Medium

Kind of like the interface and simplicity of Medium.

Can’t really find the time to sit myself down and stare at the blank computer screen, to think of what to write. At least, the tuition season is over, but the work is piling up. Threading through the unseen water alone is adding certain kick to it. But oh well.

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Here’s to responsibility kicking in

I tend to drift off on Friday evenings, putting aside things that needed to be read. No excuse for me because I have been lazing around the house for the past few months, shrugging off responsibility for as long as I can, so I cannot talk about having a Friday night’s off from the tiresome week. But things will probably not be the same from next week onwards.

Truth to be told, I feel very fortunate, and lucky in a sense, to be offered a position that I want. Having just graduated, and with no prior working experience except for the honors project, I just armed myself with a mentality that as long as I display interest and commitment, I should not have problems with the interviews. What I faced was not intimidating interviewers grilling me over my lack of experience or that my grades did not meet up with my passion. It was more of my incoherence and lack of articulation that put myself off. I knew what I want, but I did not manage to align my aims with the goals of the organization/company. And on top of my inexperience, the skill sets did not really click well either. I blamed myself for my immaturity a few years back, when the lecturer was covering an important programming skill, and I did not pay attention to it thinking that it would not be of use to me.

With the tides washed against me, I was left to my own despair that I would have to send a second round of emails to places I never thought of going. And then I was given this chance. Pretty much to my amazement because it was not a place I thought I would be in. Furthermore, my impression of the standards held there are definitely beyond what I could possibly meet. Well, they said you can have all the plans in the world, but most of them are not going to roll out as you wish. To put things positively, to be hired means that they have already put the trust on me. It is going to be a rough climb as I am probably already behind everyone else in terms of reading programming codes, let alone write a script. Or maybe, I will not be touching it. And of course, as the work becomes serious and deadlines start catching up with me, accountability and responsibility follow. Oh well, let’s hope for the best next week.

Life isn’t going to be easy from here on. But an easy life, is a boring life.

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Weighing between health and wealth

I have been swept by these periodic waves of pain for the past 4 days. The pain lasts a few seconds everytime it hits, and subsides into oblivion as quickly as it appears. I didn’t pay much attention to it initially as I could continue with my runs, and the condition didn’t deteriorate over the past 4 days either. But it’s just getting slightly distracting, and I have finally decided to visit the clinic tomorrow morning because the hard-to-swallow yellow pills aren’t working.

This brings to my mind, how people choose to ignore the onset of their conditions, thinking that the ailments within their bodies will improve over time. After all if everyone were to visit the doctors on the slightest hint of discomfort, clinics would probably be swamped with minor cases and eventually the costs of healthcare would rise. Elderly are especially hard-hit in such situations, where they have to weigh between health or wealth. It’s always easy to say to go for the former, as health can be lost forever while wealth can be built up again. But again, if we look at the context of these elderly, their resources are probably finite and cannot be rebuilt over time. So they would have to learn to allocate their already-limited resources to live life to the fullest.

Oh well anyway, let’s just hope things will be fine by next Sunday, my first attempt at a half-marathon.

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Things that stuck with

The serenity of the night calms the soul, with occasional hustle of the students and the humming of the passing buses. It is probably more than half a year since I last stepped on the road of my school in my running shoes. New graduate students’ accommodations sprouted within this half a year when I was missing, new roundabouts caught me by surprise, and many areas fenced up for even more accommodations and research facilities. But still, the journey round the school remains the same, the air, the streetlights and the crickets. And all same things remind me of the same past.

We were taught the various methods of remembering physical concepts and biological pathways. Memory palace, mnemonics, repetition and even cramming. All works its magic in helping us store information and formulas in the long term memory, allowing us to recall the thoughts even after a long period of time. It is also what sports coaches advice athletes to do, to constantly repeat and practice a movement such that the body ‘remembers’ the motion, allowing the body to retain the ‘muscle memory’, so that the act comes naturally when necessary. Memory palace works by relating ideas with the locality of an object, and then navigating through the palace allows us to retrieve the ideas table by table, room by room.

The method that I can most relate to is probably this repetition. The repeating of an incident in fact, so much that it doesn’t go off even if I want it to. The memories still remain vivid in my mind, as though I’m reliving it everyday. Probably it serves as a reminder by the body, of what I told myself and failed to follow through. And whenever a similar situation occurs again, the memory seems to smack the back of my head, bringing up episodes of the past.

And thus, whenever I step back into familiar grounds, the smells, the sights and the sounds work in unison to trigger the reminiscence of the incidents, whether I like it or not. Up till now, I still believe I made the right choice, though history proves otherwise. Time will always move forward, leaving only trails of memories of what’s done along its way. Nobody will be able to retrace the steps taken by time, to reenact the exact same happenings as before. However, the smells, the sights and the sounds will persist, and they will not grow old and wither with time. The trio will always act in unison to provide the settings for the past to relive itself. Though, it will never happen again, because time took everything with him.

Alas, the roads may still be the same, but the footsteps will never be.

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Talk science

Biology, the study of life, as I always tell my friends. It’s so much more than that.

Biology talks about the internal milieu of our human bodies, the interactions of living organisms with the environment, how the environment shapes our behaviors and also physical appearances, and how we came about.

But often, the lines between sciences blur when boundaries are crossed. The alteration in the molecular pathways in neurons can affect our mind and behavior, which in turn changes the way we interact with people around us or the environment. But it doesn’t just stop there. The interactions of people within a community pave the way for the establishment of social norms and cultures, and also govern the development of constitutional law that serves the rights of the people. And it all zooms down to how the brain functions, which till now, we still do not have a complete idea what is contained within.

I don’t always love science, at least not when I was younger. I was in science because I can’t do well in arts, probably due to my poor command of language. Whereas for science, content matters more than the expression of the content. At least up till tertiary education, where communicating science takes on a whole new level. In fact, I am happy with where I am. So if given a second chance, I would still choose the path down science discovery.

Ideas are always scattered in my mind like bullet points scrambled around the PowerPoint slides. Till this day, I am still unable to link up all the ideas in succession into a beautiful constellation and translate them across to the audience. So whenever I listen to someone deliver a speech/lesson on science across to the audience with such charisma, I am always in awe.

Science isn’t just a field that excludes the non-science. Many scientists and science journalists have been reaching out to the general public, simplifying grossly worded and intentionally sophisticated scientific journal paper into engaging and entertaining articles. Science communication, they call it, is about helping everyone understand the development and discovery in science, which may in many ways affect their lives unknowingly to them. Knowing simple terms like blood cholesterol or antibiotics is pretty much the same as understanding the concept of down-payment and recession. One difference is how much it affects your life that you’ll have to read up on it in order to continue on with your journey.

The list is not exhaustive and there are many more writers out there trying to bring science to the rest of the world.

As such, the idea of applying for a PhD has crossed my mind a few times. The autonomy (partially) of discovering and diving deeper into a field does pique my interest. Then again, I always reflect back on what I want and what I can. Unfortunately, these two aspects don’t always see eye to eye. Though they may have crossed shoulders in some point of my life, but only for a brief period. Since then, science comprehension has eluded me most of the time.

I still love reading the articles nevertheless. And hopefully one day, I’ll pick myself up and truly appreciate the beauty of science and spread the passion.

Just in case you missed out on the links above:

Ed Yong – Not Exactly Rocket Science

Ilana Yurkiewicz – Unofficial Prognosis

Suzi Gage – Sifting the Evidence

Peter Lipson – White Coat Underground

Virginia Hughes – Only Human

 

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Tell him

Let me share one of my all-time favorite oldies. Ally McBeal had this song featured, and that was the first time I came across this song, many years back in fact.

And then, Glee featured it:

In case you’re interested in the original version, by The Exciters:

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Born into it

Temperature is so low I lose the sensitivity of my fingers (without gloves) within minutes. The blanket of snow still greets me god morgon whenever I stepped out of the hostel. The shudder always comes next when I breathe in the chill of the air.

Few Swedish students will be heading towards the tropical island for their research project next semester. Other than the culture shock they will experience, I think they will find the weather shock more unbearable. It goes the same for me too, but I would rather the heat waves embracing me when I go home than the icy air sucking the life out of me everytime the door opens.

A multi-racial community is where I grew up in. Seeing different skin colors is a norm for people living in the place where I come from, in addition to the many attempts the government tries to normalize the mix, I don’t usually see race as an identity of a person. To my fullest knowledge, we respect each other’s cultures and festivities, we acknowledge the presence of differences between how these people of different colors behave and accept them. An occasional thorn may appear from the surface of what seem like the peacefulness between races, but it never grows into the malicious and indiscriminate assaults between the people.

I don’t usually identify myself with being a Chinese, but I can’t help with the fact that I celebrate attend Chinese festivities, tie myself with the traditional cultures that advocate down-to-the-earth attitude, and eat Chinese food (no, not Chinese noodles). Seldom have I thought that my Chinese heritage defines who I am, until I met a lot more people from other races, and mostly, other nationalities.

So one of my Swedish friends, who’s going over to my homeland for his research project, was caught in a shock when asked about the ethnicity group he belongs to, on top of his nationality. Here’s the question (which is specific only to my country, not sure about the rest), if we are just looking at the capability and educational qualification of an applicant, why bother about names and ethnicity? Interestingly, I was asked where/who do I identify myself with, my country or my race? While I couldn’t really find an answer to that, I realized that I don’t feel belonged to any group that people categorize themselves into. Not that I want or don’t want to be a Chinese, I’m genetically and culturally born to be a Chinese.

Race is always a sensitive topic, because people choose to distinguish and protect themselves, to keep on to a culture that was passed on to them. While nothing’s wrong with embracing your own culture, it’s only wrong when you prevent others from embracing their own cultures.

So let me end with a quote from Confucius – “Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself.”

己所不欲,勿施於人

– 孔子

——

While it lastsOne can never get enough of the pure whiteness.

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