I am fascinated by linguistics, both from the technical standpoint and from the insight it can grant into a culture. In particular, I am continuously amazed by the brilliant design behind Hangul (the Korean writing system), which was artificially created about 400 years ago by King Sejong. Someday, I'd like to design a course in Korean that really takes advantage of the amazing features of Hangul as learning aids.
I speak Japanese reasonably well, and Korean enough to get by. I'll be studying Chinese later this year. In my travels, I have been to Germany, France, Hawaii, Japan, South Korea, and numerous places around the continental U.S.
I also love hiking and getting outdoors. I'm a programmer, and getting outside is a nice change from being cooped up all day in front of a computer.
I consider myself a free-thinker and an atheist. I respect other beliefs, of course, but dislike extreme points of view such as creationism that jeopardize our scientific progress and the human drive to understand the nature of the world around us. The unknown doesn't scare me; rather, it interests me. Where would we be if there were nothing left to learn?
I am rational, inquisitive, and lighthearted
My hobby is currently linguistics, but it is evolving into more than just a hobby. In the next year or two, I plan to start working on language training software for Japanese and Korean.
My long-term goal is to improve the quality of life in the world though better education, particularly when it comes to critical thinking, communication, and cross-cultural understanding.
The list is so long, it's hard to know where to start.
At the top of my list are certainly Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman by Richard Feynman, The Selfish Gene and The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins, and any of Isaac Asimov's books on math or science. Also The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, and pretty much anything else by him too.
Fantasy books: Anything by Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman (especially their collaborative work, Good Omens). Thanks to a friend, I recently discovered Sabriel (and the other books in the series) which are fantastic. I also enjoyed His Dark Materials (that's the trilogy that starts with The Golden Compass), and of course, I enjoy the "fantasy classics" such as Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia.
Sci-Fi: Heinlein (especially Door Into Summer, Starship Troopers, Puppet Masters and Stranger in a Strange Land, Isaac Asimov (especially his short stories)
Children's Books: Anything by Roald Dahl (especially Matilda and The BFG) or Lynne Reid Banks, also Secret Garden, Little Princess, etc.
General Fiction and Classics: Just finished reading Memoirs of a Geisha which was fantastic. I love anything by Dickens (Especially Martin Chuzzlewit)
Other/Non-Fiction: I love reference books, especially old dictionaries (which I collect). Also, Asimov's books on introductory mathematics are fantastic; I read them at a young age and blame them for my love of the subject. I'm currently interested in books on the history and culture of Japan and Korea.
I like every kind of music except country and rap. I love classical music (especially Mahler) and jazz (I have been to see Dave Brubeck live on several occasions). I also like Japanese pop music (J-Pop) and Tuvan throat singing.
As for food, I'll try almost anything, and have never tried anything that I didn't like except McDonalds (ick!) and bondeggi (picked silkworm larva). I also love cooking, and cook most of my meals at home. Among my favorite foods are bi bim bap, kalbi-chim, sushi and sashimi (especially hamachi), anything made from yuzu, Indian food, and well... just about anything that's made well.
-- TV SHOWS--
TV shows I like include Doctor Who, Stargate (Atlantis, and SG-1 before Richard Dean Anderson left), Who's Line is it Anyway, Smallville, Law and Order, Eleventh Hour, ReGenesis, Battlestar Galactica, South Park, The Simpsons, All Creatures Great and Small, Monty Python's Flying Circuis, Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, and Faulty Towers among others. I also like Anime, especially Cowboy Bebop and Evangelion.
-- MOVIES --
Robin Hood (the Errol Flynn version), Gattaca, Casablanca, anything by Hitchcock, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Death to Smoochy, Citizen Kane, anything by Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, Grave of the Fireflies, Nausica, Laputa), The Incredibles, The Baron Mundchausen, Brazil, 28 Days Later, Red Corner... the list goes on.
-- OTHER STUFF --
In my free time, I like to hang out with friends, play Dungeons & Dragons, Magic: The Gathering, Cranium, Balderdash, Scattergories, Scrabble, and Chess, among other things. An evening of such things is even better when preceeded by a pot luck dinner.
- My typing/writing hand
- My friends
- In the words of Johnny Five: Input! Books, Documentaries, NPR, Google News, National Geographic, Scientific American.... I need at least a few of these, or I'd go crazy!
- The ability to improve myself
- New stuff to discover and learn about
On a more mundane level, how can I make enough money to pay the rent, but still have time to volunteer as a Korean, Japanese, English and Computer Science tutor....
....and how I can improve education and people's lives all around the world.