First, a word of advice:
I think that music can always enhance most any narrative experience.
Even though I'm not a music major like Ohms, I do try to listen to an
eclectic sampling of music whenever I have time. What you hear is just
as important as what you see, if not more so. In fact, a while back, I
had background music in many parts of my home page. Unfortunately, this
feature was short lived after people tried to browse my page in
libraries and were rudely surprised. Still, I think that even if it is
only in one's mind, having a stream of music flowing concurrently really
adds a whole new dimension to this whole web surfing business.
And now I segue to my second preliminary point: Anyone who knows Keith Lee
in any capacity has been treated to at least one showing of Macross Plus
in his room. I was of course no exception, and his insistence that I sit
through a whole showing lead to my discovery of a true masterwork of
anime. Driven by my newly instilled Macross fandom (maybe not quite Keith
Lee otaku level, but a deep admiration for M+ nevertheless), over
summer, I acquired not only the two compact discs of the Original
also Sharon Apple: The Cream PUF, a singles collection put out by the
virtual fictional pop star. (Unfortunately, the most coveted Macross
disc, For Fans Only, was out of print when I ordered it, and it looks like
if it will stay that way for the indefinite future.) So before I delve
onward, I'd like to publically thank Keith for introducing me to a film
with such a diverse and illustrious musical score to accompany it and
bolster the drama of the ballad of Isamu Dyson, Guld, Myung, and Sharon
Now, I would suggest that if you have a copy of it, put "Voices" in the
background. Just pop it into your stereo or CD-ROM and play away.
Preferablly the original version with Yoko Kanno's vocals and instruments
(Macross Plus Soundtrack Vol. 1, Track 8) although one of the alternate
arrangements will probably work too. But I must emphasize, if some form
of Voices is not playing in the background, you are proabably missing out
on this Thought! You'll see why Voices provides an especially appropiate
And now, our feature presentation...
I was working at Microsoft, hacking through the object-oriented
intricacies of the Office code, stepping through using the good ol
debugger to figure out just how the heck it all worked, wondering how in
the world Windows NT and Visual C++ could turn a 200 MHz Pentium Pro with
64 MB of RAM into a disk-thrashing sloth, and suddenly the
phone rang. Lo and behold, the voice on the other end of the line was NOT
my parents asking me how late I would be working tonight. No, it turned
out to be none other than Kevin Frank Chen, aka KFC, my friend ever since
elementary school and now at UCLA. I had stopped by Kevin's place once
this summer but
he wasn't there. My heart skipped a beat, and I was soon talking
excitedly with Kevin, and arranged for him to come by my office at MS,
along with a group of other long-unseen friends.
Cut to a scene of Macross Plus:
Isamu and Myung chat as to how they've been doing after all these
how they've pursued separate interests in combat aviation and show-biz
My encounter with Kevin was of course a chance to catch up on college
life and reminesce about thoughts, ideas, and aspirations. But during the
sharing, something becomes clear to me - as it became clear to Isamu
during that scene by the sea in Macross Plus where he met up with Myung
We've changed quite a bit. It doesn't warrant use of the
word "tense" but still, it allowed me to reflect. Not only
in terms of
academic interests and pursuits, but of other, more eternal things...
And my memories drifted back in time as I hung out with Kevin and a small
group of friends
over ice cream sundaes in the Peppermill Lounge in Cupertino...
The opening scene of Macross Plus:
The windmills are turning idyllically on a beautiful summer day, as
three teenagers play around joyfully...
A haunting voice sings: Hitotsu meno kotoba wa... yume (The
word was... dream)...
My memories are blurry at first, but slowly, concrete images start to
Ahhhh - journalism. Those memories of high
school. That's what she said. Baaarrrrr! While our paper was pretty
decent and solid in many areas, we as a staff, were sinful to say the
least. We were just cracking sexual jokes, references, and un-biblical
discussions about the opposite sex as if it was second nature. I can't
seem to recall any specific examples, without a copy of the newspaper
issues to refer to. (We become pretty good at "accidentally"
slipping in subtle references to inside journalism staff jokes or
sayings. Sometimes they were caught by readers or our adviser -- more
often or not, they were not, and we would just laugh - internally of
course.) Anyways, the purpose of this Deep Thought isn't
to rehash or list the sinful thinking that pervaded our journalism staff
But, one interesting anecdote, not directly illustrative
of our mindset, but nevertheless pretty fun, if "fun" can even be remotely
applied here, was that I remember one night, we were
doing a special feature on censorship, and we needed some high-impact,
controversial illustrations. So me, being the graphics guru,
was surfing the decadent and vile areas of cyberspace in my high school
computer lab to find some nice visuals (which would be rendered suitable
for high school use thorough judicious application of the Gaussian Blur
tool in Photoshop.) Being one of the first two high schools connected to
had its niceties. Anyways, I had some pretty... sciintilliating
onscreen when Mr.
Todd, our computer lab admistrator walks by. Presumably he doesn't know
what journalism is up to in terms of our story's "needs." My heart rate
nearly doubled. Quit
netscape .. click close box.. click click! Click!
Mustquitnetscapequitnetscape! clickclickclick ...
closeyou$%#@$%@#$@netscape! Ahh.. Tense! His head turned ominously
towards the monitor. At the last moment, I managed to switch back to the
Finder. Even though Mr. Todd might have caught something interesting in
his perripheral vision, when he looked at my monitor, I was just clicking
icons, and browsing the hard drive. Whew!
Another instance: take KFC. The restaurant that shared the name used to
this slogan: It's finger lickin good! Well, during late nights before
deadlines, the 'finger' part of that phrase tended to get somewhat
modified by Kevin's cohorts, myself included, and became the nucleus of
more than one crude sexual innuendo. Utterly reprehensible. Wrong.
Our newspaper had a "Senior Edition" put out at the end of the year to
honor our graduating class. Among one of the sections was a feature where
people were asked why they chose the school that they did. My response:
"Stanford University: Tons of hot Asian babes and a super-fast Internet
conneciton as well!" Luckily, cleaner minds prevailed at the last moment,
and my witty quote mercifully never made it to print. I'm not ashamed to
admit it, because looking back, it's amazing how much has changed with me.
And I wonder about my high school friends who were also on that newspaper
staff: whatever became of them? There are a few others that I have kept
in touch with and who are leading healthy spiritual lives - for instance,
Beverly Tseng is in Campus Crusade up at Berkeley, Dean Kao, leading
worship for the 5th Home of Christ, and Andy Hwang, the honorary MV
journalist from Bellarmine. What of the others, though? What ever
happened to Dan "Waterboy-in-Chief" Goudey, Christina "Eyebrows" Han,
Rahimi, Eric Lin, Laurence Harris, John Kaz... If I bumped into one of
them, I'd be
probably be at least as surprised as Isamu bumping into
Myung after all those years apart.
It wasn't just journalism either. The truth of the matter is that there
aren't that many people that I know
to be strong Christians in high school. In fact only a handful, such as
Shirley Liu, Joan "I saved the free world at my senior prom" Hwang, Angel
Cheng, An-Li Liu who goes to my church back home, Vlad Beffa... those are
probably the entirety of people
that come immediately to my mind when I think about the people that I
associated with strength in Christ and leading a healthy and visible walk
during those high school years. (OK, Pastor Paul "Fu-Fu" Kim went there
too, but as I was a wee frosh when he was a senior, he was basically out
of my high school picture, regrettably.)
Now, certainly there have been other Monta Vista people, say...
- being a junior rep for FiCS, Grace Yang - serving in IV and going on
Urban Immersion, Albert Daesik Yi - playing bass on the KCPC praise team,
Anthony Liu - co-leading a IV frosh group, and a few others whom I
didn't know to be on-fire Christians in high school but have
really grown in their faith in college, and are now faithful and visible
servants of the body of Christ. But I guess in high school, we never
really had a notion of fellowship and externally-visible Christianity in
the campus environment. We did have
a Christian group called WaterWalkers, and I did attend some meetings,
but we were basically just an insular gathering of Christians. I wouldn't
call the environemnt hostile to Christianity, but I think that in high
school, at least Monta Vista, for the majority of us, even though
we were Christian in our churches, we were not Christian in our lives, in
our mindset. Maybe we were just super-competitive on the college-prep
track. Maybe the atmosphere of a public school made us wary of having an
Christian organization lest politically-correct administrators get too
antsy. Whatever it may be, I was a Christian on paper, and I "pretended"
to be one on Sundays, and not much else.
Anyways, once I got on campus An-Li told me about an group on campus
called InterVarsity, and
encouraged me to try it out, so I decided to give it a shot. And so it
goes on from there.
The changes that I've experienced through my participation in IV, and
later, FiCS, have been mostly internal - for I am a mainly thinking
Unfortunately, my story is not the material for a spicy fellowship-wide
I was not super-party-guy, or super-troubled-guy or
super-whatever-guy, or something similarly
my present form. But God has been working constantly, even now.
And recently, I have been convicted. More on this later.
Thorough the fellowships I have been involved in, a large part has been
support and encouragement of my fellow
Christians that has contributed to my new-found passion for Him.
One of the main reasons I decided to join FiCS, my present fellowship, was
the strong sense of
corporate unity and just the whole sense of brotherhood. It's interesting
that for the most part, the Christians I know don't belong to fraternities
or sororities (Clara and Sandy being notable exceptions.) Instead, I
think of my fraternity as that of FiCS, and that of my fellow Christian
brothers and sisters as a whole.
I think that a fellowship of believers encouraging one another and
lifting each other up in Christ is important. As I
alluded to in a previous thought, interfellowship
events, such as All-Campus Praise are essential too to gain a sense of
our larger united identity.
But what about the big question, that of outreach to non-Christians?
Even at Stanford, ignoring distinctions of fellowships and churches, I
realize that there are two distinct social
spheres, the Christians and non-Christians. My closest friends here at
Stanford have of course been Christians. As for non-Christian friends,
there's a gap that's pretty perceivable. It's more than just the fact
that I see my Christian friends (those in FiCS at least) regularly
twice a week. For with friends, completely sharing one's concerns in
life invariably turns to religion. And, well, it gets... tense.
My observation is that human (certainly humans in FiCS) nature is like
or other mechanical system
in physics: in general, the tendency is to avoid tense situations
without some external applied force.
Put these two
together, and you can see the mixing of the two groups isn't as
homogenous as it ideally should be.
As an illustration of what I'm talking about: I was recently at Desiree's
cua bing party. Anyways, Desiree, in my perception, stands out
from many others in
that she is one of those whose extended
friends draws from, and I mean draws from extensively and
near-equally, both Christian and non-Christian realms.
So all these seemingly-random people come by for a cua bing
basically, after the initial and
obligatory greetings/introductions, we split into two groups, the
people that Desiree and Mimi hang out with, and the other non-Christian
people (mainly people who were in Donner/Alondra with Des/Mimi freshman
course, it wasn't externally visible, but
still, by who was talking to whom, these two groups were delineated
somewhat apparently. Tense. So, I basically stayed within the Christian
group for the entire duration.
In friendship, I've noticed that there's a duality involved - a
level of a personal
relationship and a level of a spiritual relationship. They are
independent of the other, but still progressive: Friendship can only
far with discussion of classes, current
events, computer games and the like. To truly be a friend that
can be a source of emotional support and encouragement, it is
necessary understand what other people
are feeling, what they are thinking, what drives their emotions, and
that means one must
delve into their spiritual realm -- I use spiritual in a sense more
general than that of Christianity, or religion itself.
As I have walked on the path of following Jesus, I realize that our
gratituous journalism antics were a bonding experience for friends, as
much as I hate to admit it, much like our Friday
night meetings, class activities, and Sunday Bible studies up at KCPC are
bonding experiences for my FiCS brothers and sisters. Without them, it's
a lot harder to plant the
foundations of a strong friendship. Even as high school journalism seems
like a foreign world to me now, I know that between Kevin and I, we have
fewer areas of commonality for our friendship to grow and develop. Which
is not to say our friendship is becoming less healthy - but now,
Kevin is like another non-Christian, with my natural inhibitions and
"biases" if you want to call it that.
Many Silicon Valley companies have "student representatives" on
campus whose goal is basically to act as a liason between the company
and the campus, not only for potential recruiting and name-dropping, but
just to see
how their products are being used, to be a contact point for product
support, marketing, and the like.
MS asked us Stanford interns if anyone would like
to be a
Stanford student representative of Microsoft. I declined, but it got me
Now a question: Would a representative from Microsoft who is
officially supposed to be promoting their products,
hang out with, say,
people who used Netscape web browsers, or Sun, or Silicon Graphics
computers? Would such a representative avoid them completely? If I
was the student representative for Microsoft, and my friend was a
representative for a competitor - would that consitute a obstacle to my
friendship? More importantly, if everyone is using Netscape, do
I just say, fine, or do I try to tell them about Internet Explorer? How
do I approach a Netscape-using friend? Say, "as a friend, it's fine with
me what browser you use?" Could I have the courage to tell why my
friend's company's products are behind those of Microsoft? Of course,
friendship can't be reduced to such
clinical and cold facts as this, but still, it raises some interesting
During the FiCS pre-fall retreat, themed "Spirit-Filled Followers of
Christ", Pastor Paul gave us a message that we are "representatives" of
Christ and that that we should be concious of that title in our daily
lives, in our every act. I was truly convicted, in more ways than one, but
what stands out here was the
of Christ. Of course, I guess this is implicit knowledge, but to hear it
vocalized explicitly and eloquently by Paul made it truly hit home for the
We are representatives of Christ. Now just what does that
does representative evoke? It evokes an ambassador, a diplomatic
instrument of a country who is supposed to be an important
part of the implementatation of that country's
foreign policy - or perhaps more
mundane and understandable (unless you're Paul Lee), maybe the
phrase "customer service representative" - a 90's euphenism for sales
person. Yeah, maybe that's it: we are salespeople for Jesus
am of course not trying to trivialize, but rather, view it from a
different perspective. Whatever that maybe, one thing became clear
me at Redwood Glen: That I should be focused on outreach more.
Two specific Stanford people (should I call them "potential customers"?)
prominently come to
mind: Mike Rosenblum, and
Tammy Wang. I name them by name for three reasons: they have been on my
heart a long
time actually as two non-Christians that I know, they aren't into
reading thought pages, and if they do start, I've become resolved that
everything is just perfect and disagreement is absent is not really the
truest level of
friendship at all.
Anyways, there are undoubtedly others, but Mike and Tammy are
that immediately come up because I know them well, deeply respect them,
and they play visible leadership roles, Mike being the house manager in
Xanadu, and Tammy being a RA in Lantana.
Mike was my freshman year roommate. I won't turn this Deep
Thought into a resume listing for Mike, but I'll just say that he's
finishing a co-term in Math and Symbolic Systems this year, and that he
might very well
be a future recipient of a Rhodes Scholarship, Fields Medal, or a Turing
prize. Keep an eye on him.
Tammy and I have known each other for quite a while from high school.
In fact, her mom and my
mom were friends from their college years. Anyways, Tammy lived in
Junipero her freshman year, along with other famous and renowned people
such as Danny Chai, Eddie Ahn, Grace Hsiao, Lorraine Shih, Fred Savage,
and others. Indeed, she was Gracie's frosh roommate.
Now why aren't Tammy and Mike as close as people I know in FiCS or other
They are two
very spicy and sociable people, and yet a lot of the resistance to just
sharing my personal thoughts
with them has been self-induced. It's the abhorrance of
"tense" situations angle manifesting itself.
I was talking to a mutual friend of Tammy and myself who is
Christian at a retreat last Winter, and she told me that personally, she
has never really been focused on outreach to Tammy. Of course, Tammy
is aware of this person's Christianity, and she tells Tammy whenever
she goes on retreats, and other fellowship-related stuff. But those
are just purely informational.
One thing to know that Mike and Tammy hardly fit a classic "troubled"
profile - they aren't starving children in a developing country, or
delinquents - both are highly successful here at Stanford. And Tammy's
friend tells me that there is a right time for everything, including
I'm not attacking this person, but I'm just mentioning it because the
issue of outreach is a whole new world with conflicting issues that must
be prayerfully considered. In a way, witnessing to friends, especially
people like most non-Christians here at a place like Stanford, has a whole
new dimension than witnessing on missions to relative strangers.
It's a fine and subtle line, and there are no hard and fast
answers, really. But one thing that's added to my feeling of
impetus to make my Christianity more external is that Desiree Ong emailed
us just recently, strongly encouraging us to bring a non-Christian friend
to the Billy Graham Crusade on October 10th, when FiCS will be making a
group trip. In particular, this quote stood out:
"It is of little
eternal importance if all of us Christians go together as a Christian
I've never really done this. Not even for local events, like Soli Deo
Gloria. But in my heart, since the Billy Graham Crusades are not exactly
regular events, I feel a desire to take the first bold step, and reach
out. Here's that "applied force" coming into play.
So I pray that I might not only go by myself, but with a
non-Christian friend. Anyways,
I'm mentioning this on my web page partly as a reminder to
myself, and partly for
accountablility among my friends.
Outreach is a shift for me. You have to know your stuff well, and if
not, you'll learn.
In a way, it was like my internship and learning real coding and software
engineering practices and procedures: Microsoft's internships, putting an
intern straight into a full-scale project without a real "training
period", can be likened to unexpectedly being
thrown into the sea. If you don't know how to tread water, then you had
better learn, and FAST. Those of us in FiCS last year took the
"Essentials of Our Faith" final, and can probably recall the
salient verses. But
as is so often the case, learning it all in the classroom, in an academic
setting can be very different from applying it in practice.
realize that this is a fundamental paradigm shift
for me and how I devote myself to my faith in Him (yup, the buzzwords
being thrown around at strategic planning
meetings and presentations at Microsoft got to me a bit while I was
But once you do learn how to tread the water, you gain a skill to benefit
you the next time you find yourself in such a predicament. And so I
think it is with sharing the Gospel. Being moved to share means that
you'll pick it up much more effectively than studying for a final exam.
Well, I'm working on the Christian Big Sib web page, and I really feel
good about it, because I feel comfortable using my gifts to serve the
Christian body here. Indeed, the page is a bit of an outreach, and
thinking it in that sense gives me a true sense of being as a part of
Anyways, Anne Bonner, one of the coordinators
of the program and the UIC rep for FiCS, is someone I respect deeply.
That very respect and admiration comes from the fact that
Anne just exudes warmth and joy - she truly is such a representative of
Christ as Pastor Paul mentioned. The Lord has truly blessed Anne as a
true sister in our midst. Anne has the gift of dealing with people.
Invoking the "representative" analogy, I'm sure any company would love to
recruit Anne, fuzzy as she may be, as a marketing person for their
I think about Anne and I realize that it's near impossible for someone
like me to reflect her seemingly-innate radiance and happiness. But that
excuse I think to shirk away from the duties that we have been called for.
There are others too...
My sister at UC Davis.
And yes... Kevin Frank Chen - Currently, he does not attend church
regularly, or being to a campus ministry. I don't know if they have a
group as strong as say, FiCS
down in UCLA, but he is someone that will be in my prayers.
Anyways, I think that's it for now. One thing, this public forum isn't a
comprehensive prayer request listing, a journal,
nor a compendium of the personal thoughts paralleling and extending
what's been said
on this page that I've shared to my close
friends/small group members. If you want to know more,
come talk to me. To some extent, Eric Yang does have a point.
Secondly, this web page has been in the works for about
months or so, and it's gotten big, bloated, and delayed. Just like, say,
Microsoft Windows 95 or Office. As
Andrew Wong told me bluntly: "you need to update your thoughts page." So,
here it is.