Q2, 2017

It’s June! Finally, everyone can now start complaining about the heat.

This is about the half way mark of the year. I have some updates regarding my new year resolutions and just life in general.

I didn’t reach my goal of reading two books per month, at least not yet. I traded in my old Kindle for a Kindle Paperwhite, thinking that might help me with reading more books now that the screen is brighter. That didn’t happen. But I like the Paperwhite better than the regular Kindle. Right now I’m reading Stuff Matters, a book about materials.

I started going to the gym at work. I don’t spend a lot of time in there, though. On average, 15 minutes per day. At least it’s something. I also brought my bicycle from my parents’ house and I hope to ride it more often. I’ve already ridden it to work, but it proved to be too dangerous and tiring to do everyday.

I would love to review my resolutions. But Warren Buffet has this method of working where a person should only focus on the top five things on his/her list of things. My resolutions list is long so it defeats the purpose. However, I did narrow down to five things:

  1. Programming
  2. Design (including photography)
  3. Write
  4. Read
  5. Guitar

I also added a sixth thing: learning Chinese.

I try to focus on the above list most of the time. Life, however, is always changing.

My parents sold their house and it closed this past Thursday. It was a house where I spent most of my previous eleven years. A period of life that I would categorized as healing and exploration. I recommended to my parents to travel more. Go to Europe while you are still able.

Life is too short. So often we get tied down by whatever we think is important right now, when in fact it’s not important at all. Do the things that you want to do before it’s too late. So cliché, but it’s true.

I hope I can make great improvements in my life in the next three months. There are definitely some things I want to learn and do. We’ll see how things are by September.

Inspirations

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 overdrive.com. 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 Feedly.com. 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 Lifehacker.com.

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 FreeCodeCamp.com
  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.