Confessions of a researchaholic

September 28, 2013

The Klingons

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 6:47 pm
Tags: , ,

Imagine you are a Klingon warship commander. After going through some hyper-warp to arrive at an alternative space time, you find that all Klingons are in gentle servitude to humans.

This is what I felt about the HK technology industry as a SF bay area computer scientist.

If you are a Klingon in that alternative space time, work with that commander so that you will not turn into a pussy.

September 25, 2013

How to deal with flight delays when you are already onboard

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

Flight delays suck. But what sucks the most is when you are already on board, so that you are trapped on that narrow seat and you cannot even walk around in a terminal.

If you are on a plane with in-flight entertainment system (stay away from those airlines/airplanes that do not even offer this basic service to all cabins) and the captain is smart enough to turn it on, start watching your favorite movies. This directly converts painful delays into extra entertainment time. At least it beats sitting there whining and worrying.

I realized this while getting delayed on board by a super typhoon a few days ago. It was a short haul flight, so the normal fly time is not even enough for an average movie. But it turns out to be enough after adding the delay. I got to watch a movie not available on Netflix.

July 26, 2013

Laptop-less in Anaheim

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:30 pm
Tags: , ,

I did not bring my laptop to SIGGRAPH this year to discourage myself from working inside the convention center or the hotel room.

Experimental results indicated that this motivated me to spend more time hanging out with people, which is supposed to be the main goal for a conference. I can easily schedule all events and meetings via my smart phone and tablet. (Even the tablet is probably not necessary, if I can address a few technical issues of my phone.)

I probably would have had to bring my laptop if I had to give any talks. None of the Android apps I know of can adequately author talk slides. If such apps eventually show up (and I expect they will), I would happily travel with only my phone in the future.

Eventually though, the phones will likely become powerful enough for me to work inside the hotel rooms (again).

June 14, 2013

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

Filed under: Imaginary,Real — liyiwei @ 8:01 am
Tags: , ,

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

December 11, 2012

A gastronomic study of PhD defense

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 6:29 am
Tags: ,


HKU (Hong Kong)

No food or drink served. The candidate gives the talk, the audience asks questions, and the jury members discuss the final fate behind the door. The entire thing is over in about an hour.

Stanford (USA)

The reception food quality determines whether you pass, but do not serve coffee, as it can make jury members unnecessarily aggressive. The rest is similar to above.

INRIA (France)

The jury members meet for lunch in a nice restaurant (French, of course). The talk, QA, and jury discussion parts are similar to above. After that, a fancy reception is served (Tunisian pastry in my case). And if you, as a jury member, do not ask for trouble during the defense, you get invited to dinner in an even nicer restaurant (French, course). The entire thing takes about 11 hours.

October 2, 2012

How to adjust for jetlag

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 7:26 pm
Tags: , , ,

I have a very simple trick that works very well for me (I am a frequent time-zone hopper) and I believe it will work for everyone with sufficient will power.

Exercise. A lot of it.

The reasons are simple.
It is very unlikely for one to fall asleep during exercise, while very likely for one to after a long arduous one.
And it is extremely healthy, compared to alternatives (e.g. taking drugs).

All cardio-exercises will do, but my favorite is swimming; it is the least likely place to sleep within (especially if the water is not too warm) and most likely inducement for sleep afterwards (given the same amount of workout time).

July 15, 2012

How to travel

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 12:22 pm

(This is a random collection of thoughts for an activity that I have to do all too often and eventually learn to like, tremendously. I would hope to refine the writing gradually.)

The only tour book that I ever found worthy reading is “How to Travel With a Salmon and Other Essays” by Umberto Eco.

Tours are for the weak. Plan the itinerary yourself for maximum fun and flexibility. Have as few travel companions as possible.

Stereotypes are for the stupid.
[Vegetarians can eat more than potatoes and sauerkraut in Germany. In fact, the best vegan restaurants I have ever been to is in Munich.]

Something will go against your planning. So just relax, and be prepared.
[Should have brought my swimsuit for the unexpected detour to Japan last winter.]

Do it slow and thorough. Stay away from major tourist attractions and spend most of the time experiencing local life and culture. Pay attention to small things; both god and devil are in the details.

My most favorite routine is to barge into a local restaurant which does not seem to speak my languages, and manage to order food, interact with waiters + other customers, consume and (preferably) enjoy the food, have dessert, and pay the bill.
[Some horror stories to follow, like AAAAA intestines in France.]

July 31, 2009

Beignets in Cafe Du Monde

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 4:30 pm
Tags: , ,

I had these for breakfast in an extremely hot and humid morning in New Orleans.

Beignets in Cafe Du Monde

June 30, 2009

Hamburg travel

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

This is my second trip to Germany in the last 3 months. People usually do not travel to the same place within such a short period of time, but I went both for conferences: the first one in Munich for an EG09 STAR (see here for more details), and the second one in Hamburg for an ISC09 panel.

Fortunately, Munich and Hamburg are sufficiently different to worth separate travels; in a nutshell, Munich is a more traditional Bavarian city while Hamburg a very international port.

Like Munich, Hamburg has a very good metro system, consisting of S-bahn and U-bahn. I could easily travel from the airport to my hotel via trains. Well, it is not exactly that easy, as after arriving at Dammtor Station near my hotel, I had trouble identifying the right exit for the hotel.

Fortunately, Hamburg residents are very friendly, as for at least 5 or 6 occasions during my entire trip someone volunteered to help. I guess I must look quite lost.

Being a port, Hamburg is a very watery city. On the north of the city center there are two artificial inner city lakes formed by river Alster, Aussenalster (outer Alster Lake) and Binnenalster (inner Alster Lake).

On the south of the city center is the Albe River. Near that is a new construction region named Hafencity.

Rathaus (city hall) is the landmark building of Hamburg city center, containing many shops, restaurants, and historical buildings.

Cafe Paris is one of the restaurants I visited; the vaulted ceiling with large paintings is quite beautiful.

Hamburg also has many museums. Kunsthalle, the art museum, contains two buildings, one for modern art, the other a curious mixture of classical and contemporary work. The two buildings are connected by a very unique underground tunnel.
The ethnology museum near my hotel is also very unique; I especially like the photo room, and was amazed by the ethnic similarity between Chinese and Central Asian, even though the latter is mostly nomadic (i.e. the so called barbarians in Chinese history textbooks).

I also visited the Brahms museum, and discovered that he was a Hamburg native.

Not all buildings in Hamburg are in good condition. St-Nikolai-Kirche, bombarded during WWII, served as a reminder of the wreckage of war.

Rote Flora is perhaps the most salvaged building in Hamburg, but ironically it was one of the few theaters not damaged by the war.

Unlike Munich where local Bavarian food is rampant, the restaurants in Hamburg are quite international, and it is actually not that easy to find really local tastes. Most of the restaurants I visited are quite good (e.g. the whole fish I had in Turnhalle, a restaurant converted from a gymnasium), I still wanted to try some local food. Well, the closest thing I found is in a restaurant named Filmhauskneipe (yes, near a film house); I ordered a plate of whole raw fish and veggie as suggested by the waitress to be truly German food.

For more photos I took during this travel, see here.

May 19, 2009

Living abroad gives you a creative edge

Filed under: Real — liyiwei @ 3:33 pm
Tags: ,

According to this article from the Economist, living aboard gives you a creative edge.

Even without the formal study as reported in that article, this is a pretty obvious fact, at least from my personal experience. I believe the relationship between creativity and living aboard is both a cause and an effect: creative people are more likely to live aboard, and the experience of living in different places further stimulates their creativity.

Many people consider my constant moving around as being crazy, and downright counter-productive for a researcher that traditional wisdom deems to benefit from a more sedated life style. But somehow the constant traveling not only stimulates my creativity but even improves my focus. (I do not get distracted easily, but tend to lose focus when bored.)

(This post was jotted down on a flight from SEA to SFO.)

« Previous Page

Theme: Rubric. Get a free blog at