As it turned out, those evening chats over drinks during the conference weren’t purely about research. On the contrary, my lab group’s casual conversations during down time are usually about deep philosophical or political questions. This time, we discussed a wide range of topics, from the China/Taiwan debate to homelessness and poverty. But out of those, we focused mainly on 2 topics: same-sex marriage and abortion.
Just to be upfront with my position, I DO NOT support same-sex marriage or abortion. I never did, even before I found Christ. I’m also fully aware that these are unpopular views to uphold in this post-modern era. But before anyone gets on me for being «insert what the media tells you about people with these kinds of views», please step back and think about why you hold the views you have. What is the foundation of your views? Think about it.
My purpose in writing these posts is to share some of the discussion points we had. Intellectually stimulating discussions regarding these touchy subjects are harder to come by these days and for that, I’m really grateful to my lab mates. Though our views might not align, it was a channel towards mutual understanding. After all, regardless of our individual beliefs, we grow and learn the most from people who are different from us.
Last week, I attended my first research conference as a graduate student. It’s called Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), held in Portland, Oregon. I’m very grateful for my advisor for allowing me to attend even without a paper submission. This will be the main conference that I’ll be publishing in for years to come so it was nice to get a preview. But more importantly, it was my first physical step into the vision community.
I’ve been hearing about these “conferences” ever since I was little. Both my parents are PhDs so they talked about them while being grad students themselves. Especially my dad, he really liked attending conferences. Now that I was finally attending one myself, I wanted to make the best of this opportunity. My goal was simply to observe and learn while staying relatively under the radar, something I’m pretty good at. At the end of each day, regardless of how tired I was, I squeezed out time to briefly jot down the things I learnt that day. Here are some of my observations.
This is a story about my mom, the woman who gave me life.
Growing up, my mom was never the stereotypical lovey-dovey one who showed lots of affections. It might be an Asian thing but I’ve never heard her say “I love you” to anyone before, neither in Chinese nor English. Words of encouragement were rare and she never failed to remind me that “you can do better next time”. But the truth was, she didn’t need words. Her love for me was written all over her life.
Sometimes during the last semester, I finished reading the Bible. Every single word of it, at least once, for the very first time. The Bible is the Book of Life, an instruction manual for life, a living, morphing document containing answers to the deepest desires of the human heart. Calling myself a Christian, I thought I should at least read through it once, even through the complete comprehension might take longer than my lifetime. Therefore, during the summer of my freshman year in college, I took on the Bible in 90 Days challenge (as well as a second round of P90X). Obviously, it took me much longer (just over 4 years) and lots of rereading to complete this challenge. However, what mattered most was not that I finished the challenge but that I read through the words of God. And in the process, I found out that my favorite book in the Bible is Ecclesiastes, a.k.a. the book about the ever so popular “Meaning of Life” question.
I started blogging just over a year ago, after coming off of a terrible semester at the end of 2011. I was burnt and crushed but still alive. I was excited about 2012 but wow, what a journey it has been!
So what happened in this eventful year?
- My girlfriend evolved into my fiance, who then evolved into my wife
- Joined a research lab, quit, and joined another research lab
- Plugged myself into a small group from Austin Chinese Church
- Trained my body back into shape, only to return back to square one
- Worked on a side project b/c grad school wasn’t satisfying enough
- Have about 10 blog posts drafted but not finished
- Learnt a whole lot more about trusting in God
In hindsight, God gave me peace and taught me patience in 2011 so that I could be better prepared for this roller coaster year, one that was filled with ups and downs and wedding planning. Yup, there were lots of wedding planning… lots and lots of it.
This week, Apple announced a few “new” products in its line of awesome i-products, including the 4th Gen iPad and the iPad Mini. And my response? Utterly disgusted. Actually, I’m so disgusted that I’m taking time off of my busy grad school schedule to write about it. It’s even more disgusting than the food poisoning I just had last week.
No, I’m not talking about the devices themselves. Don’t get me wrong, the i-products embody excellent engineering. As an engineer, I would love to be able to work on those products. I’m also a big fan of the late Steve Jobs’ focus on clean UI and his philosophy on paying attention to small details. Independently, every single one of them contains excellent engineering, even the iPad Mini.
What I’m disgusted about is Apple as a company and its evil marketing to get consumers hooked onto the iNeed drug. Yes, I said evil. This is my first time using that word to describe anything, ever, and here are my reasons.