Category Archives: Random

Collectibles: Use Them or Lose Them

When I was a child, I was spoiled rotten. My parents had a dual income that they apparently chose to spend on toys and collectibles for my brother and I. We had a huge room above our garage dedicated to only our toys. In retrospect, it was ridiculous – but of course we loved it.

As I grew, things changed. My parents got divorced and we had to move. All our toys and collectibles went into boxes and moved with us as both my mom and dad changed houses every year. Those boxes stayed with my parents until I graduated college. Then, I chose to take everything my parents were storing when I moved to Silicon Valley.

Turns out, having those boxes sit around is a huge burden. They are always at the back of my mind and any time I try to make a big decision, they get in the way. “Should I get a rug to bring the place together? No, I should go through the boxes first.”; “Should I get a bike to commute to work? No, I should go through the boxes”. The boxes give me some form of decision paralysis, so I am finally deciding to go through them.

The majority of the boxes are filled with old toys and stuffed animals. After reading Marie Kondo’s The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I decided it would be best to donate these things to Goodwill. Now, I’m left with collectibles and gifts from relatives – a lot of them are still in their original packaging. These are harder to deal with: they’re probably worth some money, they have a nice handwritten note on the packaging, and they’re from someone who loves me.

But I’m not interested in these collectibles. I’m not going to display them, I don’t want them, and they’re taking up space – both physically and mentally. I almost feel cursed. Why did my parents choose to keep these collectibles wrapped up for twenty years? Why am I dealing with them now? Did they feel too guilty to get rid of them, but too scared to display them?[1]

I’ve decided to do something with them. For the collectibles that I actually enjoy (there are only one or two), I’m going to unwrap them and display them. They’re not giving me any happiness sitting in a box – they’re much better on display where I can see them everyday. Most importantly, I’m going to throw away the box.

For the collectibles that I don’t enjoy, I’m going to take a quick stab at selling them on eBay and Craigslist. If they don’t sell in a couple weeks, I’ll donate them. I’ll forget about them a few weeks after and I will be burden-free.

I’m going to start applying this philosophy to other collectible-like things: stickers, books, greeting cards. If they’re sitting in a box, use them or lose them.

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1. My parents have always had a big garage: I wonder if putting the boxes in the garage had some sort of “out of sight, out of mind” effect and they were completely free of this burden.

Complacency RE: TSA

This past weekend I was on a trip to San Francisco. I was only staying for the weekend and hadn’t packed much. Everything I needed fit into a carry-on. This also meant that everything I needed would have to be loaded onto the TSA conveyor-belt to ensure that I wouldn’t be bringing anything dangerous into the passenger cabin of the plane. To my surprise, my bag was flagged and my tube of toothpaste was deemed “too large” and had to be taken away from me.

Upon returning home a few days later, I relayed the story to a colleague, who said something along the lines of “The only one to blame is yourself.” After unsuccessfully trying to argue my point that the TSA should not be able to take away toothpaste that is obviously toothpaste [1], I realized that my colleague had simply grown complacent with the TSA.

I believe strongly that the TSA is a good example of the people giving up freedoms for “protection,” something that should not happen. [2] This blog post, therefore, serves as a reminder to the reader that the people should not be willing to sacrifice freedoms for safety. The people should only be willing to accept safety precautions that do not encroach upon their freedoms. The TSA and NSA, unfortunately, do not fall into this category and should not be accepted. [3]

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1. I had asked the TSA agent if I could squeeze toothpaste out such that, when folded, the tube would meet the maximum size restrictions. They said this was not allowed.
2. A fantastic explanation of this can be seen in Glen Greenwald’s TED Talk about privacy
3. Unfortunately, I am not aware of a good way to fight the TSA. As a side thought, however, I wonder how many innocent tubes of toothpaste must be taken away until a tube of toothpaste is considered to be a safe item

Why I am Ditching

Over the past years, I have written several papers that I am proud of. I wanted to put all of these papers in a place where people would be able to find them and learn about the arguments I was making. I found, which seemed to be exactly what I was looking for.

Since posting my papers to Academia, their views have skyrocketed. I have also been contacted by several people thanking me for my work. The interactions between papers, data, and readers that Academia provide are extremely interesting.

However, it seems that Academia has recently changed its mindset. When I first started using them, their landing page was a place to search for papers and see the most popular pieces of research. Recently, their landing page changed to something else: A simple prompt to register for an account.'s new landing page, emphasizing account-creation over paper-finding’s new landing page, emphasizing account-creation over knowledge-finding

The new landing page sends a clear message:’s goals have changed. Instead of wanting their users to find free research in the quickest way possible, they want their users to make an account. They do not want to spread free knowledge, they want to increase the number of people who are registered on their website.

Further, now requires an account to download papers.

These are not values that I would like my papers to be associated with. Although Academia’s high search engine rankings are beneficial to the popularity of my papers, sacrifices must be made to ensure that my papers are free to access (Both in the sense of cost and in the sense of accessibility). Blocking curious minds behind an account creation process is not free.

In the coming days, I will be moving all of my papers to a specific “Papers” page of this website. Unless Academia changes its ways, I will no longer be using them to host my research.

The Importance of a Quality Office Chair

I write this as I sit in an office chair in a Bellevue hotel room. I try and try again to muster the mental strength to focus on the latest addition to the project I’m working on. However, for every bit of mental energy expended on the process of opening a new vim window, I spend about five seconds opening up a new tab and browsing to {unproductive site} [1]. This is an entirely unbalanced distribution of time, and after about an hour, I still haven’t added anything useful to the project.

Why is this? Out of all possible causes and correlations, I blame it on the chair I’m sitting in. The chair has a long base (The part that makes direct contact with the buttocks), meaning that in order for the back to be pressed against the back of the chair, the sitter must slouch or extend his legs in an uncomfortable fashion. Thus, I am slouching.

This slouching seems to make me inattentive and easily distracted. I am almost too comfortable to be focusing. If I wanted to focus, I would be sitting up relatively straight.

My theory about the chair reminds me of several different scenarios, which I will describe in a very Freudian fashion.

  1. The chair in my home office forces me to sit up straight. However, it lacks solid lower back support. Thus, I am able to focus for a good hour or so, but as soon as I feel back pain, I begin to unfocus and slouch. This slouching causes me to continue to remain inattentive to the task at hand.
  2. The seats of an airplane also force me to sit up straight. As much as people complain about the discomfort of airplane seats, I find them to be very comfortable. Albeit, I think people complain about the lack of respect for a “personal bubble” more than anything. While I’m in an airplane, I am able to focus very well. However, this may be due to my lack of accessible Internet connection.
  3. The chairs in my University library seem to encourage focus. However, there are chairs in which I do not focus – those that are the ones in which cannot reach the table comfortably.
  4. The chairs at my previous employment were very nice Steelcase chairs. While sitting in them, I was able to stay focused for several hours at a time without distraction. This could probably also be attributed to the work environment and the other focused workers who surrounded me.

Although causation is not clearly implied, it is clear that the chair I am sitting in has some sort of correlation with my level of focus. It is obvious that a good chair is necessary for back health, but a good chair may also be just as important for focusing on the task at hand.

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1. Usually Reddit, Hacker News, or Wikipedia

Twin Peaks

How can anyone possibly believe
that they are more than a speck?

Houses and buildings down below
with movement far from sight.

This is how it will be
when we fade away.
Life’s beauty is temporary.

When I sit up here, where the land seems to touch the sky, and the insignificance of life is made clear, I think about my goals. I only have so much time to experience and enjoy human life as it currently exists. With that being said, I think that the concept of “settling down” is reserved for a later time – for when my children need a stable place to grow and mature. Until then, while I have no obligations elsewhere, I plan to travel the world and absorb the human experience from many differnet viewpoints. I plan to work hard doing something that will help the advancement of humanity – not just on this planet, but hopefully on others as well. Only when I have satisfactory stability will I “settle down”, hopefully raising my children without at the same time struggling to meet standards set by society, as my parents struggled to do.

The last years of my life have been spent catching up with what humanity has accomplished in the past: The advancements made in mathematics, the sciences, and the arts. It is important to know how we made it to this point, so that we may humbly advance to the next. Every day, each individual aids in the advancement of the human species, each in their own way.