2.02.2009

25 Random Things

There's this meme going around Facebook called "25 Random Things,"
where you're supposed to post 25 things about yourself and tag 25
people who you want to learn more about. I usually don't respond to
stray things on FB, but a few friends have tagged me and their posts
have been so interesting; so here are my 25:

1. I was born in Seattle and grew up in San Jose but am now a devoted
fan of all things Philadelphia. The combination of big-city amenities
(everything from high culture to film festivals to four big-league
sports teams), a diversified economy (the 9th richest metro region –
in the world (!) – as of 2005, and projected to be 8th by 2020), and
affordable neighborhoods (we bought our house for less than $100K nine
years ago), you really can't beat the value proposition. And with
environmental pressures and energy prices making sprawling areas less
attractive, dense and well-transited Philly looks to gain even more
ground.

2. Though I wasn't born in Taiwan, Taiwanese was my first language,
and to this day, give me a week or so of brushing up and I can be
conversant again, and glad I haven't completely that important
connection to my heritage.

3. My parents still live in the same house in San Jose that they've
owned for 30+ years; and my sister and her husband just moved last
year to Merced, where she's a nurse and he's a professor at UC Merced.

4. In my first appearance in the Little League playoffs, I struck out
to end the game and our season.

5. During my first driver's license exam, I almost got into a car
accident that was so close that it left the examiner in hysterics.
Needless to say, I didn't pass that day.

6. I became a Christian in high school, after almost no exposure to
church before then. Formative experiences in the faith include
talking to strangers about Jesus at Daytona Beach, serving in various
leadership positions with a college parachurch organization called
InterVarsity, and spending a summer working and serving in Eastern
Europe when I was 20.

7. I took first place in the nation in Accounting at the Future
Business Leaders of America's annual conference my senior year in high
school.

8. I was one of 13 class valedictorians at my high school and one of
three at my junior high school.

9. When I was 18, my friends and I thought it would be fun to break
into our friend's house for his birthday and hold him up at gunpoint
(well, BB-gunpoint) when he came home. Unfortunately, the plan went
awry when he was able to duck back outside and call the cops, which
made for an uncomfortable two hours of five (!) policemen searching
his apartment while we covertly tucked away any evidence of our gag.

10. I got one of my front teeth knocked out playing pick-up hoops in
college, so the dentist had to saw down the teeth to the left and
right and pop a three-tooth bridge on top of them.

11. I am a proud alum of Wharton (BS'95) and Fels (MGA'06). Never
content to get a degree the usual way, I was somehow able to finagle
an unprecedented waiver out of Accounting 101 at Wharton, and I think
I was the first Felsonian to qualify for two certificates along with
my MGA without taking any extra classes.

12. When I was 25, I and two friends drove across the country and back
to visit friends and see sights. Well, it was more of a big, 21-day,
8800-mile oval: we took 95 through North Carolina and cut over to New
Orleans, took 10 all the way to LA, 5 all the way to Seattle, 90 to
Chicago, and 90/80/76 back to Philly.

13. I met my wife Amy through our mutual participation in Penn
InterVarsity. We dated, broke up, dated some more, and got married in
2000. She had enough ice in her veins to sing a solo to me at our
wedding. She's beaten thyroid cancer is currently completing
coursework at Penn to become a Certified Registered Nurse
Practitioner; having already received a Masters in Psychiatric
Nursing, she is now angling for a job in the prison system.

14. My best friend Glenn passed away unexpectedly over four years ago,
and there's not a day that goes by that I don't think about him and
about how much I wish he was still alive.

15. I worked for ten years at The Enterprise Center, most recently as
Executive Vice President, and since then have served on the board for
three years, which makes 13+ years of marveling at this little
organization that does so much to advance the cause of minority
entrepreneurship. While I was working there, I started a youth
entrepreneurship program that is still in existence and that offers
classes in several local high schools.

16. We adopted our daughter Jada in 2005 from China. She pops up in
the morning asking, "What are we doing today," and carries that gusto
through the day; but then she gets strange at bedtime, among other
things wrapping herself in blankets like a burrito instead of getting
underneath her covers.

17. We adopted our son Aaron in 2007 from Taiwan. Changing his diaper
in the morning is like wrestling an alligator, and he is similarly
ornery for much of the day; but by bedtime he takes on a sweet
disposition.

18. Because I walk to work and drop the kids off on the way, and
because our day care doesn't allow us to park strollers there, I walk
four blocks in the morning and four more in the evening pushing an
empty stroller down a busy urban street (and getting funny looks and
not a few snide remarks all along the way).

19. Both of our kids have extra speech and behavioral challenges,
which make parenting tiring and exasperating at times. But Amy has
persistently fought for and secured various sources of extra
assistance for us and them, which we're slogging through now.

20. I believe in the inerrancy of the Bible and in salvation through
faith in Jesus, but think gay marriages should be legitimized; I'm
sympathetic to left-wing objectives but think that everything they
propose only makes things worse; I'm a fiscal conservative but have
long argued for far higher federal gas taxes; and I live in one of the
most liberal neighborhoods in a big coastal city in a blue state, and
yet voted for Bush and McCain in the last two elections.

21. I spend almost zero time and money on leisure: no TV, no movies,
no hobbies. I make a small exception for fast-forwarding through
football games while on the treadmill on Monday morning; but otherwise
I prefer urban running, with favorite short routes in the inky morning
darkness along the Schuylkill River or to Rittenhouse Square, and, as
time permits, longer jaunts to Penn's Landing and Falls Bridge. Every
once in a blue moon, I will take a train ride to a nearby city for a
day trip, reading business magazines along the way and exploring
sights and finding friends when I get there.

22. My typical weekday schedule is: 4a-5a wake up, pray 5a-6a exercise
6a-8a get the kids up, fed, and off to school 8a-6p work 6p-8p get the
kids home, fed, and off to bed 8p-9p read in bed 9p-4a sleep. My
typical weekend and holiday schedule is: 4a-5a wake up, pray 5a-6a
exercise 6a-8a get the kids up, fed, and ready 8a-12p some sort of fun
with the kids 12p-1p lunch, nap prep 1p-4p get the kids off to naps,
do chores while they're sleeping 4p-6p some sort of fun with the kids
6p-8p dinner, bedtime 8p-9p read in bed 9p-4a sleep.

23. Since 2006, I have been employed at Econsult Corporation, a small
economic consulting firm that has done a ton of really neat work here
in Philadelphia and around the world. To cite but two examples, we
have done economic development strategy work in the US Virgin Islands
and are an integral part of the current local discussion around
property tax abatements for new construction.

24. Other professional pursuits include: campaigning for my friend
David Oh as he attempts to become the first Asian-American City
Councilperson in Philadelphia (2003, 2007, and maybe 2011?); being a
fellow of the British American Project and a member of the
Philadelphia 2010 conference planning committee; serving on the
advisory committee of the proposed Democracy in Action Charter School;
and sitting on the Green Economy Funding Committee of the Sustainable
Business Network of Greater Philadelphia.

25. We attend a church within walking distance of our house, Woodland
Presbyterian Church, where I have been an elder for eight out of the
last ten years. We are an eclectic mix of all races, ages,
socio-economic statuses, and spiritual backgrounds, and we're still
stumbling after some high-profile leadership setbacks earlier this
decade. But God is still at work in us and through us.

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