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Dad and his weather

Feels like writing for a little bit. One of the things about myself is that I tend to think a lot about weather, although I don’t seem to talk about it too often, but I do think about it a lot and I check weather frequently. Is it a good day to go out and play golf? I’d wonder. I probably get that from my dad, probably because he’s a private pilot himself and weather is the first thing on the list to checkmark before you get into a private plane. It’s also one of these topics we can discuss most handily. Come to think of it. Weather is right around us, you can see it, feel it, smell and those with a hearing ability, hear it. So, I’d ask my my dad if it’s going to rain? If he said no, then I go out and do my run or play some golf. My dad watches The Weather Channel as much as I watch the ESPN channel. He’d tell me about the upcoming hurricanes, the northwest jetstream, and what a mess El Nino is causing all these unpredictable weather patterns. Sometimes, I find it a bit odd because my dad doesn’t really have much other interests like politics or elections, which I sometimes find interesting, like on voting projections, electoral votes, or winning delegates. Anything that has to do with weather is interesting to my dad such as next latest natural disaster. “Did you see that tornado!? left 100 people homelessly!” he’d say. Also, my dad seems to attribute weather to almost everything, like maybe food isn’t fresh because of bad weather recently, or when we aren’t getting good data quality in video-conferencing, he’d say it’s raining hard outside, distorting our signals.

Even two weeks ago when I told my dad I’m gonna be flying to Denver for some snowboarding before I go back to work. He said good luck with that, you may have to change your flight plans. Again, he said it’s the El Nino pushing back the cold jetstream across northwest, so you’re seeing warmer weather this season, unlike last year. All I can say, craps that sucks. Two weeks later, I changed my flight.

One time I was in my car driving, with my thoughts idle, I could feel the engine revving, then my thoughts turn to the weather. It was calm, sunny, no wind, cloudless, I was enjoying this weather, then I realize my dad probably has the same idea except he’s dreaming he’s flying his plane. Which is probably why weather’s his favorite topic out of all.

Because We’re Evolving

“Why do people die?”
“Because we’re evolving. One individual can’t withstand all the energy of evolution, so we go through the alternation of generations. Of course, that’s just one theory.”
“Even now, we’re evolving?”
“Little by little.”
“What’s the point of evolving?”
“There are many opinions about that. One thing that’s for sure is that the universe itself is evolving. Putting aside the question of whether or not it’s some kind of trend or willful intervention, the universe is evolving, and in the end, we’re merely a small part of that.” I pushed away my glass of whiskey and lit a cigarette.
“Where that energy comes from, nobody knows.”
“Really?”
“Really.”
Spinning the ice around in her glass with her fingertip, she stared at the white tablecloth.
“Hey, after I die, a hundred years later, nobody’ll remember I even existed.”
“Looks that way.”

–Hear the Wind sing

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Dad

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my dad. I’m not sure why. I think when I was little, I looked up at him highly. My dad had a way of dealing with people like how he feels he can get anything he wanted and he was good at smooth-talking. He once told me a story of how he’d steal a HS basketball star’s girlfriend by talking to her often during halftime at basketball games, then she’d decide that he was more fun to hang around than watching her old boyfriend play basketball. He’d tell me different stories and how adventurous he used to be, riding his motorcycle all over America. It was cool to hear how he’d ridden his bike all the way to San Francisco in 1975, spent 4 nights here and that it would be his last such road trip before he met my mom and got married in 1977 and bought a tiny house together. They had no idea that one day, they would adopt a son. He also told me that when he was in SF, he stopped by a small grocery shop. The guy who owned the shop was an immigrant from Korea and apparently, he knew some sign language, communicated with my dad. He was impressed by that. He wondered what had become of the guy.

Last year, my parents flew to Seoul, Korea for the first time ever and I was excited for them that they were visiting Korea. However, I must admit something was wrong. My dad didn’t look adventurous at all. It was like he was annoyed to be coming here in Korea. Maybe the long 14 hours flight bothered him more than he’d expect. “What the heck are we supposed to do now? How the heck do we get ourselves to the hotel?” he’d ask with a grunt. I was a bit taken back by his sudden remarks and I said don’t worry about that, I’m happy you got here OK.” They got their luggage and we went outside to the front and waited for the bus. I explained to them that there were different buses coming here and we would wait at this spot till our bus came. I realized that at this time, they would be of a minority race visiting a foreign country while I, on the other hand, looked like more like the majority race and knew my way around. I was curious to see how they’d react to this and will my dad still get his way around, like he usually does back in his homeland, America?

We got on the bus and sat in the back. My dad was somewhat impressed by this bus as he sat in a comfortable big chair and the driver started rumbling down the highway. Dad looked a bit more at ease now. Maybe he just had a long flight, I thought. I asked them how do they feel to be in Korea? knowing for a fact that they weren’t exactly frequent world travelers. “It’s a new experience” answered my mom, who always had that little worried look on her face. My dad just nodded and looked like he can hardly wait to check himself into a hotel. Where’s the adventurous spirit? I thought to myself. I don’t think they really knew how much I’ve worked to get myself into this position, getting a chance to work in Korea and for them to have an opportunity to visit the country where I was born in. I paid their airfares.

We finally got into a hotel, got into an elevator, and whizzed up tens of the floors, then finally stopped at my floor. The hotel was actually one of the top premium hotels in Seoul normally where rich businessmen or high-ranking government officials would stay at, so I was fortunate to be a resident here at this hotel. My parents seemed impressed, “This is a nice hotel.”, starting to forget the long flight they’d had. I showed them around the suite room, trying my best to make them feel as comfortable as possible. “There is a nice little 7-11 store downstairs in the basement that has everything from water to wine. Do you want to go down and look?” My dad’s eyes widened, his stiff acting starting to ease up a bit, maybe he’s becoming thirsty now. “Sure, I’d like to go down.” my dad said. My mom wanted to rest a bit and she was already flipping channels on TV, trying her best to find a rerun of Days of Our Lives soap opera, her favorite TV program. There were no U.S. channels on TV. I didn’t tell her that.

My dad and I got into the elevator and when the doors closed, I decided to ask my dad a straight question. “I got the impression that you don’t seem too thrilled to be visiting here in Korea. Was the flight really that long?”

My dad seemed surprised by my direct question, hoping I wouldn’t see his honest expression.

“Yeah, the flight was quite long, I didn’t really have a good sleep and didn’t even get the right whiskey drink I asked the flight attendant to make.” Dad said.

I realized this jet lag was affecting my parents more than I had expected and they’re becoming more grumbled so I let it go and the elevator reached at the bottom. Maybe they weren’t really comfortable with the idea that they’re not in the U.S. and are in a foreign country for a good measure, I thought. It was misleading for them to think that their son was always thrilled to be in the U.S. during the whole time. I knew this would be their such last trip too.

“Do you suppose the Korean guy in the 7-11 would know some sign language?” he asked.

I finally smiled.

**Dad in the far background, eagerly pulling his luggage. 3 feet of snow was dumped on this day as they were heading back to the U.S.

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Mission in life

My mission in life is to listen to my own voice as much as possible and follow my instincts. Whenever I do this, I always feel good about myself eventually and I get the glimpse of the freedom of being outside the Matrix. It’s a hard thing to do, but it’s worth it every time. I never lose when I trust myself. -Ji Lee

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On Buddhism

The greatest achievement is selflessness.
The greatest worth is self-mastery.
The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.
The greatest precept is continual awareness.
The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.
The greatest action is not conforming with the worlds ways.
The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.
The greatest generosity is non-attachment.
The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind.
The greatest patience is humility.
The greatest effort is not concerned with results.
The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.
The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.

In criticizing, the teacher is hoping to teach. That’s all.

All know the Way, but few actually walk it.

~Bankei

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Does Michael Jordan know Taekwondo?

I’m feeling a bit bored and in the mood to write something. I just thought of one that I would write about. I recently went to see Taekwondo show in Seoul and was somewhat surprised to see how well-choreographed it was. The accompanying music was pretty good too and the show would have been a lot more boring without any music. One scene that I particularly enjoyed was the fight between one lady and two guys. Obviously, it was choreographed but it was nice to see a lady throwing kicks and punches to the guys in a fast rapid manner. In the beginning, a group of young age ranging from 8 years olds to 13 years olds came out on the stage and exhibited different movements and some various moves. Then, they brought out the wood blocks and started throwing kicks and break the wood. Apparently, it wouldn’t be any taekwondo without those. Wood blocks started to fly out into broken halves and onto the stage and sometimes, the floor underneath the stage. After the younger group was done with their part, the next older group came out and to my own guess, they were approx. between 16 years olds to early thirties. You could see the difference between two groups as the older group exhibited more sharp movement and made some power moves and higher kicks. Sounds were louder, music faster, and wood blocks snapped louder.

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My website design

I was cleaning up a bit on my website and someone asked me why did I choose those particular colors—mostly in grayscale. To be quite honest, I kind of followed the color scheme and layout structure from Wikipedia because I at least figured that almost everyone has already read articles on Wikipedia and I read lots of articles in there. So I thought it’d make the most familiar-looking layout for visitors to read. I also think a lot about psychology because basically, our brains have to interpret what’s there in front of our eyes and rendered by light. Even newspapers are laid out in a similar style with its grid layout, so things don’t really change but onto a new medium. As for the width size of the layout, I sort of followed kottke.org website, which is a popular blog and he posts lots of links. For some reason, I like having both nav bars at the top and bottom as I feel it’s akin to having two columns at both ends of a building, giving it a structured look and a sign that you have reached at the bottom with links you can click on or quickly go somewhere else, which is probably more likely.

So, that’s how my website rolls, although I have plans to revamp the design soon.

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What happened to dinosaurs?

While I should be studying for the GRE, I keep thinking about how technology has come to be–there’s an ever battle between Microsoft and Google, also often used as a favorite topic for journalists to spin because after all, nothing attracts attention like a fight during a lunch break or a rare catfight between girls. I remember back in the 1990s, when you wanted to play PC games, you’d need to buy a PC and with Windows under it and play Freecell. So, that was cool till AOL came out, all of the sudden, people were buying PCs like crazy to be on AOL. Windows was underneath these, ofc. But now? you buy them to be on the Internet to show yourself on Facebook, to tweet away, or to Google for information.

Sometimes, I do wonder if there will be a completely new technology that will not require http because pretty much everything is transmitted through http right now. And if you wonder why http? it goes through a protocol called TCP/IP that allows every imaginable device to communicate to one another–from your PC to your pager and even a printer operates on it. Google has foreseen this and made a massive engineering to copy/store everything that’s ever existed on the web and make the information highly relevant and monetize them. Now, Google has recently announced they are going to develop a new kind of OS that will supposedly squeeze everything in between so that you can get on the web as soon as you press on the power button and then go explore on the web like a crazy monkey. Although there are people who spend their days fantasizing about Microsoft going down like the ship Titanic. I’m sorry to disappoint you but that’s not going to happen. Microsoft will remain to do business, largely in thanks to millions of users who play games like WoW, Starcraft, Quake, Counter-Strike, pokers and ofc, their beloved Microsoft Doc. My mom loves to play Freecell on Windows and that’s all it matters to her. It has no annoying pop-up ads, she said.

Once everything’s been said and done, I do have this imagination that the world will end up like the movie, A.I., where there’s not a trace of a human being left and that the only proof of us is to be found on countless hard drives from Google or maybe more like the Wall-E movie that people have long abandoned Earth because of the excessive mess they left and couldn’t be managed.

Actually, I think getting wiped by a gigantic asteroid that’s as big as the sun will more likely happen than I just describe above. Because that’s what happened to dinosaurs.

Displacement

I just purchased a one way plane ticket to Seoul, Korea and that’s a little over a month from now when I will have stepped my foot over there for one more time.

Like one of my friends’ favorite maxims, “No replacement for displacement.” He’s a big fan of the LS series engine with those big V8 cylinders. At the beginning, I’d argue with him and reasoned that a 4 cylinders engine could keep up with the best of them while being efficient on fuel. He said that’s cool but when it comes down to raw power and torque, nothing can replace displacement. Yep. When you want a go in your car, you just tap your foot on the pedal and a V8 engine will gladly rev up for you without too much effort. Not quite so on a i4 engine, you’d have to bring the rpm up high, get VTEC to kick in to experience some substantial power output. To put it succinctly, he said the Corvette is the closest thing next to a Ferrari that is mass-produced and affordable. Well said, friend.

Well, as luck would have it, I will be returning to the country where I was born in but was “displaced” at the age of three. In the last few years, I have given a lot of thoughts about going back to the country especially after having discovered my family and learned that my sister is deaf too. As I thought about my life and what I’d like to do with it, I realize that I cannot, in my good conscience, leave both my sister (and her husband and my niece) and my brother behind and pretend they are a figment of my imagination. They did not have the same fortune of living in the land of opportunity, America, and get a college education. Sometimes, I wonder what really went through my biological father’s mind when he made a decision to give me up for adoption? He must have made an insight that had I stayed in Korea, I wouldn’t have had same opportunities that I was able to experience. It’d be nice to inquire him about that a bit more but it was hard to communicate with him since we had nothing in common except for the blood and Korea has such a manner that parents do not reveal much to their children.

Another desire to go back to my country is to learn a bit more of the culture and what is culture without language? The language, Hangul, as I have learned, is a very effective language and is the only language to have a national holiday based on. I’ve always got a thing for languages in American Sign Language and English and thought it’d be cool to learn another language and become fluent at it. I often have a dream that I was able to converse in any of four languages. I realize that the image I have of myself has significantly changed after I visited Korea for the first time in 2002. It validated my existence, my identity and saw where I was truly from. Even at this point in today’s society and time, we have progressed enough not to use race as discrimination but our identity still remain important. So, going back to Korea will enrich my identity at the extent of who I am. There’s no replacement for displacement.

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RFK and Koreatown

Thought I’d write something on the topic while I wait for pics to finish uploading to a Jungle drive.

I just got back from Los Angeles to celebrate a good friend’s 30th birthday. It’s hard to believe that 5 years have passed since we were first acquainted and we had our own registered websites before the explosion of the Internet. Another reason I wanted to go down was to visit Koreatown and it was also the site of Robert Francis Kennedy’s unfortunate assassination. I’m an admirer of him, who he was and what he’s done for America. I also felt more in common with him than his elder brother, Jack, who ofc was President. He wasn’t very tall (175 cm tall, same height as me) but had a competitive drive, logic, focus, and carried no bs. Obviously, those traits made him into who he was–an attorney general to JFK, helped avert a potential major conflict with Cuba and Soviet Union over the Cuban Missile Crisis, and in spite of his brother’s assassination, he became a senator for New York, and would have gone to win the presidential election, had he not been assassinated. He actually lasted 26 hours after being shot in the back of his head, which showed his resilience but the wound was too great to survive through.

So, I was curious about the establishment and what’s it looked like. I didn’t really see anything special around the area except for some signs/billboards in Korean, some old architecture, and people were just going about their business. I was just like, “Wow, so this was where the whole scene happened?” Then I drove on the Willshire St, leading to the campus of UCLA, as my next stop. Also passed by Beverly Hills, with all those luxury shops, which I could care less. I had expected the campus to be large, considering the admissions number it enrolls at 55,000. but the campus was kinda small. I have a sense that even my alma mater, RIT, may be bigger than UCLA campus. Nevertheless, I’m impressed by UCLA’s history especially in athletics since the school has most national championships in all sports total. Stanford is second, USC third, all in California. I believe the Sun (about 300 sunny days a year) and good quality of agriculture contributes greatly to that–$36.6 billions to the state’s GDP.

Then, I cruised a bit around the downtown before pushing on the pedal on a highway back to a friend’s place eastward. I learned a bit about the greater Los Angeles area and the fact that its total population is about 17,600,000 but find it funny that it doesn’t have a NFL team (the Raiders moved to Oakland, the Rams to St. Louis). There is a big mountain right up there with snowcaps, which serves as a nice backdrop against those palm trees, tons of cars braking red lights on slabs of concrete freeways, plethora of burger joints, houses, and that is how you would define Los Angeles.

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Writing is thinking

Just feel like writing something here. I realize that writing is simply thinking through our fingers. And that’s great because I myself love to type. I suppose I don’t have much choice because I’m deaf so this is pretty much the only mode I could communicate with hearing people. Unless they know sign language, of course. One friend of mine gave some wise words. She thinks it is actually our advantage that we could write in these circumstances because that means less distractions for us especially and use constraints in an advantageous way. Back to typing, I should mention that I’ve remapped the cap-locks key as a backspace, so whenever I mis-type, I use my left pinkie to do a backspace on the caps-lock key, not the normal backspace key that’s at the top right above the enter key. It’s helped with my typing speed and much more comfortable to reach as well. I should say it’s probably the same reason why I insisted upon working for an employer like Google because pretty much everyone at the company knows how to type and loves to chat on their computers, which puts someone like myself on an even field. Gmail, Gtalk, and now Google Wave. Cool. Writing also feels pretty natural to me that I can compose words like a picture and try to make some points and make sense of my own thinking through my fingers.

Thanks, Nintendo and SimCity.

When I was younger, one of my fave games was SimCity on SNES (the original one). I remember I would play the game obsessively. I think I got started on it after getting bored with playing Street Fighters. Not quite sure of how I first heard about the game but I was fascinated by the idea of “simulation gaming”.

As I first started on the game, I didn’t quite get what the game was all about (I think I was 9 years old) but found out that it’s about building housing/commercial zones, transportations and ultimately, growing in population, which was the whole point of this game. Before I know it, I was completely hooked. I played obsessively, all night on it and ofc, my mom couldn’t understand the addiction when she was yelling at me to eat dinner or something. One thing, though, was that I would run out of money and would have to wait for annual year to get taxes so I could build more zones. Having realized this, I looked up in my old Nintendo Power magazines (I have the first 12 subscriptions) and found a cheat code to get 20k every time I ran out of money. Delightfully, I built new zones, destroyed not-so-developed zones, put in all trains (which lessened car pollution), built airports, stadiums, and fetched more money till I reached the metropolis level at the 500k population, which was the highest level you could achieve at this SimCity game. I remember how simple the game was and how neat the panning/zooming was, even for a SNES.

Then, there was a PC revolution, so I got on that, and there was a new game called the SimTower. Again, I got hooked on the game and kept adding floors and rooms till I got a 5 stars rating and over 100 floors built. It was a beautiful game and the graphics was decent too. Then, another game, the Sims, came out and I tried it out but didn’t find it as appealing as the other two because it wasn’t progressive (people were even unpredictable in the game too!) to me and it was more of goofing around than learning, I suppose.

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I remember you.

“I remember you.” were the words my sister signed to me after we were finally reunited and as an adoptee who was “temporarily gone” from home for more than 18 years, ofc, I had questions to ask. “Do you remember me?” was one of those more immediate questions.

I remember when I was growing up, I’d often play sports with non-asian people, and during evenings with my parents, I watched TV. It was a good thing that TV had closed captioning and that it was always turned on. My parents were deaf too. My dad used to sell Zenith TVs, and had the big analog satellite in the backyard and installed a black box to access all channels like HBO. 4 pm to 5 pm was the reserved time for my mom to watch ‘Days of our Lives’ soap opera and she’s never missed an episode. If there was ever Jeopardy on the topic, she’d sweep the column.

I was their only child and as an only child, deep down inside, I’ve always felt that I couldn’t be an only child and felt strongly that I had siblings and by this, I often wondered about my birth family. It was quite like the movie, Star Wars, with Luke Skywalker sensing the Force with his sister, Princess Leia. That remained unknown till I received the news that my family had been discovered and that I indeed had a brother and sister. I was happy to know that. However, I still needed to confirm to make sure that they’re really my birth family (there were cases that required DNA testing to confirm, for example.) What’s more was that my sister is deaf, like me, so that vastly increased the odds that we’re family.

As I was visiting around in Korea, the mother took me to visit the orphanage where I stayed for about a year before I was adopted. The orphanage was one of those last memories I had in Korea and still could remember. I remember I played a lot with balloons—it made those loud sounds when you try to rub it. They had a high balcony with big windows and I would try to crawl up onto the balcony and see the world out there. Out in the world, there would be a white van coming up in front of the fence and then a man came around the van to the back and hauled something out of it and a white cloud of steam would come out. I had no idea what that was and I also remember that some of young faces would be missing, so I thought maybe the guy took them in and went somewhere.

The building still looked exactly the same as if it never changed except for the trees that had gotten bigger, like me. Built with red, auburn bricks, it had a small playground with swings inside the fence. I met up with Director who oversaw the orphanage. He was the same guy who took me in and one thing he said caught my attention was that I was the only deaf child they had and there hadn’t been another orphan after me who was also deaf. So, a further evidence that I was the same child that he had overseen. Then, I saw the white van coming up in front and a guy came around to get something out of the rear. It was food he was delivering to the orphanage. So much for kidnapping the children.

During one evening, I asked my sister if she remembered me. She said yes, and she was six years old when I had been taken away. She said she’d remember the orphanage, that place with red, auburn bricks. We actually had gone there a few times, as the parents debated whether to give me up and when that day came, my sister didn’t come with me. That information was never communicated by the parents but the absence of their youngest brother was obvious enough that he’s not going to be back anytime soon.

So, when I signed to my sister and she signed back at me, that was enough of a confirmation to know we’re family after all.

Metaphysics of Quality

I’m not sure how eloquent or articulate this will be, as I attempt to explain this thought I have in my mind. For some time, I’ve been thinking why we’re here and how we come into existence but that’s a kinda too far-fetched question as no one knows for sure and there is an ever battle between religions on this question.

The more important question we should be asking ourselves is that since we’re already here, the question is what are we doing with ourselves and time? I’ve been thinking about that as I drove alone for 7 hrs one way to Los Angeles and San Diego. Well, I think I’m closer to the truth than I ever have been in my whole life. I’d like to throw in an excerpt from Wikipedia.

“Quality,” or “value,” as described by Pirsig, cannot be defined because it empirically precedes any intellectual constructions. It is the “knife-edge” of experience, known to all. “What distinguishes good and bad writing? Do we need to ask this question of Lysias or anyone else who ever did write anything?” (Plato’s Phaedrus, 258d). Likening it with the Tao, Pirsig believes that Quality is the fundamental force in the universe stimulating everything from atoms to animals to evolve and incorporate ever greater levels of Quality. According to the MOQ, everything (including the mind, ideas, and matter) is a product and a result of Quality.

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25 random things about me

1. My first meal when I was adopted to here from Korea was a happy meal from McDonald.

2. I’m not much of a talker myself, so if you find me pretty quiet, don’t feel offended. You can be assured that my thoughts are almost always running at 100 mph per hour. If anything, I’d rather coding, writing, reading, or actually be doing something.

3. I’ve come to realize that emotional intelligence (or street smart) is as important as being smart in school. That said, my dad has a way better EI than I do, unfortunately.

4. My dad has many great stories when he was younger like he rode motorcycle across America and into Mexico. I think his life sounds better than mine already.

5. I try not to be judgmental but I’m capable of asking questions that would reveal who/what you are in a matter of minutes.

6. My 3rd grade teacher made me sit outside in the hallway because I made fun of her signing skill. It wasn’t very good at all, in fact. I hate it when teachers think their ASL is wonderful just like these girls who think their voice is great but is completely off-key. Know what I’m saying?

7. There are four men that I’d very much want to meet: Tiger Woods, Rick Reilly, Steve Jobs, and President Obama. (not necessarily in order)

8. I found out what I was made of after I spent ten weeks summer internship in Miami, FL. I knew nobody there, woke up at 6:30 am every day, did not miss a single day despite 1 1/2 hour of commuting, worked out a lot (they had a workout room on the third floor) and at the end, they held a farewell party for me and gave me appreciation award, which was unexpecting.

9. I’m a huge Honda fan. Huge. My dream is to own a ’01 Prelude SSH, then S2000, and lastly, an NSX. I currently drive an Element and used to own ’04 Civic Si hb till I totaled it.

10. Sometimes, I can’t believe I work at Google and help push doodles onto homepages. I consider it a privilege and will never take it for granted. I’m lucky to have a great team, also.

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