I always struggle with the languages box on applications: what do I put for Cantonese and Mandarin? I’m sure that I don’t speak them fluently or even moderately well, but I’m not a beginner either.

Talking to Strangers

My last daily chat with a stranger was several months ago. Last year, motivated mostly by the positive experiences of a friend who had done a similar challenge, I decided to find somebody new—usually a student on campus—to talk to every day.

Coping and Learning

When I was in junior high school, I had already grown a shell of isolation. When we feel lonely, especially after a prolonged period of time, it is more difficult to reach out, even accept, the social interaction we need to warm the frigidity in our hearts.

Conflicts in Categorizing

Disclaimers I use the word category quite loosely in this piece. I do not refer to the mathematical field of Category Theory, although there may be some interesting, unexplored connections there.

Reviewing and Conferences

This piece is an imaginary dialogue between me and a friend about the process of reviewing for conferences. I’m currently working through my 6 NeurIPS reviews, and in the process have generated a lot of thoughts about my experiences.

Letter to Myself in Elementary School

Dear Alan, I’m sorry it’s been more than 10 years since we last spoke. I want to make sure I don’t say anything patronizing because I know how much you, and I still, despise that tone, especially from those who claim superior knowledge or experience.

Measuring Progress

Almost two decades through formal schooling ingrains a strict sense of progress in my mind. There were exams, essays, assignments, all with deadlines that were more or less immovable, some teachers that were more or less inflexible, and some material that was more or less unmotivated.

Tou Thao also Murdered George Floyd

Along with three others, Tou Thao murdered George Floyd. For 8 minutes and 46 seconds, Thao watched and guarded Chauvin as he asphyxiated a pinned, choking, and finally non-responsive man, uncaring about the human life they were all grinding into dust.

The Inadequacy of Time

In the midst of a global pandemic, time has contracted. In social isolation, no longer do everyday events mark out temporal passage: the perhaps perfunctory hello and how are you?, the friendly smile at a bus stop, the off-hand thoughts of my friends, the touch of different surfaces, all departed, perhaps for the long-term.

The Many Faces of Good Experiments

It’s no big secret that machine learning suffers from a science problem. The issue, sometimes funny, always sad, is that it is difficult to rely upon many published results, despite monikers like “state-of-the-art” and “competitive”.