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While hiking through Yosemite National Park we pass by this hollowed out tree. I wondered out loud what could have done this to a tree. My youngest brother, graduate of Stanford Engineering, Physics and Material Sciences immediately pipes in, “Lighting.”

But of course, because he is so full of random information, he just has to continue. For the next ten minutes, we stand in front of this true as he explains how the intense heat and energy of a lightning strike causes the sap in trees to expand so much that it literally splits from the inside out and becomes hollowed.

I never knew that.

Now I know.

I’ve also learned about catastrophic failures when things break, and different kinds of glass cracks. Way to go for having a walking encyclopedia like my brother.

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My youngest brother just graduated from Stanford.

I feel that little pang of nostalgia for our youth.  I remember those hot, humid days in the Philippines when we used to have to take four baths a day.  Our yayas (nannies) used to chase after us and we would be dripping with sweat.  This was an unacceptable state to my parents, so our yayas would take us to the bathrooms and give us a cool shower.  And then after that, when we were all nice and dry, they would douse us with baby powder.  One of my favorite memories of Toshi is him being completely covered in baby powder.  He was like a little piece of meat all floured up and ready to be deep-fried.  Aw.

We also used to race.  I used to win.  Then one day, the tides changed and he became the tallest one.  And started winning. After that, we also stopped racing. *Griiins*

He used to adore me.  I used to tell him to do things like rolling down the stairs was fun. (Yes, I got into a tremendous amount of trouble for him rolling down wooden stairs.  There are no carpets in the Philippines.)

Toshi had a reputation for being a smart-aleck. He also had a reputation for being loyal.  When he was in fourth grade, he was sent to the Disciplinary Offices at Sacred Heart School for Boys.  Back in those days, DOS was the most horrible thing that could ever happen to you.  They told everyone of authority what you’d done…even God…yeah, Catholic schools and all.  Naturally, our parents got a phone call, too.  Both my mom and dad (in full military uniform) had to go to DOS to pick him up.  It turns out, he had punched a high school student.

…wha-huh?  He was in fourth grade and he’d gotten into a fight with a high schooler?  No way!  As it turns out, he had been across the Quad when he saw our other brother, Ach, run into this high school kid.  In reaction, the high schooler pushed Ach down.  He fell.  High schooler reaches over and picks Ach up…by the collar of his uniform.

The next thing anyone knew, Tosh had hurled himself like a little missile at the high school kid and punched him at the stomach, the part that he could reach.  “That’s my brother!” he cried furiously.  Unfortunately, one of the Priests had seen the altercation and he was taken to DOS.

But hey, he stood up for his brother.

All our lives, this is who he has always been.

Congratulations, Snaps!

My brothers and I have been through so much.  But my baby brother has burned the brightest among all of us and I am so proud of him.

babytosh2hehetoshi

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