Lines inspired by Pirates of Caribbean

Not all treasures are silver and gold, mate.

– Not all evils are filthy and ugly, mate.

Wherever we want to go, we’ll go. That’s what a ship is, you know. It’s not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails that’s what a ship needs but what a ship is…what the Black Pearl really is…is freedom.

– Backpacking is not about a bag, a flight ticket, a hostel and a destination, that’s what backpacking needs. What backpacking really is is wherever you want to go, you go. No matter what stands in between you and your way out, your will will find a way to clear it.

Take it slow, make it happen.

I always wanted to create a website of some sort. I started my first trail in 2005 for When Pigs Fly, and it was a disaster. At that time, I was overconfident about my ability, overestimated my free time, and had very little idea of how complicated it is to build a website completely from scratch. The result is a complete failure. After that, I decided to learn it as a hobby. It takes some time to get to know all the component technology, and realize one man cannot do it all. Acknowledging the limit of myself and the attitude of willingly accepting help from other programmers, i.e. using platform software, help me finally realize this dream.


A Sense of Purpose

I am reconsidering joining the battle of alternative energy. The reason why I had recently abandoned it is that too many people are doing it. And this reason is not a good one. What I am avoiding actually is competition. Though joining a mature field will not provide me with large room for growth and its competitiveness may be stifling, a field like alternative energy has a different aspect associated with it. This aspect is to serve directly urgent human needs. And it is where I will find a sense of purpose.

This sense of purpose will give another perspective on competition. For any progress and breakthrough, I should be happy about them and for whoever made them because they represent another step closer to solving a problem. And I should be happy that there are smart minds that agree with mine on what is the most important thing in the world.

PS. I love Pirates of the Caribbean. Good movies always lift you above your personal daily trifle, and give you a perspective of life which should not be buried under day to day routine, and should instead shine even in the most dreary times.

PS. A person should not only be able to see the system he is in through the perspective of an outsider, in order to judge with an independent mind, but he also has to identify what he is capabable of doing in order to make a living. Such a person will never fail himself even if the system failed him. The purpose of living is not just to survive, but to thrive.

Green Dam

When I was setting up my first website with back in 2005, I had to get a license from the Ministry of Information Industry (now the Ministry of Industry and Information), even though it is just for personal use. According the agreement, the license has to be placed in a place easy to be seen. I don’t feel much trouble at that time then, except that the Ministry’s website is poorly designed that it is not very easy to navigate around.

For the past a few days, I have been keeping track of the demonstration in Iran. And the Iranian postdoc in my lab told me yesterday during lunch time that he couldn’t even contact his parents because all means of communication to the outside world are shut. I asked why so. He said that the government installed a software in every cell phone which was initally for tracking child pornograph, but is now used for tracking any communication among demonstrators. As soon as they locate one demonstrator’s home, they will go to his/her place, tortue him/her and then force him/her to log into the computer and find all his frineds on social networking website such as facebook and twitter (which are being used heavily for demonstrators to get organized) to locate more protesters. He was apparently emotionally charged when he told me about it.

And what he said deeply troubles me. Blocking pornography seems just a smoke screen for keeping the mass from getting the information. Such measures bears the appearance of righteousness and indeed create a delightful ignorance. But it may be dangerous if used in the wrong hands, and even if correctly used, it creates an over-protection that might eventually indulge the next generation. Also troublesome is its apparent hypocrisy: You say what you want to do is blocking pornography, but actually what you want to achieve is something else. This obvious manipulation insult the intelligence of those who have sound judgment.


Critical Self-assessment 5 – Research

I submitted my first ever paper in early April to Advanced Materials. Writing it is a tedious journey. It took four months. I found it is very helpful to have the first draft ready as early as possible so that you know what is missing in the paper, and then you have a direction in planning experiments. Also, Whitesides’ advice on writing an outline first is an effective approach for organizing the data. Organizing references is challanging as well. The help of Endnote is indispensable through out the process. I hope after this first one, my next paper would be less time-consuming. (Nah, it never is.)

Failure as a reflective moment

Failing in the GH residence adviser is a negative feedback.  Probably it means that I am not fit for this position, in terms of skill set and personality, so instead of trying hard to fit myself into what I may not excel, I should look elsewhere and keep my energy focused on things that I am really interested and good at. It also makes me think about why I do what I do. I ask myself this question about the When Pigs Fly workshop.

It turns out that I like people different from me, and enjoy exchanging ideas and engaging in vigorous and yet civilized debate. So I love what I do in WPF. Besides, there is a need in a community like graduate house for people with diverse cultural and professional backgrounds to connect and exchange, in a meaningful way and in depth. So besides being my passion, it also feeds the needs of such a community and would be a contribution to the local community, which is the essence of WPF.

The tranquilizing effect of failure

After the first interview, my application for graduate house residence advisor, international student, came to an end. And somehow, I feel my mind is cooled, and whenever that happens, I know it is the best time to write something because there won’t be any trace of ego exerting, conscious or unconscious. The inner self is humbled.

I was watching the Champion Leagure Final this afternoon, and to my disappointment, Man. United lost the match. They lost it because of their arrogance, which reminds me the quote of Bob Noyce “Success breeds complacency. Complacency breeds failure. Only the paranoid survives.”

I wouldn’t go as far as seeking failures from time to time in order to gain a moment of tranquility, but it seems to me that failing something every now and then is a necessary component to balance the mind, which often stays too excited with its own product.