Confessions of a researchaholic

February 21, 2020

When you feel like killing someone or something

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:14 am

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
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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
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February 9, 2020

Rodin’s hand

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:59 am
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I went to the Cantor arts center an hour earlier than usual, and thus had more time sketching.

February 8, 2020

Human library

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 2:47 pm

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.

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