My life for the past decade and a half or so seems to be splitting into 5′s.

June 1996 to June 2001 – Age 11: Taught myself BASIC and a few other languages from some old library books. Finally signed on the Internet for the first time in 1997. Henceforward, taught myself web design, discovered (Macromedia) Flash (v3!), nearly failed 8th grade science, grounded and forbidden to use the Internet, won US$10,000 in a teens-only international web dev contest, learned Perl then PHP/MySQL, became a notorious writer of Buffy TVS fan fiction, founded a web design company, monopolized every single issue of the school literary journal, learned Visual Basic 6, C++, then .NET, built a anyone-can-build Flash-websites platform, haunted various code-bases. Became convinced that programming is too ephemeral, but an equation is forever…

June 2001 to June 2006 – Age 16: As a junior in high school, I plunged straight into the subjects I was most horrible at, viz., math and science. It was a cruel self-enforced boot camp disciplining my creative mind that tends to wander – I spent 10+ hours a day studying subjects I disliked, under some silly education theory that I absolutely need to learn this stuff pronto (before I lose all that plasticity of mind and intensity of a teenager). Well, just a wee bit of vanity that I might be able to contribute to the next big physics theory. By 2002, I’d finished all of the lower division math and physics courses. I started my freshman year at UCSD, full ride, senior-standing, with the freedom to take graduate courses and to declare a triple major in Bioengineering, Physics and Philosophy — four years later, founded a garage-based speaker company, finished the core grad courses that a physics grad student takes before spending the rest of her tenure on research, before leaving due to not being able to decide which area I really wanted to focus on.

June 2006 to June 2011 – Too much dreary math/sci from the past 5, not enough literature and philosophy of the profound kind. Let’s begin “my lost years” incognito, with an artist pen name that’s a play on words over an Sketchup-ly urban fantasy web series project I halted at the time. From absolutely nothing, started a literary journal then an arts nonprofit and island-sized art gallery and Shakespearean Theatre company, got thousands of people I don’t know to donate to my cause for the arts. Unfortunately, it was all “out of this world” — set in the modern equivalent of Narnia, complete with deities that play by unknown rules, with power to end your access to Narnia at whim, and destroy all that you’ve created — coupled with the kind of pathos that happens when the deities’ internal communication seem to fail even despite all that magic (cough: cloud infrastructure), and you’ve got plenty exposure to corporate drama, even as a third party. Had a complete nervous breakdown around the time of my TED fellow interview in 2009, learned Esperanto, then took a respite, back into the real world, starting from absolutely nothing again, as a writer for the Examiner.

June 2011 to … – Back to my roots. Computers and the still-infinite potential in webby-mobile startups. Been off the map for too long, so let’s start by being a professional hackathon junkie. Test out my ideas among new people I don’t know. Scored $25,000 (cash + prizes) via closer to 2-dozen hackathons in three months, and now, this story begins…