Confessions of a researchaholic

December 31, 2014

Frame of motivation

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:55 pm
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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

February 22, 2014

Be different

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:37 am
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This is likely a unique local phenomenon, but I often see these student representatives wearing suits and sitting in meetings for various organizations.

It is extremely difficult for me to understand why anyone wants to do this. Young people should dream of being different instead of rushing into conformity.

Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.

– Steve Jobs

October 14, 2013

Brainstorming

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:48 pm
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I stumbled upon this article about group brainstorming today.

It echoed well with my own personal experiences and my general take that meetings are almost always completely useless for research/creative works.
I do meetings only when absolutely necessary, such as resolving major confusions or conflicts among multiple team members, evaluating live demonstrations of a UI design, and interviewing (i.e. reading) people.

Some managers and administrators like meetings. Fight them with all your power. Do not let less intelligent people waste your time or reduce your effectiveness.

September 22, 2013

Cycles

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 8:47 pm
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It is actually very easy to maintain a good work-life balance: just have stable cycles, working steadily and consistently every day.

It always puzzles me why some people cannot heed to this very simple strategy. They slack off while away from the deadlines and work inhumane hours near the crunch time. And they get burned out, causing the next round of slack off. And the unstable cycle continues.

I work almost exactly the same amount of hours every day, except during travels (when I work a bit less) and bailing out my collaborators who lack enough discipline (when I work a bit more).

July 10, 2013

Scam

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 9:58 am
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This morning I got a phone message from an alleged debt collector. It smelled full of scam so I looked up online and confirmed my suspicion.

Basically, what seems to be happening is that if you call them, they will ask you for your personal information. In other words, it is identity theft taking advantage of human weakness. Many people, upon hearing that they owe debt, would feel guilty. Thus, they are more likely to put their guard down and divulge their personal information.

But this is probably less effective for people with different kinds or degrees of conscience.
🙂

I wonder why debtors should fear creditors. Do you think you are more afraid of your bank (where you deposit/lend your money) or the other way around?

June 16, 2013

Sociability

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 10:54 am
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Public speaking is the number one fear reported by people in the US.
Many people, at least in the US, like to go to parties.

For me, it is the exact opposite.
The bigger the audience, the easier I feel.
Giving a large conference talk is the most comfortable; I totally control the script and there are so many people that they become anonymous, blank, and non-human.
Teaching a class is slightly trickier; I am still in control but have to interact with students sometimes, potentially disrupting the flow and raising my awareness of their human presence.
Small talking in a social gathering is the most energy consuming; it is entirely ad hoc and I have to read people and react in real-time.

Is this extrovert or introvert? I guess it is something orthogonal. Maybe it is “sociability” before I can find a better term.

Around 38:00 mark on Hannibal season 1 Aperitif (at the end of Will Graham’s class on criminal psychology):

Jack Crawford: I also understand it is difficult for you to be social.

Will Graham: I am just talking. I am not listening to them. It is not social.

June 14, 2013

Aromatic association of cities I have lived in more than 1 year

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 8:01 am
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They say olfactory memory is the most visceral as it is within our primitive brains.

Taipei: soil within sidewalk pavement cracks

Kaohsiung: (strong) industrial waste water

Stanford: dry grass

Palo Alto: coffee

Mountain View: swimming pool chlorine

Emerald Hills: trees

Beijing: gun powder (sulfur)

Seattle: sea-weed/salt

Hong Kong: (humid) bean curd

February 12, 2013

Anger

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 11:12 am
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A few evenings ago while tunneling through one of the numerous secret passageways of Hogwarts I overheard a heated argument between a pair of young student couples.

They clearly thought it was a sufficiently secluded place for letting go all of their inner emotions.

It was quite enjoyable to feel so much energy in the kind of anger signature of young couples. After they are older, they will cool off, and silently resent and despise each other.

February 11, 2013

Disappointment

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 1:13 pm
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I avoid airline check-in counters because it is a huge waste of time and I seldom bother with luggage anyway, but a few flights ago I had to do it due to malfunctioning self-check-in kiosks. While laboring with an agent, I overheard the conversation in an adjacent counter.
I did not watch the customer because my visual cortex was occupied with mental seat-map upload, but from his voice and intonation I pictured a high level corporate manager in his 50s with bristle white hair in a business suit.

The guy was hissing out sentences like “this is totally unacceptable; I am a XXXX elite status member”, in a tone of shock, indignation, and disappointment.

Gosh. If I had known the company he worked for I would have shorted it.

Self-note: dealing with check-in counters might not be such a bad thing because it provides opportunities for observing humanity under emotional stress.

January 25, 2013

Teaching

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 7:23 pm
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My attitude towards teaching could be reflected by how I would really like to write my teaching statement (for faculty job applications).
There will be only one sentence: “smart enough students can pick up everything themselves”.
(Note1: I know this is entirely doable because I pulled this off since I was 10 years old, and I did not consider myself to be very smart.)
(Note2: Of course this is not how I really wrote my teaching statement.)

With this backdrop, it should not be a surprise that I have never blogged a single entry about teaching, at least not mine. I do not even have teaching as a tag word.

I have considered teaching as a chore rather than enjoyment (unlike research), and my basic stance has not changed too much. (One main reason why I think it is better to start a research career as an industry lab scientist rather than a university professor.) But not until I really taught full-semester classes, especially large ones, did I start to appreciate teaching can be a fun thing to do, for two main reasons.

First, it can actually inspire my research ideas.

Second, and probably more important, teaching provides a great chance for massive mind reading and human studying, with moral justification for effective teaching. It is even more fun and challenging than reading individuals, one of my most favorite pastimes.

More posts to follow.

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