Dream after Dream

Recently I’ve been thinking about why some goals fail to be materialized. Then I remembered something that my dad told me, which he also probably got from some other YouTube video that he watched. He said something like this:

“You need to have a dream after dream”

For example a dream could be to get a job at Google. Or become a doctor. But when you accomplish that, what’s next? A lot of people accomplish their goal and have no fire to go further and become better.

Hell, maybe for some, they can’t ever go even after the little rung goal because they just don’t grasp the reason for it all. They fail to see the big picture.

So I think that’s why, like all things in life, you have to start with a good foundation of why you want to accomplish what you want to accomplish. To do this, you need to have a dream after dream. An overarching goal that’s big, ambitious, and meaningful.

For example:

  • I want to become a doctor to reduce the pain of people who are struggling from health problems. Everyone deserves a chance to be healthy and live a long, prosperous life.
  • I want to be a musician so that people can find comfort and understanding through my songs. Life is hard without some fun tunes.

  • I want to become a teacher plant a passion for learning which will fuel the next generation of the world’s greatest thinkers.

The two greatest things that I have trouble always being consistent in working on is playing music and learning Japanese. Maybe reframing it in the dream after dream framework will help me be more consistent.

  • I want to write and play music so others can relax and be merry when they listen to me!
  • I want to learn Japanese to learn about the Japanese people and fully grasp the nativities of Japanese culture!

Goals for the New Year

Usually I don’t set goals for New Year’s. This is because I think it is pointless to make goals when many don’t get through them. Majority of people never accomplish what they’ve set out to do this year. Or in their entire life.

But this year I decided to set some. Reasoning: you shouldn’t avoid setting goals because people don’t accomplish them. You should set them, and try to beat the odds. Despite failure, you should keep trying. It’s worse to not set them than set them and fail. If you’re always failing to meet expectations, perhaps it’s time for you to do a deep dive as to why you never accomplish them and take a different approach.

The way I’m going to do it differently this year is that I’m going to share New Year’s goals to at least one person and try to be accountable.

They are:

  1. Get back to 160 pounds. A lot of my weight has come from being an utter bum during my last semester in college and drinking an absurd amount of soda. Of course I don’t drink that much anymore, but I haven’t been able to get rid of that sugar build up. I’ve learned my lesson. As my brother told me, “Bro stop drinking sugar water. You ain’t some bumblebee!”
  2. Create a simple multiplayer game that could be played on browser. I have a nice one in mind involving a certain dawg =D.
  3. Learn Japanese. I’ve been wanting to learn Japanese for a long time. My main reason is that I like Japanese media(Terrace House!), but I don’t want to pay 100% attention to what people are saying. I want to multitask. No show deserves 100% of your undivided attention. They provide breaks here and there to prevent overstimulation, so I want to do other things during the slow times in the show. I want to watch only the interesting bits. Subtitled shows demand your full attention since you won’t understand what they’re saying if you don’t see the subtitles, and it’s hella annoying.

    But to circumvent not looking at subtitles you have to put an ungodly amount of up front costs to learn the language.

    I’ve attempted to learn the language, but I’ve never gotten past the lowest noob level. I think the level of proficiency I should aim for passing the highest level of JPLT. Since I’m Korean, my friend told me I should have a much easier time compared to his experience. I still remember his bewilderment on his face when he was learning the language. He struggled a lot because the sentence structure of Japanese is reversed relative to English.

    I’m also thinking that what would be really sick is if I can go to Japan next year.

  4. Meditate at least twice a week. I’ve always tried to set a goal of doing it everyday but end up with streaky runs. I’ve done it consistently for around 3 months everyday last year and it was very good. But I stopped for a very long time after that. I think it’s because of this sense of failure when you forget to do it for one day builds up. I want to be very consistent on a weekly basis.
  5. Read 23 books. I read 10-15 books last year and I’d like to try to read double that amount.

Do You Think Better with a Pencil?

One thing I need to ask around is if people in general think better with a pen in hand.

For me, I feel like there’s a clear difference in writing something out with a pen when I’m thinking vs. just thinking about a topic vs. writing with a keyboard.

The pen seems to add clarify and reinforcement to my thoughts. I strongly prefer

Is there something fundamental about writing? Or have we been using it so much during our school days that it’s grown on us as trigger? As in the minute we grab it, our brains became so used to learning with it that we unconsciously kick off some process?

Anyhoo, a few things come to mind why writing is more potent in learning and organizing thoughts compared to typing:

  • There’s no restriction imposed on when you’re using a pen. When you’re typing on the computer, you’re confined to the characters on the keyboard. There are less restrictions imposed on writing.
  • If you’re looking at the paper when you’re writing, you’re getting continuous feedback. You feel the stroke of the pen tracing the paper, and you’re seeing the ink make marks in real time. Compared to the screen. You’re typing each character one by one, and there is definitely a delay between when you type vs. what you see. It’s very discrete.
  • There’s some sense of uniqueness to your writing or all your drawing. Chances are, of course there will be people who have a very similar handwriting, but your handwriting is unique. Compare this to again typing on a keyboard, where all fonts pretty much look more similar.

That’s all I have so far. Maybe I’ll come back to this topic when I have more data or insight.

BFS and DFS in Problem Solving

I think a lot of problem solving can be summarized into two steps.

  1. Generate possible approaches to solve said problem.
  2. Go drill down on that approach and go as far as you can with that approach. Pray to God you didn’t make an assumption that will kill your approach and lead you to a dead end.

In computer science, the two of the most fundamental graph searching algorithms are breadth first search and depth first search. I think #1 ties into breadth first search, and #2 ties into depth first search.

I’ve come up with a good example of how both works!

Let’s say that you want to get a phone number of a student at your school. Let’s call him Greg.

Now the constraint is that you don’t have a phone book(which is effectively an index). No Google, no internet. NOTHING. Pretend this was in the 70s. How would you get this guy’s number?

Breadth First Search Approach:

One approach is ask all of your friends. You ask your close friends Sarah, Matt, and Caleb.

They say no, but they give you a list of their friends who could have Greg’s number.

So you put those people’s names, and you go hunt them down. Let’s call them Abby, Bacon, Chris, Duncan, and Erfan.

But they don’t have Greg’s number either, so they all give you their friends contact. You poll them into a huge list.

Now you use that list to ask those people. You do this over and over until you find Greg’s number. Or the man himself =D.

Depth first Search Approach

Instead of asking your friends one by one, you pick one friend you like the most. Matt.

You ask Matt. Matt doesn’t have Greg’s number. But Matt points you to David.

You ask David. David doesn’t have Greg’s number, but he thinks Peter has Greg’s number.

You ask Peter, who refers you to Nathan, and Nathan refers you do whoever else, and you do this until you find the person who has Greg’s number.

I would like to say that both approaches to get Greg’s number are valid, but there are definitely tradeoffs of picking either breath first search or depth first.

Problem Solving and Graph Algorithms

First, you have to generate all possible approaches. You go through all of them, evaluate their potential. Now these ideas can lead to other sub-ideas, so you explore them at a very shallow level. But you don’t want to chase the rabbit too hard - you want to see things at surface level.

Afterwards, you pick an idea that you predict to be effective. You drill down on that idea hard, and go for it.

Effectively, you’re using bfs and dfs for problem solving. Of course, depending on your results of dfs, you could climb back up and swap to bfs instead. So the analogy here isn’t 1:1.

The Man in the IDE

Teddy Roosevelt’s the Man in the Arena is great. Then it occured to me! What if I could rewrite for modern day software engineers?

Lo and behold, The man in the IDE!

The Man in the IDE

It is not management who counts; not the VP who points out how lousy the features are, or how the developer could have done it better.

The credits belongs to the engineer who is actually fighting the compiler, whose eyes are marred by parenthesis and asterisks; who strives viciously; who errs, who comes short and short again, because there is no effort without exceptions and stack overflows; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great shortcuts, the great macros; who spends himself for a worthy line of code; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of low cpu cycles, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid losers who neither know binary nor linked lists.

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