Day 25 – Night-time HW Break-through

Really quickly…

For the iOS course we have to implement a graphing calculator. For some reason I couldn’t get the graph axes/translation stuff right. I spent literally hours trying to figure it out, to no avail, which is pretty sad for an engineer. I even tried drawing it on paper and trying to work it out that way. Still nothing.

Anyways, thank God, as I was laying on my bed and falling asleep, I just started thinking about it, and then viola! I figured it out in my head. I just tried it, and confirmed that it works!

Even in these little things, God is faithful.

I spent an hour or so doing prayer sharing tonight with some brothers, and it made me realize how shallow my relationship with God had become. I’m glad that a brother initiated this weekly sharing to help me be more aware of my spirituality. I feel like God has already begun blessing me for devoting this tiny portion of my time, even though it’s already a grace to just to pray before Him.

Well, back to sleep!

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.

Day 5, Generative Discussion

I was the typical shy asian boy who was quiet and avoided talking in class if I could help it. Throughout high school and college, I seldom contributed to discussion even if I did have some nugget of insight to share (which was also a rare occurrence). I was also the kind of person who needed guidelines for doing things, like homework and projects. If it’s too open-ended, it makes me anxious and I spend an unnecessary amount of time trying to decide what I’m supposed to do, even though there wasn’t any particular thing I was supposed to do (that’s sort of the point of open-endedness).

I guess one of the good things about my graduate program is that a lot of things are done in groups. For the “Technology for Learners” class I have to give a presentation with a group on various readings on the broad topic of multimodal systems, multimedia, and multiple representations. We didn’t have too much to go on for what our presentation should accomplish, aside from leading a discussion. In our group meeting, none of us really had an idea of how we should start. So we did the only thing we could do; talk about the readings.

I am glad that 1) having read 3/5 of the articles, I was able to speak coherently what my understanding was, and potential flaws/caveats that I noticed, and 2) that although our group discussion had no prescribed agenda or goal, through generative discussion we reached a rough sketch of what our presentation could be (and it involves more than just summarizing the readings in powerpoint slides). And 3), that I can appreciate having intellectual discussions with intellectual people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. I’m actually very relieved that I could contribute in some way, and that I’ve made progress from being the shy and silent asian boy.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m now very prone to participating in discussions and sharing, but it’s progress.

Day 4, Another Productive Morning

This morning, I hacked together another bare-bones django app that does the same thing as the evernote one I wrote on Monday, except it integrates with google docs, where most of our existing word studies are. And yes, I created yet another github repo to share the oauth process involved.

Another nice thing about free mornings is I can take my time in praying and reading the Bible. It doesn’t mean I get epiphanies, but at least I can read a chapter slowly and multiple times.

On another note, one of the courses I’m taking is called Design Thinking Bootcamp (yay! I got into it!). We were assigned an interesting design challenge today that is due next week. I won’t say what it is since it’s possible I may interview you about it (“secretly” or explicitly), but I think it’s good that I’m being pushed out of my comfort zone to try to talk to people and find insight in uncovering a particular need.

Day 3, Window Fans

It’s still quite warm around this time of year, and since Stanford’s not exceptionally close to the bay, the heat from the day sort of lingers inside through the night. Thanks to my sister and brother-in-law, I have a window fan that can circulate the cooler night air into my studio. Without this, I’d be sweating in my sleep. Lovely, eh?

A more elaborate post is called for to express my thanksgiving to my older sisters and brother-in-law in general. Without them, adjusting to the bay area and growing more mature as a person would have been much slower. People have told me that I act more mature than the average person my age – I owe it to having such wonderful and down-to-earth sisters. But again, this warrants a dedicated post.

Day 2, Light Mondays (and Wednesdays)

This quarter I’m taking 6 classes and 14 units. Somehow, my class schedule looks quite sparse compared to my Cornell schedules as an undergrad. Maybe it’s because a few classes only meet once a week. Anyways, my Monday and Wednesday mornings are completely open, and thank God I was able to do something productive.

I quickly implemented a very bare-bones django app that can authenticate with Evernote, and retrieve private or public notes and display them. Why bother doing this? Well for Greek class we started working on word studies and “categorizing” usages of a word throughout the Bible, which means there’s lots of verse references. Instead of copying the text of every verse, we wanted a way to leverage reftagger. So with this django app, now we can view word studies (if they are stored on Evernote) with hover-over Bible references!

I also created another github repo for sharing the oauth process  I used to integrate django and evernote. Another +1 geek points!


30 Days of Thanksgiving, Day 1

A couple friends of mine have completed a “30 days of thanksgiving” blog thingy. I thought it would be good for me to do as well, to challenge me not only to be more aware of God’s blessings in everyday, but to post more regularly on this thing and practice writing…sort of.

So, what is blessing number 1?

Being at Stanford

This is more of a summary of my transition from work back to school, from employee to grad student. After spending a week here, all I can say that it’s been great and I’m really looking forward to this year. Lists are more digestible than copious amounts of texts and paragraphs, so here are some reasons why I’m thankful for being here:

  1. I got assigned a single studio in a nice community. It’s relatively quiet/peaceful (none of that downtown noise), the studio came furnished, has a kitchen, and a spacious bathroom. Laundry is on site and, as I discovered today, FREE! Well, guess technically it’s coming out of my rent, but nice that it’s not additional.
  2. Stanford is pretty. In particular I am comparing to Berkeley because that was the other school I was deciding between. There may be some parts of Berkeley campus that are nice, but there’s simply no contest when comparing with Stanford. Given by upbringing in rural/suburban Plainsboro and my dislike for urban/city environments, Stanford definitely fits me better than Berkeley does, in terms of general environment. And dood, the engineering quad at Stanford is super baller man! Engineering is well-funded here for sure.
  3. My cohort. One of the things that I like about my program (and I guess graduate programs in general) is that the class size is smaller, which lends to a greater sense of community and camaraderie (hooray for auto-spelling!). There are 27 people in the LDT program, and I’m glad to say they are all super friendly and chill (and from what I can tell, they think I’m pretty cool too). Actually one of the main reasons I chose Stanford was because of these people – they seemed a lot more passionate and purpose-driven, and I thought that these are the kinds of people I would want to work with on projects.
  4.  There are church members. There are currently two other students who are TJC on campus, and a handful of others who work nearby. I even got a dedicated homemade cookie delivery from Sarah-Mei! At Cornell, there was only 1 church member during the last two years, and we seldom met up.
  5. Stanford is longboard friendly. I had some reservations about longboarding around campus, but turns out it’s pretty awesome! I guess since Stanford is so bike-friendly, the roads are much smoother and there are designated bike lanes everywhere. The campus is large and the distance is just about right for a longboard commute. It is a bit of a hassle carrying around safety gear, but I guess that’s something I’ll just have to get used to. So far I’ve mainly been only wearing wrist-guards. I should wear a helmet too, but it’s so bulky to carry when I’m not riding, and I’m usually not going very fast anyways…but I probably should still have it.
  6. Actually being excited about school. This is a stark contrast with much of my undergrad days (and high school). Most people don’t really enjoy school when it’s regimental and required, but the nice thing about grad school is that everything is totally your choice! Undergraduate education is becoming increasingly more expected/standard (which is a good thing), but graduate school is completely up to you if you want to go or not. And if you do go, you can pick a program that is specialized for what you’d be interested in. Hence, I am excited about classes that I’ll be taking and the projects I’ll be working on.

That being said, graduate school will also be a challenge spiritually. I’ll have to balance school and church work (and possibly part-time work on campus), which I fully expect to be more difficult than balancing church work and my previous full-time job (having no homework was awesome). There will be a lot more temptation on campus than at my office so I will need to be more watchful and self-disciplined. Consistent prayer and Bible reading are a must, and hopefully having a prayer group with some SSC J1 brothers will help keep me accountable.

I guess that was still copious amounts of text. But at least it was in a list!