Pandemic Diary #85 – hi covid

well this time i caught COVID for realsies

thanks to extensive availability of tests as well as our fairly paranoid way of interacting with other people (fairly spaced out risks), we can make some interesting conclusions on how this ran through my roommates and then the people I interacted with

(in particular — thanks US government for giving us free tests via USPS, there’s no way we would’ve caught so early without a glut of free tests)

roommate A -> does risky stuff on Saturday, nothing else for days (they actually go out the least of all of us) — tests positive Thursday evening (antigen)

roommate B -> (that’s me) PCR negative on Friday morning, Cue positive on Saturday morning

Symptoms are not super obvious, but they are kind of persistent. Friday at most was paranoia levels of “did i just not sleep well.” Saturday morning was still not super obvious (“did i not drink enough water / air kind of dry cough”) and it was really not until saturday afternoon that it was more unmistakeable

friend A -> (interacted on Thursday afternoon) Cue negative sat and sun, positive on Monday (that’s today)

So, it seems like an estimate could be E+0 days exposure -> E+4 days, PCR comes back positive. Perhaps it’s like E+0

Pandemic Diary #84 – misc. thoughts (so much has happened)

content warning: guns and gun violence (section at bottom)

Went to see the dragon boat festival ! i only caught a glimpse of it, but since i got to share it with friends, i really enjoyed it. (what is chinese culture to me? the feeling of childhood summers spent there, eating foods, a world away from the US)

Thoughts on: luck of being born in the US. vs. being born in a poorer country. In latter, no matter how hard work, likelihood becoming millionaire ~= zero. So for me, becoming a millionaire may be hard work, but also incredible luck being born where I was.

Research: the anxiety of no longer believing that hard work pays off while knowing that i should believe the fiction, or else it becomes a self-defeating circle

i suppose i still feel a bit of terror in my heart at not following the path others do — applying for internships, grants, and fellowships — things i could add to my resume even, easily prove my worth to Others (who?) — and instead relying on contract work (how can I push further on that?)

while at the same time admiring people who just take off at 20 and go to … sail around the world or somesuch. technically there is nothing stopping me from doing so !! On twitch. There are streamers who did that, went to eg kung fu academy for two years

attending a startup class — to be honest, given the low commitment (2-3 hrs a week) and that i don’t intend to full-time a startup right after graduating / haven’t done due diligence, i didn’t expect much out of it (expected kind of a desultory reading group feeling)

(though maybe that’s also good in a way — i’m not tied to a particular idea, and can “quit” easily if desired)

the speaker was expert on decision theory — thinking in bets

  • Quitting can be getting to where we want to go faster
  • Can promise – science says we will *always* quit too late (missing out on opportunity cost)
  • resultism fallacy — NOT the case that good decision = good outcome, bad decision = bad outcome
  • eg at investing firm: usually there isn’t a meeting if an outcome is much *better* than forecast, even if the amount / of error is the same as for bad outcome
  • As leader (Of whatever level): Talk about outcomes when they are good, not just bad, or else: people set low targets (now you have to estimate fudge factor or else misallocate resources) to lower career risk, or only make decisions through consensus (here’s 50 pages of analysis, agreement for entire group and contractors). Both are anthit
  • A lot of stress from decision making is worrying get decision wrong, to lower it:
  • Consider: Impact of decision? And is it reversible?
  • e.g. Deciding food at restaurant, impact low: even if terrible, will have another meal ~4 hrs later
  • If this is the only option I have, would I be fine with it?
  • She quit due to health issues as all-but-dissertation – while about to give job talks —> poker, asked by investment co. To give talk on decision making, wrote book, now decided go back to grad school — often doors not actually closed — will not improve money but will improve happiness

Other thoughts;

  • Avoiding chores due to negative emotional energy: solution may not be (distract by calling friends / podcast) but rather, (optimal ordering for unpleasant tasks — consider that it doesn’t really matter. Replace the emotions by visualizing the energy I spend picking what socks to wear: just wear whatever is in drawer). Might be faster in the end


begin content warning: guns, blood, violence

forefront of my mind is still the shootings

the idea of being a kid and calling for 911 and getting shot

or as a kid smearing yourself in your friend’s blood to avoid getting shot yourself

just a tinge of weird feeling being out in public, especially in a crowd of people or the crowded aisles of a supermarket

Hope on the local level: gun control laws at state level have had measurable impact on reducing gun violence

after listening to npr podcast (vegetarian learning to hunt deer) — value hunters, as hunting licenses and permits are a big part of park conservation funding, and they often appreciate nature much more than average person — different than military weapons for war

hear so little about Ukraine war now. Mostly hear about inflation, gas prices.

Pandemic Diary #83 – ukraine war, protest lessons learned


lessons learned from last time

  • it’s not just people sitting around waving signs
  • good to get there on time / early, they might start a parade walking around and someone leading chants
  • there’s shouting and it can be easy to get caught up in the fervor and forget about social distancing

Sticks are good, white paper is good for contrast, paint makes it easier to write large, and don’t get sucked in bc ppl will be shouting. maybe bring laptop for sitting on train for half an hour lol

point of protests? just to express outrage, celebrate our right to protest, (According to studies, convert people to lifelong activist). effects/ change may take decade+ to become apparent

new green line union sq station great – 30 mins of sitting on my butt and i’m downtown. so weird to see perspective i rarely see except in a car. goes high over train depot at some point, scenic




finally got over all my negative feelings (ish) and read the reviews, found two papers that do the same thing (ahhh) and yea going to be a long 2 weeks

need to remember to turn in my laptop, the wax is making it harder to type.

discovered new sources of coworking
(inspiration – one person who feared math, took classes, now studying graduate degree in it)

inflation remains high and stocks are going haywire (i think due to fed announcement? war in ukraine? no idea). dies

feel like i made unfortunate life choices (startup/grad school before industry), didn’t think so many of my peers would be in a position to buy a home at this age. maybe it’s okay to not be a homeowner.

war weapons and death

understand war says ukraine may have won kharkiv back
tbh still surprised ukraine held its own against russia, but mostly i feel a great amount of sadness for all the people dying right now as soldiers that we hear nothing about (at least in the west). and the destruction of cities, and all the money funneled into weapons. i read somewhere “someone is winning, and it’s the defense contractors / weapons manufacturers”

so many mixed feelings about america’s role in policing the world and evangelism of our system of government. i think the newer democracies are way more functional. i also heard someone say maybe this is a sign that the old guard is on its way out. but from my perspective… all this talk about oil/gas and not about renewables.

meanwhile russia’s sanctions seem to be backfiring for now, b/c people continue paying for oil/gas, they have increased their coffers (? or something need to fact check). i imagine war usually makes incumbent president more popular. still need to read up on cultural history russia and ukraine.

hiding true preferences to fit in. a hidden brain episode about that. how before east germany fell, citizens vastly supported government, then after no one would admit to it / would say they were forced into it. so can i say at all that a large portion of russia has patriotically supported the war? who knows / it may be impossible to know, and i can only bring my own biases to bear


checked and found my absnetee ballots marked as provisional,

funnily they never responded to my email but 3 days later my ballot showed up in the mail

forgot that i can only request 2 months ahead, they probably wondered why 6 months all in MA

i should look into renewal online of my driver’s

is my stay in MA really temporary? in my heart it is, but i’m wavering

roe v wade, legal learning / podcasts

1 slate amicus

learning: 9th and 14 th amendment, unenumerated rights. (technically have no right to cross state borders ! interesting thought in light on covid)

right to privacy – includes right to contraception. iud’s were game changer for me in terms of period pain. whereas i used to just want to lie in bed for a whole day.

2 – re unenumerated rights, Today, Explained vox

both have transcripts

to blog

realization — paper reviews judged mostly by random people, not foremost experts in everything I write about… so my lack of knowledge of NLP, that it’s less “technical” — I can be strong in other points

  • google summer of code
  • no longer limited to students
  • ~$15/hr in US

lots of cool projects! !! ! I should contribute to one maybe with ulterior motive of getting nice paying job (??) (so tired)

boston government gsoc

studying toxicity of open source communities with nlp o__o so meta

  • productivity,

moving from getplan to legendapp

eisenhower decision matrix – power of crossing things off of my todo list (can always explore more hypotheses)

“bought into hockey stick growth warning signs software engineer” The Scoop: Inside Fast’s Rapid Collapse What can software engineers learn from the shutdown of the company? Exclusive details.

analog benefits:

continuous description in antigen tests by saturation of test line

thinking… interesting, that because more careful drivers, so same number of accidents. so if I make assistive device will it be meaningless?

chamfer of sidewalks – having to use one arm more than the other


ios leading the way on low vision / legally blind accessibility which is a thing – AR for directions on a street – exploring photos in the past by labelling –

a startup – using camera in glasses so a remote *human* can explain where to go next ! finding braille signs – the stress of having to find a braille sign behind a door / not getting smashed – typos in braille XDDD – getting lost in a room (like a robot doing SLAM ! loop closure !)

“a day in the life of an engineer working from home” blindr … “where do you want to be if we lose” LOL IS THIS WHAT STARTUPS ARE LIKE IN SFO shark tank


urops – thinking a bit more about team management. how did i do it in the past at narwhaledu? i guess we were working fairly separate projects but in person. so logistically (repositories, code) easier


constant pursuit of things to waste time on while feeling less guilty

learned you can mig weld AL???? always thought it was a TIG things (i know-ish mig but not tig). and “soldering” with alumbond, apparently works decently ! as tested by hammering back and forth

the victim complex and ambition
really my own fault perhaps to not apply to things / try harder / blame events from 2-5 years ago, in some sense. or at least not very useful to do so. i do feel like i’ve tapped out to some extent, given up. what are my excuses for doing so? what are ways to change that? i’ve been trying to find a higher cause to fight for.

at least i don’t think everything is pointless an in a constant state of decay and efforts are meaningless without result…

at heart i don’t know how to fight for myself sometimes, i only know to try to lone wolf it out. it seeps in, other people’s beliefs about you

there is some layer of gender complexity constantly in my mind. am i failing to try hard enough to prove stereotypes wrong? or instead of focusing on myself – should i not pick a real cause to put my heart and soul into (but that still pays the bills)?

is it okay to not aim to be a CEO or something that means I’m changing the public’s perception of what is possible for (women) to do? to sit back and just mentor the next generation?

gentrification vs housing demand

abortion stories

research side projects – climate science – datasets in ML

generally like of metric / numbers to the concentration of ideas from a few institutions. in human trafficking i encounter so many universities i hear so much less from than in robotics

animals 10k – i should definitely do my video animal pose dataset -> robots


random read

  • It’s critical for CEOs to understand that when it comes to staffing executive teams, there is no zero-defect model—some people just won’t work out
    • If all your executive team slots were filled by safe, senior people with extensive track records, then you, as CEO, would be failing in your responsibility to develop the next generation of leadership
    • It also means that some appointments are deliberate gambles
  • So CEOs need to differentiate for themselves between their own staffing mistakes and mismatches rooted in circumstance
  • otherwise, every failure, no matter what its cause, becomes a source of debilitating guilt
    • It’s one thing to argue that imposed goals are unrealistic; it’s quite another to fall short of what you came up with yourself.
    • Generally, you can assume you have a serious problem if executives start blaming everything on forces beyond their control —the sagging economy
  • It usually takes from 12–18 months on the job before a senior-level hire can be accurately assessed
    • By that time, according to our tracking of hires at several large corporations, roughly 40 percent should be shown the door.
  • some people quickly demonstrate that they have been promoted past their level of optimal performance
    • dealing with highly successful people who might never have experienced significant failure in their adult lives
    • that these are not innocent bystanders. The vast majority of executives at this level actively seek higher and higher positions
    • the stark truth, as David Kearns of Xerox once remarked, is that the majority of executive careers end in disappointment
    • think that once the right team is in place, all its members will continue to succeed until they become CEO or reach retirement age
    • Of all the ambitious young managers who yearn to become CEOs, only a fraction will achieve their ultimate dream
    • The pyramid is steep and slippery; the closer you get to the top, the harder it is to hold on
  • coaching in a certain area, such as time management?
  • mission collaborative feedback
  • intangible qualities such as personality, reliability, and teamwork – things that are hard to quantify, but easy to spot notice once you start working alongside someone
    being late and being unreliable. One is a fact, and the other is a perception. You emphasize the fact, but I suspect it’s the perception that is behind their unwillingness to rehire Best Practices for UROP Mentorship in EECS
    if people get the impression you’re not willing to face screw-ups and learn from them, they won’t think you’re going to be successful
  • the longer they go without actually dealing with dismissals face to face, the harder it becomes to contemplate doing it.
    • when someone leaves the executive team: There’s nowhere to go but down or out
    • People who have felt pressured, cornered, topped-out
    • they are perfectly happy to stay with the organization and do a lower level job that plays to their strengths
    • Although it might not be their first reaction, they are actually relieved when someone else makes the decision for them and removes them from the job they knew they couldn’t handle
  • CEOs should understand that for the good of the organization, the team’s composition ought to keep changing over time
  • guide to executive coaching. There is substantial literature on the subject
    • You can coach certain behavioral patterns—how people deal with subordinates, for example, or how they operate within teams
    • You cannot coach character, integrity, or basic intellectual capacity. You cannot coach a fundamental change in personality
  • The most obvious way to prevent serious situations from sneaking up is to make a commitment to continual assessment
  • Situations in which definitive evidence clearly demonstrates that an executive should be sacked are the exception rather than the rule. CEOs who keep hanging back, waiting for more and more information, will almost certainly wait too long
  • all they succeeded in doing was hurting both the executive team and the organization while prolonging the agony of a stressed-out executive who was left twisting in the wind, awaiting his or her fate
  • Billion-dollar acquisitions, huge strategic shifts, even decisions to eliminate thousands of jobs—all pale in comparison with the anxiety most CEOs experience when it comes to deciding the fate of their direct reports

projects blog (nouyang)