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General

What Wikipedia articles have you read recently?

What wikipedia articles did you read recently? 
Just looking through my past history, I think its interesting to keep a list of articles that you read, just to see what kind of person you are. In general, The more wiki articles you read, the more knowledgeable you are. I read on average about 10 unique articles per day. I have this weird habit of searching on wikipedia for whatever topic happens to be on my mind. In fact, I probably know enough tidbits to beat alot of people at Trivial Pursuit. But its also to keep track of what you happen to be interested in.

So here’s mine for the past three days (notice many articles are related because of how wiki linking works):
March 21:

  •  Harley Davidson
  • Piaggio
  • Vespa
  • Blooming Onion
  • Onion Ring
  • Kindle Fire
  • Adobe AIR
  • Blackberry Playbook
  • Magic Johnson
  • Charles Barkley
  • Scottie Pippen
  • Patrick Ewing
  • 1992 United States men’s Olympic basketball team
  • Len Bias
  • HP TouchPad
  • French’s
  • Mustard (condiment)
  • Polymorphism (computer science)
  • Polymorphism
March 20
  • Nathan’s Famous
  • Hot dog
  • Battle of Gettysburg
  • Gettysburg, Pennsylvania
  • Basketball
  • Wilt Chamberlain
  • Bill Russell
  • NBA 2K10
  • Steve Nash
  • Larry Bird
  • New York Knicks
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Chicago Bulls
March 19:
  • Suan Cai
  • Coleslaw
  • Taylor Swift
  • Yiruma
  • Concorde
  • Alaska Airlines
  • First Air
  • Canadian North
  • Boeing 787 Dreamliner
  • Lockheed Martin
  • Boeing 737
  • Boeing 247
  • Douglas DC-3
  • Curtiss-Wright
  • Boeing
  • Porter Airlines
  • Ontario International Airport
  • Long Beach Airport
  • Southwest Airlines
  • JetBlue Airways
  • Simcity (2013 game)
Interesting, isn’t it? So the past three days, I was interested in airlines and aircraft, basketball players, some tech gadgets, and various food. See, there’s alot you can tell about yourself just by looking at your Google / Wikipedia history!

Also, I recorded a cover of drops of jupiter…classic song.

Categories
General

Adventures in China

Well I just got back from my 2 week vacation in China, and it was a great experience for me. My first time back in my home country in 19 years! (I moved here when I was 4).  I went to Beijing, Nanjing, Wuxi, Suzhou, Hangzhou and Shanghai. Each place was amazingly beautiful, and completely different than North America. I’ve never been to a place with so much natural beauty and history before. Cities such Nanjing, Wuxi, Suzhou and Hangzhou will have bridges, canals, rivers, lakes, temples, right in the middle of the city! Something that you won’t find in North America. Of course, China has thousands of years more history than US/Canada, so everywhere you go you will find some historic relic.

Beijing

Me at Beijing's Great Wall
Me at Beijing's Great Wall (万里长城)

The capital of the PRC, Beijing is a city of 13 million people, built on flat desert. The city is quite big, and there is a lot of mountainous terrain. There is a lot of history, due to it being the capital of the Yuan, Ming and Qing dynasties, as well as the current administration. The Forbidden City with its 8,000+ buildings, Summer Palace, Tiananmen Square, Great Wall of China, Temple of Heaven, and Olympic Stadium (Bird’s nest) are all great icons of Beijing.

Nanjing

Me at Nanjing's Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum
Me at Nanjing's Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum (中山陵)


Nanjing (or Nanking), is a city quite unlike Beijing. The capital of the Ming, Republic of China, and currently Jiangsu province, Nanjing is full of rivers, bridges, and lakes. It is a city with immense natural beauty. The nightlife on the streets, Sun Yat-Sen Mausoleum, and Yangtze River bridge was a few of the places I visited. Overall, a very beautiful city that is often overlooked by foreign visitors.

 

Wuxi

Me at Wuxi's Xihui Garden
Me at Wuxi's Xihui Garden (锡惠公园)

Another beautiful city in Jiangnan, Wuxi is an ancient city split in half by Lake Taihu. It has a great variety of temples, rivers, canals, that make it a great place for sight seeing. I visited the Xihui garden, and Three Kingdoms city, both of which has cultural history spanning over 1,000 years. The city is not as big as Nanjing, but I still highly recommend it if you’re touring China.

 

Suzhou

Me at one of Suzhou's many temples
Me at one of Suzhou's many temples (苏州庙宇)

Suzhou is a city in China famous for its natural beauty and scenery. There’s many canals, rivers, and temples right in the middle of the city. There’s a saying in Chinese that goes “上有天堂,下有苏杭”, putting Suzhou and Hangzhou equal to Heaven on Earth. Suzhou’s history spans thousands of years, and along with Hangzhou, is not only well known for its scenery, but also for its 美女 (beautiful women). One of the ancient four beauties of China, Xi Shi, was from Suzhou, and there’s a bridge dedicated to her there. I visited many of Suzhou’s temples, all of them breathtaking, as well as its many beautiful gardens, such as the Humble Administrator’s garden. Suzhou’s ancient roads such as Pingjiang road are also a feast for the eyes.

 

Wuzhen

Me at Wuzhen
Me at Wuzhen (乌镇)

Wuzhen is a small water town in Jiangnan, that is often referred to as the ‘Venice of China’. It’s many canals and old houses certainly make it worthy of that title. I went on a boat ride through Wuzhen, and agree that its old bridges and canals make it a great city for romantic sightseeing.

 

Hangzhou

Me at Hangzhou's West Lake
Me at Hangzhou's West Lake (西湖)

Hangzhou is another beautiful city in China famed for its West Lake. The capital of the Song dynasty, and currently Zhejiang province, Hangzhou’s West Lake is famous for being the site of many ancient Chinese writers. Many famous pagodas and bridges have been built, and there’s certain places you can stand to get a famous poetic scene (called West Lake’s 10 Scenic views). It truly is something you will never see in North America. I also visited ‘Song City’ which had a great performance detailing the history of Hangzhou in the Song dynasty, and contains a Buddhist shrine as well.

Shanghai

The Pearl of the Orient
Shanghai's Pearl of the Orient (东方明珠)

Shanghai is the biggest city in China, with over 23 million people, and the most modern and expensive city to live in. I’ve never been to a city quite as big as Shanghai. I thought New York city was big, but Shanghai is three times the size of that, and there’s rows and rows of apartment buildings as far as you can see. Spiral bridges lay on top of one another, gigantic shopping malls, and skyscrapers as tall as in Manhatten is what you can expect to see. Shanghai does not have the history of the other cities I visited, but there’s still a lot to do. I visited Yiyuan garden, City God temple, the Bund, and of course the Pearl of the Orient in Pudong district. Shanghai is a vibrant city, the city that never sleeps, and is probably one of the best places to go shopping (especially Nanjing road)!

Overall, I think China is a great place to go for vacation, or sightseeing. Bring your family, or bring your boyfriend/girlfriend, there’s lots of great natural beauty, and romantic scenery to enjoy. I went alone, but that’s because (as usual) I couldn’t find anyone to go with me. Still though, your money can go far in China. Some things are cheaper, some things are more expensive. Generally, food will be cheaper. A good meal costs about $3 USD including drinks, a subway ride costs only $0.30 USD, and China-branded clothing can be much cheaper. On the other hand, foreign brands will always cost more. Living in China can be quite different, especially in Shanghai, where the high cost of living, and high work pressure might put off many American expatriates from working there. Chinese people work very hard. Many get up early in the morning, work until late at night, and probably only get paid a fraction that Americans make. Everything is stricter there, manners and courtesy is important, every worker you see will probably be wearing a uniform, and males are definitely more dominant over there. That said, there are still alot of foreigners there, and Chinese people in general are very friendly. I will definitely go back in the future, and maybe have some time to visit my hometown (Shenyang) as well!

Categories
General

Power of human destiny and decision

One of the people who I admire most is Steve Jobs. He characterizes everything that a leader should have – vision, dedication and tough management.
He gave a commencement address at Stanford University and some of the things he said were very relevant to me:

1) He talks about how you cannot connect the dots going forward, you can only connect going back. The future is entirely unknown but you should always give things a shot. His attending of a calligraphy course changed PC history.

2) Love what you do and don’t mind the failures. Life has alot of great ironies, and he talked about how getting fired was the best thing to happen to him.
Sometimes a bad thing can lead to a good thing. But you always have to have the faith to keep going, the failures that you make cannot set you back.
Always look to the future and not to the past. I have regrets in life but I don’t think about ‘what ifs’ because they are irrelevant. History has put
you on this path and you can’t rewind back time to redo things. The only way to go is forward.

3) Death overrides everything. Death is the thing that no one can escape and he talks about how the prospect of dying drives him to do all that he could.
It’s true. In life, there’s lots of risks, but what does it matter? If you are going to die, you have nothing to lose. Taking risks is what makes great companies
and great fortune. It’s a shame people often fear it because they fear the unknown.

One of my great mantras is that life is 50% your decision and 50% fate. The ‘fate’ can be substituted with any external force beyond our control.
Call it karma, or destiny, or God’s will, but there’s a certain part of your life that is uncontrollable. However I believe a great majority of your life is controllable. Our decisions make alot of impact. If you put your hand on a hot stove, then you can’t say it was ‘fate’ that caused your hand to be burned. There is direct causal relationship between putting your hand on the stove and your hand burning. In short, X->Y implies that it was entirely your decision.

An example of something that’s entirely fate would be your friend dying in a car accident. You have absolutely no control over how/when your friend dies, therefore your decision, X, has no relationship to the outcome, Y.
In this case, it’s entirely ‘God’s will’ that let it happen. You could also make an argument that it was your friend’s decision to drive a car or get drunk, but that also depends on whether you believe that everyone else on earth is the same as you. What if other people on earth are not like you, they are merely illusions or machinations and the only causal factor on your life is you? But I’ll leave that for another story.

In any case, our career, finances, relationships, health, all have a degree of control that is attributable to us. Some of these decisions can lead to fate controlling and others up to us entirely.
Example: I don’t write my SATs and I don’t apply to Princeton University => Princeton University doesn’t accept me. This is directly a cause of your decision not to apply. What if I reworded it?
I don’t write my SATs and I apply to Princeton University => Princeton University doesn’t accept me. Now it’s still causal but now the cause is I didn’t write my SATs. What if I do this?
I write my SATs and I apply to Princeton University => Princeton University doesn’t accept me. Now we bring fate into the picture. You did what is required to apply. The things you have control over is your SAT mark, GPA, references, Extracurricular, Essay, etc. But now there is a bit of the uncontrollable factor => The admissions board at Princeton. You have no control over their decisions. So merely by our decisions, we can cause fate to be brought into the picture. Interesting isn’t it?

In conclusion, I highly value Steve Job’s advice and I think that more things are actually under our control than we think. Our decisions might account for more than 50% of our life if we believe that fate can also be influenced by our decision. Those things which are PURELY fate are actually quite rare.