Confessions of a researchaholic

January 18, 2021

Fairness

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:03 pm
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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said it was not fair for younger, healthy people in richer nations to get the jab before vulnerable people in poorer states.

If we continue this line of reasoning, is it fair for younger, healthy people in richer nations to receive more heath care, social welfare, etc., than vulnerable people in poorer states?
How should we define fairness across different groups of people?
Is such fairness achievable or desirable?

Money, discipline, and life

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:48 pm
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Without enough disciplines, money, talent, or other resources cannot solve our problems, if not create more.

January 15, 2021

Genetic donation

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:22 am
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A discussion about sperm donation came into my mind a few days ago.

All biological beings are built to spread and continue their genetic legacies. However, I should also be responsible on how my genetic future will match, grow, and further spread. And thus consider one-way blind donation unsuitable for me.

December 29, 2020

Stolen package

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:45 pm
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I noticed a missed delivery slip near my front door. As before, I filled it out for redelivery without requiring signature, but the package never came and the staff could not find it in their office. Due to its content, I guess the package has been stolen. I did not keep a copy of the delivery slip since the process has worked before a few times.
Lesson learned: keep the due diligence and never let my guard down.

November 20, 2020

How to deal with randomness in life

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:31 pm
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[This is my reply to a co-author who expressed concerns about the randomness in peer reviews.]

During my military training, a saying went like 散彈打鳥不死也傷, which roughly translates to “if one shoots enough bullets into a forest eventually a bird will be hit”.

(There are others related quotes such as “the best way to have a great idea is to have a lot of ideas” by Linus Pauling, but shooting bullets feels more concrete/visceral.)

Other things being equal, more attempts tend to reduce statistical variance and increase the numbers of success.

November 12, 2020

Rick retiring

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 12:49 pm
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I received an announcement earlier today that a prominent member of our research community is scheduled to retire next month, which made me think about what it means for a research scientist to retire.

To me, it means all the extra time and freedom to do whatever I want, such as single-author a SIGGRAPH paper in an exotic topic that I wouldn’t be able to find support from funding agencies or company managements. (I used to joke with my students that I plan to single-author papers when I am 88 years old.) But I have yet to reach that biological and career stage, so I cannot predict what I can or want to do then.

Maybe I will write a follow-up post when I turn 88.

November 5, 2020

Two sides of the same coin

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:09 am
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You get your gift, and you get its curse.

October 12, 2020

Vertical versus horizontal colleague

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:14 pm
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During the last 1-1 with a direct report who will transfer to another team, I found I prefer talking to him as a friend than as a manager.
I wonder if this reflects my style of influencing.

August 5, 2020

Popularity contest

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:23 am
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A group of interns posted their projects on an internal expo and solicited popular votes with ferocity last seen in the 2016 Republican party presidential primaries.

Meanwhile, one intern submitted a paper to a top venue even before the start of the internship, and is now spending time revising the conditionally accepted paper, filing a patent, and collaborating with a product team, instead of campaigning for popularity among other interns.

Our time is very limited. As a research mentor, it is my responsibility to guide you towards what is important and steer you away from what is less so.

August 4, 2020

Marc Levoy joining Adobe

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:08 pm
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It was great to (virtually) meet with my PhD adviser after all these years. I was trying to discuss collaboration and he told me that he just wanted to catch up.

I have been bumping into the same group of people throughout my career; maybe we are a small community.

June 23, 2020

Anniversary dinner

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:58 pm
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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/

May 26, 2020

A school bully

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:54 am
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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 8, 2020

Deep journey and genuine experience

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:51 pm
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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 3, 2020

Impact

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:11 pm
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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.

April 21, 2020

Mimetic desire

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:21 am
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It takes intelligent and independent minds to desire what are really wanted.

April 16, 2020

Putting dollar values on human lives

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:14 am
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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 1, 2020

Peak Asian American

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:14 am
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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
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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 24, 2020

Calming routines

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:14 am
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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 18, 2020

Life-long learning effects

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:12 pm
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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

March 14, 2020

Uncertainty

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:34 pm
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In this podcast from a few days ago, Mervyn King made the point that uncertainty might cause anxiety but ultimately also makes life fun.

March 13, 2020

COVID-19 induced changes

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

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New toy at home

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February 21, 2020

When you feel like killing someone or something

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:14 am
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Just remember that it might be of use to you in the future.

February 8, 2020

Human library

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

January 28, 2020

Obnoxious shared-ride passengers

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 2:03 pm
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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 13, 2020

Working in a dream

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:53 am
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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
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The best way (for me) to relax is to tackle the source of the stress/pressure head on.

December 3, 2019

Confidence

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:17 pm
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Confidence is not about knowing I am good at something; instead, it is about sucking at the bottom and still being able to win.

I did two drawings on a long distance flight.
The first one I drew from memory, taking me a lot of time and still sucks.
The second one I drew from a frozen in-flight movie frame in only a few minutes.
I wish everything can go as smoothly as the second drawing, but life moves forward regardless.

November 4, 2019

Creation is a dialog

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:27 pm
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About a decade ago, Evvia felt like a place for old people to me.
It was livelier a few days ago when I visited again.
I wondered what has changed and realized maybe I got old.

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Grill chef – oil painting #adobefresco

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Artistic creation and scientific research share many similarities, such as picking the right subject/topic, and trusting the iterative process.
When I start a research or drawing, I usually do not have a very concrete idea of what I want to do, at least for more innovative projects. (If I can see a clear road-map from the beginning, the project is incremental.)
Just start doing something, and the process will guide me.

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Stove chefs – watercolor #adobefresco

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I did not really want to draw this one but felt compelled to finish the third of the Evvia series.

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Bar area – narinder pencil sketch #procreate

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September 14, 2019

Needle through brick

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:30 pm
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A master of a traditional art form recently told me that nowadays it is becoming harder to find apprentices with required patience and will power to really learn the craft, probably due to the modern lifestyle accelerated by modern technology, such as social media and mobile devices.
He was considering modifying the curriculum to fit this modern world.

I have the opposite opinion. I will keep the bar as high as possible so that only the most motivated and talented will come to me.
千軍易得一將難求

July 13, 2019

Get in

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:14 pm
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I captured this great view from SF-MOMA, in which the wall says:

So you’ve gotten very close, you’ve shared a complete experience.
And the idea of waiting for something makes it more exciting anyway.
Never getting in is the most exciting, but after that, waiting to get in is the most exciting.

Don’t we all tend to be obsessed with what we cannot get in life: the dream job, the dream lover, the dream trip, which pop into reality when we finally have a chance to get in.

July 3, 2019

Mandatory charging versus voluntary tipping

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:27 pm
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While waiting for the bus to Luxembourg I walked around the Saarbrucken Hbf area, with many interesting sights, folks, shops, and outdoor sitting areas. Like some other parts of Germany (or Europe), one has to pay to use the washrooms in the train station and department stores.

I decided not to bow to any such extortion until I found a place with an old gentleman in nice suit stood by the door holding a tip tray without mandatory charges. I happily put down the same amount that would be required in other places.

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Interesting area around Saarbrucken Hbf

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June 14, 2019

MAGA hatter

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:57 pm
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A guy sat at the cafe table next to mine, wearing a red MAGA (make America great again) hat.
I was thinking if he was looking for a fight or something. After taking off his hat and put it on the table, I saw a lonely old face. He was completely left alone before slowly walking off.

June 11, 2019

Ex-NVIDIAN dinner

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:17 am
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The dinner conversation with a bunch of former NVIDIA employees reminded me of many top folks I have closely worked with there, such as Erik Lindholm, Walt Donovan, Henry Moreton, Alex Minkin, and John Danskin.
Only one of them was a manager at that time, and they wielded power through their knowledge in GPU architecture instead of corporate hierarchy.

I aspire to have their style in mentoring future generations of graphics researchers.

June 8, 2019

Meet me half way

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:48 pm
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Excerpt from How to Look: Art Comics by Ad Reinhardt

Viewer: ha-ha what does this represent?
Painting: what do you represent?

An abstract painting will react to you if you react to it.
You get from it what you bring to it.
It will meet you halfway but no further.
It is alive if you are.
It represents something and so do you.
You, sir, are a space, too.

Realistic paintings tell you exactly what they are, while abstract paintings invite you to think.
This applies to not only paintings but also other things, such as books and people.

May 15, 2019

Too late to learn?

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:20 pm
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Today during a computer eye break I went to a high school art show hold inside the company. Some of the works are impressive, especially given that they were made by high school students.

I skipped almost all my art and music classes as a kid as I thought they were useless. Experimental results indicated that drawing is not too late to pick up later, even though I wish I could have spent more time on music and physical training earlier in my life.

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Quick sketch of an evening train passenger

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May 10, 2019

Constructive versus positive opinions

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:59 pm
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When people express opinions about what I am doing, I find it very helpful to just focus on the parts that can constructively propel me forward and just ignore the rest which just cause positive or negative emotions.

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Vector draw over a photo

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April 13, 2019

塞翁失馬焉知非福

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:50 am
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A few years back I was having a hard time deciding between two job offers from institutions X and Y. After joining Y, I found out that the hiring manager in X left, which, if I had joined, might have succeeded the position. I kept on thinking this is the first (and only) career mistake I have made, until I heard recently that the positions in X are funded temporarily and are being slashed.

April 12, 2019

Digital artist

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:13 am
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A guy boarded at the Palo Alto Caltrain station and sat in the line of sight between me and my drawing subject a few rows away. After being assured that I was not drawing him and excited about our common profession in digital art, he enthused his experience about being one of the first artists using Photoshop and other tools, nearby art gallery sponsorship, etc.

After disembarking the train, I finished the original drawing from memory (notice the inconsistent perspectives and such).

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Quick sketch of an evening train passenger

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Quick sketch of an evening train passenger

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April 2, 2019

Employee experience

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 12:26 pm
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During my lunch people watching in the sandwich place, the lady waiting for her food across from the table started to chat with me.
She was entirely smooth in starting the conversation (along the line of: your lunchbox looks cool) and talking about other topics like office location and work division. She is part of employee experience which explains her style and skill. All I needed to do was to ask her the same questions.

Adversary

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:42 am
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“Hate traps us by binding us too tightly to our adversary.” – Milan Kundera

I guess this is another way to say “don’t get mad, get even.”

March 31, 2019

Receptive

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:48 pm
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I was in a meeting with a colleague and an immigration lawyer a few days ago. I was prepared to argue for a difficult case, but found the lawyer surprisingly receptive. She spoke tersely and stopped frequently to ask for any questions or feedbacks.

EQ gradually outweighs IQ in determining career success when one becomes more senior. Maybe that explains why that lawyer is a partner already, and behaved quite differently from a more junior lawyer previously handling the same case.

March 25, 2019

Social network peer pressure

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:34 pm
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Most people use social networks for venting, boasting, and scheming.
I use it mainly for fun and motivation, such as my progress in drawing.

So much intrigue to sight, so little time to draw.

I spotted this passenger on the upper deck while sitting on the lower deck.

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Quick sketch of an evening train passenger

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Quick sketch of an evening train passenger

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I had to draw this one partially from memory as the subject kept on changing postures.

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Quick sketch of a cafe patron

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Quick sketch of a cafe patron

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March 24, 2019

Subjective depiction of objective reality

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:30 pm
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A drawing subject has expressed concerns about the lack of similarity between her self-perception and my depiction. I told her that since my drawings are a long way towards professional maturity, she should be concerned about her appearance much less than I about my drawing skill.

This applies to other discrepancies between what others depict us and what we think of ourselves. The former can provide opportunities for improvement, but should not cause disturbances if we truly understand and believe in ourselves.

When I was a kid, my grandfather once told me that only fools care about what other inferior people think of us.

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Profile sketch of a laptop user

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Profile sketch of a laptop user

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Sketching a language learner

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Sketching a language learner

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March 14, 2019

College cheating scandal

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:35 pm
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I am not sure what kind of lessons these parents are trying to teach their kids by cheating with college admissions; maybe they have successfully cheated towards their own career successes and believe their kids can follow suit.

February 7, 2019

Imposter syndrome

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:55 am
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A colleague recently told me that he felt like being an imposter in our lab. I was surprised because in my view he has been very successful all around.

Many members of our research community feel likewise and need to shore up their facades. I guess we can all relax a bit once we realize everyone else is just like us.

Or you can be like me, too insensitive or self-absorbing to really care what others think about us. (I still pretend I do, mostly to fit in.)
🙂

February 2, 2019

Self programming

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 12:46 pm
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Instead of the current medical technology which looks like ad-hoc hack, I look forward to the day when we could program ourselves (e.g., at a molecular or genetic level) as we could with artificial entities, so that we can adapt to any environments and resist all diseases, including aging and death.

Maybe eventually we will still perish, but we can at least watch the collapse of the universe.

PS: reincarnation is probably still the best form of immortality.

PPS: the same technology could be applied to restore biodiversity and revert climate change.



January 23, 2019

Doing projects versus developing people

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:06 pm
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I like the technical part of Mengqi’s SIGGRAPH 2018 presentation, but even more so at the end when she talked about never giving up.

During the early stage of my research career I focused more on doing projects, but have gradually shifted more towards developing people, which I found to be an even more interesting and rewarding experience.

December 11, 2018

Carlos Ghosn

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 12:41 pm
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Mediocre people, when they have the right chance, can still hurt better people in unexpected ways. I am glad that I learned this lesson early enough so the damage I received is quite limited.
I am less sure about him though.



December 3, 2018

Integrity, intelligence, and energy

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:48 am
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Warren Buffett once said to look for three qualities for people to work with: integrity, intelligence, and energy. And without the first one, the other two will kill you.

However, history is full of people who committed grave atrocities due to lack of intelligence, even with good intention and integrity. And I have witnessed people causing less damages who are not as dangerous but still annoying.

Thus, lacking intelligence is no less dangerous than lacking integrity. Avoid such people as much as possible.

November 24, 2018

Objective perception of subjective reality

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:24 am
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A core skill, in art, science, or even life, is the ability and willingness to objectively perceive subjective reality.

Notice the swap of the two adjectives. Supposedly, perception is subjective and reality is objective. However, that is a fixed given condition. Our bodies and brains act like filters, so reality is always subjective. What we can strive for is objective perception and depiction of the (given) subjective reality.

For example, in drawing, one has to perceive what is really out there, which can vary depending on the individual subjectivity, in the physical world, in the memory, or in the imagination.

In deriving a math proof or following a scientific argument, one has to rely on what is assumed to be true (axioms, theorems, conjectures) which are subjective by nature.

Shifting competition

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:12 am
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When I was a kid I skipped most art classes to focus more on competing against my peers (e.g. math).

Now, no longer feeling such needs, I shift the focus to compete against myself. To beat the past version of me, my best chance is to develop soft powers, such as artistic and personal skills. I could pick these up so far even lying dormant inside me for all these years.

November 5, 2018

A bipolar city

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:43 am
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In a fancy restaurant, two guys in their early twenties were boasting about the funding of (their?) biotech startups, faces red with excitement boosted from their blood alcohol levels and profanity-filled conversations which, even without biotech background, I can detect nonsense from their tones, facial expressions, and body languages.

Meanwhile, on the streets scattered a few guys gathering manhole cover heat, and on a BART train, a guy was telling random strangers about his difficulty of finding jobs.

October 27, 2018

Academic lineage

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:57 am
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My academic lineage traces to Jung and Freud instead of Gauss, Laplace, Newton, or Leibniz.
I guess this partially explains my research interest and mentoring style.
🙂

July 25, 2018

Wild boar

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:19 am
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Important message from Executive Vice-President [of HKU]

Dear colleagues and students,

The University was informed by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) that there had been an incident of a wild boar attacking pedestrians at Lyttleton Road Exit this morning (July 24, 2018).

For safety sake, please stay at a distance from any wild animal, and if possible, please avoid walking close to the hill side. The AFCD will visit the campus tomorrow and provide professional advice and appropriate actions.

Any sighting of or encounter with wild boars on or near the campus should be reported to the University’s security team immediately.

July 23, 2018

Regret

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:39 pm
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A rising star in HCI pinged me about my physical whereabouts. I asked if he would like to drop by for a visit, and he told me that he was here last Friday for the fellowship award ceremony, which I skipped to get some work done despite the UR manager knocking on the door.

Like many wise people have cautioned, we never regret not doing enough work.

June 18, 2018

Tour of hell

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 11:54 am
Tags:

According to the guided tool of hell in SF Asian art museum, what we experienced during our journey to hell is a synthesis of our own (negative) thinking and experiences accumulated during our life time, such as desires and regrets. To get out of the hell, we need to free our own minds.

I stood there thinking what kind of hell I would go through, and I counted (1) not spending enough time with people I care and (2) failing to fully realize my abilities to benefit others.



June 9, 2018

Suicide

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:34 am
Tags: ,

Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade;
Someone with my genetics and psychology will probably never understand;
I will just Kublai everything and anything that stands in my way.

May 27, 2018

Head buff

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:42 pm
Tags:

Head-buffs, bought by and felt like my parents



April 22, 2018

Regret

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:39 pm
Tags:

If I could foresee my entire life I might have made some choices differently. But since I cannot I have no regret so far.



March 13, 2018

Window glimpse

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:43 pm
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The moment I saw you eating alone facing away from the restaurant window, I understood that I need to live long enough for you.

March 7, 2018

What I want my future child(s) to know

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:47 pm
Tags:

Find out what you want to devote yourself to, and stick to it without ever giving up. You will then more likely to have a happy, fulfilling life.

February 14, 2018

Employee number 88

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:19 am
Tags:

A colleague who has been with the company for more than 30 years recently retired.
During our lunch at his last working day, I asked him why he wanted to retire. He answered that he preferred his individual researcher + developer role more than management and team roles which tend to happen as one becomes more senior, and he also likes to spend more time with his hobbies in art and physics.

I joked that if I were ever forced to retire I would heist the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. But maybe one day that will change, just like I could not imagine I will ever get married when I was still in school.

January 21, 2018

Symmetric confusion

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:19 pm
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A few days ago a lens was knocked out of my eye glasses.
After carefully putting the lens back and ensuring that everything is in shape, the glasses still produced weird optical distortion.
Finally, I realized that the lens is symmetric in boundary shape but asymmetric in optical axis, and I have put it upside down.

January 15, 2018

溫故知新

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:29 pm
Tags:

I heard this teaching about life-long learning from Confucius when I was a little kid, but it took time to appreciate what it really means. Instead of assuming we will continue to master what (we think) we already know, constant reviewing what is already there in our heads and help learning what is new in the future.

January 3, 2018

Transformation (not sure good or bad)

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:19 am
Tags:

What I told students prior to a major deadline:

10 years ago: you should work hard as there is little time left.

1 month ago: go for the Kobe Bryant jersey retirement if that is important for you (later – BTW I am glad that Kevin Durant made that game winning shot).

December 31, 2017

Atiqullah

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:23 pm
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One of the best things I like about taking Uber/Lyft is to meet different people who are otherwise completely outside my ordinary social circles.
Some examples include a Mongolian lady who told me about the Mongolian birthmark, a reggae musician, an Iranian retiree, and an avid Trump supporter.

Today I met an Afghan who worked with the US military in Afghanistan as a translator and IT staff, and recently migrated to the US. The military helped him settled down with green card and other stuff like driver license. But since his family is around (including a new born daughter), instead of the military he is looking for civilian IT jobs, but without any luck so far due to lack of proper degrees.
(If I were to hire programmers or engineers I want to see what they can do instead of just certificates.)
I recommended him some CIA jobs (sent to me a while back for unknown reasons) such as security, information, engineering, and language.

December 17, 2017

Q and A

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 12:19 pm
Tags: ,

Sometimes the answers are hard to find because we ask the wrong questions.

November 26, 2017

Immigrant

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:07 am
Tags:

A neighbor wants to remove a palm tree because it blocks the view and does not belong to northern California.

A palm tree which its neighbors want to remove as "it does not belong in northern California".

A post shared by Kublai (@kub1ai) on

The tree has been there since the beginning of human settlement, and has grown very well.

Who can decide whether others belong?

I say whoever adapts, belongs.

November 24, 2017

Thanksgiving

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

I would like to thank those who ever stabbed me in the back, because you have made me a better person.
I will live the rest of my days preparing that someday, somehow, someone will stab me again.

October 15, 2017

Stand a chance

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:20 pm
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Someone asked me whether he/she stands a chance to apply for a position.

Just go ahead and do it. I never care whether I stand a chance or not. The only thing I know for sure is that the chance is zero if I do not even try.

October 3, 2017

Burden

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:32 am
Tags: ,


water color by my dad

September 17, 2017

Devil in the house

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 2:39 pm
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You brought a devil into the house
It wants to leave
And takes your flesh

So just let it go

Teach yourself and your offspring well
So that none would not be fooled by the devil

Exercise your discipline
To await the devil to destroy itself

If you want to lure it back
Better yourself is the only way

April 4, 2017

Habit

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 2:13 am
Tags: ,

I heard this from my parents recently.

An uncle of mine took trains to work every day for many years. On the morning trains he performed the daily biological unloads.

After he retired, he found out he could no longer unload at home, so he kept on taking the trains for round trips.

March 19, 2017

The shape of the words

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 2:31 pm
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Recently, I contacted Ken Anjyo via his email account, which is spelled in English. When he replied, his Japanese name 安生健一 appeared in front of his email address.

If you can read Chinese alphabets, including Kanji for Japanese and Hanja for Korean, you can probably see the meaning of this name before you hear its sounds. (A direct Chinese translation would be: safe-birth-health-first, and overall the name looks very healthy/stable/safe.) I actually do not know how to pronounce the name in Japanese; fortunately that does not prevent me from comprehending the semantics. (There is some phonetic similarity among some Chinese/Japanese/Korean words and phrases, but not much.)

This is a key difference between Asian and European languages.
When I read Chinese, I see.
When I read English, I hear.

March 16, 2017

When others try to beat us down, we go up

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:00 pm
Tags:

If you are dumped by your lover, better yourself to so that he/she will regret.

If you are fired by your company, join or start a competitor to beat them.

If you are exiled by your nation, start a coup to take back the control.

Focus on improving yourself instead of revenging your enemies.
The former will optimize your happiness and performance without violating any legal or ethical code, while the latter will misdirect your thinking and emotion.

I am the only one who can beat myself.
You are the only one who can beat yourself.

March 13, 2017

Swamped in review loads

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:55 pm
Tags: ,

When I am 88
If I will be so lonely
To miss review fests

September 22, 2016

Qualification filter

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 7:01 pm
Tags: ,

When they just arrived they thought it tough to publish at least one first-authored SIGGRAPH paper before graduation.
Now they are hitting the job market and found out that some topic research lab (not to be named but this is no secret) requires at least 5 first-authored SIGGRAPH papers.

Birds of a feather flock together.
Your opinions of others often reflect more of who you are than who they are.

I would like to thank those who (unintentionally) help me filtering away unqualified candidates; you might be even more effective than what the good folks could do.

May 9, 2016

Recursive interviews

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:20 pm
Tags: , ,

When you were interviewing the candidates I was also interviewing you.

You opened yourself like a book.
🙂

April 20, 2016

Hypes

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:47 pm
Tags: ,

Nowadays a quick way to filter a job/school application is to see whether and how it says the candidate wants to do machine learning.
(Some neural network probably already existed precisely for this.)

Machine learning by itself is not the problem (quite on the contrary).
The problem is whether you can even form your own independent opinions.

When something (investment, technology, or research field) becomes hot it is already too late to bandwagon.
Those pioneers you see today started (and stuck to) their stuff when it is not yet hot.

Stick with your passion, belief, and opinion might not lead to success, but at least you can have fun, face less competition, and success/fail in your own style.

And if you are smart and creative enough you can have the cake and eat it.

Say your expertise and/or interests are about user interface design. But you also want to do some machine learning like everyone else.

You can switch field, and compete with a lot of smart people who have more passion and knowledge.

Or you can stick with user interfaces, and use machine learning to make them better. You can pick up something new without ditching what you already have.

March 27, 2016

Equality versus fairness

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:05 am
Tags: , , ,

A CEO gets paid 100 times the average employee salary. It is definitely not equal. But is it fair? The answer depends on whether the CEO has contributed 100 times than the average employees.

It is not always easy to tell fairness from equality, but it is important not to confuse the two.

Fairness should be maintained, but it is unfair and counter-productive to enforce equality.

Algorithmic species

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:04 am
Tags: , , ,

Algorithms can already devise algorithms and write programs.

It is just a matter of time before they can do that in a scale massive enough to displace many, if not most, programming jobs, just like what robots have already done to the manufacturing jobs.

March 8, 2016

一葉知秋

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 12:47 pm
Tags: ,

“You can observe a lot by just watching” – Yogi Berra

Sometimes some very little things can reveal a lot of useful information. Just watch carefully.

February 10, 2016

It might not be good to be a good student

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 5:12 pm
Tags: , ,

It is usually not too hard for smart kids to perform well in schools; just excel in what you are told to do, such as taking courses.

This is a deterministic process with well-defined goals and tasks that reward smartness and hard working.

However, real world is chaotic and ambiguous. You have to figure out what to do, with shifting targets and ever-changing environments.

This is why school performance does not directly translate to real-life performance: the required mentality and skills are not the same.

This is also why being a good student might not be a good thing for you. You are so used to this deterministic input-output process that you might be very frustrated by the non-deterministic nature of the real world, when starting your first job or research project.

In contrast, not-so good students might adapt better to the real world, because they already have enough failure experiences and are not yet cast into conformity.

PS
I was lucky to be a student who was considered good in performance and bad in behavior.
🙂

February 1, 2016

The cat experiment

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:07 am
Tags: , , ,

Once, when I was around 9 or 10, I was visiting my aunt’s place.

One of the cousins, X, and I were standing near the swimming pool. The family cat walked by. Cousin X and I got into the discussion about whether cats can swim. I have seen a few dogs and at least one horse swam, so I was pretty sure the answer is yes (cats seem more agile). Cousin X disagreed (he is older but not necessarily smarter), so we decided to have a bet.

Clearly, the only way to settle the bet is to experiment, so I grabbed the cat and threw it into the pool.
(That was before the age of YouTube and Google, BTW.)

What followed was amazing, and happened like within a few milliseconds. The cat sprang on the water surface like a trampoline, and immediate landed back near my feet. It was dripping, so it clearly fell into the water, but I had no idea how it managed to jump back. Meanwhile, our debate remained unsettled.

I am trying to come up with a very concrete way to tell a new PhD student how to decide whether someone is suitable for (scientific) research. So here is my try. Let me know if you have better ideas.

Do you like to ask questions that seem interesting at least to you (e.g. whether cats can swim)?

Do you enjoy finding the answers yourself through investigations and experiments (e.g. grab the cat and throw it into the pool, and observe what happens)?

Are you very comfortable with the consequences, regardless of the outcomes of the experiments (e.g. the cat neither swam nor sank and my aunt beat me up)?

Can you do this continuously as a career? Imagine it is Friday lunch time, and all the works you have done this week have turned out to be failures (e.g. no other ways you have tried can tell you whether cats can swim).
You have no idea what is going to happen this afternoon when you try your 101th experiment with that cat.

If you hesitate for any of these questions or you think I am crazy, you are probably not suitable for research. At least, you will not be happy or successful.

Talent and personality are important; you have to be sufficiently smart and tough for research. But passion is even more important; the only way to be truly happy and productive is to do what you really like.

January 29, 2016

School versus job performance

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

How predictive is the school performance for the eventual job (and life) performance of an individual?

This is a very important question. The schools are supposed to educate what is actually useful. (But clearly that is not the case in practice.)

This is also a very broad question under perennial discussion.

In my personal experiences on the creative side of computer science (e.g. research and development for the cutting edge of graphics and HCI), there is a weak positive correlation between school and job performance (around 0.2 to 0.3 if I have to be numeric).
Good school performance reflects positive traits such as talent and work ethics, but also negative traits such as conformity, lack of creativity, and risk aversion.

This is why standard statistics, like grades, schools, and rankings, are not enough and sometimes even misleading. We have to look at more practical evidence, such as publications, projects, and recommendations.

This is also why recruiting top students and employees is very challenging. Top schools and companies do have advantages in attracting top talents, but we only get what we look for. Many of the best people I have worked so far had been bypassed by the traditional screening standards. Conversely, I have also seen many weak people in top institutions.

Maybe one day data analysis and machine learning will solve this problem.
Before that, I rely on the good old way of people reading.

June 27, 2015

Our collective civilization is advanced by overcoming our individual ignorance

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:07 am
Tags:

Once, I asked a gay friend what it feels like if he is forced to make out with a girl.
His answer: it is like I am forced to make out with a guy.
🙂

If you are a straight guy feeling uncomfortable with gay guys making out (say 2% of all couples you see in your daily life), just imagine how uncomfortable they are with straight couples making out (98% of couples they encounter in their daily lives).

June 10, 2015

“Who you are” matters much more than “whom you are affiliated with”

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:29 am
Tags: ,

Birds of a feather flock together.
Our affiliation does reflect our own quality to some degree.

On the other hand, the prestige of institutions is becoming less important due to the internet and social media.
And really top people can transform a not-so-top institution into a top one.

April 14, 2015

To my future self

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 10:01 am
Tags:

Even if you are 88 years old with terminal cancer lying in the middle of the Gobi desert while being pointed at by an AK47, you can still overcome every obstacle just like we always do.

That is all you need to remember.

March 25, 2015

Kowtow

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

If you are a university professor and you boast on social networks about sending your students to other schools for higher degrees, you are essentially acknowledging that you (and your school) are not as good.

March 7, 2015

Why living forever is probably a bad idea

Filed under: Imaginary — liyiwei @ 11:51 am
Tags: ,

Even if under optimal physical, mental, and social status:

. It will eventually become very boring.

. One cannot participate in evolution and thus becomes inferior (barring technology like dynamic genetic splicing).

. If the universe eventually ends it will drag you down to some unknown horrible state.

Reincarnation, or some form of jumping between different intelligent species, seems much more fun.
🙂

February 11, 2015

Jeff Bezos shares his best advice to entrepreneurs

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

The whole article can be found here, but gist is to do what you really love.
It is that simple, repeated elsewhere, and applicable to different professions.

December 31, 2014

Frame of motivation

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:55 pm
Tags: ,

As a game of self-motivation, I used to frame and hang rejection letters on the wall and remove them only after getting even.

Today while cleaning my office I found the very last one sitting in a corner. Looking at it feels like a guy bumping into his high school crush who rejected him years ago but now appears totally fat and ugly.

With amused satisfaction, I threw the letter away but kept the frame. Time to fill it with another motivation.

Frame of rejection

A photo posted by Li-Yi Wei (@liyiwei) on

December 11, 2014

Street credit

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:55 pm
Tags: , ,

Coauthors revealed a secret in a recent paper that gave us all street credits.
:v
(It is in plain sight for anyone to see, so I won’t tell.)

December 8, 2014

Consequences of not having significant impacts

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 7:43 pm
Tags: ,

活得像一句廢話

November 23, 2014

Why I never go to class reunions

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:11 pm
Tags: ,

I want to remember all of you as innocent, beautiful, and hopeful.

July 17, 2014

Constructive criticism

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 12:29 pm
Tags: ,

Criticisms can help us improve, but only if they contain constructive information.

Some examples:

Useless criticism: this result is unacceptable.
Constructive criticism: this result is unacceptable because it contains this specific form of artifacts.

Useless criticism: this presentation is uninteresting.
Constructive criticism: this presentation is uninteresting because I do not care topic X and would rather hear more about topic Y.

As a recipient, I feel excited about constructive criticisms, even if they are harsh or contain personal attacks. In contrast, I usually ignore non-constructive comments because they provide nothing I can act upon.

Non-constructive criticisms are a waste of time at best, and look like whining at worst.

April 1, 2014

Thunder swim

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:52 pm
Tags: ,

I find it extremely romantic and serene to swim under a thunderstorm.
So getting kicked out of the pool is like being interrupted while being in a zone.

Come on, I get wet one way or another, and I am much more likely to be killed by car commute than lightning.

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