Blog

Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

Twitter imposter syndrome

Sometimes twitter can be quite depressing, but not in the way that you’d expect. No, I am not one of those people who lacks self control and get absolutely entrenched into twitter flame wars and arguing matches on for hours on end. I am a nobody; my follower count as of this writing, after nearly a decade on the platform, stands at 186. Half of those I’m convinced are bots.

The thing about the twitter that depresses me is the sheer amount of intelligence on display. The reason I can’t quit the platform even though it’s one of my biggest time-sucks is because I learn so much from so many people, from all areas of life. The sheer knowledge and the way people can articulate it within the framework of 280 words per single tweet is something I am in awe of almost every day. Nowhere do I feel more like an imposter than on twitter, where everyone seems to be and probably is smarter than I am.

That’s not exactly a negative - I learn plenty from those people ,after all - but it does make me doubt my own abilities and knowledge sometimes.

I have to remind myself the witty and eloquent people on my feed have immensely more experience than I do, and their smarts don’t invalidate my current standing - we’re simply on different life levels. Those people have been immersed in their respective industries for decades, so of course someone like me in his early 30s isn’t going to have remotely comparable knowledge or eloquence. My false move is equivocating a similar standing between myself and the people I follow. With enough hard work and continued learning, I will get to the same level someday and be a wizened master dishing out tactics and qualified opinions.

I mustn’t skip ahead of myself.

Back in my early college days when I was active in a local car club, everyone else seemed to be driving far cooler cars than my lowly Toyota Corolla, or people with the same car had more modifications and extra bits on theirs than mine. The inadequacy I felt was intense, being so one-track minded (and very immature) that I failed to detach from the situation and see that those with more/better were simply further in stages of life. Of course the fully-realized adult with a full-time job is going to have a far nicer vehicle than me who’ve only started university.

A decade later I am able to detach and look at the macro view, but sometimes I still want to run before I’ve fully learned walking.

A rainy day for SMU commencement.

There's always more to do

A conundrum I’ve been grappling with lately: if I get done early with the day’s schedules, should I take a break until the next day, or attack what’s to come and keep piling it on?

On a theoretical level, I think it’s healthy to take a breather, especially after I’ve already executed everything on the day’s docket. Why shouldn’t I take advantage of the well-earned leisure time? Go on; open up Youtube and drown myself in automotive-related videos. Rinse and repeat when tomorrow arrives.

The problem is that often during those downtime, the utter lack of productivity leaves me with a sense of anxiety. Perhaps my daily checklist isn’t rigorous enough, and that’s the reason I even have time leftover to begin with. Or perhaps I should get a head start on the following day’s schedules: the faster I finish, the more I can do and learn.

I’ve become so preoccupied with maximizing learning that I can’t allow myself to have satisfactory moments of mindless activity. That’s now how it’s suppose to work! I set goals for what’s to be accomplished for the day, and when those are done, that should be it: no fretting, no anxiety of inadequacy.

Think back to school days: when I got done with the night’s homework, I didn’t yearn for more or agonize over whether or not it was enough; I was only ecstatic at being able to turn on the Playstation for some Grand Theft Auto action. As far as I was concerned, the goal of homework wasn’t to reinforce learning (even though it did), but rather it was to finish as quickly as possible so that I can have free time to play games.

Why can’t I replicate that now? When I get done with the day’s task I feel like I should be doing more instead. Already studied Korean for an hour? How about another more: I’m need to study again the next day anyways, so might as well get ahead on it.

Perhaps that’s the price to pay for progression; I understand taking breaks are important, but these days I absolutely detest idle time. It’ll be a rough road, but I think I need to gradually reacclimate myself with the notion of being perfectly fine with not doing anything productive.

Shudders.

The many faces of San Francisco Chinatown.

The many faces of San Francisco Chinatown.

I'm learning AutoCad?

I’ve been tasked at work to learn AutoCad software, which is wonderful because I am always up for learning a new skills. AutoCad has been around forever, and in my youth days of P2P and illegal software (statute of limitations have certain ran out, right?) AutoCad was amongst a group of absurdly expensive software (like Maya, 3D Studio Max) that we as teens hardly knew how to use but was incredibly fun to say: yup, I’ve downloaded software worth multiple thousands of dollars. 

As proper functioning adults we of course pay for software (hello, Adobe; hope you’re enjoying my monthly payments) and upon research the purchase price of AutoCad is indeed astronomical:  $1,680 per year. Obviously my work would cover that no issues but keep in mind heavy 3D design work is not our milieu; I’m being directed to learn AutoCad so we can easily draw classroom floor-plans and blueprints. We are not using the software to make any money, which in a normal design firm would suitably justify the hefty entry price. 

Another peculiarity I ran into is that the best version of AutoCad (some would say the only version to get) is the one that runs on Windows PC. That’s a problem because at work I am issued a Macbook Pro. You may say I can run Windows software using Boot Camp but that sounds super unwieldy and someone (not me) would have to pay for the license. There’s an AutoCad for Mac but if the PC version is de facto standard then that’s the one to learn.   

What are the chances work will furnish me a PC on top of the Macbook Pro I already have? 

There’s also the matter of performance. AutoCad rightfully gobbles up lots of computing power and to run it with any modicum of smoothness requires a dedicated graphics card. I had thought about bringing in my Surface Pro 4 from home to do the job but unfortunately it’s only got onboard Intel graphics (notoriously not very good). How dare Microsoft call it a ‘Pro’ level machine. 

If all of this sounds to you like my work haven’t thought it through in what’s exactly required to learn/run AutoCad, well I’m thinking that too. Perhaps that's part of the directive in me gathering the information and making the necessary requests. We shall see.    

You definitely do not need portrait mode to blur stuff out using the iPhone camera. 

You definitely do not need portrait mode to blur stuff out using the iPhone camera. 

Learning can be expensive

Frequent readers of this blog (have I got frequent readers?) will know that I am actively saving up for a car, which obviously entails not spending my monthly paycheck on anything other than the necessities (it's going well). However I am bumping up to a metaphorical wall because I’ve just finished up with my Korean studies (the textbooks portion anyways) so I’m in search of the next thing or hobby to learn. 

The problem is that most of what I'm inclined towards cost significant money. Money I rather not divert from the car objective. 

Ever since I was a teen I wanted to learn the piano, and while I did take a year’s worth of classes during high school, I lacked the motivation and focus to continue on then. Fast forward a decade and armed with a new learning mindset I think it’s appropriate time to finally accomplish a childhood goal. Youtube videos are aplenty and music theory textbooks are cheap. 

Sadly an electric piano isn’t. A suitable unit I’d need is nearly $2,000 dollars. Now you may say I don’t really need such an expensive keyboard to learn how to play the piano but then I'd reply that I am not the type to half-ass anything I set off doing. A proper digital piano with the correct graded hammer action is naturally quite costly but well worth the money over a cheap plastic version one can buy at a Costco (I had one). Learning a craft requires multiple years (took me two with Korean) so I want a piano that feels excellent to the hand and last a long time. 

But to borrow from my savings goal in order to pay for this extravagance is a difficult decision indeed. It’s a choice between one of the other, really: I can buy the keyboard now and delay the car purchase by some months, or keep to the current savings trajectory and not start piano learning until after buying the 911. I’m reluctant to choose the former option because ultimately a car is more important, but in picking the latter I’d still need something to work on in the meantime. 

The search continues. 

Looking down on the evening commute. 

Looking down on the evening commute. 

Tom Cruise is still learning

I was watching one of my weekly Korean variety shows, and none other than Tom Cruise, Henry Cavill, and Simon Peck showed up this week as guests. It seems nothing is more effective to promote a Hollywood film in Korea than special guesting on one of their popular television programs. Ryan Reynolds did it for Deadpool 2 to perfection, so I guess the Mission Impossible PR team thought it would be great to have Tom Cruise and company pop in on Running Man

Can’t speak for how it was received in Korea (probably well), but as an American viewer who speaks Korean, it’s always a bit weird when foreign stars and personalities show up on Korean shows. The language barrier between the hosts and guests almost always produce a few cringe-inducing moments for me. Because I can remember the awkward moments I had last year traveling to Korea and conversing with the local population in my then not so decent Korean.  

Before commencing with games the Running Man host conducted a brief interview, in which it was revealed that Tom Cruise spent a year and a half learning how to fully fly a helicopter for the new movie. Obviously he did all his own stunts as well. 

Cruise, in his mid 50s, with all the money and fame in the world, still found it prudent to dedicate tremendous amounts of hours to acquire a new craft. He could’ve easily pawn helicopter flying off to the stunt team but his dedication and passion wouldn’t allow it, and that I admire highly. I believe the challenge of life, aside from being gainfully employed to sustain ourselves and our family, is to be constantly learning new things. Tom Cruise gets that. 

I’m currently learning Korean - only reason I’m watching Korean television - and once I’m satisfied with my proficiency level (one is never truly "done" or finished with learning a language) I shall move on to attain another skill. A movement I hope to sustain, like Tom Cruise, well into my 50s and beyond.  

You know the Chinese always make good stuff. 

You know the Chinese always make good stuff. 

Power outage on campus

I work as tech-support at a college campus and last evening the power to the entire campus went out. Due to this I got to go home early from work which is nice, but for the students and teachers that had classes it probably wasn't a good thing. 

The month of May is the tail end of the semester therefore missing a single class period can be detrimental to things like presentations and tests - especially for classes that only meet once a week (which classes in the evening tend to be). For sure students in lower level courses likely couldn't care less (I'd be happy as a fox), but I'd be pissed if I were a graduate student and it was my day to present thesis.

Today a professor shared with me that a student of his was due to perform for his final masters last night but the blackout torpedoed that plan. What made it worse was his parents flew all the way here from Russia for the occasion. Dreadful.  

The University needs to be responsible for the lost instruction time. Students pay good money for tuition and to have power outages cancel class without recompense of say adding an extra day is unjust. Last evening's incident wasn't even the first one this calendar year!

Though I guess we can't rule out the possibility that last night someone really didn't want to take a final and did some grade A sabotaging to the power-grid to avoid it. 

 

 

  

Duolingo finally offers Korean

Language learning app Duolingo finally released today the highly anticipated lessons in Korean. Even though my Korean fluency is decent enough, Curiosity got the best of me and I downloaded the app to have a look. The interface is supremely slick, and while I can’t immediately judge the effectiveness of it’s teaching methods, I like the fact it’s got actual pronunciation of words and sentences. That is an advantage it’s got in spades over the traditional textbook. 

And it was with textbooks indeed that I started learning Korean a year and a half ago, the good old-fashion way. During that time Duolingo already announced plans to offer Korean, but it was stuck in incubation until today. Honestly I really could have utilized such an app back when I was just starting out - I think Duolingo makes a great companion tool for the traditional textbook. Plus, the app resides in a smartphone so it’s highly portable and convenient.

I intend to go through the Duolingo Korean lessons to see if the later parts offer something more commensurate to my level. 

I think everyone should at least learn a second language. Trilingual would be even better. Plaudits to Duolingo for creating a fun and easily accessible way for folks to learn.