John Leo's Myriad of Interests
here to listen to the background sound.
Background sound: The Yamanote-sen platform at Shinjuku
station, January 1998. Recorded by Kyoko Leo. Shinjuku-eki is the
busiest train station in the world and also my personal favorite.
Due to WAV files being so large, only the jingle (my favorite of
all of JR's great jingles) that plays when the train doors are
about to shut is included here.
Note: In almost every place on my web pages, Japanese names
are listed in Japanese order, family name first.
I must like making lists, because there are several of them
here. Here's the list of lists:
I always love learning things, but what I'm interested in
learning changes constantly, so I never manage to learn anything
very well. But I've learned it's best to just do what I'm most
interested in at the time. Here's what I can remember of how my
main interests have changed.
- (Summer 1987) Math
- (Fall 1987 to around Fall 1992) Japanese
language and culture
- This is the longest I've ever stayed interested in
anything. What was important is that Japanese culture (I'm
mostly interested in modern, popular culture) is so rich
that I was able to find new things just when I started to
lose interest in something else. One of the biggest
subinterests, incidentally, was video games, particularly
those made by Nintendo, and particular those by Miyamoto
Shigeru (the Zelda series, the Super Mario series, etc).
Staying interested in the culture for a long time plus
living in Japan twice meant my language ability got
reasonably good. Now I've stopped formally studying the
language, and Japanese culture may never be a primary
interest again, but it's constantly a background interest.
Primarily I'm still very interested in TV
- (around Fall 1992 to December 1993) Math
- (December 1993 to July 1994) Computers
- I got my Macintosh in December 1993 and this led to being
interested again in all aspects of computers--programming,
hardware, and so forth. I also discovered the Web in this
- (July 1994 to December 1994) French and
- For some reason these seem to go together. I also got
interested in writing again.
- (December 1994 to March 1995) Music
- I got very interested in all aspects of music--sound,
listening, synthesis, composing, and so forth. I bought
my Roland JV-90 keyboard/synthesizer in this period, as
well as a receiver and speakers.
- (March 1995 to mid-April 1995) French
- I would have liked music to last longer but I'd be quite
happy to just bounce back and forth between these two
from now on. Just as long as I don't get interested in
- (mid-April 1995 to June 1995) Music and
- Yeah! Back to music. And also bridge (as in the card game),
which I haven't played in many years due to a lack of
friends who knew how to play, but now I've found a group
at work. I've always loved card games.
- (July 1995 to late October 1995) Literature
- Things are working out pretty well...back here again,
thanks to finally getting around to reading Salman
Rushdie and Kathy Acker, both around the same time. Both
are excellent! Jules Verne was enough to get me to start
studying French again too.
- (late October 1995 to December 1995) Japanese
- The New York Robbe-Grillet trip prolonged French for a
while, but it finally faded away, to be replaced by of
all things Japanese, the first time in about 3 years!
This was stimulated partly by the upcoming annual trip to
Tokyo, and partly by finally getting back some boxes that
had been stored in Indianapolis when I moved to Japan.
They contained Mezon Ikkoku among other manga
series, which I just happened to be in the mood to read.
This interest extended to the other usual Japanese things
I enjoy: doramas, video games (DragonQuest II), music,
- (January 1996 to May 1996) Golf
- I played golf quite a bit when I was young, but stopped
when I went to college. Finally I played again, for the
first time in over 12 years, when visiting my parents
over Christmas at their new home in Hilton Head, SC. Even
though it was extremely cold golf was great fun and I got
re-addicted. Now that I have a car I should be able to
play a lot!
- This has sort of expanded to sports in general: I'm also
playing badminton, billiards, bowling, and bicycling as
well. The current plan goes something like this:
badminton Monday and Friday at work, bicycle to work
Tuesday and Thursday (if it doesn't rain), go to driving
range Wednesday (Monday and Friday sometimes as well),
with golf and bowling on the weekend, and billiards
whenever there's free time since there's a table in our
- My reading has continued to be Japanese.
- (May 1996) Math and Golf
- Oh no! Who would have guessed it. Visiting Daniel
Sternbergh at his new job at a startup company, which I
was hoping would get me interested in French again, ended
up instead getting me more interested in science and
technology, which of all things led back to math! Math
has never given me anything but unhappiness, but I never
have control over these things. I'm starting to look back
at classifying problems according to the kinds of
algorithms that solve them, and I predict that as usual I
will make no progress.
- At least I'm still interested in golf, although due to
injuring my right shoulder I've hardly been able to play,
and have also had to curtail badminton, cycling, bowling--just
about everything except walking!
- My reading has continued to be Japanese.
- Math turned out to be suprisingly short-lived. (6/3/96)
- (June 1996 to July 1996) Golf
- I'm not particularly interested in anything right now,
sad to say. Japanese dramas (in particular Long
Vacation) would perhaps be the main interest. Other
than that I'm very slightly interested in golf, music,
French, video games, and so forth, but nothing especially
- I've gotten very interested in golf again now that I've
mostly recovered from injuring my shoulder and can play
- (July 1996 to August 1996) Golf and
- I got very interested in video games thanks to Super
Mario 64 (not just a video game, but truly a work of
art), and also got interested in 3D computer graphics
thanks to this game showing they actually had an
interesting application. (8/12/96)
- (August 1996 to mid-October, 1996) Golf
- I finally got interested in literature and French again
from a few weeks ago, although it's not as strong as it
was before. Golf continues as strong as ever; I broke 100
for the first time yesterday! (8/12/96)
- (mid-October 1996 to November 1996) Japanese
- Fall weather seems to inevitably bring the return of
interest in Japanese culture: Yuming, dorama, video games,
manga, etc. Just in time for the annual trip at the end
of November. Golf has more or less faded, but French is
in a strange state: I still have several works to read by
Marie Redonnet, who has become one of my favorite authors.
Probably I will save them for later. (10/15/96)
- (December 1996) Redonnet, Music,
- I'm interested in several things at once now. One is
Marie Redonnet, probably mainly since I have several of
her works yet unread. Another is music, primarily making
it on my synthesizer. A third is computers, primarily
programming in Java.
- (January to late March, 1997) Music
- Redonnet (once I finished her works) and computers
gradually faded away, leaving music. In addition to
learning to play piano again and using my synthesizer, I
got interested in Bach for the first time in about 15
years when a friend played me "Invention #8".
This led to getting interested in Glenn Gould, who plays
Bach superbly, and the way he is meant to be played. (1/22/97)
- (late March, 1997 to April, 1997) Java
and Card Games
- I've combined these two interests by writing a
distributed version of Pounce in Java; the first verion
was completed April 4. It is currently available only
inside Oracle. I'm also interested in bridge and mah jong,
which is sort of a card game. (4/6/97)
- (May, 1997 to June, 1997) Music and Golf
- Golf was especially strong in May, when I played over a
dozen times, including 9 times on full-length courses.
Music includes several things, including synthesizers,
playing piano, and some science and theory. (6/19/97)
- (July, 1997) Music and Bicycling
- Golf faded away as I started playing badly, and I got
interested in bicyling again, perhaps partly due to the
weather finally becomming real summer weather. (7/21/97)
- (August, 1997 to September, 1997) Bicycling
- I got interested in French again thanks to R-G's videos
becomming available in the US. French and bicycling go
well together--I have fond memories of going over
memorized verses of Racine's Andromache while
biking to and from work in Fall 1995. (8/4/97)
- French actually died out earlier, around early to mid-September.
- (October, 1997) Computers
- Bicycling has started to fade away although I'm still
interested in it. Usually around this time I get
interested in Japanese stuff in anticipation of the
upcoming trip, but before that I've gotten interested in
computer related things such as Java and so forth. I'm
working again on improving my Pounce game. My reading is
mostly computer books now, which I don't include on the
reading list. (10/4/97)
- (November, 1997 to February, 1998) Japanese
Music, etc.; Computers
- As usual right before the annual trip to Japan I get
interested in Japanese culture again. Music seems to have
been the main interest, and just in time since I was then
able to buy a lot of CDs. What got me interested in
Japanese music again, after a fair break, was hearing a
great dance song when I went in Tokyo Video in San
Francisco. I stupidly didn't ask what it was but am
almost certain it was "Steady" by Speed.
However finally discovering how great Okamoto Mayo is was
the biggest find.
- I also got interested in dorama again (watching the
excellent "Narita Rikon" and the pretty good
"Ii hito"), video games (Miyamoto's latest
"Yoshi Story", as well as being able to play
the N64 Zelda at Makuhari Messe), and so forth.
- Computers continues as well as I bought a new Dell
Dimension XPS (Pentium II 300Mhz) with which I'm
currently composing this, and I also changed jobs,
starting December 18 at Siebel Systems. So I've changed
completely from Unix (work) and the Mac (home) to
Microsoft NT (work) and Windows 95 (home), and have a lot
- (March 1998) Bicyling; Computers; Music
- Spring began (weather-wise) on the last day of February,
which means it's time for cycling!
- I'm also still interested in music, but not strictly
Japanese. Lately it's been salsa, and I've started
learning how to play it as well.
- (April 1998 to June 1998) Bicyling;
- Cycling has gotten stronger than
ever, helped by buying a new road bicyle and taking trips
over 100 miles for the first time. I've also been reading
Japanese literature in English. Music continues to be
- (June 1998 to September 1998) Music
- The key event in the change was Kyoko and I cycling to
David Watson's house; David tends to be the one to get me
enthusiastic about music. Cycling still continues on the
side, but music takes over everything else including
reading. I'm back to learning piano (this time with Hanon
and a score of Speed's "My Graduation", among
other materials), working with Cakewalk (and resurrecting
some old short songs from a few years ago), and so forth.
- As for listening, I discovered Kawamoto Makoto, and that
Ijichi Hiromasa, who happened to have written several
songs I loved over the past few years, writes all of
Speed's music. So I could finally buy their two albums
and enjoy them without feeling guilty. No wonder they're
- The big find at the end of this period, and carrying over
into the Japanese period below, was Tanimura Yumi. I quickly
collected all of her albums and should have all of her
videos by the end of the year.
- (October 1998) Math
- Just to show I have no control over myself, I really
wanted to get interested in French so I could get ready
for the Robbe-Grillet symposium in New York, but that was
not to be and completely against my will I got interested
in math again. At least it gave me something to read
about on the plane. Just like last time it lasted three
- (late October 1998) Japanese
- Well, perhaps I have a little control after all, or at
least the weather does. Despite the disruptions of the
New York trip and having to move the annual Japan trip to
December, I managed to get interested in Japanese things
and start relearning the language just in time for the
upcoming trip. Music, dorama and books seem to be the
- (November 1998 to January 1999) Japanese
- For a little variety from studying Japanese, I thought of
studying some Korean as well, which I'd started and
aborted a few times before. Walking to Stanford to look
at Korean and Japanese books, I thought of looking into a
little Chinese as well, since I knew nothing about the
language. I found it quite interesting, and thought it
more worthwhile to learn Chinese instead. This was
October 31. The next day, November 1, I went back to buy
the Practical Chinese Reader that Stanford uses,
and also bought Modern Chinese: A Basic Course
at Borders since it came with tapes. I also soon found a
decent Taiwanese drama whose title would literally
translate as "Four Thousand Gold" (it soon
ended, but there was a sequel of sorts as well). I
continued studying Japanese as well, and wished I knew it
better as it would make Chinese easier.
- (January 1999 to March 1999) Chinese,
Piano, and Walking
- My goals for 1999 are to practice piano more seriously
and learn some Chinese. I started taking piano lessons
once a week, and started learning Chinese on my own
primarily using Practical Chinese Reader, but with many
supplementary books, TV shows, and help from friends. I
found a Taiwanese entertainment show on channel 32 called
"Feichang yule" that I liked mainly due to the
host, Zhou Yingqi ("Angela"), but unfortunately
it stopped airing (apparently the show ran out of money)
around the end of March.
- Since college walking has been my favorite physical
activity, and I walk several miles every day as part of
my commute or just for fun. I used to walk to work back
when I worked summers at HP and was 2-3 miles away, and
really missed that. However not until recently did I
think about walking to work even though the distance is
much farther--12.3 miles if I walk up El Camino Real.
Once I tried it though I found it great fun and quite
addictive, and it's saved my sanity while waiting for the
weather to get good enough to bicycle to work again. I
only walk to work, and then take the train home. My
original time (2/2/99) was 3:10, and most of my times
were a couple minutes plus or minus that until 4/9/99,
when I surprised myself by making it in 2:51, or an
average speed of over 4.3mph.
- (April 1999 to Fall 2000?) Bicycling, Java,
Walking, Piano and Chinese
- Talking with Mike Vermeulen and working out the plan to
cycle together to the Sierras
got me excited about cycling again, and just in time as
the weather may finally be returning to normal (written 4/11/99).
- I've been working on Java as well on my own, rewriting
the UI of my distributed Pounce card game, and thinking
about writing a sort of Zelda clone of my own after
seeing a few on the web.
- The other three interests have continued, although I have
less time for them than before. (written June or so?)
- Cycling is still the main interest, followed by Chinese,
piano, and walking. Java has fallen by the wayside a bit.
- (Fall 2000 to present) Math, Music, Languages, Walking,
Cycling, Rock Climbing
- One of my interests until April 1999 or so was keeping track of my
interests, but that faded away and I stopped updating this page for a long
time. So I'm not really sure how things went. But certainly
around the Fall of 2000 I got seriously interested in math again, with the
idea that I would return to grad school to study it seriously and eventually
teach. From Fall 2000 to Fall 2002 I spent all my free time on math,
then, and then from Fall 2002 (when I started grad school) to Summer 2004 I
spent just about all my time on math! However I got rather burned out
and in Summer 2004 spent a lot of time cycling and hiking. Around the
end of 2004 I got very interested in music again, and in Fall 2005 I started
learning Chinese at UCLA. Also I've stayed interested in rock climbing
(which I must have started after writing the previous entry) for this time.
I've decided to try to keep my interests down to these six, as huge as they
all are, but experience has shown that something new will always come up....
My favorite sport since moving back to Palo Alto has been bicycling.
My other favorite activity is walking.
I also enjoy raquet sports (especially badminton, but also
raquetball and tennis), curling (well, when I was in Boston),
golf, frisbee, bowling, and rollerskating, but don't get a chance
to do much of any of them these days.
I'm finally playing golf again after a break of over 12 years,
and also started playing badminton again recently. (1/22/96)
More here later. Pointer to the dorama
To be completed later.
To be completed later. Kataomoi.
To be completed later.
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