Daily Notes

Daily Todos, Notes, and Musings. [EN / CN]
31 outputs


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July 6, 2020
Had a meeting this morning with my research group and professor to chat about our paper.

I'm enjoying Taiwan so much that I'm contemplating applying to grad school next year instead so I can experiment more with what kind of work I want to ultimately do.

I met a bioengineer researcher yesterday who's Indian, and she's done research in Germany, Japan, China, and now Taiwan. She's so inspiring to me because she doesn't have a stable source of income but she loves traveling. And I'm realizing I can live that kind of life too, bouncing to different universities I want to do research at in various countries. For now, I want to stay in Taiwan. To me, there's no reason to save for retirement at my age.

It's not easy. Not easy letting go of your $$$. Not easy not being around your college friends or your family. Not easy getting all your needs met in a foreign country. Not easy having no idea what your future looks like. Not easy letting go of all your plans and the need for control, because there is ultimately not much you can control. Making money was a great experience in the bay area and I won't regret it, but ultimately material goods don't fulfill.

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July 5, 2020

Worked on some transitions.

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July 4, 2020

Today was a pretty good day. I kicked off the day with a personal training session. It was so good, felt sore for the rest of the day. I was pretty anxious in the beginning because it was a slow workout, which make me really on edge for some reason, but it was very efficient. What I particularly love about this gym is that there are four pillars that they focus on: exercise, diet, relationship, habit. Before 2019 when I was really into fitness, I knew from experience that diet makes up 80% of a fit lifestyle. My diet has been so shit since 2019, I really let myself go, but I'm excited to start eating well again. For the relationship pillar, I found it really unique that they have day trips they take clients on to have fun together, something I've never been offered in any US personal training package.

Spent the rest of the day finishing up one of my freelance projects. Met up with my friend Christine. Then went to the riverside at night with Nata, Matheo, and Andy, bumped into a friend randomly. I also found a new apartment to live, and rent is so ridiculously cheap, like 300USD a month for a really really nice place near Guting, which is perfect.

I'm also starting to plan out my birthday party which I definitely want to throw before Nata and Matheo leave.

On days when I'm feeling upset, I need to remind myself that it's just a day closer to a really great one.


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July 3, 2020
It's crazy how contagious other people's worldviews are. I have been feeling pretty negative and cynical about the world mostly because of Twitter people, but I need to remind myself that that's not helpful, and that there are so many positive changes in the world right now. People are becoming more understanding, aware of social issues, and the economy is in a downfall right now but economies always eventually bounce back. On a positive note, this means positive worldviews are also contagious, and I just need to surround myself with these people.

I had the best brunch today. I caught up with my friends Xing and Kevin. It's a great reminder that we're all here and in this together.

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July 1, 2020

Today was the freshmen bootcamp for masters students for the HCI Lab. I was lucky enough to join around the same time and attend. Got to know all the folks I'll be working with! Got a tour of the lab and such. I'm excited and eager to start working on the haptics project. Above is a photo of the compressed air tank that shoots out air via tubes that connect to the VR device.

I'm also starting my freelance job this week with the nonprofit, which means now I finally feel financially safe enough to spend money on gym and such. I'm going for my first personal training session tomorrow. It's surprisingly cheap. I want to get back in shape again and I know it will help my mental state a lot too. It's time to exponentiate the healing process.

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June 30, 2020
I still haven't fully recovered from the weekend…I feel EXHAUSTED. I have just been napping in bed all day.

Something I realized is that I need to choose something to do eventually, and stick with it. I'm feeling that I'm in the latter half of my exploration phase, and I'll soon be looking for some more stability.

I think that exploration has given me a lot of new perspectives, and a greater appreciation for having a more stable and structured life. Passion and love are meant to be shared. Creating out of self interest has an expiration date. I will probably be looking to work in a team again eventually, although this time around I will be a lot more picky with the industry I work in and the natural set of values of the people who choose that industry.

I've been watching some youtube videos recently. A couple of my favorite youtubers are YesReneau and bestdressed. I think both have very similar life perspectives as me. One thing that really resonated with me in one of Reneau's recent videos is her 1 month challenge of "fake it til you make it" which means, ruthlessly chasing after a dream job or dream lifestyle with full trust. For example, for me that might mean, let's just try a month of uploading 10 youtube videos in a month, each being really high production quality. And after the month, reassess and reevaluate how sustainable the lifestyle is.

And I think Ashley from bestdressed is just truly completely fearless, courageous, and authentic. It's rare to find people who are successfully intentional in their lives, extremely decisive and non-conforming to the likes of society. I really like how she said that she gave herself some time to recharge and take a break but she realized that she just loves creating so much that she'd rather use that time to create. I'm realizing how true that is for me too. I love to work and create – I think it is also a form of release and expression. So I'm finding more okay-ness in my love for creating.

I also want to start uploading designs again here. I'm starting a new freelance project and research will be starting this week so hopefully will have some cool things to share!

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Why I hate myself... on self-loathing

Trigger warning: today's #TheAMwithAmy contains sensitive content around eating disorders and sexual assault. Thank you for holding space with me today. 🦋 Wh...

On authenticity

I really love watching Amy's videos because they're really human, authentic, and show all parts of her: the good and the flawed. In this video, I love how she says that she used to think strength is saying you've never had a bad day, and that everything in your life is pretty good and that you should be grateful. I think it takes a lot of courage to show others the most vulnerable parts within you, even when it means telling others about a "negative" reaction you had to someone or something. There will be some people that ward off your honest feelings, and it just means they're not yet comfortable with addressing their past pains and their own shadow.

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June 28, 2020

My damp, sand covered feet rest upon the motorcycle pedals. I glance up, raise my arms, and grasp the pedals tightly to maintain my balance. The warm wind brushes upon my face and I feel surprisingly thankful for the humidity. I’m not usually a fan of humid weather, but it reminds me of my childhood summers, which I often spent in Shanghai, and around Asia.

My childhood summers in China were always the happiest times of my life. Somehow, conflicts with my brother and parents seemEd to completely wash away in a foreign country. Maybe it’s because my parents didn’t compare us as much since we weren’t in school. Or maybe hanging out in a different environment removeD the focus from our bickering and instead on the new shared experience. As soon as we head back home though, reality sets in again, and our dynamic shifts back to one of competition and comparison.

I turn my head backwards to find Matheo and Natalia riding their pink electric bike, a perfect color contrast to the surrounding greenery. I’m so thankful I can spend a long time in Taiwan with new company, friends that are not there to compete with me intellectually or financially, and that I have the power to choose my friends. The past few years have been a really confusing and long journey of self understanding, and I know it will continue on. But at least, today showed me that the universe is constantly helping me, so as long as I face fear, and trust myself that I can find my place in this world.

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June 27, 2020

Took the HSR to Kenting today. I feel like meeting this group was a blessing. I feel energized, excited, and optimistic when I’m with them and it’s all just positive vibes.

I sat next to Matheo on the train and we talked about friendships. I was telling him how I have always felt a bit out of place, especially because of how much I’ve grown in the past 10 years of my life — spiritually, emotionally, etc.

He felt the same. He grew up moving around a lot so he doesn’t have a core group of childhood friends. He said it’s okay though, because he’s constantly meeting new people as he continually grows. He was saying how, when he was working in the US for the first time for Kiwibot, he went back home to Colombia, only to find that his friends were curious about all the superficial things — did you find any girls, marijuana, etc.

It was pretty validating to me that others experience the same. We’re all in different places in our lives. I no longer resonate with a lot of my college friends, and I’m beginning to accept that. The world is so vast, and the more I trust myself, the more I find myself gravitating those who are on a similar timeline as me. I feel like many people don’t reflect enough on their lives. I want to live fully, no regrets, and the only way to accomplish that is to start now.

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I think the reason why I care so deeply about self understanding is that, to touch other's hearts, I need to be able to understand my own.

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June 25, 2020
I'm learning how much I love writing these days, and it's closely tied to what's happening in my life…which is a lot of things!!

I feel very close to my friends back home and I'm so happy to have reconnected with friends from cal and high school and such.

Last night I biked with my friend Andy around Guting and had some watermelon juice to cool down afterwards. Ahhh it was so freeing. I feel really free these days…and really content with my life.

I talked to my friend Tiffanie about how I realized it's easier to hang out with people that share my social wavelength / outgoing-ness, and she said that's totally ok, and that I should be aiming for higher consciousness and higher, brighter energy. And I'm realizing she's right, I want to surround myself with positive people who are optimistic and trying their best to overcome their fears, grow intellectually, emotionally, physically, spiritually, and doing what they can with our limited energy. There's not much more to ask for!

The hardest part about traveling is saying goodbye. I'm really sad that Nata and Mateo will be leaving soon :( :( But I'm trusting that there will be awesome people to meet in the future. Saying goodbye is so hard, especially when you just click with the right people.

And here's a screenshot on something I've been working on with my friend Farbod who is starting a startup :-)

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June 23, 2020

I'm going to be starting another part time project soon with a nonprofit that my close friend works at. I've been thinking a lot about my values and how they align with the projects I work on. And it was evident through talking to the interviewers that they care a lot about people and community and childhood education. Donating all the profit into social good and not into executives' pockets makes a lot of sense for me. I'm so over companies that claim they're solving the world's biggest problems with some new innovative way of doing X or Y. How is that socially contributing to the world? That's what I care about. Maybe it's both, even better, but pretty rare.

I also love how this particular non profit works directly with academics. I think it's really important to bridge the gap between research in the humanities with technology in industry. Otherwise where does all that knowledge go? There's also so much talent in the tech industry yet it's going to the wrong places.

So I'm thinking I'll do this part time, which will help me sustain myself in Taiwan, and I'll also be learning about how non profits work, then will spend the rest of my time working on research projects at the lab, and learning Chinese. I will be taking the next couple days to read research papers on cinematography in VR experiences. I had a conversation with Ning about how I feel that I'm taking too much time exploring. I quit my job in October, and it'll be October pretty soon…which will be one year. I doubt I'll be headed back to the US. It's either stay in Taiwan if my gold card gets accepted, or head to Hong Kong or Shanghai. And what if I take two years off corporate life? Is that too much? I mean I'm still learning in many other ways. I feel like I'm just going to not listen to anyone who's living the corporate life haha. It's not like they're happy anyway.

This weekend I'm headed for 肯听 with my friends. So excited to hit the beach…but it'll be 89 degrees. :(

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A strong signal to me for who truly cares is how they treat the closest people to them. Is it with empathy, kindness, openness, and curiosity? Or is it with indifference, carelessness, cynicism, and frustration? comparing actions with words

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June 22, 2020.
Ive been very happy lately. Thinking so much about things that I cant sleep… Hanging out with new friends a lot and we are going to Kenting this week! I realized I am a pretty expressive person and being able to express myself is so important to me! Started working at my lab. Started another freelance project. Cafe hopping a lot. Taking care of my body. Got my eyebrows done, got a massage, cooking well. We are physical beings after all 🙂. I found a longer term stay that is an artist/design residency. Connecting with my friends back home. Now I just need to secure my gold card so I can stay here.

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June 20, 2020

Something I learned recently is I can’t work where I don’t have at least one unconditional supporter

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台大資工陳彥仰教授 Prof Mike Chen @ NTU

June 19, 2020

I reached out to several agencies and companies and none of them really interest me. There was one I interviewed with recently but for some reason something felt off about the way I was communicated to, and I felt like I couldn't have the space to think. Probably wouldn't be a good fit long term. I'm always wary of companies that force you to respond in the moment. Anyway, moving onward

So I've decided to work at the HCI lab at National Taiwan University with Professor Mike! He's such a kind professor. He also used to go to Cal and has actually worked with my professors I did research with (paulos, torres). I'll be helping out with some research projects on haptics / haptic experiences for VR that aim to be submitted to CHI this year…The lab is quite technical, most folks are MechE's and I love that, but I wish there were projects that were focused on art practice. I want to eventually go to grad school, so this is probably the best fit for me at this time.

The research projects are really interesting but I think I'm still more interested in computational craftsmanship and new media. Basically Cesar's work but I don't think I would enjoy going to Texas…

Can't wait to get back into research mode and get my hands into electronics prototyping, unity, and such. I also have free access to the makerspace haha. The lab is super well organized and you have to take off your shoes before going in. Also there is a bunk bed in the room…lol will post some pics once I start working in two weeks!

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June 16, 2020

I have officially moved into Taipei in an Airbnb that is actually a design studio ( . I'm really excited to be here!

Yesterday I reached out to a few companies that I feel like I'd learn a lot from. I also started looking into Chinese classes and what I'll be doing the next couple months. I'm still hoping to make some passive income, somehow.

I'm getting in touch with lots of designers, and am really excited about that!

Lots of things are aligning for me.

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June 8, 2020
My emotional state has gotten so much better the past two weeks after having time for friends, taking my medicine, and spending lots of time on my own. I learned that it's really easy for me to get lost in others, and I need to take time to reconnect with myself, to remember my values and my north star.

Today I was at Starbucks and the man next to me asked me to help him connect with the wifi. We ended up striking up a conversation because he had worked in the Bay Area for many years and is now retired. He was telling me that I shouldn't work in Asia because he did for many years, and all his ex coworkers back in the US are now a lot more successful than him. I felt really, really bad for him because he was basically forced into retirement, and came back to Taiwan to take care of his mother, only to witness her death two years later, followed by his sister's death a month later. It was another reminder to live in the now, and surrender to what I don't have control over, and that there is no need to be anxious about what he said i.e. career prospects, mortality, etc. These are things we have no control over, and it's best not to live an entire life controlled and constrained by fear of getting pushed out of the job market by younger generations. Because it's not happening now, and it's not something I have control over in the future. He also seemed to place a lot of emphasis on success, whatever that means.

Whenever something like this happens I always feel the need to ask for their contact information. Idk, we only live one life and it's too pitiful to not keep in touch. I think random conversations and connections are really beautiful and people take them for granted.

I don't even know him but I really pray that things in his life get better.

Design has taken sort of a back seat. I've been reading a book calle Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong and I've been really resonating with what she writes about; that asian people are stooges to white people since we're stereotypically quiet and conforming. Today a thought occurred to me that if I ever go back to corporate life, I'm going to take up space and speak up when I'm treated unfairly.

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Expressing affection and gratitude to my friends back in the states gives me a high :)

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At Starbucks. I want to start picking myself back up after allowing myself to drown the last few days, haha.

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I read a lot today

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I finished reading The Courage to be Disliked.

I’m learning to be courageous— and to be courageous means to be accepting of my normalcy, living in the now, not living off other people’s’ expectations, not putting others on a pedestal, not seeking the recognition of others, respecting my boundaries and understanding and respecting the separating of tasks. Drawing my boundaries to preserve interpersonal relationships.

I’ve been learning these lessons the past year and integrating them into my life, but this book was a really good reminder. Only I am responsible for my life, and I don’t want to live it in unacceptance of myself.

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May 23, 2020

Rough day. I only got 3 hours of sleep because I had matcha really late yesterday. I knew this was a bad idea, should have stuck to my gut!

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To improve things on a systems-level, I believe in understanding and mastering the system first, building credibility, trust, and experience, before "rebelling" and changing the system.

In Japanese there is a gardening term called Nemawashi which means preparing the roots for transplanting. It is the participatory process of collectively agreeing upon an idea before formalizing it.

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The other day 18% people got laid off from Samsara. I remember when ex coworkers were encouraging me to stay, telling me what a bad decision I was making, when I knew in my heart something like this could happen. I was unhappy, I had no mentorship aka no one cared about me or my growth, my future was intentionally unclear and undefined, the company didn't care about design, and the fact that half the design team, most who were OGs, got laid off shows exactly that.

Folks had made it seem like I was making the worst decision of my life to leave, when I felt I was making the right choice for myself. No one can plan too much into the future, the future is something we can't control. It's saddening to see so many folks waiting 5, 6, 10 years to make a lot of equity money. This pandemic just shows that anything could happen.

It's probably best to trust our intuition.

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Calculates time to heat up based on area, resistance, and voltage of joule heaters. Visualizes heating and cooling curves. - jessmchang/thermo-vis

May 22, 2020
[X] Sunset gradient generator (25min)
[X] Finish designs for our social media image figma plugin
[X] Look into Easy Units bug
[] Start on some designs for Tinytools UI

Went to the gym. I could have done more but took some breaks. I really miss climbing :(
- 7min warmup
- Lunge weights, 3x10, 7kg
- Deadlifts, 3x10, 7kg
- Arms, 3x10
- Back extensions, 1x10
- Raised sit-ups 1x10

- Did some research on libraries to use to start my gradient generator. Right now I'm looking at dat.gui and paper.js. Was hoping to use React with both, but I should probably be less ambitious and use plain js. Anyway that should be enough for a basic setup.I revisited my thermo-visualization computational tool back in college, which I wrote in React and I was honestly really impressed ( My coding skills were probably a lot more well oiled back then. I need to dive back in.

- Finished designs for our new plugin. Now going to look into Easy Units bug.

- Went to starbucks to get some matcha, then finished fixing an Easy Units bug

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A message board that disappears every 24hrs

May 21, 2020
[] Make a simple generative sunset gradient tool for my website
[X] Maintenance work for Tinytools
[X] Look at Jenny's Figma doc
[] Dumpling spread for third culture zine

These weren't literal translations, but I tried my best lol.

Up, crawling around in bed for a bit.

Finished a 25 deep work session for my sunset gradient generator, but most of the time was taken up by trying to figure out what library to use. I wonder if it makes sense to do some prep work before deep work.

Finally fixed the bug causing to not refresh the topic everyday. Had to save the topic counter to the server. Haven't messed with sockets in a while so I was relieved when I figured it out.

I read 18% of The Courage to Be Disliked by Ichiro Kishimi. A friend recommended I read this because I was having some anxiety about my future. There's an ideology they entertain called teteology which claims that we have a goal, and form an emotion to fulfill our goal. So he claims that trauma doesn't actually exist, that we actually form anger or another negative emotion to achieve our goal of creating an excuse for what is actually making us unhappy and disconnected. For example, if an adult was bullied as a kid, they might form the emotion of anxiety to justify their "introversion". But their perspective that they aren't liked is just that–this person's limited perspective, and it isn't truth.

I thought it was worth pondering over because for the past year or so I have been justifying my anxiety and sadness with my imperfect childhood. And intellectually I understand what he's saying but it's still difficult to overcome my reactions and feelings, and it can be hard for me to see how anxiety is actually a choice.

What I can relate to is that humans have the power to make decisions. So we can actively choose to overcome our greatest fears, and go after what we want, from our hearts.

As for me, I choose to believe that the universe is out to help me on my journey here. I'm not really sure what it is yet, but I'm on my way.

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May 20, 2020

Today is our day off! I'm going to focus on a couple things

[X] Draw out diagram for my website
[X] Write up one project for my website
[ ] Finish dumpling spread for third culture food zine
[X] Decide whether to pursue a generative design tool project or start to make music
[X] 1 hr Chinese with Shane

I spent the day mostly working more on my portfolio. It's been kind of a pain in the ass to figure out what content to put on my website. I think this is pointing at my disorganization, and the fact that I don't have a clear picture of the compartments in my life that I'm trying to work on. Well, that's ok. Small steps.

After I talked to Shane, I wanted him to assign homework for me to work on my Chinese reading/writing skills. So everyday, I'm going to re-write all my daily todos in Futureland, and translate them to Chinese. Having someone to keep me accountable will work wonders, hopefully haha.

I decided I'm going to make a simple generative gradient tool. Vin asked me for feedback on futureland, and one thing he told me was I should form a question and answer it through work. And as I was laying out my website, I had some set of expectations for how I wanted my gradients to look. What are the colors I should be using that will appear lovely and realistic, and add a temporal component to a 2D space? So I'm thinking of making a tiny generative gradient tool to help with that.

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My mom has a friend named Pearl, who was a designer at IBM for the longest time. She is now 72, but still seems very young. I was feeling anxious about my future so I reached out to her. I spoke to her a few months ago and I could really trust her because of the similarities in our cultural backgrounds(she is shanghainese, but spent a lot of time in the Bay Area tech scene) and outlook on life. She answered my text, and I’m typing it out here to keep a record of it.

First: choose the work that you are passionate about ( one that makes you forget about time, fatigue or costs)
Be patient and persevere.
Second: choose the relationship that is supportive of you and unconditionally giving to you. Small things tell a lot.
Third: always remember that only when you feel truly independent, secured, self-worthy and fulfilled professionally that you will find true happiness and respect in life whether you are young or old; being an artist or creator, even after life.

Do something that can clear your mind before making decision. Sometimes answers come from completely unrelated unexpected circumstance. Just don’t rush to any action. You only have yourself to blame. Hope it helps you to sort out your thinking!

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it's jess

May 19, 2020

Last night I had a great hangout with my friend Jenny – it was really awesome hearing more about her work! When I look back on the work I find most interesting, I think a lot about my time at Hybrid-Ecologies Lab, where I worked on exploring heat as new media

In general I'm fascinated by computation material and craftsmanship, and hope to work more within that realm.

I'm struggling with finding direction on my own, with no mentorship at all. And reminiscing on the times where ambiguity was the baseline, I realized the importance of socializing ideas while having concrete work to show and discuss.

Today, my focus is:

Finish design work for profile photo generator figplug
Draw out diagram for my website
Work on third culture food zine

Resources of the day

AI Generated creative tools:
Learning Machinese:
“The design process strikes a balance between the expected and the unexpected, between control and relinquishment. While the processes are deterministic, the results are not foreseeable. The computer acquires the power to surprise us.” — MIchael Hansmeyer

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I need to start being more consistent about my personal projects. I'm usually really good about this, but I've been getting more distracted these days :(

I'm going to start logging the things I need to do daily here. The areas I want to grow stronger in in 2020 are:

Storytelling & Visual taste & Motion
Culture & Community
Improve engineering skills (ML, Backend, AI)
Designing speculative technology
Learn Chinese

The projects that will help me get there are:
Storytelling ->

Redesign my portfolio
Ship third culture zines
Draw a comic
Improve my motion skills. Whether that means p5.js, or framer.js, or adobe after effects, or blender.

Culture & Community ->

Posting speculative prototypes
Ship third culture zines

Engineering ->

Code my website in Gatsby + React
Read about ML, and work on a small ML project

Learn Chinese ->

Read TCB article + flashcards one a week

After I joined Tinyfactories, I've been in taking so much new information that I've lost track of my personal interests. I've just been overloaded with so much new information!! which is a good thing, but I want to start doubling down on what I care about, and how I can help in the areas I care about, while showcasing my process.

Redesigning my portfolio

Currently: still mocking up different layouts. I want my website to be a personal space, but I also want it to be a place to hold my daily progress.
Next step: Finalize my design. Read React documentation to understand how to implement

Culture & Community

Currently: Finishing up dumpling spread
Next: Start on curry spread
Future: Mock what a website would look like


Currently: Not doing anything really.
Next: Probably start with React.
Future: Work on an ML project in Q3 or Q4


Currently: Weekly lessons with my friend Shane. Not really helpful tbh in terms of learning to read + write.
Next: Spend one hour on reading TCB articles and flashcards a week

I think you said the same thing on one o...
I really care about self-understanding, ...
UI wise, the only thing I can really say...
This is so great! That space sounds real...
I love this ✨
TCB has been the most helpful! their art...
jessmei Daily Notes