Happy New Year!


It was a pretty decent year, not without downs by any means, but certainly with many ups. It was a different year. It was a year of relatively little work (and motivation, alas), peace and solitary, and I finally managed to push health up from the dead bottom of the priority list. Wooo being an adult.


  • I got alone time (woah)! I got away from it all for a few months, and took the opportunity to take time for myself — read, game, think, whatever. I absolutely loved Pride and Prejudice, which was a total surprise to me. I found exercise I enjoy! Swimming and hiking! And renewed interest in learning Chinese!
  • I traveled alone (briefly) for the first time! Kyoto was possibly one of the best choices for this because it gave me the opportunity to spend as damn long as I pleased to stare into the raked piles of sand and rock. On the other hand, I became very quickly tired of not being able to understand Japanese, so much so that I actually very much welcomed the fact that the temples were swarming with Chinese tourists.
  • I killed my too-many-years-old email habit (checking email every 5 minutes)! I tried many many things, but the biggest thanks (or the last straw) goes to Inbox by Google, which allowed me to throttle the email pipe, subsequently making email uneventful (and boring) enough for me to wean myself off. My brother poses an interesting question — what bad habit has replaced it?
  • And I gave my first ever conference talk in Kobe, Japan! The conference was super fun, and I met a lot of cool and fun people. It was also awesome that the conference folks took us out to see the longest suspension bridge in the world — perfect for a transportation crowd!
  • A few friends from the department got together for our first magazine article!
  • The year certainly ended on a strong note; not sure where that came from at all, but I’m very glad for it. NIPS15 was definitely my favorite conference yet and a great way to end the year — fun, inspiring, welcoming, and pleasantly surprising throughout. Afterwards, I thoroughly enjoyed my short visit to NYC to see friends old and older, stumbling into a TV show set, getting a sneak peak behind the scenes of the MTA (thanks robj!), and asking the secret service if Bill Clinton would please sign his book (they said no). And of course, we had lots of family time at home — watching the Star Wars trilogy and prequel in preparation.


  • I grew up a little, learned a bunch about people and their motivations; I learned some things about my place in the world, so to say. And I learned even more about mental illness, depression, anxiety. But I’ll spare you the details.
  • I finally tried out online dating! There was definitely a novelty factor, but I’m pretty mixed on presuming structure on the dating process. I can see how it’s desirable for some people, but it might not be for me.


  • I spend a fraction of it being stressed and unhappy about my work, and I got sick because of it for a while.
  • I also spent most of the year not enjoying the things I usually enjoy or otherwise not doing them for some reason that escapes me — cooking, art, socializing, partying/hosting, etc.

Thanks to all of you, who were a part of this year. πŸ™‚ And the downs are really opportunities in disguise, paving the path to trying new things, different things.

Onwards to 2016

Last year, I may have leaned too far in the direction of keeping to myself, though I enjoy many aspects of it still. This year, I hope, will be a year of balance. I look forward to getting better in touch with friends. I look forward to teaching at Berkeley for the first time. I look forward to awesome and unknown projects — with friends, internships, and beyond. I look forward to reinvigorated research projects and findings, with research collaborations new and old. Everything is a learning process, and I’m grateful for this mindset.

Finally, these aren’t really resolutions for the new year, but reminders and intentions:

Finish what you start
Sharing is caring
You must be the change you wish to see in the world

Day 7: Seeed Studio, SEG electronics market, dinner with Asia Optical, family time

Happy new year! We’re on our way from Shanghai to Beijing. Everyone is sleeping, and for whatever reason, I’m opting to write blog posts.

Protip: if you find yourself in a huge unfamiliar city with a population of 20 million and multiple city centers and have an engagement in an unfamiliar place about 40 minutes away, allot 3 hours to navigate there.  That’s how long it took us to get to Seeed Studio to tour their space and have lunch with their CEO Eric Pan. Seeed Studio is basically the Chinese version of Sparkfun, and they supply small quantities of electronic parts as well as kits. I had never been to a space like that before, so that was neat. Eric and Steve (Engineering lead) took us out to eat amazing Hunan food, where the restaurant was decorated super patriotic because Mao Zedong (ζ―›ζ³½δΈœ) was from Hunan Province. I learned the term Manong (η ε†œ), which is essentially like “code monkey” and carries negative connotations. It is also interesting that Eric suggested we meet Ben Koo, described to us as a Taiwanese guy who is advocating the maker movement in China, because I got to meet him just a few days later in Shanghai (in fact, earlier today 12/31). It seems that the maker community in China is quite well connected.

We later went to the SEG electronics market, which was several buildings full of mouth-watering electronics of all kinds. Julian proposed staying there for the entire rest of our stay in Shenzhen. Nancy walked around contemplating whether or not to buy things. I got 50x vibrating mini-motors for my swarmbot project for about 12USD (and are 4.70USD apiece on digikey), w00t. Then we rushed back to Changan for a dinner with officials from Asia Optical and my dad, welcoming us to Shenzhen.  I have to say, despite the fact that Shenzhen is a place of crude manners, everyone has been super welcoming of us. Anyway, at this dinner, we saw their customs of intense social drinking — continuous shots 37 proof alcohol for several hours.  And the night ended with a couple hours of chilling with my dad. I’m really lucky to have seen my entire family on this trip. πŸ˜€