’m not sure why but I feel like I know what I’m doing and what I have to do. It’s been mind-stimulating as if you are playing a chess against a good opponent. So, what I’ve done this year is doing what I can do, stay in shape, and keep reading books and have some conversations with different people I know. I should make new friends too.

Here’s to 2016, the year of the monkey. :)

We managed to hike up three mountains in 2015. My goal is to climb at least one mountain per year. This was one of them—Mt. Sakurajima 桜島

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Thirty-four and ten years anniversary!

Today, I turned officially into thirty-four years old. 34. 34th time around the Sun. With that, it’s time to write another birthday post, which is something I’ve been doing since I turned 24 years old. That’s ten years ago! I still think blogging is nice, like writing your own diary, despite how everyone is on social media these days, but I believe emails and blogs still prevail. I read my first birthday post and it was brief. I had something to say about Chinese astrology, which if you had to guess someone’s age, all you have to do is ask what is their Chinese sign, then you’d be able to deduce which age s/he would be, as there are twelve signs, so 12 years margin in between. Also, I just realize New Lunar Year was last week on the 19th, so perhaps it makes sense that I’d write this annual post on my birthday since it happens soon after Lunar Day. I do know that China and Korea celebrate Lunar Year extensively. Not sure about Japan tho. It’s interesting to read through my birthday posts, like I dreamed about owning Honda S2000 one day which I did so a couple of years ago. I however sold the car so I could afford an engagement ring to propose to my wife, and ultimately, finance the wedding.

Speaking of wedding, in less than a year, I got married to my wife. I didn’t even see it coming myself but it happened rather quickly and like they say, timing is everything. One day, I thought I’d never meet anyone or get married, or having all sorts of relationship problems, trust issues, then the next thing I knew, I met someone and got married.

As I read through these birthday posts, I realize 10 years happened in an instant. So that means next 10 years will happen in an instant too. People say life is short. Indeed it’s true. Which brings up the topic of a bucket list. If you noticed, older people tend to say they have a bucket list. I’m noticing it myself that I’m slowly building one myself. There are things that I want to do, mostly around traveling to different places and do hiking. One is to see the volcanoes and lava flow in Big Island, Hawaii. I think Yuka and I might do that for our honeymoon vacation. Another one is climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania. Looks like I’ve got a thing about volcanoes because I recently climbed Mt. Fuji in Japan, which was one of the most fulfilling trips I’ve ever had in my life. Another short-term goal is to hike Mt. Whitney, the highest summit in California. Right now, Yuka and I are planning a road trip to Mt. Whistler and hope to snowboard if there’s any snow up there! So, between playing golf, driving fast, running, traveling/hiking pretty much comprise my outdoor life. The rest, computers and reading books take over. And I need to write more.

Before I close this birthday post, one of the things I’ve been thinking often, like with our bucket lists, is our psychological state. Since our life is limited in finite numbers, it’s important to recognize and see where we are at in terms of life. Because if we don’t do that, we may lose sight on what’s important and we might find ourselves dissatisfied with life and paradoxically cut our life short. Every once in a while, I’d read Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development, do a quick review, and do a mental assessment of myself, to make sure I understand where I’m at and what I’d like to accomplish in life, so that I don’t get frustrated with myself or where things are going. Writing this birthday post is a great example, so I hope to write every year and more frequently in between, for as long as I can.

Happy New Lunar Year! 새해 복 많이 받으세요!

Past birthday posts:

Thirty-three
Thirty-two
Around the Sun 31 times
Thirty years old
Twenty-nine
Twenty-eight
Twenty-seven years old
Twenty-six years old
I turn 25 today.
The Existence of 24 years old on this Planet Earth.

Sushi dinner my wife made for me

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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.

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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

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Around the Sun 31 times…

Today, I’ve gotten around the Sun 31 times. It’s a fun way to look at this way, as we’re all revolving the Sun. And who knows for how many more. What to say on my birthday? Well, I think it’s going to sound a little disappointing ’cause my thoughts are pretty much the same, more or less, of what I’ve said in my last few birthday posts. Although I must share that in the last few years, I felt like there was a cloud over my head, as I thought deeply about myself, then an opportunity opened up for me to work abroad in Korea for a year. That seems to make a big difference in myself, as I immersed myself into the ways of Korean culture and also had been interacting with Koreans, which I’ve realized to be a little different than the people in America. Koreans do have a strong sense of identity to themselves and quite proud of what they’ve accomplished thus far and the language, Hangul, is a big part of that. In fact, they’re the only country that has a national day devoted to the Hangul language. They dabble in the thousands of Hangul keys on their smartphones everyday. Aside from learning about the culture, the biggest benefit of being able to live in Korea for a year was simply getting know the area and whereabouts. It’s this subject that pops up often in conversations as Koreans may ask you where you were born, where are you from, where do you live, and where are you going to. South Korea is roughly the same size as Indiana is, so it’s much smaller than most people expect it to be. You’d need to have a good knowledge of the geography and whereabouts in Korea to have some meaningful conversations with Koreans. By now, I’m familiar with the geography and what do cities look like. I even snowboarded at four different ski resorts and went on KTX train to Busan to visit my sister and her family. Also, I’ve been reading into the history of modern Korea as I think it’s important to know where you come into the picture. Really great read is here. Pretty much what you need to know about its modern history. I read one book that explains how Korea was literally down to one city, Busan, and had the city been captured, it’d be all over for South Korea to have any hopes of having democracy in the government, so it was a big deal that General MacArthur had a brilliant idea of attacking the Communists from the port of Incheon. You can read all about it here.

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30 years old.

Now that I’ve turned thirty years old, it’s a significant milestone in my life, for sure. Much of that has been learning about myself, who I am, and what I like doing. I’ve come a long way from being born, adopted, then found my birth family in 2002, and now I’m living in Korea for a year.

For those who know me well, I enjoy thinking about philosophy and generally question things. There’s lots of good stuffs on the Internet and I like to think of things in terms of science and universe like what Carl Sagan usually shared. Although Earth is a big planet (maybe not so much with the world population rapidly growing), it’s really really tiny out in the universe alone and it makes us much smaller. I’ve realized that we’ve pretty much existed in our consciousness, taking part in the light. It’s weird that we can hear same sounds, see same things, yet be in different bodies. I guess it’s the mind that binds us and our souls residing in bodies. My line of thinking is similar to that of Soren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche with the idea of existentialism. Kierkegaard maintained that the individual is solely responsible for giving his or her own life meaning and for living that life passionately and sincerely in spite of many existential obstacles and distractions including despair, angst, absurdity, alienation, and boredom. Both of them also believed that one should define the nature of their own existence. It’s a similar notion to one quote I read—“Life isn’t about finding yourself it’s about creating yourself.” That’s what I believe in, and that’s mainly one reason why Facebook is so popular because it’s given us tools to share ourselves rather conveniently.

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Twenty-nine

So, I turn 29 years old today. It’s turned into a tradition that I’d write something on my birthday. Here’s the last five.

It’s hard to believe that I’d start a blog way back in the fall of 2004. More than five years have passed since. I haven’t been blogging much lately but have written a few notes on my Facebook, as pretty much everyone is using the Internet and I’m becoming more cautious of what I’m writing here as people seem to be nitpicking pretty much over anything. But I think I shouldn’t be concerned about that and just write for myself. So, I hope to be more forthcoming this year. :)

I seem to be accomplishing most of the goals that I listed last year, which was rather simple and that I want to take life at its face value, and ofc, keep contributing to my work at Google, which has been both productive and fulfilling, kept me busy for much of the time. Last year, I pondered about why we’re here and our purpose, leading my belief to the philosophy of existentialism. To extend that thought, I also thought about physics and realized that everything’s a reflection of light. Without light, we simply can’t see anything including ourselves. So, we’re in this visible light spectrum and since light is made of some electromagnetic properties (photons and quanta) that actually bend toward gravity (mass), that creates time and space. We’re all moving along on this timeline, and thanks to technology like the Internet and computers as a tool, we’re able to record events and express our thoughts through talking, videotaping, or writing. With those recorded media, we’re able to rewind and remember our timelines. All made possible by light.

I’m actually doing a lot of snowboarding (gone to Lake Tahoe and Colorado) and my skill has been improving steadily that I can do some air jumps and rotations. The highlight of 2009 was traveling to five different countries—Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong—and managed to meet a few deaf people along the way. We really do exist all over the world, though not as many as other group identities.

I believe in the next few years, we’ll be more connected than ever, thanks to social networking like Facebook and Twitter. With enough smart motivated minds, we will make some serious progress that will be unprecedented by any time in the past. Equal rights in marriage, better/more education, tools, networking, and transparency will lead to a better management of the economy. No one is going to fix the economy as if he has a magic wand but I think with enough information and assistance, we’ll better able to manage our money and take responsibility for ourselves and our actions.

My goals for this year is pretty much the same except I’d like to be more focused on a few certain things, to make efforts at, and bring my dreams closer to reality. Much of that will be improving my coding skill and outputting more like blogging and taking pictures. Shedding light on my timeline.

Finally, to close this birthday post, someone very important is turning 55 in two days. That’d be Steve Jobs. He was struggling with his health last year and got a liver transplant, and he’s said he’s feeling better. Great. This is written with a Macbook Pro. And iPad is just gonna rock. You just wait and see.

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Twenty-eight

As is accustomed for me to write a self post on my birthday. See my last four:

Twenty-seven years old
Twenty-six years old
I turn 25 today.
The Existence of 24 years old on this Planet Earth.

I’m actually writing this post on Facebook’s notes. I’m not sure why but it’s probably the social vibe behind this app that is going on (with 175+ million users having signed up) and this awareness that I’m not the only one hitting on a keyboard. It’s almost like writing on a typewriter in a busy newsroom, only figuratively. I also really like the font typeface and its size – gotta send props to the designer who chose the font. I don’t even know what’s the font face – looks like Tahoma family to me, though.

To my amazement, I found out that I’m not the only one to do this type of post. Matt Mullenweg who created WordPress as a open source blogging software, also does the same thing – see his. He’s a Dvorak typist too. Not too long ago, I started to type pretty comfortable in Dvorak but had to stop because I sometimes needed to type on others’ keyboard to communicate with them and their layout is in QWERTY, so I would get stuck and have to remember how to type in QWERTY again. So, no good there.

Since I’m aware that my birthday is in Feb, I tend to wait and think back while people get busy bringing in the new year and making resolutions. And I started thinking about what I would like to say in my self post, so here this is.

It’s been more than a year since I moved here from Washington DC. It was an exciting time, thrilled to be working right in Googleplex, made a full transcontinental move to the west coast. And I couldn’t have asked for a better experience. Wouldn’t replace for anything. It was hard to believe that I could be walking into a room and see the CEO or founders there. But now, I’ve gotten used to the sight and don’t get as excited as before. This year also has been a year of consciousness/awareness that I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about who I am and how we all come into existence. Moreover, I think this year, more or less, marks the first time that I’ve come to terms with myself. I wasn’t always so proud of myself like being the only Asian in my class for most of my life and had some people making fun of my not-so-rounded eyes and my penchant in school. Before, when I looked at myself in the mirror, I was like, so this is an Asian-looking guy yet I don’t feel one bit like an Asian. Now, I don’t feel that way anymore and feel proud to be myself. I am who I am. I can’t imagine wanting to be someone else.

In terms of consciousness, I’ve tried to increase awareness in this capacity and how decisions we make may affect us. Sometimes, I do wonder if I even exist. The answer is yes and you do exist too. What you see is what you get. Activity on Facebook, pictures we appear in, comments we made, news we read. We know what the Golden Gate or Washington Monument looks like, we know how burgers from In n Out taste like, we know who is now the President of the U.S., and we know we can’t live without air and water. That’s existentialism. We exist, though how do we want to spend this present time is up to us.

As for my goals this year, well, not much, really. Just enjoy life and hang out with friends, also do fun stuffs like snowboarding, traveling, and seriously learn how to surf. The big thing will be the southeast Asia trip and Deaflympics. So, till then, take lots of pictures, blogging and being myself.

Lastly, I’d like to close this post by saying early happy birthday to Steve Jobs who will be turning 54 in two days and to wish him the best in his health. He was born an orphan here in Mountain View, CA. Cool.

The best is yet to come. :D

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Happy birthday and retirement, Dad!

Out of all things what I can get for my dad’s birthday and his retirement, I think the best gift I can get for him is this, other than a plane ticket to surprise him at home.

My dad turns 57 years old today; we’re 30 years apart so that makes it easy to remember. This one is probably his best one ’cause he gets to retire! he worked for 31 years at the United States Postal Service. He was a mail handler and for the last five or six years, he worked the forklift. To be frank, I was a little depressed to hear what did he get out of this. All he got was a plaque that’s made of paper and a cake to go with it. That’s it. Not even an ounce of cheese, summer sausage, celery, carrot or a single cracker. Zilch. Just a cake for my dad. He had a clean record—no suspensions or late warnings—and had more than 500 sick hours to spare.

It was only two weeks ago that my team and I had a nice team outing. We went to this cool indoor go-kart racing where we put on racing uniforms and helmets, then had some pizza and soda for lunch. What a contrast. The speaker box blasted on after a half hour of celebration, telling everyone to go back to work. So, after working for more than thirty years for P.O, ensuring that every box goes to your door on time, my dad’s retirement party was over in less than a half hour.

I’d like to share a story about how my dad wound up at the P.O. He used to work as a printer, along with his good friend who was also deaf. They were good workers who do their jobs well and would know exactly if something went wrong. It could be as obvious as ink running out or as small as a nut getting loose. My dad would see that easily and go to fix it. keeping the whole facility equipment running, which kept the business going and ultimately, for managers to be happy.

For some time, I wonder why did my dad decide to make a jump to work at the P.O. I found out it was because of me. When it came to a time for my parents to have a child, they already knew they couldn’t have a child so they wanted to adopt. After they’ve found a child to adopt and that, of course, came with a cost. My dad knew they couldn’t afford the adoption, had he stayed at the printing so he applied and got the job. His math skill helped him out. He had to work on weekends, had Wed., and Thurs. off and worked overnight because it paid more than the daytime. He thought he would eventually work in the daytime but he never did, though he did have better days off – on Fri and Sat. and he was the last employee to have those such days off.

For the first year or two, my parents didn’t see each other much but that didn’t bother them, they had the same goal, which was to save up money to afford the adoption. At that time in 1984, the cost was eight grand (18k in today’s value). They were able to save 6 grand, two thousand dollars short but when the agency found out that I was deaf, they slashed it by half, to four thousands. Ha, I’m a bargain child, so to speak.

With those said, I’m ecstatic to see my dad retired and I hope he’ll enjoy his retirement and do whatever he wants. Happy birthday and retirement, Dad. This is yours.

Twenty-seven years old

I turn 27 years old today.

Here’s my previous posts on the same day:

Twenty-six years old
The Existence of 24 years old on this Planet Earth.
I turn 25 today.

Like I said last year, I’m gonna write a post on my birthdays, it feels like giving a gift to myself because the ability to write is a gift itself. So, I have 3 years left to 30. Wow. Time’s flying by. A lot has happened since my last birthday. I moved coast to coast, from DC to California. Ha I don’t have a Subaru WRX anymore, now Honda Element where she and I shall go far. I’ve already slept overnight in it at Lake Tahoe; that was cool and fun. Gonna do more of that soon.

One big thing I’ve accomplished is that I have managed to maximize my 401k. That is $15,500 a year and company matching half of that so I am saving $23,250 a year plus interests and most importantly, zero debt. Well, I suppose that is another achievement too. Doubt I will become a homeowner because costs around here are ridiculously high and I’m constantly amazed at how people continue to find ways to buy houses at like 500k or higher. That’d be paying a loan forever.

Renting Makes More Financial Sense Than Homeownership

“What about the pride of home ownership?”

It’s not for me. I define ownership as no longer having to pay for something and being able to do as I please with it. I own my coffee maker. House owners must pay taxes each year even when their mortgage payments are done. In certain markets they can’t even make changes to the houses they’ve paid for without seeking the approval of others. Personally, I feel the pride of ownership for shares of businesses, and I’m proud to occupy a nice place while leaving the burden of poor returns and maintenance to someone else.

Unless I move to a state where a house can be bought 200k or under, I might reconsider. For now, nope. I am happy with where I am now, all of my basic needs are met and I’m having a time of my life. I’m gonna explore life, make friends and help others. I know I’ll be comfortable later in my life, with a house or not. Just a roof over my head is good enough. I share a nice well-maintained apartment with a great roommate who is Japanese and is fluent in four languages. Ofc, ASL is one of them. We met through Craigslist and turned out that we have some mutual friends. How small world.

This year, I’m gonna do a lot of activities. I plan to become a member at a golf course, play in tournaments and see where I stand at. I’m gonna do more of running, rockclimbing, snowboarding, traveling, learn how to surf, camping, hiking, working out, dancing, basketball, take more pictures, building websites/apps, watch more movies, and writing.

Tonight, I will have a bday party at Dave n Busters and it’s gonna be a lot of fun. :-) See you all there!

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Birthday party at Dave and Busters!

Hey everyone!

I’m gonna host a birthday party at Dave n Busters this Friday evening, February 22nd, 7 pm.

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Not only does Dave n Busters have some good games, their foods are also good too!

One comment from someone named Debbie G.

Dave & Busters is good if you like arcade games. It’s supposed to be for families, but I haven’t seen many families there, mainly young adults. The food is so-so, typical bar food in my mind (fried zucchini, fried potatoes, fried onion rings, fried cheese, etc…. ). It is nice and roomy and doesn’t get super crowded. –Debbie G.

And guess what? there will be a bit of extra entertainment going on. Ian, JMD, and I will have an ASL War!!! We’ll be telling ASL stories and try to up each other. You won’t see this anywhere else in the world. I’m not joking. And ofc, free show! ;-)

All is WELCOME to come! just need to let me know so I can make a reservation. Thanks and hope to see you there! Spread the word!

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Birthday card from my parents

Heh my dad is funny. One quarter and a penny. 26.

Sent via BlackBerry from Cingular Wireless

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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. :-)

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Bonsai is not a plant, it’s a tree.

What I learned today is that a bonsai is not a plant, it’s a tree.

After realizing that someone special is having a birthday in three days—August 31st, I better do something quick before it’s all too late and a potential long night.

One of the important things to remember about buying a gift for someone’s birthday is the amount of recognition it can ignite. If you could buy a gift that costs a few dollars but it attracts a lot of attention and bring people to say “oh, I didn’t know today is your birthday! Happy Birthday!”. The gift becomes priceless almost instantly—no matter how little you paid for it. On the other hand, if you bought a gift that costs like a grand and it brings zero people to say happy birthday, well, the gift won’t be more than it is.

So, I decided I’d send her flowers at her internship in New Jersey with Kraft Foods Co. Surely, someone would see the flowers and say happy birthday to her. That’s what I’m talking about, the recognition.

Knowing that Google not only ranks websites based on their revelance but also their popularity, I simply typed “flowers” into the search and I would probably only bother to check out the top five sites. Interestingly, I knew FTD is a well-known flower delivery service but is ranked at #4; however, it does have an ad box out on top. Clearly, it has paid for that top ad placement. The first one to come out is 1800flowers.com. So I clicked on it and I can immediately see why it has the top rank. Clear, visible layout with a nice color scheme to match the “flowery” feeling. After browsing around, the pictures of flowers are nicely taken but I found the prices to be a tad high. So I put that website on hold and check out the top second website, virtualflowers.com. It has a simpler, less bold looking layout and the prices are a little lower.

I was initially planning to send her flowers but the images of flowers or roses came back to remind me that it wasn’t my first time getting her flowers and that all of them have withered, dried, and then died. I do recall that one time she said “maybe you should have gotten me a plant. I’d love to take care of it.” Bingo, time for me to get her a plant.

So, which plant? I looked at the plants and found nothing that seems to suit her taste and lifestyle. Most of them would look like a good choice for someone who’s in a hospital. Like if that person has a terminal disease and it wouldn’t be a good idea to send that person flowers ‘cuz they probably would die before s/he did.

I thought of what she’d like and what would be suitable for her office cubicle. Bingo, I know what kind of plant to get her. It’s a bonsai. So I quickly looked around and found some. Oops, it’s not a plant. It’s a tree! A bonsai tree. I quickly read about its history on the wikipedia to be a little more educated than I was ten seconds ago. I knew she would love it. She likes miniaturized, simple stuffs and a bonsai tree certainly falls into that category or at least I think so.

With this tree, she should have a soothing time looking at it and perhaps take a few minutes to cut a few shrubs from the little tree. I should know that ‘cuz she likes to cut my nails—both fingernails and toenails.

I started the checkout process and whew, if I order it tomorrow, it’s going to cost me 20 extra dollars to ship the tree. Instead, it’s 10 dollars. Fine with me. Now, if you’re still reading this, remember the recognition I mentioned earlier in this post? I feel that this tree alone is not going to garner a lot of attention so I decided to add a happy birthday balloon to it so that it can hover above the walls of cubicle world. It costs 5 dollars and hopefully more than 5 people will come to say happy birthday to her. :-)

Just so you know, Bonsai is a tree, not a plant.

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