Thomas Edison once said that “Genius is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration.” But I think inspiration is more than just 1%. I would say it’s about 20% for me.

This begs the question: what inspires me? Here’s my list.

  1. Music
  2. Traveling
  3. Books
  4. Internet
  5. People

Music has been a part of my life ever since I moved to the United States. This is perhaps the greatest asset of living in America for me. The first CD I bought was either “Nimrod” by Green Day or “Turn the Radio Off” by Reel Big Fish. I’ve been collecting music ever since. It’s the driving force whenever I need to relax and work. I used to fall asleep by putting on some soft music. In December of 2014, inspired by one of my Florida couchsurfing hosts, I exchanged my electric bass for an acoustic guitar and reignited my interest in creating music.

Talking about traveling… I remember there were times I saw something new that I never would have thought about looking. Once I was in Barcelona and saw this great photography book called Read This If You Want to Take Great Photographs (Amazon). I didn’t buy it because I didn’t want to carry additional items in my already filled backpack. But it’s a great book to read if you’re a beginner photographer or just want to brush up on some photography concepts. There were numerous times when I thought of something new as I traveled. Traveling forces me to think differently.

Books are an obvious source of inspirations. Most of the books on my reading list are nonfictional. I find that I mostly enjoy reading books about the mind. I just traded in my Kindle for a Kindle Paperwhite, which I hope to bring with me wherever I go. On this note, I recommend a website called It’s a digital library where you can borrow ebooks using your library card. I’m lucky that I have a New York Public Library card that I can borrow books from the largest public library in the country.

In terms of quick reads, I have a RSS reader that I use for reading technology news, along with other news, from the internet. It’s called Ever since Google Reader was dismantled, I found Feedly to be the next best replacement. You can aggregate news sites via RSS to one central place to do all your readings. The blog that I follow the most is

And last but not least, I get inspirations from the people around me. I think each person has something I can learn from. Some people I learn a lot, some not so much. Either way, having an open mind is very important to me.

Maybe there are other things I missed in terms of what really inspire me, but I think these five categories are the major ones. I think we are all inspired by something, whether by mentors or sources of knowledge. What things inspire you and get you going?

Everyday, Do Two Things

I’ve been in a funk lately and I would love to blame on the weather change but it’s not. It’s my motivation.

For the past two months I’ve done very little and the year is almost 1/3 over. I have a lot of catching up if I want to get most of the things done on my new year’s resolutions list.

My list is pretty long and it scares me sometimes just to look at it. If I can get half of it done then I’ll be happy. However, as I was looking at the list I found there are some commonalities. Most of the items belongs to either things I want to learn or things I want to create.

To learn:

  1. Read two books per month
  2. Learn 50 Chinese vocabularies per day using Anki
  3. Finish web development courses on
  4. Learn Processing by reading Processing Handbook
  5. Learn 50 songs on guitar

To create:

  1. Write well and often
  2. Edit photographs
  3. Take more photographs
  4. Experiment with other creative outputs, ie drawing, design.

The more I see what a human ought to do, the more I realize that the whole process is a “take and give.” Taking is by learning something other people have done and giving is by creating something for other people. The whole thing can be viewed as a cycle.

I believe understanding this is crucial to self improvement. Everyday, I must take something from someone through learning and everyday I must give something back by producing and creating.

Let this guide me through the rest of this year. I’m very interested to see the results when the year ends.

Q1, 2017

Well, today is the first day of spring and I’m feeling a bit energetic. So energetic that I don’t want to do anything. Not even reading or playing the guitar.

I’ve been thinking about the past three months. Seemed like I had an optimistic start to the new year then after a month or so I began to run out of steam. I was sorting and editing some photographs but for some reason I stopped doing it. Need to get back to it.

Talking about photography, I thought about getting a smaller camera, maybe a mirrorless camera. Then I decided that my current camera, the Nikon D7000, is still good though a bit bulky for traveling purposes. For my next camera, if I decide to get a new one, it must have the following features:

  • USB 3 connectivity
  • Wireless (connect to a smart phone)
  • GPS enabled
  • Waterproof
  • Battery that lasts long enough for me to take 1000 pictures on a single charge

I haven’t found a camera that does all of that. Maybe someone knows more than I do.

I also researched the current smart phone market and the cameras on them. They definitely have the right resolutions but their zooming capabilities is limited to digital zoom. The upside is the convenience, connectivity, and the portability. Maybe my next camera should just be my phone. I’m waiting on the next Google Pixel that’s coming out later this year to see if it’s worth it to jump ship from Apple to Google.

In terms of reading, I read four books so far this year: 10% Happier, The Happiness Project, The ONE Thing, and Smarter, Faster, Better. I enjoy reading positive psychology books and three out of the four are in that realm. I want to average two books per month. I’m two books behind right now. The good news is that March is not over yet, I still have some time. I’m also open to book recommendations. Though I read mostly nonfiction.

For the next quarter of the year, which ends in June, I want to make sure I finish all my photo sorting and editing and that I’m on track for reading two books per month.

Now that I’ve written that, I’m accountable.

What have you been doing for the past three months? I hope you also enjoy the upcoming beautiful weather, wherever you are!