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.

Forking

I am contemplating forking this blog into two. On the one hand, I would like to blog more about geeky stuff like web development, information studies with a UX focus (prospective graduate studies!), and technology in general. These are posts that I would want more people to read for mutual learning/discussion and simply for developing my own understanding of such topics. On the other hand, I want to continue writing more personal, reflective, and spiritual entries which I would feel less comfortable opening up to all of the internet.

At first I thought that having two blogs would somehow indicate that I’m living two lives or something, which typically is viewed as negative (when was the last time you had a positive reaction to someone who “lived a double or two-faced life?”) Another thought was that if I separate out all of my spiritual posts from the public-facing blog just because it doesn’t quite fit with the geek stuff, is that in any small degree a form of not acknowledging Christ before men? But then again, these two directions aren’t conflicting at all (at least, I don’t think they are); they would just represent two distinct, but not conflicting, aspects of who I am.

So what’s stopping me now from doing this? Pathetically, petty things like what name should I give to each blog? What URL should I use? And one less-pathetic concern: How should I secure the blog that’s intended for a more private audience? Should I just make one and only send the URL to certain people? Should I just make every post password-protected?

Any thoughts/suggestions are welcome!

In any case, these questions need to be deferred until next month or later, because as it turns out, things are quite busy in February with responsibilities and appointments. For example, I am getting a crown on my birthday. A dental crown.

Jetlag

Having recently come back from Taiwan last Wednesday, it’s no surprise that I have jetlag. There’s a whopping 16 hour difference and given that I don’t think I fully adjusted to Taiwan time in the first place, my biological clock is whack. Usually these sorts of vacations occur during an extended break so I have a couple free days to recover from the jetlag. But since I have a job now, it is my first time where jetlag actually has negative consequences. Let’s just say, thank God my job allows me to have flexible working hours.

I don’t know if this is normal, but the side effects seem worse after a few days. Worse in the sense that I’m having more trouble going to sleep before 2am and more trouble getting out of bed when I wake up when I’m supposed to. It’s kind of interesting how my body functions in this state. I start feeling SUPER tired at around 2pm (just like the 5-hour energy commercials describe the 2:30 feeling), but try to keep myself awake for the remainder of work. Then after dinner around 8-9pm, I feel this huge crash. But by the time I get ready for bed around 10-11pm, I’m not tired anymore and my eyes are wide open. Then I lie in bed, toss and turn, look at the time, and repeat until sometime after 1:30 or 2am. But when I do go to sleep, it’s a pretty light sleep and I immediately get awakened by my alarm at around 7am. I snooze instinctively and tell myself I’ll just lie a little longer in bed. But then I drift off into sleep again and this time it’s a DEEP sleep that renders me completely deaf to my two subsequent alarms which are auto-snoozed. And then I wake up later than I was supposed to.

Case in point: on Thursday I got out of bed at 11am. I suppose the deeper sleep is shortening, since today, I came to my senses at 8:40am which is only an hour after my last alarm. But now my neck and shoulders are really stiff and sore for some reason, and sitting in a chair is largely uncomfortable.

Not a good way to kick off the new year when people are gearing up for better self control and discipline. I still need to take out some time for resolutions and reflections, of which self control will be a recurring theme. Spiritually, I think at this time last year I was a little more focused, so I have some catch up to do…

Upgraded to 3.0, Other Thoughts

WordPress got a really nice upgrade! I’ve reverted to the new default theme, which in my opinion is much better than the old default one.

The past several days I’ve been “thinking” more about various things. My current situation, how I feel about my job, what I want to do in the future, my attitude, what I can do for God – randomly scattered thoughts. I guess that’s just one way of saying I have writer’s block now. Or maybe it’s part of “soul-searching” (*looks up “soul-searching” on wikipedia). Yeah, I think I used it correctly.

I’d like to think that this is a positive thing. I feel that a lot of what instigates these reflective moods has to do with a certain kind of dissatisfaction – not really in a negative sense though, as in “I hate my life and think it sucks,” but more so that I want to keep improving; I want to be a better person in God’s eyes. I want to be a good witness, a more devoted and loyal servant to Him, a useful vessel.

But I need to be careful. It doesn’t take much for this drive for self improvement, even in a spiritual sense, to become a spiritual hindrance. The desire to better oneself easily leads to a desire to become great, which subsequently leads to a feeling of competition. “I want to be more useful to God” is a very small step from “I want to be more useful than _____.”

Thus, I am soberly reminded of Matthew 20:25-28:

Mat 20:25-28 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and those who are great exercise authority over them.  (26)  Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you, let him be your servant.  (27)  And whoever desires to be first among you, let him be your slave—  (28)  just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

A servant. It’s always good to remind ourselves what a servant is. A servant waits or attends to a master, constantly monitoring and being aware of the master’s needs so he can take care of them.

A servant doesn’t have the freedom to come and go as he pleases, but rather seeks to please the master. A servant is not a freelancer in the sense that he does not serve only when he is available or when it’s convenient or as a favor. Rather, a servant is one who lays aside all else when necessary for the master.

So I need to ask myself again; “Do I want to be a servant of God?” It means having daily concern for the church and her needs. It means reserving my “hard-earned” free leisure time not for myself, but for the Lord. It means doing everything – whether it be hiking or shopping or eating or working or talking – for the sake of the gospel. At some point, all of us who desire to serve the Lord whether full time or part time have to honestly ask ourselves: “Am I really okay with that?

Yes.

The Turtle That Surfed

For those of you who have been following me through my blog-hopping for at least the past 4 years, you’ve seen this already on xanga. But after seeing it again, I thought it was worthy of reposting. I should’ve been a children’s book author instead of an engineer. So without further ado, I present to you, The Turtle That Surfed:

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Now, wasn’t that great? Who needs animation when you can just use arrows?

Brief April Update

So, I’ve been a bit busy the past couple weeks, but that’s good. My programming and development outside of work has sort of gone on a hiatus in favor of various church duties, enjoying the weather, eating out, and playing Wii at my sister’s + brother-in-law’s place. Hopefully in the weeks to come though, I can get back to some “self study” programming. Next up is AJAX/javascript using the jQuery library!

This past Thursday I had the opportunity to play cello accompanying two brothers singing for an evangelical service at Pacifica church. I’ve been told it’s already posted on facebook and that despite a rather blatant hiccup on my part at the very end, it seemed to go well. Thank God, many people enjoyed and were moved by it. The two brothers did a really nice job and their voices blended pretty well. But despite all the positive feedback we received, I hope that it was able to edify and bring the hearers closer to God in some way, cause that’s the whole point right? And actually it’s probably for the better that I messed up badly at the end, because if I didn’t, I’d probably be proud. And the fact that people were still moved by it even with my blunder is a testament that God moves people, not us.

Oh and if you haven’t noticed yet, I deactivated my facebook last week, mainly because I was just checking it too much and I felt like an addict. It’s probably just temporary, but for now it actually feels kind of releasing. Every time I have the urge to check facebook, I think, “Oh wait…I deactivated it..” and then I can just move onto actually doing something more useful. Like…reading engadget.

In other possibly interesting news, I got a longboard off of eBay. For those who care for specs, it’s got a 40-inch maple wood deck, 76 mm 83a wheels, abec-7 bearings, and 180 degree randal trucks. So far I’ve taken out for a brief ride one time around my neighborhood. At first it was a little difficult because the wheels actually turn if you place more weight on one side of the board than the other, so your balance has to be stable to go straight. That sounds like a “duh” statement but it took me by surprise when i was trying to push off because I had to make sure I was putting an equal amount of pressure on both sides with only one foot on the board…and if anyone’s ever done that Wii Fit test where you stand on the balance board with one foot, you probably know that your center of gravity wobbles back and forth more than you realize if you haven’t been training your balance. But yeah I took a few laps around my development to try to tune my balance and I must say, it’s pretty fun. The Ripstik was pretty fun too, but kind of pathetic looking because I could never go very fast and I could probably power walk faster. On the other hand, it was kind of cool to be able to pick up speed on the Ripstik (albeit not that much speed) without needing to push off. But pushing off is kind of fun, and it probably looks cooler too.

So yeah after about 20-30 minutes of trying it out, I went back to my house feeling slightly pumped, and I saw my landlady had just gotten back home.

She said to me, “是不是你在玩那個…那個..”

Me: “Skateboard? 對, 是我.”

Landlady: “然後你有在帶那個帽子嗎?”

Me: “對, 帶 helmet.”

Landlady: “哇~~~! 好可愛喔!”

…….Yeah….yeah that sorta killed it.

(and yes, it was painful to type out “~~~!” and risk looking like a fob)