Jee does not have one habit or hobby that dictates who she is. She’s been changing and growing in front of me for so long, that depending on the year that you meet, I’d have to describe her accordingly. Jee’s personality is as varied as her interests. Constantly soul searching, she always finds time for self improvement. According to her friendster profile, pals call her, “deliciously dizzying”. I couldn’t agree more.
How many careers have you had?
Two careers -- high school math teacher and interaction designer. Does being a student count? If so, then three.
What is your current title?
My business cards say - "interaction designer, user experience and design group" [at Yahoo!]; I have been with Yahoo for almost three and a half years and most recently with the Mail and PIM team.
What project will you be working on next?
Hmm. I’m currently trying to saving enough money to take a year+ off to travel. I’d like to spend the time growing spiritually (mediating, walking, practicing yoga), artistically (playing my violin, throwing pots), and physically (surfing, maybe getting back into tennis and boxing).
Your house is burning down. What one possession (aside from human/animal life) would you grab on the way out?
This is tough. Initially, I thought, my surfboard. However, I can get another. Then I thought, my violin. Again, I can get another. When is my house burning down? Is it before the middle of 2005 when my passport expires? If so, I guess my passport, cuz I’d probably need it to get another and it's probably enough identification to get me replacement credit cards and the like, to keep my plans in motion.
When and how did we meet?
I think we met in the summer of 1992. I interviewed for a summer job at The Charles Realty [in Boston], where you were working. You hired me to be the office's receptionist. I did a lot of filing. We spent a lot of money going out together that summer. [Out of the two dozen applicants interviewed, I chose Jee because she pulled out a Keith Haring day planner.]
What is your favorite meal of the day? And what did you last have for it?
That’s tricky. At first I was thinking lunch, cuz it's something I consistently have. However, lately my lunches have been from the cafeteria at work, and although it's a pretty good food service, after three plus years, it's gotten a little boring. So I guess I will say dinner. I had ramen noodles with veggies and veggie tempura last night. It was actually very satisfying, although incredibly simple. Oh, and two inari sushi.
Man I love breakfast. But I never wake up in time for it!
Yeah I love breakfast, too. However, dinner is usually the meal that includes wine, and you know I love wine.
What wine could you recommend that you've enjoyed recently?
I had a bottle of Scott Harvey Syrah, maybe a 2002, at a dinner last weekend. It was actually really nice, and in the restaurant it was $26. I would imagine it retails for $13-15. I had been drinking more whites than usual this summer, but I think that was due to the heat. With winter setting in, it's time to go back to reds.
I know you love good food and are a stellar cook. Would you rather dine in and host a dinner party or go out on any given occasion?
I'd rather dine in. It feels more intimate to me. I don't have to worry about booking a table. I can eat at my own pace. I can control the ingredients. For these reasons, I like having people over. I only wish I had more space to entertain.
If I opened up your closet, what is the main color that I would see?
Ha ha. You know the answer to that one. It's probably black. Although lately I’ve become more colorful. I think it started after I got back from Costa Rica.
Costa Rica inspired you to add a little color in your daily wear? How come?
People there wear a lot of colorful clothes, and the scenery is rich with colors. I went to a beach town, and I think that environment cultivates an easiness about the people. This shows in their leisurely ways and casual, colorful dress.
Having attended MIT and Stanford, I would think that you are a very goal oriented person. True or false?
Man, I hate binary questions. Umm...if I had to choose, probably true. I think I was much more goal oriented while in school. School lends itself to such behavior. However, in my work and personal life, I don't know that I would call myself goal oriented. I have *loose* goals. Things like *improving* at the things I do, but how I measure that is definitely qualitative. I've also tried to learn what it is that I don't know. Fortunately, the things that I do teach me that.
You've had recent musings about taking off, exploring the world and learning about yourself and others. Have you set a time frame for this?
Yes. I’m considering the middle of September, 2005, to start this trek. I’m not sure if it will actually happen at that time, but I know that I have a window of opportunity to do something like this. I don't have any real debt, except for student loans, I don't have a mortgage or any possession to which I feel tied, and I don't have anyone who depends on me. I know these factors won't remain in this state forever. With that said, I’m also giving my professional life time to grow and keep me interested. I like my job these days, and I know that I have it good with respect to work. That’s why I’m not sure if I’ll keep to the fall date, but I’m planning as if I will.
Where would you start your adventure?
I think New Zealand, since there are now direct flights from San Francisco. I’d probably go to Australia after that and make my way west.
What's the coolest thing happening in interaction design today?
I guess it would be that with the devices that are becoming ubiquitous, such as cell phones, the interaction models are still being created. In designing for the Web, you have to consider all of the different kinds of displays that the design will have to accommodate, as well as anticipate the emerging technologies that will make it to the mainstream. Also, the most basic part of interaction design for me is creating a great user experience. This goal will always persist, regardless of medium, and since the media are always evolving, it makes interaction design an interesting field.
Did you ever think this is what you'd be doing?
No, I didn't know a field like this even existed until I went to Stanford. When I went to school, I had a vague idea of what I wanted to learn, and I was excited about the idea that school was going to introduce a lot of new areas to me that I had never considered or even knew. When I started taking HCI (human computer interaction) and product design classes, I found them a lot more interesting than most of my education courses. Hence, I delved into those areas, and somehow, I’m getting paid to do it.
Yeah, definitely. I love that, though.
What's the last word you learned?
The last word i learned was "jejune". It means lacking in nutritive value. I subscribe to dictionary.com, so I get a word a day. A lot of them I know, but this one, I didn't. I actually keep all of the words that are new to me in a folder in my email account. I probably shouldn't tell you that. I find it interesting, especially since it gives you the etymology of the word, too.
Do the words leave your folder once you've used them in real life?
Unfortunately, no. I like to look through them from time to time. I guess I have to be pretty hard up for an activity, though. Oh! The last TLA I learned was UML. That’s probably something else I shouldn't divulge. UML = unified modeling language. It’s a way to make flow diagrams. Someone at work complimented me on the UMLs I recently made, and although I knew what they were talking about, I didn't know what the TLA actually meant. It's something that I should know...as an interaction designer...but I guess it's better to be able to make them and not know what they're called, than the reverse.
Uhh...what's a TLA?
TLA = three letter acronym. In the last three years I have heard way too many TLA's. There must be a course in business school: How to create TLAs.
What has been the most difficult decision you've had to make in the last three years?
When I read that question, my first thought was that I really haven't had to make that many difficult decisions. However, I think there are a couple that come to mind now. The first was one I had to make recently at work, to change groups. The second was deciding whether or not to go home for Christmas last year. It was the first Christmas I was not with my family, and I wasn't sure how my parents would react to it. We’re not a religious family. Christmas is more about being together than anything else. I felt a little guilty for not wanting to travel. I had just been in Chicago for about 10 days in November, at both ends of my Costa Rica trip, and I felt like I had spent enough time there.
My parents were actually really great about it. In the past few years our relationship has become really comfortable. The guilt about Christmas was self-induced, as I know that I have a finite amount of time with them, and unlike my sister, I’ve spent all of my life since I graduated high school hundreds of miles away from them. Fortunately, they're planning a move to San Diego in the next few months, and I’m anticipating seeing them with more regularity than in the past.
The work decision was difficult in that I have a great loyalty to my previous manager, and I know that my leaving the group was somewhat difficult for him. I’m also very much a caretaker of people and that includes the people at work. I thought that they would feel abandoned by me when I left. It’s not as if I thought they weren't going to survive without me. I know everyone is replaceable. It was just that I had loyalties to them, too.
Old habits die hard. What is a bad habit you'd like to break?
I am not the cleanest house/cube keeper around. It’s really unfortunate that I missed that trait from my mother. I am a lot like my father. He has stuff strewn around the house, and my mom has to throw stuff away on the sly. I’m better about throwing things away, but it happens in waves. Living alone enables this bad behavior. I think I knew that, but I don't think I ever articulated it until now. I’m currently sharing a smallish space at work with two other people. I apologize to them daily for having to share it with me.
List the last five live events you attended.