Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Five Things You Didn't Know About Me

This blog has been strictly technical, but I was feeling gutsy and decided to include a few personal items here just for kicks. With that being said, here are five things about me that you didn't know about me:


In order to pay for college, I lived and worked at a funeral home in downtown Seattle for three years.

We were located right on Pine Street and could see Pike's Place Market from the building. To get to our apartment, you had to climb the back stairs and walk through a rather large coffin display room. Legend has it (as I later confirmed), that services for both Bruce and Brandon Lee were held at this same funeral home. We have many experiences, including tear gas in our apartment during the demonstrations at the WTO Ministerial Round in 1999. Incidentally, I was interning for the Japanese Consulate at the time, specifically for the WTO! Sadly to say, the funeral home got sold to a law firm a few years ago, but leases out the chapel to a bar actually called Chapel. It's on the corner of Melrose and Pine and a great place for a martini and feeling morbid, or in my case nostalgic!


I have traveled all the way across the U.S. via train, plane, automobile, and Greyhound bus.

I was seventeen during my four day trip from Groton, CT to San Diego, CA on the Greyhound bus, which was about the distance of 3,000 miles. I somehow subsisted on peanut butter, jam, twenty bucks, and the ticket price of a whopping $69.
Tip: If at all possible, try to avoid the St. Louis bus depot at three in the morning. It can be a very scary place. Also, I highly recommend the train if you want to enjoy seeing the back roads of America. That way you won't have to stop every ten minutes for driver smoke breaks and wonder if every seat has been urinated on. In addition, if you can afford it, I highly recommend a sleeper car as sleeping in the chairs get a little uncomfortable after a few days.


I can speak and read Japanese and was once a medical interpreter.

I was mostly self taught and actually tested into fourth year Japanese at the University of Washington without ever having taken a class. I ended up excelling and took most of the fourth year classes and some graduate level classes. Due to credit limitations, I ultimately ended up with a Japanese minor along with my major in International Studies, with a focus on East Asia. I have a continued interest in Japan, but it has definitely become more of a hobby. And by the way, I don't do karate or origami, and only watch manga occasionally.
Note: The translation from the Japanese text on the left is from a famous kotowaza or Japanese folk saying: "Even monkeys fall from trees."


I donated plasma for money during college to make ends meet.

Since I was paying for college on my own, times could be tough and tough times called for desperate measures. However, I drew the line with organ donations and pharmaceutical testing.
Tip (not actually recommended): When it comes to plasma banks, you are required to wait a few days before coming back. I guess there's some silly rule about the fact that they are sucking all this blood out of you and don't want you to die. :) Anyways, competing plasma banks don't always check each others records. This means that if you are swift on your feet, you can hit up a couple a week and buy all the sweet ramen and cabbage you can eat!

I have a love for reading, especially history and contemporary history.

The last book I read was American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer, by Kai Bird and Martin Sherwin. I also recently finished Guns, Germs, and Steel, by Jared Diamond and Mao: The Unknown Story, by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday. I highly recommend the first two, but you really need to be prepared and have a strong stomach for the third.
I am currently re-reading the classic Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (along with my normal array of geek books). Some of my favorite author's are Don Delillo, Hermann Hesse, Philip Roth, Ralph Ellison, and David Sedaris (can't wait until his new one comes out in paperback).

Note: I have to give some credit to Scott Hanselman's ComputerZen blog post for encouraging to throw some personal touches to my otherwise mundane technical blog.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, John -- I knew a few of these, but most were surprises. I knew you worked in a funeral home, but I didn't know it was in downtown Seattle. Sounds a little creepy!