Quotes from The Little Prince

I once let my dad borrow The Little Prince and told him to read it. After he finished and gave it back to me, I asked him, “So what’d you think?” The first thing he said was, “I don’t get it.”

If you’re one of those people who doesn’t read books and hasn’t read The Little Prince, I would advise you to take 2-3 hours and read it. Read it before you become a grown-up. In fact, you can read it online for free.

From Chapter 1:

Whenever I met one of [the grown-ups] who seemed to me at all clear-sighted, I tried the experiment of showing him my Drawing Number One, which I have always kept. I would try to find out, so, if this was a person of true understanding. But, whoever it was, he, or she, would always say:

“That is a hat.”

Then I would never talk to that person about boa constrictors, or primeval forests, or stars. I would bring myself down to his level. I would talk to him about bridge, and golf, and politics, and neckties. And the grown-up would be greatly pleased to have met such a sensible man.

From Chapter 4:

If I have told you these details about the asteroid, and made a note of its number for you, it is on account of the grown-ups and their ways. When you tell them that you have made a new friend, they never ask you any questions about essential matters. They never say to you, “What does his voice sound like? What games does he love best? Does he collect butterflies?” Instead, they demand: “How old is he? How many brothers has he? How much does he weigh? How much money does his father make?” Only from these figures do they think they have learned anything about him.

If you were to say to the grown-ups: “I saw a beautiful house made of rosy brick, with geraniums in the windows and doves on the roof,” they would not be able to get any idea of that house at all. You would have to say to them: “I saw a house that cost $20,000.” Then they would exclaim: “Oh, what a pretty house that is!”

Hello, World

Wow. It’s been awhile since I’ve written anything here. This is how I’ve started most of my “recent” entries in my personal journal too (yes, a paper-based journal that requires actual writing). Typing’s undeniably more efficient, but there’s a purity around my physical paper journals (I call them “volumes”) that keeps me from converting my personal journal entries to digital. It’s perhaps the only aspect of my life that I’m not trying to convert into digital form. Anyways, that’s not the purpose of this post.

A lot has happened since my last sorry excuse for a blog post. Here’s a summary in bullet-list form, in no particular order:

  • Completion of the LDT program! Acquisition of some background and framework of thinking about education, how people learn, and how to apply it to teaching and design
  • Acquisition of new technical chops: iOS programming, Kinect+Unity3D development (not fun though), and new web stuff, mostly frontend (but I did finally start to learn some rails! And yes, I like django better).
  • Met some awesome people, namely my LDT cohort. What a fun, interesting, and diverse bunch.
  • Worked at start ups! Definitely more exciting than a large corporation, and it forced me to be more productive. There’s always something to do, and I’m generally amazed at the work that some people can pull off (not always though).
  • Secured a full-time position at an awesome start up! Goalbook. I start September 17th.
  • Became the Religious Education coordinator at East Bay Church! This has been a bit difficult for me to adjust to; I’m too used to having things coordinated for me. But thankfully the teachers are super cooperative, dedicated, and patient with my lack of experience and surplus of procrastination (which, I really need to do something about…)
  • Became an uncle! I mean, I’ve been an uncle since I was a kid as a result of having many older cousins, but my sister’s got a baby daughter! So far all I’ve managed to do was make the baby cry by accidentally clanking a spoon while she was on the verge of falling asleep. Go me.
  • Got a new longboard. Stanford is pretty longboard friendly and I would longboard to class everyday. Thought it was worth it to upgrade to a better board since I was actually regularly doing it. Even though I’ve moved from Stanford now, I’ve already put my longboard to good use by making quick trips to Costco to eat lunch (and dinner, and lunch the day after). How many people can say they’ve been to Costco five times in five days? AND spent less than $20?

Thank God, I’ve accomplished a lot in the past year. The LDT program was a really good experience, Stanford provided tons of opportunities and a great environment to just build stuff, and I can say I have this thing called a Master’s degree.

However, one key aspect of my life that has suffered is my spiritual cultivation and servitude in church. I was never very good at balancing multiple major commitments simultaneously (which is why I would never do something crazy like doing both work and studies part time). As an undergrad I didn’t have to balance school and church work much because there wasn’t a local TJC around – all I needed to do was maintain my own faith. That changed for me 3 years ago when I started working full time and moved to the bay area. Because East Bay was so small, I started serving pretty quickly, in smaller capacities at first. The responsibilities ramped up quite a bit after completing RETS and becoming an RE teacher for J1 class. I was working full time but one of the pros of working at a large company like Oracle is that at least for me, I almost never had to touch work after coming home. I could focus most of my evenings on my church duties. But once grad school started, that balance became drastically one-sided. I became “busy” around the clock and slacked in prayer and Bible reading, but my duties in church continued to increase. Servitude without cultivation becomes a heavy burden. I’m sure my RE teaching suffered not just from less preparation, but from hypocrisy and less-authentic living. I became burned out from school work, which left little energy and mental focus for much else.

With that in mind, I hope now that the LDT program is finished, I can refocus on my spiritual life. Today after service I held an RE parent/teacher meeting. I was very moved by the concern the parents had for their childrens’ spiritual growth. There were a lot of worries and concerns from me about the students, but the meeting helped me realize that I can’t have lofty expectations (especially when my own spiritual life is a mess), and that the students receive SO much pressure outside of church, mainly from school. I also had a better sense of just how busy some of the families really are and it made me feel kind of sheepish for telling everyone that I’m so busy and tired when the main reason why I feel tired is because I don’t manage my time well. But the meeting made me realize how important it is for me to improve myself spiritually, not just for myself, but for the students’ growth too.

This post is all over the place. I should stop here. Writing takes a long time!

Oh, today was review on the Pauline letters for J2 class. And because I’m such a geek, I made this for class: Quiz+Group Jeopardy Thingy. Built using the foundation framework, less.js, and angular.js.

Day 6 – ……17??

I can’t believe I’m almost 2 weeks behind on this -_-. Time management is definitely not my strong suit, and I guess I can’t get away without being slack as a student. Lots of work and reading, yes, but also lots of time wasted and not enough personal cultivation.

In no particular order, here are some things I am thankful for that I can think of now over the past 2 weeks:

  • Sisters + cousin (+ their husbands) dinners. When these happen, there’s no such thing as “eating just the right amount.”
  • Tennis – last Sunday and the Sunday before I played tennis with a brother from church and it was therapeutic because there was friendly competition. We play sets and developing that kind of mental determination makes me nostalgic of playing on the high school team. When we play we’re pretty even in different ways. Last time we each won one set apiece. But really, it’s a kind of sad for me because this guy is much older than me and has 2 kids. In my defense, he plays A LOT. Anyways, I try not to think about that :p
  • A good cohort – Monday-Wednesday last week was crazy because my first design thinking project was due. I had to come up with a couple POV (point of views), and magically concoct 50 ideas for each of them. Of course, that was pretty much impossible to do by myself, so the people in my cohort who were also taking the class all got together to have “ideation sessions.” I know, that sounds so weird. For some reason it reminds me of the word “pupation” and so I get the impression of undergoing some gross biological transformation whenever I hear “ideation” which is disturbing. Anyways, after that, we all somehow had to prototype two ideas, test them on multiple users, and iterate before class on Wednesday. Needless to say, I was in the design school studio all day and late into the evening on Tuesday, and in the morning on Wednesday before class.
  • A breather – fortunately, after we turned in our projects on Wednesday, we had a breather for that class; nothing to do for Friday’s class, at which point we get our next project.
  • No accidents from longboarding in the rain. Last week it rained a couple times at night, and I ended up longboarding in the rain twice in the dark. Thankfully, I didn’t injure myself those times. However, now I’m going to try avoiding doing that going forward because a) I get SUPER soaked, especially my shoes and pants, and b) my longboard gets dirty and gross.
  • Seeing my dad! My dad came to visit this past weekend for a conference. Unfortunately my mom couldn’t make it out last minute :( It was nice to see my dad though and spend some time with him. It’s always funny getting words of wisdom from him, which he gives so sincerely. When I saw him off on Sunday, he left me with, “I know you’re responsible, but sometimes your response is a little slow. Life is important.” First part is true. Second part made me laugh.
  • Good groupmates. For our next design project, we have to “redesign Muslim Philanthropy in the US.” I know…such an unusual topic and assignment. We need to interview a bunch of people to try to narrow our scope and gain empathy. I’m glad that my group seems reliable and active, although it’s a little difficult to schedule things.
  • Microwave! D+J called me and said they saw someone giving away a microwave for free, and offered to pick it up and keep it for me :) I need to find some time to go down and get it, but I just thought it was so thoughtful of them. Of course, the hard part is getting my lazy butt off campus.

Even though I’m trying to be more aware of God’s graces in everyday, nothing can do them justice. I can never feel that I have acknowledged and appreciated even a portion of what God has given me, especially since my cultivation has been sort of compromised as a result of being lazy.

Today, in particular, I feel a little disappointed in myself in that I don’t know if I’ve grown spiritually in the past year. I wish I had closer accountability somehow, but I think I need to be able to reach a certain point on my own with God. There’s no substitute for personal resolve. I’ve been placed in a really good situation right now, and perhaps complacency has gotten the better of me.

Alas, I just have to keep pressing forward. 1000 cubits at time.

Evaluating Lightroom 3 vs. Aperture 3

Today I spent pretty much the whole day trying to figure out whether I should use Adobe Lightroom 3 or Apple’s Aperture 3.

Here’s what I want to ultimately accomplish:

  • store my photos on an external drive
  • be able to edit/retouch non-destructively select photos without being tethered to my external drive
  • localized adjustments
I downloaded the trials of both applications and discovered that both can achieve the above. Both allow maintaining multiple libraries (or catalogs in Lightroom terms), have adjustment brushes, stacking, keyword and metadata tagging, and so forth. So in no particular order, here are my observations. (I should note that none of these were really deal-makers or breakers because as I said before, both can accomplish my main goals)
What Aperture Has that Lightroom Doesn’t
  • adjustment brushes for every type of adjustment, including curves (lightroom adjustment brushes “only” let you adjust exposure, brightness, contrast, saturation, clarity, sharpness, and color overlay; not that these options are limiting in any way)
  • Faces detection and tagging
  • Native GPS and location tagging (lightroom can achieve this with a 3rd party plug-in)
  • More advanced slideshow options (e.g. multiple audio tracks which can be interspersed with arbitrary durations)
What Lightroom Has that Aperture Doesn’t
  • Some superior editing features like noise reduction (very impressive) and lens distortion correction
  • Physical folder management with the ability to synchronize to the contents of the physical folder (plays nice with manual copy/move operations you do in the file system)
  • side-by-side comparisons with synchronized panning and zooming
  • cross platform compatibility (but legally, you need 2 separate licenses to install on both mac and windows)
These are by no means a comprehensive list of things which one has that the other doesn’t, but those are just the ones I noticed.
Licensing/Pricing notes
  • Aperture is $79.99 from the Mac App Store vs. $99.00 for Lightroom (Education price; there is also a Student/Teacher edition which is $89.99)
  • Aperture can be installed on numerous mac computers linked to your iTunes account (possibly more than 2)
  • Lightroom can be installed on up to 2 computers with a single license (but again, must be the same platform)
  • both are for personal/non-commercial use at the prices and licensing options listed
So what did I end up choosing? Aperture 3.
But this decision was far from easy and definitive. The main deciding factor was that I have Mac Appstore credit from purchasing my macbook air. If it were not for that, I would’ve chosen Lightroom 3 and paid the extra 20 dollars. Money/cost aside, I actually like Lightroom a little better for the following reasons:
  • One click for applying a previous photo’s adjustments to the current photo
  • when performing undo, an overlay shows you what operation was undone – this is a very nice touch
  • writing metadata changes directly to the master files (this is possible in Aperture supposedly, but seems like there’s a bug and you get an error if you try to write metadata changes to master jpg files)
  • the keyword tagging interface
  • a significantly smaller memory footprint (no rigorous tests performed, but when I had both Aperture 3 and Lightroom 3 open, Aperture 3 consistently took up much more memory). This is a pretty major bummer for me in choosing Aperture 3 instead of Lightroom. In practice, both ran smoothly on the macbook air, so hopefully it says that way after time.
  • smaller catalog size vs. Aperture’s library size (this is mostly because Aperture generates more preview files, which can be turned off).
  • a friend pointed out a rather good point: adobe is more trustworthy and more mature in this area than Apple
In summary, I think they’re both good in terms of functionality and capability. From an interface perspective, both are pretty easy to navigate, but as noted above I like certain things in Lightroom more than Aperture. Memory-wise, it seems Lightroom is definitely more streamlined. Cost-wise, Aperture 3 is cheaper if you purchase through the Mac Appstore.

RE Mental Set Failure

This past Sabbath I taught a lesson on “Taming the Tongue” to my J1 students. For the mental set, I thought I would ask the students to recall anything that another person said (preferably also present in the classroom) that for one reason or another, sticks in their mind, good or bad. The point of this exercise was to demonstrate that our words can have a deep impression, perhaps one we would never expect them to have when we are speaking them.

I thought it was a pretty good idea, but unfortunately it was an utter failure. No one could remember anything that stuck in their minds, except for inconsequential dialogue that occurred recently.

I’m hoping the reason for this is because I phrased the question poorly. In retrospect, I could’ve tried phrasing the prompt as “Think of something that anyone in this room has said that has made a lasting impression in your mind,” but I have a feeling this would’ve been ineffective as well. Does this require too much thought for J1 students? Or maybe their experiences are still too limited? Or maybe they’re too shallow and don’t give careful thought to what people are saying?…hopefully that’s not the case!

In any case, I have much to learn in becoming an effective RE teacher.

Brother MG

Brother MG and his wife JW began truthseeking at East Bay, according to my memory, about a year ago. They experienced many blessings and graces from God, both receiving the Holy Spirit before being baptized. JW received the Holy Spirit first and was baptized during last year’s spring ESSC. MG received the Holy Spirit several months ago and a special baptism was scheduled for him, since his health was deteriorating.

Today, I was informed that brother MG was called back by the Lord in the afternoon.

I did not have too many conversations with MG, but each one was enlightening and caused me to reflect. Sometimes a new believer’s faith reminds us what faith and spiritual cultivation should be. We were talking about our personal Bible reading, and I think I said something along the lines of how sometimes Bible reading can become dull at times, but we need to keep at it because all of God’s word is useful for teaching and there are a lot of interesting things, etc. MG said something that made me thank God while also causing me to feel a little shame.

Oh, the Bible keeps itself interesting! Everyday before I read it, it’s like, “What am I going to learn today?”

During the short period of time after his baptism and before his health took a turn for the worse, we had always said that we should get lunch during the week, because we both work in the same city. We even exchanged phone numbers, but for whatever reason – preoccupation, laziness, being in a rush – I did not call him and ate at my desk as usual. Even after I heard he had been admitted into a hospital a few weeks back, I always thought there would be a time when we would have lunch. After the East Bay picnic last Sunday, several members stopped by the hospital to visit him. He was so happy to see us since he was unable to go to church for some time. One of the things he said to me was, “We’re still on for lunch though!”

Brother MG, looks like we’ll have to rain-check for when we enter the heavenly kingdom. I pray that I may make it there to meet you. It will be a feast to look forward to.