2014: robots, sea kayaking/sailing/backpacking, alternative living, bioinformatics

mmm, nyancake!
mmm, nyancake!

…or something. I’m ignoring facebook’s attempt to summarize my life for the moment.

In review, I’d say it was a good year: lots of adventures, first time experiences, new friends. There were some ups and some downs. The downs are still intensely personal, so I apologize for not sharing them right now and only showing the highlight reel of my life.

alright, now that I’ve established this is a pretentious and obnoxious post meant for myself,


first wedding attended, for my awesome friend-since-elementary-school, Alice



first full-time job, with the awesome Curoverse

sneakermail genomes!

first time cosplaying and sewing my own costume (holy FRICK that was a lot of work)

lie ren
boston anime convention 2014
boston anime convention 2014


  • sea kayaking out to an island and camping on it



  • winter hiking


  • backpacking



  • bluewater sailing
first sighting of Boston while travelling north from Fairhaven
first sighting of Boston while travelling north from Fairhaven
night-time botoring (boat motoring), view of Boston
night-time botoring (boat motoring), view of Boston


  • manufacturing and shipping robots (yes, we delivered our kickstarter on-time!) and teaching a class to close to 100 people
final parts count before we seal and ship our robot kits
engineering notebook drawings from a student
that student’s final project
    • making sweet point-and-click camera-controlled robots (with help from our wonderful interns), albeit they failed on kickstarter, they were still cool from a technical standpoint



(sorry about my face at the beginning, it’s cropped from a longer video)

alternative living

  • liveaboard
my home for a few weeks
what it looks like out of the water
  • tiny home
we started with the bare trailer and installed radiant heating and insulation
plywood siding going up
plywood siding going up
tarpaper to weatherproof our structure
tarpaper to weatherproof our structure


I find myself being thankful a lot.

Wallet stolen in Mexico? Well, I’m still happy, healthy, and well-educated so I can go home and make more money. Sick with a cold? Well, at least it’s an infrequent occurrence and I’m not living in constant pain like sufferers of lupus or lyme disease.  And I’m not in danger of losing my job, which is understanding of sick days.

It’s almost like my brain is on obnoxiously optimistic mode. Ah well, I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.


the upsides of having been through something traumatic in my childhood (and also travelling extensively) and also having been suicidal:

I grew up thinking most people had something or other they were intensely passionate about. But many of my current friends seem adrift, uncertain what they care about or what they are qualified to do anything about. Perhaps there is nothing wrong with being adrift and open to different directions, but (due to societal expectations?) they often seem to be in a state of malaise.

My trauma forged me: it tore me down, but I survived it and am stronger for it. These childhood experiences give me a sense of purpose in life, an acute and visceral sense of the injustice in and sheer incomprehensibility of our lives.

Thinking about death daily for an extended period of time also puts a different perspective on things, for better or for worse. I’m very happy with my life at the moment, but thanks to my experiences with wishing to die, I feel a focus on making the most of my life and defining what matters to me. For whatever reason, the house with a picket fence and a dog, something easily within my grasp if I worked for it thanks to the advantages I live with, has no appeal to me. Similarly, my focus is not on finding a relationship, nor on hitting the next “milestones” in the conventional path of life (university, career, husband, children, retirement, death), but rather on finding my life.

This past year, I thought my point of living was to have adventures and explore the breadth of sensation and possible experiences in life — things I cannot experience once I am dead. I’m not sure what the theme of this upcoming year will be, but I suppose a year of relative stability (moving three times in six months sucks!) might not hurt.

things i’d like to accomplish in 2015:

  • publish a paper
  • figure out what I want to accomplish in ten years and analyze the things I should try to get there

crap (stuff) i liked

“However, I continue to try and I continue, indefatigably, to reach out. There’s no way I can single-handily save the world or, perhaps, even make a perceptible difference- but how ashamed I would be to let a day pass without making one more effort”.

-Isaac Asimov,  “The Relativity of Wrong”


“For me, I am driven by two main philosophies: know more today about the world than I knew yesterday and lessen the suffering of others. You’d be surprised how far that gets you.”

– Neil deGrasse Tyson

and one from pop culture

Every night I used to pray that I’d find my people, and finally I did on the open road.
We had nothing to lose, nothing to gain, nothing we desired anymore, except to make our lives into a work of art.

– Lana Del Rey, “Ride”

(src) (related 5 minute TED talk: A glimpse of life on the road)

For instance, on the planet Earth, man had always assumed that he was more intelligent than dolphins because he had achieved so much — the wheel, New York, wars and so on — whilst all the dolphins had ever done was muck about in the water having a good time. But conversely, the dolphins had always believed that they were far more intelligent than man — for precisely the same reasons.

-Douglas Adams