Confessions of a researchaholic

July 16, 2020

草草了事 undeleted from a restless afternoon

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:31 pm
Tags:

I was trying to sketch Dona Arguello‘s statue from a sliver of shaded area in a hot afternoon but could not gather enough interest within the allocated half hour, so I deleted the file, but restored it to continue from memory at home.

July 15, 2020

Dragon fruit peel

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:30 pm
Tags: ,

After eating the dragon fruit, I drew its peel to memorize it.

View this post on Instagram

Dragon fruit peel – oil paint via #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

July 13, 2020

Pencil and pen sketch of an unlit corner after sunset

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:18 pm
Tags: ,

I went out after 8 pm to this interesting and yet unlit corner of my neighborhood, to force myself to either draw quickly before it was too dark and/or finish the rest from visual memory back home.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CCm_h8RHb5h/

July 10, 2020

Hand exercise pine cone

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:28 pm
Tags: ,

When I picked up this pine cone it was still oozing sap, and has remained on my desk as an aroma source and hand exercise instrument.

View this post on Instagram

✋ exercise pinecone #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

July 6, 2020

Sitting across from the black cat opposite a glass panel

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 10:00 pm
Tags: ,

The neighborhood black cat often came to visit.
The sketch is a composition based on two photographs.

July 4, 2020

Drawing a composition of evening sun and moon

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 6:54 pm
Tags: ,

This composition is astronomically implausible (unless there are multiple suns above the horizon) but I felt like doing it after seeing the evening sun and moon at opposite ends of the sky.

July 3, 2020

Sketching after a photo of a sketching scene

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:55 pm
Tags: ,

My father shared some photographs of this drawing scenes, which I could draw from and connect to his works and travels.

July 1, 2020

A spider on a flower

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 9:47 am
Tags: , ,

A spider, resting on a lamp shade, scurried away after being gently poked by me to see if it was still alive.

This exercise aimed to reproduce my impression of its movement, but over a flower as captured by an earlier photograph of another spider instead of the lamp shade.

I drew the flower and the spider in multiple layers via Fresco, exported the pdf file to Illustrator to animate the spider via puppet warp, and assembled the final video from the individual spider layers/frames along with the flower.

Even with puppet warp, the authoring process still involved tedious manual repetitions, which can be alleviated by autocomplete.

View this post on Instagram

Painting a spider on a flower #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on


ffmpeg -framerate 32 -start_number 0 -i frame_%02d.jpg -c:v libx264 -pix_fmt yuv420p -vf scale=1024×1024 SpiderOnFlower32fps.mp4

June 26, 2020

Sketch a towel-wrapped head in multiple views

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:55 pm
Tags: ,

I have been wanting to draw this for a while and finally managed to do it.
Picking a familiar subject could force me to spend more efforts in resemblance which might not be the key point or intention of the drawing.

June 23, 2020

Anniversary dinner

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:58 pm
Tags: , ,

The appetizers (corn mezzaluna, Spanish mackerel) and entrees (striped bass, duck breast) were pretty light until the chocolate souffle, which was much more fulfilling than the size would suggest and continued to roll in my stomach until deep into the night.

Drawing helped me to not only remember the experience (than, say, photography) but (counter-intuitively) also better engage in conversation.

This is my last celebratory meal before I manage to regenerate a losing body part considered to be irreversible by all doctors I have consulted so far.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CBztNAlHXd7/

June 20, 2020

Charcoal sketch of a neighborhood cat

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:41 pm
Tags: ,

The black neighborhood cat visited again, which I watched through the front door glass for a bit while and drew the impression with the new charcoal brush in Fresco.

View this post on Instagram

Charcoal experiment with #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

June 18, 2020

Hong Kong weather skyline

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:32 pm
Tags: ,

I drew this 3×1 watercolor inspired by Yilan Chen’s Instagram photos.

View this post on Instagram

Before a thunderstorm. #weather

A post shared by Yilan Chen (@_yiroro) on

View this post on Instagram

After raining. #weather

A post shared by Yilan Chen (@_yiroro) on


https://www.instagram.com/p/CBaGv77Je4L/

June 15, 2020

A day of errands

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:44 pm
Tags:

A pile of earth
A physical exam
A carton of eggs
A job training
A PhD defense

June 14, 2020

Drawing my favorite view of the bay

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:18 am
Tags: ,

This is my first drawing of the view from this spot which I often come to relax my mind and body.

June 13, 2020

Quick ink-pen sketch of a dead mosquito

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:29 pm
Tags: ,

I noticed this little black spot on the white carpet.
The (iPad) camera can capture the details better than my naked eyes.
I removed the dead mosquito afterwards.

June 10, 2020

Onsite drawing of a back building view

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:55 pm
Tags: ,

Thanks to a not-yet-ready for pick-up dinner order, I finally got a chance/excuse to draw this back-building view that I found intriguing during my morning train station waits but without enough time to draw.

It was a serene drawing process, accompanied by sounds from train horns and chats of nearby street folks.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CBR3u-rHVFV/

How to pick up drawing

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:34 am
Tags: ,

I skipped most of my art classes in school because I considered it a soft skill less useful than math and science.
Decades later I realized that art can be a good complement to my research and help me relax and create.
Fortunately, unlike languages, I have found drawing quite learnable as an adult, if one is willing to spend enough time practice and experiment.

For beginners, I recommend Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards as a starting guide book.
Practice the exercises as much as you can, and treat the cognitive aspect (e.g., left versus right brain) more from the art than the science side.

I am still learning, and will update this post along the way.
You can see my progress under my blog (which links to Instagram), Pinterest (which links to Behance), and Facebook.

June 7, 2020

End of consumer toilet paper shortage?

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 11:10 pm
Tags: ,

Just a few weeks ago the US was suffering from a shortage of consumer toilet papers, so I was a bit surprised to see a pack of unopened toilet papers marked as free on top of a garbage pile while walking in the neighborhood on Sunday evening.
I wonder if that is a sign that the toilet paper production has finally ramped up?

June 5, 2020

Quick onsite sketch of a bench in a temple garden

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:08 pm
Tags: ,

The spot around this bench offers good views from several angles.

View this post on Instagram

Quick onsite sketch of a bench #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

Sharing materials under review for job applications

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:03 am
Tags:

Question from someone about to graduate with a PhD:
Do you think I can reach out with our paper draft and videos to profs for postdocs? It’s still under review, but I kinda need to send the paper to make my case, and can’t wait any longer.

This is always a yes and no question and we have to make our own judgement. On one hand, we don’t want to let potential reviewers and recruiters feel that we are compromising review anonymity, which can hurt our paper submissions and job applications. On the other hand, we do want to present ourselves in the best possible way.

I never have this problem personally, as during my job hunts so far I have shared only public domain information.
However, if I have to add confidential materials (e.g., under peer reviews or patent applications), I will share vague information, such as an alternative paper titles with high level descriptions and a disclaimer that the work is under evaluation, and let the recruiters decide whether they want to ask for more.

May 27, 2020

Drawing a deck view in a heat wave

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:58 pm
Tags: ,

I took a reference photo of this view which caught my eye on Tue May 26 early morning at the start of a heat wave.

View this post on Instagram

Deck view in a heat wave

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

I came back for on-spot drawing at Wed May 27 evening when the weather cooled down a bit, and finished the drawing indoor with the reference photo after night fall.

View this post on Instagram

Drawing a deck view in a heat wave #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

AI and art

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:20 am
Tags:

A few days ago I read two articles about AI and art:
Computers do not make art, people do
A philosopher argues that an AI can’t be an artist

I cannot predict the future, including the possibility for AI to create art.
However, at the current stage of technology, AI can automate only a very tiny portion of creative tasks.
So just like all existing automation tools, I see AI as an assistant to elevate humans to higher mental tasks rather as a replacement.

May 26, 2020

Sketching multiple variations of the head relief on a CAD quarter coin

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:58 pm
Tags: ,

Human perception is very sensitive to human faces, and thus small variations in a portrait sketch can cause large perceived differences.

A school bully

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:54 am
Tags:

A student greeted members of her PhD defense committee via an email, and got scorched by one of the examiners for trying to schedule her own oral defense, using a “buddy” tone (including the use of emojis), sending from a non-school email account, and not addressing the examiner with a professor salute.

I like to tell this student that (1) a person is measured by the size of things that matter to him/her, (2) do not become such a person in the future.

May 23, 2020

Add a groundhog to a previous drawing

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 10:05 pm
Tags: ,

I once saw a groundhog poking its head out of its mound in a nearby county park.
This one was drawn via a reference photo.

May 22, 2020

Export control

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 10:04 pm
Tags: ,

This package of face masks took about 40 days to reach me from my parents in Taipei.

View this post on Instagram

Oil paint a package of face masks #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

May 21, 2020

Book challenge

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:55 am
Tags:

A Facebook friend nominated me to a 7-day book challenge.
I took it but without nominating the next person so that I would not offend or spam anyone.

I am glad that I could include a diverse set of topics (computer science, finance, sci-fi, physics, history, math, art) without any serious technical/textbooks.

May 20, 2020

Adding flora to a previous drawing

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 9:56 pm
Tags: ,

During an evening walk I noticed a lone red flower sitting in the middle of a grass land, which inspired me to draw this variation.

May 18, 2020

Self pencil portrait of a profile view after failed attempts to cut my own hair

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:58 pm
Tags: ,

Experimental results indicated that it is very tricky to cut my own hair for desirable outcomes, even though it is worth trying as I need to know for sure whether I could pull it off.

For the first time, I had this magic experience that a self-portrait is a dialog with oneself.

May 17, 2020

Adding body parts to a previous drawing

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 9:40 pm
Tags: ,

I added body parts from my previous drawings over the shovel-and-wheel-barrel scene I drew earlier.

Base drawing

Rodin’s hand

Caltrain passenger’s leg

View this post on Instagram

Sketching a morning train passenger #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

May 16, 2020

Oil paint construction workers with a shovel and a wheel barrel

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:04 am
Tags: ,

This is a starting point for further variations to come.

May 15, 2020

Hair dye as a drawing medium

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:27 pm
Tags:

There was some left over hair dye made from natural material which I experimented for painting medium before its oxidation.

View this post on Instagram

Quick painting with ✏️ and leftover hair dye

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

May 11, 2020

Drawing a rainbow from memory

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:37 am
Tags:

I saw a beautiful rainbow while walking outside in a sunny drizzling evening.
I did not bring a camera for photograph, but drew a quick watercolor from memory afterwards.

May 10, 2020

Redirected drawing

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:51 pm
Tags: ,

I was planning to draw something else but somehow redirected my attention to these nearby construction signs.

View this post on Instagram

Drawing some construction signs #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

May 8, 2020

Drawing a fox pack

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 10:04 pm
Tags: ,

A pack of foxes were videographed in my neighborhood a few days ago. The captue was quite blurry, so I decided to create a new composition.

View this post on Instagram

Drawing a fox pack #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

Deep journey and genuine experience

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:51 pm
Tags: ,

There are these tourists who just want to visit as many places as possible to take (or even fake) photos without spending enough time experiencing the local life and culture with sufficient depth.

Researchers who abuse authorships are like such tourists.
They pretend having all the fun without actual experiencing much.

Life is a deep journey, and genuine experience is what matters the most.

May 4, 2020

Evening moon

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 7:55 pm
Tags: ,

During an evening walk, the moon caught my eye.
I came back to draw it, sitting at the front of my home.
The neighborhood black cat came rubbing.

May 3, 2020

Sketching the portrait relief on a one-dime coin

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:50 pm
Tags: ,

The physical coin is quite small and thus challenging to sight the very detailed relief pattern.

Impact

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:11 pm
Tags: ,

A few days ago I read an article about an open-source ventilator that can be built with $400 in readily-available parts.
Today I saw a Facebook post discussing an article titled “Do top conferences contain well cited papers or junk?”.

Our impact is measured more about what we do for others (e.g., solving a social issue, curing a disease, saving the environment) than for ourselves (e.g., ego or career).
I would care much more about developing useful products or services than counting the number of papers or citations.

May 1, 2020

Morbius

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 5:14 pm
Tags: ,

Biochemist Michael Morbius tries to cure himself of a rare blood disease, but when his experiment goes wrong, he inadvertently infects himself with a form of vampirism instead.

View this post on Instagram

Morbius – oil painting with #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

April 28, 2020

External visibility and internal reputation

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:12 am
Tags:

External visibility is public domain information for everyone to see, such as publications and patents.
Internal reputation is often proprietary and known only inside our institution, such as design or implementation for a product.

Our internal reputation is more important for the particular jobs (e.g., performance reviews and rewards), but that often contains confidential information which only a few colleagues can vouch for.

Both are important for our careers. For example, when we want to switch jobs, most people can only evaluate our external visibility and will require references to vet our internal reputation.
Thus, it is important to maintain a good balance of both.
I am lucky enough to enjoy doing both (e.g., publications and products).

April 27, 2020

Sketching the portrait relief on a 50-TWD coin

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:14 pm
Tags: ,

Coin reliefs are usually shallow and thus contain intricate shading variations.

Research continuity

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:34 pm
Tags:

Without continual practice, some skills, once mastered, will mostly remain with us, such as driving a car or riding a bicycle, while others tend to atrophy, especially during the early learning stages.

In my observations for computer science, research requires constant engagement to keep top performance.
I stopped research publications around 2001 to 2003 while focusing on GPU architecture, which reduced my research output and took me significant efforts later to get back to form (e.g., single-author a paper during weekends and evenings).
Research (at least in CS) can easily become rusty probably because it involves many delicate skills, such as literature, ideation, algorithm, code, demo, writing, and presentation.
Even if we can more easily get back to some of these (e.g., coding, which feels like riding a bicycle to me), missing any others could still throw us off balance (in particular ideation and familiarity with state of art, which are related).

Thus, if you are a graduating CS student and you want to keep research opportunity open for your future career, it is important to find a first job that you can continue your research in some way.
(Not necessarily academia, as I think I can have more time doing research in a top industry lab than as an assistance professor.)
Otherwise, you might never be able to come back.

April 26, 2020

Sketching the portrait relief on a 5-CHF coin

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:01 pm
Tags: ,

The Rodin sculptures in Stanford have been my favorite portrait-drawing subjects but they are less accessible during the current lock-down.
Today I realized that we all have some mini portrait sculptures around us: the head reliefs on the obverse sides of the coins.

PS: I obtained this coin from Hallenbad City in Zurich for the swimming pool locker room.

April 25, 2020

Drawing a tree stump

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:33 pm
Tags: ,

This is an exercise for me to see and draw the relevant visual cues (such as the signature tree rings) without being distracted by extra details (such as the complex bark patterns).

View this post on Instagram

Drawing a tree stump #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

Virtual meetings

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:38 am
Tags: ,

I usually share my screen instead of my face during virtual meetings.
I believe people mostly care about my content than what I look like.


The reason Zoom calls drain your energy

April 22, 2020

Experiment with painting mediums

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:30 pm
Tags: ,

I drew a plate of grapes in different mediums: oil, watercolor, graphite, vector, to explore their varying visual effects.
The process took longer that I thought, so at the end of the night I was too sleepy to remember signing the paintings, which I did the next morning.

Remote internship

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:24 pm
Tags: ,

I have experiences in remote collaboration and mentoring.
I did not need research meetings and I did not meet the first authors of some of my papers until before the conference presentations.
(I have yet to meet the first-author of my latest CHI 2020 paper for which the physical conference is canceled.)

However, there are important aspects that are difficult to emulate remotely beyond research and technical works in research internships, such as serendipitous encounters with different people and immersions in different environments.

Thus, I have been thinking about what would be good alternatives or replacements for remote internships (or research collaborations in general) that can best emulate on-site experiences?
If you have ideas, feel free to share with me.

One (Adobe-specific) possibility I have been thinking about is artistic creation via various tools, suitable for remote and asynchronous communications and yet different from and complementary to technical research.

April 21, 2020

Mimetic desire

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:21 am
Tags: ,

It takes intelligent and independent minds to desire what are really wanted.

April 18, 2020

Oil paint a resurrecting lemon tree

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:06 pm
Tags: ,

This lemon tree seemed to be dead for a few years, but this morning I found out that it just grew some leaves, greened some branches, and even sprouted a pink bud.

Yet another thing in my life which seemed to be dead and then came back to life.
(If you know how to determine if a plant is dead or alive biologically, ping me.)

https://www.instagram.com/p/B_JAOAenFHQ/

April 17, 2020

Oil paint a spillover

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:29 am
Tags: ,

Never waste a disaster!

View this post on Instagram

Oil paint a spillover #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

April 16, 2020

Putting dollar values on human lives

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:14 am
Tags:

Concrete numbers and data can help rational discussion of issues, including the trade-off between lives and jobs in the current lock-down situation.

April 15, 2020

Try manual keyframe animation

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:58 pm
Tags:

I created a very simple key-frame animation via layers with Procreate; more to come.

View this post on Instagram

Try manual keyframe animation #procreate

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

Electric power flow

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:51 pm
Tags:

After installing Tesla solar panel and power-wall last month, I have been watching the daily power flows among the grid, solar, home, and battery with intrigue.
With weather forecast, I can imagine programming the electric system to optimize the schedules of home appliance usage (e.g., laundry when the sun is bright) and charging from the grid (e.g., backup for an incoming power outage).

April 13, 2020

Practice drawing splashes

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:30 pm
Tags:

I started with vector drawings to enforce simplicity and moved on to raster sketches for better expressibility.

View this post on Instagram

Practice vector drawing of splashes #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

View this post on Instagram

Practice sketching splashes #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

Church-state separation

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:48 am
Tags:

Why the US is celebrating Easter, a Christian holiday, but not holidays of other regions or cultures, such as Holi, Ramadan, or Passover?

What does it mean for a non-Christian to put her hand on a holy Bible in a state ritual like court oath or citizenship ceremony?

National holidays should be centered on nations (e.g., Independence Day), not religions.

April 12, 2020

Oil painting footprints over a yoga mat

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:35 pm
Tags: ,

I saw these every day during my morning stretch.

Scaffolding knowledge

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:10 am
Tags: ,

Every information is a piece of an entire knowledge, so instead of treating what we learn as separate fragments, it is more effective to memorize and understand them as a whole.
This is possible because knowledge often repeats in different forms, such as through history or books.


In effect, Funes not only remembered every leaf on every tree of every wood, but even every one of the times he had perceived or imagined it.
To think is to forget a difference, to generalize, to abstract. In the overly replete world of Funes there were nothing but details, almost contiguous details.
– Funes the Memorious

April 10, 2020

Quick practice sketches of fountains

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:24 pm
Tags:

I drew these based on reference photos taken a while ago around the Adobe San Jose campus.

View this post on Instagram

Quick practice of sketching a fountain #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

View this post on Instagram

Quick practice of sketching fountains #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

April 6, 2020

Pay for individual articles instead of whole publications

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:35 am
Tags:

Recently I noticed a few interesting articles that I would like to read but are behind paywalls that asked me to subscribe to the encompassing publications.
Since not all articles of a given publication are of sufficient quality or interests to me, and different readers can have different preferences anyway, I wonder if it would make more sense to pay for individual articles instead of entire publications.
The publishers may be able to charge more per article and yet readers can choose to pay what they need.
The readers, writers and even advertisers can be better aligned, rewarding good individual writers and articles over bad ones.

Unbundling is already happening for music and academic papers, and could be more prevalent for news.

Virtual museum

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:40 am
Tags:

I visited a few virtual museum exhibitions during the weekend.
The experiences worked better in some types of artworks, such as films, photographs, and paintings, but less so for other types such as sculptures or interactive installations.
I can sit comfortably at home without being constrained by commutes and museum hours.
But I also missed the ambient environment and serendipitous encounters beyond the individual artworks.

April 4, 2020

Virtual machines

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:55 am
Tags: ,

When I was a grad student at Stanford I thought the idea of virtual machines was entirely crazy. And then came cloud computing.
This CACM article nicely summarized the background story.

April 3, 2020

The pandemic world war

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:21 am
Tags: ,

When this is all over,
The disease will dissipate,
The economy will recover,
But the world order will be very different.



April 1, 2020

Peak Asian American

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:14 am
Tags: ,

This is the best time to be an Asian American.
Half a century before, it was better to be an American.
Half a century after, it would better to be an Asian.

March 30, 2020

The influence we have

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:37 am
Tags: ,

Both this NPR hidden brain podcast on the influence you have and this book on confessions of a sociopath point to the interesting aspects on how we know (and don’t know) about the psychological influences we can have on other people.

March 28, 2020

Social distancing

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 1:36 pm
Tags: ,

I drew this one from a photo (taken during a hike) and a movie still (watched during a long distance flight).

View this post on Instagram

Social distancing #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

March 24, 2020

Calming routines

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:14 am
Tags:

I usually found patent disclosure meetings a bit tedious. But the (remote) one held yesterday afternoon with two patent attorneys on a single-authored patent felt quite reassuring. During upheavals, routines can calm.

March 23, 2020

Networked creativity

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:57 am
Tags:

I used to think that individual creativity is essential to succeed in a research career, either academic or industrial, until I saw people who managed to compensate their lack of creativity (or more general talent/effort) with socializing and networking to leverage up their apparent productivity.

March 21, 2020

Watercolor wet spatter a crabapple tree

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 10:37 pm
Tags: ,

I don’t have the skill (or, more importantly, the patience) to draw trees so I just settled for the built-in watercolor wet spatter in Adobe Fresco.

View this post on Instagram

Watercolor wet spatter a crabapple tree #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

March 20, 2020

Shelter in place

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:32 pm
Tags: ,

The neighborhood cats came around, probably looking for the recently emerging groundhogs.

I drew these two cats from two separate photos, and found the process a refreshing break from working at home.

View this post on Instagram

Shelter in place #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

March 18, 2020

Life-long learning effects

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:12 pm
Tags:

The best part about attending a top school is not (just) the education, research, and networking, but the constant reminder to be humble and avoid underachieving for the rest of my life.

https://twitter.com/liyiwei/status/1240321335110164480

How to clarify technical writings

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:06 pm
Tags:

There are two ways to clarify writing: modifying existing texts, and rewriting from scratch.
These two can be combined in some way and thus not exclusive.
Sometimes, if the writing has fundamental structure issues, it could help to sketch out a fresh outline aiming for a general audience without deep knowledge of the topic.
This exercise could then provide a roadmap for subsequent steps.

March 14, 2020

Uncertainty

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:34 pm
Tags:

In this podcast from a few days ago, Mervyn King made the point that uncertainty might cause anxiety but ultimately also makes life fun.

Drawing a sweetgum seed pod

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:11 am
Tags: ,

I spotted this spiky plant ball on the ground while hiking and brought it back as a drawing subject.

View this post on Instagram

Drawing a sweetgum seed pod #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

March 13, 2020

COVID-19 induced changes

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:20 am
Tags:

For about a zodiac round from 2005 to 2017, I have been working and living mostly alone in different parts of the world. So, the recent travel restriction and remote work policy simply put me back in my previous solo mode.

This business quarter (or maybe the next few ones) could shed light on whether and how working away from the office would affect productivity. I guess it depends on the job functions (e.g., research scientists versus sales manager), individual styles (e.g., introvert or extrovert), and family situations (e.g., young kids at home).

Like biology, diversity can be beneficial in political systems as well, shedding lights on how they fare under different scenarios.

It is not clear how much practical benefit the Trump EU travel ban has, but at least he is sending the kind of political message that is expected from him, and probably a less racist one compared to the Mexico border wall.

The team that is hurt the least from the NBA shutdown is the one I supported, which went from 3 championships and 5 straight final appearances until last year to the bottom dweller this year (largely due to a key player injured by a flagrant foul). I am personally not that interested in seeing other teams winning championships.

March 7, 2020

Information flow

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:11 am
Tags: ,

Watching the real-time electric power flow among the grid, solar, battery, and home, I like to be able to see similar flow visualizations for our buildings (e.g., heat, water, gas) and bodies (e.g., calorie, cholesterol, blood sugar) so that we can be more informed to take care of our internal health and external environment.

View this post on Instagram

New toy at home

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

February 21, 2020

When you feel like killing someone or something

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:14 am
Tags:

Just remember that it might be of use to you in the future.

February 20, 2020

How to bring up a research student

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:34 pm
Tags: ,

My approach can be titled as “multi-resolution mentoring”, depending on the skill set and development stage of the student.

For students who can already single-author SIGGRAPH papers, there is not much need for a mentor.

For students who can already develop and implement ideas, guide them on high level direction and building a project from proper components.
A good project often has more potential that can be done for a single paper, and thus it is important to scope it properly so that it contains the right amount of contributions and materials, neither too much nor too little.
We likely need to write the paper (and script the video) to guide this process.
If the direction is big enough, plan several projects/publications.

For students who can develop and implement detailed algorithms but lacks ideas, brainstorm with them as much as possible, to best fit their interests and leverage their strengths.

For students who can implement but not develop ideas and algorithms, give them specific instructions, such as algorithms in the level of pseudo-code via paper drafts.

For students who have difficulty with basic implementation, they are not ready for research and should go back to practice coding, e.g. reproducing algorithms from their favorite papers.
Never write code for them as that would consume our time and hamper their growth.

For students who get stuck in the development ladder, at some point we might have to suggest alternative career options which might be more suitable than research.

At some stage of your career, you might find developing talents even more satisfying than publishing papers or building products.
Guiding a student grow is a magical process (probably like parenting, which I have no hands-on experience yet) and can form a long-term collaboration relationship.

February 10, 2020

Caltrain conductor: please don’t put your feet on seats

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:12 pm
Tags: ,

View this post on Instagram

Sketching a morning train passenger #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

February 9, 2020

Rodin’s hand

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:59 am
Tags: ,

I went to the Cantor arts center an hour earlier than usual, and thus had more time sketching.

View this post on Instagram

Quick sketch of Rodin’s hand #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

February 8, 2020

Human library

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 2:47 pm
Tags:

I joined as a first-time “reader” for a human library event, and talked with two “books”.

The first one, titled “choosing failure and challenging success (mental health ADHD/ANX)”, was a young girl (at least relative to me) who looked and acted entirely normal during our conversation. She said that she has family-inherited ADHD and has always felt anxious about everything in her life, even just walking outside. It took her 10 years to get her college degree because she had to drop out for mental health issues.
To overcome her fears, she took on adventures such as scuba diving and jumping off waterfalls during rafting.
I picked this “book” partially because I am interested in psychology in general, and partially because I also had some difficulty focusing outside my own mind (one main reason why I ended up self-studying most of my course materials and skipping since I was about 10 years old).
The only telltale sign that she showed was the need to pick up a toy object to play around to keep her focus. (She kept another one on the table for me to play with, which happens to be a piece of clay, which I played with obsession in kindergarten.)
We discussed how the (American) society focuses more on being normal and demonstrating performance than the need for people to take care of their health, both mental and physical.

The second one, titled “suicide survivor”, was a 59-years-old man.
He grew up in an alcoholic family, started drinking at age 12 for socializing and dealing/escaping with family issues, tried to prove himself by taking on demanding (and thus stressful) tasks, got married and had children, divorced and lived with his girlfriend, broke up with the girl friend and lost both the house and his job (the girlfriend owned the former and also worked in the latter), and decided to kill himself after a week of drinking and drugging.
He first tried to drown himself by laying down into a river only to wake up a few hours later found himself floating and (thus) alive, overdosed on some drugs which still didn’t kill him, and cut his wrist (he showed me the scars and described in detail how to properly cut to really kill) only to wake up a few hours later soaked in a pool of blood.
He finally called a hospital and spent a few weeks (or months) in intensive care for recovery.

He has now learned the existence of God through his AA (alcoholic anonymous) gatherings and worked in suicide prevention.
He asked whether I ever thought about killing myself; I did not tell him that I am the type who would just kill all my opponents if the needs arise, but replied with other related thoughts.
One is the optimal age to die. Modern medicine is better at preserving life expectancy than maintaining life quality. Instead of waiting till the very end when one has lost both mind and body, an earlier death might be more optimal.
His replied is interesting, in that one could not judge the future self. For example, even though he has all these physical pains at age 60 that he would find intolerable at age 30, he felt he is awesome right now. So maybe a complete senile person might enjoy the existence that a younger version could not comprehend and thus unable to judge.

February 4, 2020

Unfinished work

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:46 pm
Tags: ,

A friendly of mine recently posted on FB that he liked an unfinished drawing perhaps more than had he tried to finish it.

When I started drawing about a year and half ago, I strived to finish works with polished quality.
Later, I found the intermediate progress no less interesting, and showed with the final drawings all intermediate strokes without hiding or even erasing them.

Related: one of my most favorite research papers has never officially been published anywhere.

January 28, 2020

Obnoxious shared-ride passengers

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 2:03 pm
Tags:

I was in a shared Uber ride today, waiting for a couple heading for the SJC airport.
After the driver and I arrived and waited for a couple of minutes, the husband showed up waving at us, while tying his dog to a fence. The wife showed up after another couple of minutes, taking the dog to the car, while the husband went back to retrieve luggage, for a further couple of minutes. When both finally settled in the car, the wife said she could not find her wallet, and took another couple of minutes searching around.
After we were officially ready to take off, the husband said to the driver: do you know how to go to the airport? Turn right here, without even realizing that they might not have the first stop.

Meanwhile, the driver told me (in a language that the couple would not understand) that he could not understand why anyone heading to the airport would want to take a carpool, and (fortunately) ignored the husband and followed the Waze instruction to drop me off.

One best part about Uber/Lyft rides, especially carpools, is the chance to see different kinds of people that do not tend to show up in my usual social circles.

January 23, 2020

Quick sketch of a wall lamp

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:56 am
Tags: ,

After waking up at 5:30 am today, I tried to catch an earlier train but missed it by a few minutes. The next train took around 40 minutes to arrive; meanwhile I sketched this wall lamp near the platform.

January 17, 2020

Drawing a bowl of fruits and vegetables compost

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:56 pm
Tags: ,

I am on a roll of drawing food residues.

January 14, 2020

Drawing a plate of edamame shells

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:51 pm
Tags: ,

This is a frequent sight of my family dinner, which I managed to draw when we sat together on the same table after a long while.

View this post on Instagram

Drawing a plate of edamame shells #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

January 13, 2020

Working in a dream

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:53 am
Tags: ,

Since I have this habit of thinking about stuff all the time, even when I am dreaming, I sometimes could not tell if I have done something for real.
For example, earlier today when I looked at a comment I made in a paper draft, I found it missing a part that I thought I have added, but then I realized that I only did it in my dream a few days ago.

January 12, 2020

Meditation

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 2:33 pm
Tags:

The best way (for me) to relax is to tackle the source of the stress/pressure head on.

January 11, 2020

Touch contour exercise

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:45 pm
Tags:

Following the instruction under “the natural way to draw”, I have been practicing touch contour, in which one fixates at the contours of a subject and synchronizes the eye gaze and hand pen movement so that they move together (i.e. the pen point should correspond to the eye point all the time) without looking at the drawing (except when backtrack from inward bending contours).
So far I have found it difficult to synchronize, as my eyes tend to saccade away frequently and my hand can go out of the boundary of the canvas.

For such exercises, it is the process, not the outcome, that matters.
Nevertheless, interesting results may appear sometimes.

I was hoping to finish a normal drawing afterwards with the same subject, but it was too dark to see anything.

January 8, 2020

Drawing a portly hand

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:01 pm
Tags: ,

I felt the need to draw something before going to sleep, and recalled this visual image from a morning news post to spend some twenty minutes.

January 5, 2020

Fountain figure 4

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:53 pm
Tags: ,

I saw this sculpture in Anderson collection at Stanford and captivated by its structure.
I started with the contour exercise and still found it hard to coordinate my sight and touch and finished too quickly in about 10 minutes.
I then switched to ordinary sketching for about 30 to 40 minutes.

Because it sat high on a pedestal, it was difficult to photography.

View this post on Instagram

Fountain figure 4 by Robert Graham

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

January 4, 2020

Compensational drawing

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:06 pm
Tags: ,

I was frustrated by the hand-eye contour coordination exercise from the natural way to draw, and compensated myself with a normal sketching of the same subject.

View this post on Instagram

Quick pencil sketch of a small statue #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

January 1, 2020

Sidetracked from physical to digital

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:03 pm
Tags: ,

I was sharpening a drawing pencil pondering what I should draw, and found the setup intriguing and ended up drawing it on an iPad.

December 31, 2019

Pocket-size watercolor

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:19 pm
Tags:

My dad gave me a watercolor sketch book and a watercolor paint set, both in pocket size.

This is the first pencil sketch and watercolor experiment.

View this post on Instagram

Pocket size watercolor sketch book

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

I did another watercolor for a guava. My dad said I approached watercolor with many dense strokes, and showed me how to use a sparse set of quick, watery strokes.

View this post on Instagram

Physical watercolor experiment

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

December 29, 2019

Some good stuff in Taiwan compared to the US

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:45 am

Every time I traveled to another country (Taiwan at this moment of writing) I almost always observed something nice that I wish could exist in my current resident country (which would be the US right now).

The top item will be medical service, always.
With a universal health insurance, you only have a small amount of out-of-pocket co-payment and hospitals (for non-serious issues) are as common as convenient stores.
But that has been the case since decades ago.
A few relatively newer things I noticed are:

Have you ever had difficulty finding your cars in a large parking area?
Some parking garages in Taiwan already have systems to automatically scan the license plate of your car when it enters, guide you through available spaces, and tell you where your car is when you access the pay kiosk. (I could imagine a mobile app version.)

There is this company, Owndays, which can make eyeglasses on-site in about 20 minutes, from measurement to lens making and glass fitting, with very reasonable price.
In the US, even with Warby Parker, you would still wait for days.

December 28, 2019

Analogy of blog versus social network

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:01 am
Tags:

Social networks are like loud parties, blogs are like quiet libraries.

December 27, 2019

A shrimp dish

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:17 pm
Tags: ,

Someone commented that the shrimp doesn’t seem very appetite, but the lemon is crisp and eye-catching.
Then I realized that I should add more highlights to the shrimp to make it appear fresher and oilier.

View this post on Instagram

A shrimp dish – watercolor #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

December 25, 2019

Portrait painting from memory

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:32 pm
Tags: ,

I saw this face sitting opposite to me on a metro train, and drew it from memory after coming home.

Drawing from memory is the next step after drawing from sighting, with the additional involvement of (long term) visual memory.

View this post on Instagram

Oil painting a face from memory #adobefresco

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

December 22, 2019

Incorrectly proportioned portrait sketch

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:51 pm
Tags:

« Previous PageNext Page »

Theme: Rubric. Get a free blog at WordPress.com