Daily Gratitude

In French, the word "thankful" translates to "reconnaissant". This exposes an important truth: to be thankful is to simply be recognizant. It's that easy — gratitude requires nothing more than consciousness. So I've started a gratitude journal, which I frankly should have started way earlier. I plan to continue this until the last day of my life because today could very well be.

Day 7,752


Life is good. It feels stable, at least compared to life as a student, but stability can actually be dangerous if it transitions into passivity and insensitivity. These are the times in which gratitude is ironically more difficult to be felt since everything seems so obvious; routines are repeated until they are slowly taken for granted. These are the times to recognize I have been loved more than I loved.

Day 7,681


Had some friends over at my place to catch up and celebrate all happenings of life, over some delicious food. We joked that as "adults", we're now "friends from college". Wow, what a phrase. I'm thankful for being able to experience the joys and sorrows of becoming an "adult".

Day 7,671


Celebrated my 21st birthday with my friends. It's finally legal!

Day 7,636


I found community here, along the San Francisco Peninsula. Thanks to Bret, I've met a group of people through NBCC, with which I enjoy many afternoons and weekends abundant of good food and fun games. More than anything else, I feel welcomed whenever I engage in conversations with them; it is this embracing of cultural and cognitive diversity that I'm especially grateful for. I've come to realize that life can be really lonely if you let it be, so I thank God for all the blessings in my life, a vastness I will never understand.

Day 7,591


Wow, it's been a busy few weeks. Took my final exams until the last Friday of the semester, attended graduation ceremony on Saturday morning, performed at First Pres on Sunday, then started work at Facebook on Monday. What a transition — especially with my entire family generously in town to help me adjust to my new place at Foster City. So much to be grateful for the past three years at Berkeley (the posts written on this page definitely show that). Read more of my parting thoughts here!

Day 7,554


Attended a talk today with Patrick Collison, founder of Stripe. Appreciated his advice about pursuing your own path and taking the risk. He mentioned his time at MIT when over 40% of the graduates went on to work in finance -- how likely is it that such a large percentage of students from varying backgrounds and skill sets go into the same field? That "field" is probably tech right now, and as an incoming engineer at Facebook upon graduation, I am admittedly adding to the statistic. Grateful to be living in a house in which students study vocational callings and figure things out together.

Day 7,546


Id like to briefly share my experience of the Mexico trip last week, in particular the homestay on Monday night and the newfound realizations I’ve had on generosity and the long-term implications of the impact this trip had on me.

On Monday night, after listening to students present on how they teach English to younger children through Amextra, the whole group separated into small groups of 2 or 3 to spend the night at a local home. I was with Jed and Madison, and there we met Guadalupe, a mother of one girl and two boys, who invited us to their home. We hiked the hills to the second floor of a local grocery store, where the family resides. And on that floor was a neatly prepared, spacious bedroom for us to sleep in; the room had a beautiful night sky view to the vast city lights of Lomas de San Isidro.

They were so generous, providing us with dinner afterwards, full of rice, beans, and chilly chicken. I got to play my childhood favorite game of spinning tops with the boys, enjoy the night snuggled down in a comfortable bed, and wake up to another feast for breakfast. And upon receiving all that, all I could give back was a rusty “muchas gracias” to the family. Yet, at the same time I was truly welcomed in the community as the kids treated us like siblings.

This brings me to my newfound learning on generosity: When I think of generosity, I think about giving. But I realized on this trip that it’s rather more about belonging. The host family allowed us to feel at home despite the different context.

Many mission trips from my experience have had an undertone of superiority. That is, we’re this privileged group who received so much more than we need, so let us go to developing regions of the world and build houses. Feed the poor. Teach them and strategize solutions to their problems. And that’s awesome! We really should go out there and help those in need in ways we can. But this trip was different. We were provided a house. We were fed. We learned of their solutions in response to their needs. We were accepted to belong, and it was incredibly humbling.

This quote by José Ramón Alcántara Mejía captures this feeling well. It goes like this: “Transformation is not what we do for others. Transformation is what God does to us when we enter into a relationship of equality with others. We don’t serve because we are already transformed, but because we are transformed when we serve.”

At first I was challenged to know that I wasn’t physically aiding people, but soon realized something greater, that I’m in equal relationship with communities here. I’m grateful to have experienced living into these ideals and excited to be back at Berkeley with a sense of hope. Not a complacent sense of accomplishment, but a sense of a commissioned responsibility to work with my brothers and sisters at Mexico, and any other country in this world. Working equally with them, not for them, to foster communities of love and generosity.

Day 7,498


Enjoyed some good Korean food thanks to Albert and Mary. Thankful to have met them and their quirks here in college. It's hard to feel completely comfortable with people, but they are truly an exception.

Day 7,486


Visited new corners of San Francisco today with my friends. Enjoyed the cold waves of the beach and took exciting photos — felt young, wild, and free.

Day 7,472


Have been auditing interesting classes and graduate seminars this first week of school. Definitely the result of an unsustainable enthusiasm for school after a long winter break of minimal knowledge acquisition. Grateful for all the energetic professors and classmates in this university, at the frontier of today's technologies.

Day 7,453


Years pass by so quickly; it's easy to forget about the years when obsessing over the days. I avoid proclaiming new year's resolutions, but I'd like to see myself become warmer this year. A heart more generous, a mind less judgemental, eyes more understanding. And of course, a grateful outlook on life!

Day 7,440


Walked along the windy roads of Tudek Memorial Park with my mom and sister. A graceful park of vast meadows, surrounded by the plateauing mountains of State College, where the video clip top-left of this webpage was filmed. Thankful for this pause — a much-needed comma — in the midst of noises and flashes.

Day 7,438


At Pennsylvania after wrapping up a long semester at UC Berkeley. It's been full of new knowledge, new research, new friends, and new communities, especially at the 2:42 House. Looking forward to enjoying the next month with my family — grateful for some rest and good home-cooked food.

Day 7,424


Assisted the children's choir today at the church's Christmas concert, Hanging of the Greens, to celebrate the start of the Advent season. It has been incredibly rewarding to participate in the growth of the young children through music. This was a weekend full of the Holy Spirit, thanks to the House retreat at San Damiano, where we affirmed each other's gifts and vocational journeys. It's a blessing to experience this abundant life.

Day 7,414


Celebrating Thanksgiving, the one national holiday that I fervently endorse the values of. A unique day in which explicitly expressing your gratitude for another is socially expected. Thanks to Jessica and her family for inviting us to a warm, welcoming dinner. Here's to another year of non-Thanksgiving gratitude!

Day 7,409


The past week has been a chain of deadlines after another, my soulless brain chugging through the nights. I sometimes wonder if life is just an accumulation of feelings. A ceaseless sequence of stimuli reaching the brain, only to cause more thoughts and actions. Then repeat.

Pride from accomplishing a desired goal. Check. Pain from losing a loved one. Check. Guilt from allowing fear to overpower my integrity. Check. Hopefulness from others' stories of the past. Check. Frustration from the discrepancy between my wants and needs. Check. Gratitude for being alive to experience these feelings. Check.

Day 7,396


A good friend of mine called me today to ask about the meaning of life, with regard to the private and public eschatologies of our society. What an unexpected philosophical conversation! It was a timely call because I just accompanied the children's choir performance this morning and walked off stage thinking through how much my perspective on life changed since I was at such an age -- how it brings me such gratitude.

Day 7,389


"For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also." (Matthew 6:21) The heart follows the treasure, not the other way around. I spend much time and effort into earthly treasures that leave me insatiate. Then my heart naturally gravitates towards such treasures, under the illusion of security and of complacency that a later change of heart will help restore my treasures elsewhere. Grateful for today's sermon.

Day 7,384


Attended a talk by Alan Cooper tonight, thanks to BI. It was a good reminder for us young adults to unionize against many forms of evil. Really enjoyed his passion towards helping shape the future of our technological society.

Day 7,381


The last two weeks have been stacked with midterms and assignments, just a deadline after another, stumbling by the minute. Thankfully today was centered around healing and rest, starting with a brunch with my Bible Study group and ending with a video call with my parents.

Day 7,371


If no one around you knew a single thing about what you are doing, would you still do it? Or to the other extreme, if everyone around you knew about everything you do, would you still do it? The likely answer to both questions, at least for me, is No. Then whose desires are your actions satisfying?

Grateful to have these questions pop into my head once in a while, faithfully guiding me through the dark.

Day 7,362


The past week was probably the most emotionally tempestuous experience I've had since my freshman year of college. A double whammy of two personal events enveloped me into a state of deep reflection, deep despair, and deep gratitude. It made me ask myself: what kind of person do you want to be remembered as? What's more important to you -- your résumé or your eulogy? Which values will you uphold and sacrifice your life for? How will you prioritize and compartmentalize your obligations, especially when challenges arise and temptations strike? Who are you?

Day 7,354


Flew a plane for the first time — thanks Conrad! All the excitement aside, gazing over the San Francisco horizon from far above gave some perspective to life. The view from above puts the largest buildings into an embarrassing scale, let alone the troubles that engulf our everyday lives. I often find myself enslaved by the daily grind, only to be lost in the realization that many things we worry about do not actually matter.

We need to be reminded more of our belovedness in perspective. You are loved. You are not alone. You are gonna be okay.

Day 7,347


I've recently started playing the piano for the children's choir at First Pres. It gives me deep joy to engage with their pure souls and curiosities. The Bible says that we will never enter the kingdom of heaven unless we change and become like little children (Matthew 18:3). As a child, I didn't know what that meant; now I thankfully do, in light of what has inevitably changed within me.

Day 7,341


Embarrassingly, I often find myself enslaved to goals and ambitions. True Life is not like that because it channels my energy through God. What fuels my life depletes very easily in the face of inconvenience; fuel for True Life does not deplete as it's sourced from God's power. True Life does not bury me under stress but rather uplifts me through my work. True Life is not shy when others or myself need help; I am. True Life knows when to stop and look up to God; I don't. I did however find some convergence between my life and True Life after I've started this life-long journal of gratitude online. It's a bridge between what both my life and True Life are happy about. It's a place for my life to let go of my own pride and ego and let True Life show how blessed I am.

Day 7,333


The temperature has been rocketing through three digits this week. It's a timely reminder to be thankful for two-digit temperatures, or more importantly, for the appropriate resources to keep myself cool indoors when the weather gets tough. But it's easy to be thankful for cold water and air conditioners when it's hot outside. Once winter returns, we flock toward the heater with hot cocoa clasped in our hands as if summer never happened. So who would defy the obvious demand curve to seek and thank the undesirable over the desirable? Who would greet and help neighbors out when everyone flocks to a famed celebrity in town? If we only instinctively respond to primary urges, of which many are dogmatically constructed societal ideals, we cannot be any better than self-indulgent, self-serving creatures. So in such heated days, we must be thankful for both cold water and hot water.

On hot days, we must thank cold water and hot water. On cold days, we must thank hot water and cold water. If we do not, we are not understanding the problem.

Day 7,326


Encountered a short story named "Leaf by Niggle" by J.R.R. Tolkien. The allegorical story of Niggle sheds light on something I couldn’t properly articulate my whole life. I have always feared obscurity, the notion that once I leave this physical world, my life’s work will be eternally trivialized. It's an interesting fear. But it really is not about how many “leaves” of the Tree we accomplish in this life; it’s about the vision and the work devoted towards revealing God’s glory on this temporary earth. I am now able to leave life gratefully realizing that I have given a beautiful glimpse of the True Reality.

Day 7,325


Hiked today along Mt Tamalpais, just north of the Golden Gate. Under the blazing sun and dehydrated, I had a rough time pushing through. Thankfully, Sandy walked down the mountain with me to get cold drinks. She's a lifesaver!

Day 7,319


It's University Sunday at FPCB today! I clearly remember walking through those glass doors exactly two years ago, into a community that radically deepened my perspective on life and faith. A community of love and hospitality that I hope to share and give back to. Grateful for a fun, productive summer at Facebook and a hopeful start to another school year!

Day 7,282


Words are easy to say; realizing them into actions is hard.

Doing something is easy; understanding its meaning is hard.

Significance is easy to grasp; appreciating them is hard.

Day 7,228


Wrapped up the semester well and now at Menlo Park to start working at Facebook HQ. Got brunch and dinner with amazing folks today. Excited for the upcoming summer and the wonderful people I'll meet. Also thankful to have this opportunity of further developing my most visited website (and for another two billion fellow users).

Day 7,205


Wow, that was a busy semester (though finals aren't over yet). All my classes were wonderful and meaningful, but I do want to particularly thank my computational text analysis class for solidifying my interest in natural language processing. It is a beautiful area of study with the right mix of statistical computation and linguistic creativity. Excited to see how future NLP technologies will continue to impact our lives.

Day 7,177


Data-driven education is the answer to a democratic future. If I'm a professional at anything, it's being a student -- an occupation I've been wholeheartedly pursuing for the past decade or two. And I've learned a lot along the way about how technology can empower classrooms and human teachers. I personally believe that human educators will never be machine-automated (at least while I'm alive) since being a genuine role model with enthusiasm and love for children is the truest art form possible. If this is true, however, then the tech industry has an obligation to empower such educators with the best tools possible -- not just 1:1 laptops, gamified lesson plans, or VR headsets, but a true understanding of each student through detailed data. Education must be properly democratized, and I'm thankful to work towards it through Datateach.

Day 7,176


I've been thinking a lot about life lately. The whens, the whats, the hows -- but most importantly, the why. Prioritizing your deeper purpose over shallow, human desires can be difficult but is necessary to focus on what really matters long-term. Think decades, centuries, millenniums. After consolidating which values to stand for and which mission to strive towards, the work you do will yield visceral reactions. Not everyone has the opportunity and privilege to pursue their vocation, so if you do (which I'm grateful to have), you have an obligation to pursue it while alive.

Day 7,172


Finished midterms and projects over the past few hectic weeks, and now at Boston for spring break. Definitely colder than SF here, but everything else seems well. Excited for the next few days, working on Datateach. Thankful for my good friend here to generously host me.

Day 7,157


There's been a lot of rain and wind recently, but glad to see the weather finally clearing up, thanks to the radiant sun. Really makes me smile. It's strange how much human emotion can be affected by natural phenomena as such.

Day 7,150


What a dark, cold, rainy night. Grateful to have a roof over my head tonight as I finish up ray-tracing these DAE files for my computer graphics project.

Day 7,142


Attended a great talk called Designing Your Life Worth Living by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, who both teach the life design class at Stanford. They offered interesting perspectives to life's meaning, some religious and some secular. Regardless, they advocated a "coherent" life where all my actions truly reflect my beliefs and values. Thanks to First Pres and The Veritas Forum for hosting this talk -- it was super helpful!

Day 7,137


Just came back from a BI member retreat at Lake Mendocino. Super fun activities and parties planned out by our IVP. Also excited to mentor a project team working with a biotech startup developing a diagnostic tool for endometriosis.

Day 7,127


Busy, busy, busy! I had some major assignment due almost every single day the past week or two, on top of heavy recruitment for BI. Learning a lot about NLP in my computational text analysis class. Graphics and AI are really cool, too.

Day 7,109


Returned from a super fun retreat at Santa Cruz with the BI officers. Great people for a great organization. It was also my first time playing laser tag -- exciting! Looking forward to another great semester with BI.

Day 7,104


Our edtech startup Datateach has been accepted into the VIP program of the Harvard Innovation Lab! Excited and grateful to develop this software to empower all the teachers out there.

Day 7,103


Enjoyed a very relaxing and rather productive winter break at Korea. Worked out every morning with my parents, prepared for the upcoming semester, started working on an edtech startup. It's also been refreshing to spend some physical time together with my family, as opposed to weekly virtual video calls. Thankful for such a supportive family, and excited to see how the semester turns out!

Day 7,088


A very happy new year everyone! 2016 has probably been the most accelerated year of learning for me, i.e. the most amount of information consumed in a year (I did take 10 classes this year). Looking forward to what 2017 brings us, folks! Good or bad, it'll be another year full of new adventures.

Day 7,076


Safely arrived at Korea after a 12-hour flight! I wonder how much faster airplanes will get in the future. Looking forward to a restful and meaningful winter break with my parents here.

Day 7,063


Enjoyed a warm Christmas party at Ryan's place with lots of food and gifts. Amidst studying this week, I was once again reminded of the beautiful community I'm thankful to belong in.

Day 7,062


What an awesome showcase by Berkeley Innovation this evening! A huge thanks to all the students, designers, and entrepreneurs that came to the showcase. And of course, y'all consultants worked really hard on your projects this semester and were fantastic tonight.

Day 7,061


Officially submitted all assignments for the semester as of last night. Built an algorithm from scratch using a mixture of simulated annealing, multiplicative weights, and other stochastic optimizations to solve an NP-hard problem. Anticipating the end of finals next week, excited for the holiday season and reuniting with my parents. Many things to be grateful for.

Day 7,054


I am grateful to be alive. To explore, to open door after door. To mistake, to forgive. Spent the whole day aggressively reading up on technical Wikipedia articles. There really is no end to knowledge, let alone the ones to be reified in the future.

Day 7,050


Prepared an unexpectedly delicious Thanksgiving supper with Angela today. Garlic potatoes, bacon-wrapped asparagus, and buttered chicken (a traditional turkey would have been too much for us). Grateful for a wonderful evening!

Day 7,046


Enjoyed an amazing pre-Thanksgiving dinner at FPCB tonight with great people, including classmates, housemates, church faculty, and the elderly. Another meal to be dearly missed thanks to Ryan and Mandy for organizing this. Thankful to belong in this beautiful community.

Day 7,042


A whole lot has been going on the past few weeks —- academically, politically, existentially. It's exponentially harder (with respect to time) to stay motivated without a clear goal; I've reached a point where achieving academic excellence is not enough fuel to keep me grinding. Recently I started reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren to help myself find more answers. Grateful for this opportunity to struggle and reflect.

Day 7,016


Enjoyed a delicious dinner with my friends at Toss noodle bar, which I definitely recommend (I usually get Thai fried rice with chicken), and spent the rest of the evening together. It's been a rough week, but I'm grateful to have friends here that support and love me.

Day 7,001


I'm happy to announce that I'll be working at Facebook next summer! It really is a tremendous honor and blessing to contribute my skills to such an influential company. Thank you Berkeley, thank you God.

Day 7,000


Wow, I've just lived 7,000 days. What a journey! Here's to another thousand.

Day 6,999


Had my last technical interview today. It was pretty challenging but grateful for this opportunity to showcase my JavaScript skills to engineers in the industry. Learned a lot from my mistakes and misunderstandings.

Day 6,998


A standard Monday, finishing off homework for my Algorithms class and cooking for the house. I really should try out different menus! A great day overall.

Day 6,997


Enjoyed some delicious take-home Chinese food with the old 242 house and the new Spruce42 house. An awesome community full of laughter and love.

Day 6,990


Due to an (un)expectedly busy semester, I now plan to make gratitude posts not "daily" but "frequently". This is will definitely be more sustainable in the long run!

Day 6,989


Went on a fairly long hike behind our cabins. I haven't really exercised for a while, so I definitely needed this to make me realize just how out of shape I am. I should really start exercising more regularly!

Day 6,988


Decided to go to the FoCUS retreat after some contemplation due to heavy school work. Thankful that I chose to go, particularly since I've been bogged down in general amidst incessant work. Also a great time to strengthen my relationships with these wonderful people.

Day 6,987


Enjoyed sushi with my girlfriend after a long day of classes and talked about what was going on in our lives. Can't have a better end to a Thursday!

Day 6,986


Oh man, these midterms are hard. I should have prepared more for them, but at least now I know which areas I have to work on for future exams! I still greatly love what I'm studying here at Cal.

Day 6,985


Had multiple Bay Area startups and tech/design companies pitch at our BI meeting today. Projects ranged from redesigning smart-toothbrushes for children to renovating the interior design of a startup incubator. Cool!

Day 6,984


Pretty much spent the whole day studying for my upcoming midterms and cooking dinner for the house. Frankly an overwhelming start to a week but excited for what lies ahead of me.

Day 6,983


Had deeper conversations with my housemates regarding our outlook on life and our future plans. It's a privilege to live with upperclassmen and virtually experience their process in moving life forward.

Day 6,982


Organized the Human-Centered Design Bootcamp and gave a presentation on hi-fi prototyping with tech devices. Talked about the importance of having an end-to-end mindset and "making it real" after the design process, i.e. telling < showing < building. Provided resources and tools for members to use when producing their final deliverable; looking forward to them already!

Day 6,981


Enjoyed a communal dinner and played (more like narrated) Scattergories in the living room. My friends can get real creative with words!

Day 6,980


As good as a Thursday can get. Great people, fun classes, cool opportunities, and time to think about what I want to pursue in life.

Day 6,979


After a day packed with tech companies' tech talks and career fairs, I felt at home when Ryan gave a talk on how and why to love at the House. Grateful to be a part of this community.

Day 6,978


Spent the whole day polishing the member portal for BI -- a long yet rewarding experience. Nothing can surpass the thrill of seeing your long-term project work.

Day 6,977


My first time cooking for the house! It was a fairly long process and a lot of dishes, but I'm glad my housemates liked the pasta. Didn't follow any recipe but I guess I'm not too shabby of a chef!

Day 6,976


Spent the first half of the day sitting at the other side of the table and interviewing candidates for our consultancy. Learned that the best responses are concise, clear, and creative. With a lot of emphasis on the clarity. Then spent the second half finalizing decisions and phone calling our future consultants!

Day 6,975


Enjoyed the Palantir Puzzlehunt at Cal! Teamed up with some awesome friends to solve complex puzzles, ranging from encrypted crosswords to colored hash functions. And free food.

Day 6,974


Spent the whole afternoon reviewing applications for Berkeley Innovation. A grueling process of mixed feelings but looking forward to meeting all of them in person next week!

Day 6,973


Interviewed with a tech company today and had a lot of fun. I enjoyed the technical and cultural questions, learned a lot about the cool culture of the company.

Day 6,972


Held another great meeting for the upcoming BmMT (Berkeley mini Math Tournament) this fall as part of the leadership team. Many talented undergraduates, mostly mathematicians, were enthusiastic about helping organize this national tournament for middle schoolers (the BMT is for high schoolers). Looking forward to a great year with the team!

Day 6,971


Finished my algebra homework on time! Even woke up at 6am this morning to finalize the proofs before class. Gotta start appreciating the little things. :)

Day 6,970


Was a few minutes late to my homework submission. Initially felt really miserable considering how hard I've worked on it the past week but realized this college education itself was a gift from my parents and God. Like everything else, this education wasn't earned by me; it was simply given. Today's incident reminded me of this fundamental fact, and I'm thankful for that.

Day 6,969


Enjoyed a huge lunch at Gogi Time with my girlfriend. The all-you-can-eat Korean food was great, but I want to take this time to talk a little more about Angela.

She's the type of person that waits until your classes end around 9pm just to eat dinner with you every week. The type of person that surprises me with flowers and loves me for who I really am -- my flaws and faults. She supports me emotionally, physically, and spiritually. The past year with her has been a blast, and I'm really excited for our adventures ahead along with the development of our relationship. I love her dearly, not because of what she does for me but because of who she is.

Day 6,968


Hosted an awesome housewarming party at my apartment with my roommates tonight. Many of our friends came over and enjoyed a great time with each other. We hand-made a bowl of fresh guacamole along with snacks -- a successful party!

Day 6,967


Attended a workshop to learn more about the interview process for today's tech industry. Aside from the presentation's usual tips and tricks, I coincidentally met a friend from MIT studying here as a graduate student! Planned on grabbing lunch with her in the near future.

Day 6,966


Started analyzing buffer overflows and "stack smashing" in my first computer security discussion section. Looking forward to a fun course, pursuing my interest in cybersecurity.

Day 6,965


Stopped by a high-profile tech company's info session on campus today. Just realized the sheer number of computer science majors desiring internships and full-time jobs from UC Berkeley. It's a historically amazing phenomenon, and I'm excited to be a part of it.

Day 6,964


Flyered for my first time on Sproul Plaza and realized how difficult it is to have people interested in a club, let alone grab any form of attention. For the few that actually talked with me and signed up at the booth, thanks!

Day 6,963


Worked hard with the BI officer team the whole day after classes (yes, we just returned from the retreat yesterday). Finalized the website, uploaded profile videos on social media, and officially started our recruitment process!

Day 6,962


Went whitewater rafting down the American River today before returning to Berkeley. Took a few swims and enjoyed the greenery along the hills nearby. An amazingly fun experience with super cool people.

Day 6,961


After spending the afternoon at a beach, we had a five-hour meeting with the team to discuss our outlook and what values we as a human-centered design organization stand for. Felt productive iterating on conversations of many issues and figuring out their respective solutions.

Day 6,960


Drove to El Dorado, CA for a weekend retreat with the Berkeley Innovation officer team. Looking forward to some good work + fun!

Day 6,959


Attended a quantum mechanics lecture this morning and was extremely intrigued by its science. Thankful for this educational opportunity to continuously discover new knowledge about our physical world.

Day 6,958


Had a great kick-off barbeque at FPCB with new people joining the community. It's wonderful to have incoming freshmen feel welcome and seen.

Day 6,957


Had dinner with the Berkeley Innovation officer team as one of many to meetings to come. Excited for a great semester leading the organization with them!

Day 6,956


Caught up with a great high school friend over some pho. Discussed many of our thoughts on being a college student with respect to our future plans. Grateful to have befriended her in my life.

Day 6,955


Truly thankful for the opportunity to give a brief talk at church today. Here's the transcript:

Hey everyone, I’m Julian, an incoming sophomore at Cal, and I want to share today my extraordinary experience with First Pres, and especially the FoCUS community.

It feels strange to be speaking here today because I clearly remember attending last year’s University Sunday with my parents after moving into my dorm that morning, sitting right there in the left corner, oblivious to what adventures lie ahead of me at Cal. I remember my parents being really impressed by the open glass walls and the great talks given throughout the service, and I personally could not stop thinking about how amazing the college worship band was — I remember thinking those guys were too cool for me to hang around with. Turns out they’re all-around amazing people, and I’m super excited to live with them this upcoming school year.

If I had to pick the most important thing I did my first year here, it would be signing up at the University Ministries booth outside the church that Sunday. I was soon invited to a welcoming barbeque a few days later where I met great new people, including our university minister Ryan, probably the most compassionate and intelligent person I've ever met. One of my earliest encounters with Ryan was when I emailed him a question about God's proximity to my life, and he replied with a page-long explanation full of incredible insight and detail.

I also met Bret at the barbeque and shared phone numbers to meet up next time, which I’m absolutely grateful for because I really needed his number to find the 2:42 House for my first FoCUS gathering! Wednesday nights at the 2:42 House on Haste St have been a haven for me to attentively reflect upon God’s words and recognize His work in our lives, whether it was through the people I’ve met there or the talks given by the guest speakers. Ever since, FoCUS has done nothing but bring love, happiness, and a real sense of belonging to my life.

And, believe it or not, I was part of a yearlong freshman Bible study group that met here every Monday at 8am. It’s rather easy getting up for it when you know you’ll be greeted with wonderful people, the Gospel of John, and free bagels — though I can’t say I made it to all of them.

In retrospect, God’s decision to bring me from the east coast all the way to Berkeley, invite me to First Pres that Sunday, and allowing me to join the FoCUS community, to shape and be shaped by it, is more miraculous than anything. I want to thank everyone here for making my first year at Cal so special.

So if anyone’s sitting back there for the first time here at First Pres, make sure to sign yourself up at the FoCUS booth outside. You’re definitely in for a treat. Thank you.

Day 6,954


My two roommates just moved in the apartment today. Spent the afternoon cleaning the room and organizing our luggage. Looking forward to an exciting year with them!

Day 6,953


Tried out a new smoothie at Brewed Awakening north of campus. The cafe has a nice feel to it, and the Orange Grove tasted pretty good.

Day 6,952


Got a satisfying haircut today. Glad to have found a place at Berkeley that maintains my short hair.

Day 6,951


Spent some alone time tonight to reflect upon my goals for the upcoming year and the next decade. They're essentially categorized into loving more people and increasing my knowledge base.

Day 6,950


Today is Mom's birthday. Sent her a text this morning expressing my appreciation of her wholehearted commitment to my life. She has been a huge role model, an inspiration, and a generous shoulder to lean on throughout these years. Interwoven in our conversations would be her wisdom and knowledge in the hope that I learn how to love, believe, and prioritize values. Mom, I miss you and love you dearly.

Day 6,949


Shopped at IKEA to get some furniture for my room. IKEA is a pretty cool place, much analogous to a huge maze. Thankfully got everything I needed!

Day 6,948


Spent the first day here grocery shopping and cleaning up the place. It's my first time completely moving in by myself, and so far it's been going well, thanks to very benevolent people helping me out. Super grateful for the awesome community here.

Day 6,947


Started moving stuff to my new apartment at the other side of campus. It's going to be an exciting yet physically demanding next few days, moving in to new place!

Day 6,946


Visited my friend's startup at San Francisco. The team is working on wireless charging alike wifi, and the technology is amazing. Looking forward to their accomplishments. Glad to have met them.

Day 6,945


Took my computer architecture final from 9am to noon, then ran to my numerical analysis final, which lasted from noon to 2pm. Five straight hours of testing was definitely worth it; I got to take a delicious nap after returning home. Done with summer classes! Thanks Berkeley!

Day 6,944


Pretty much spent the whole day studying for my two final exams tomorrow. Not much to say, but still another great day where I get to work on what I love.

Day 6,943


Had dinner with the FoCUS fam, this time at Remy's. I got the Carne Asada, which I highly recommend to anyone craving a good mixture of steak, beans, and salad.

Day 6,942


Just wanted to take this time to thank my wonderful parents. We video call every weekend to catch up on the week and talk about anything going on in our lives. We always end up laughing, no matter how tough or demoralizing the past week may have been for me. It gives me great comfort and happiness to know that they support my decisions and love me in every way possible. I don't get to say this often enough -- I love you Mom and Dad.

Day 6,941


Enjoyed my nineteenth birthday. Didn't get to throw a party due to academic circumstances but thankful to have spent a good amount of time with my girlfriend. She also managed to surprise me with room decorations.

Day 6,940


Had the opportunity to video call an awesome friend tonight and share a few laughs together. We go way back, and it's always fun to have him around. I do miss him; hopefully he takes care of himself in the military.

Day 6,939


Recently found out I have relatives in the Bay Area through my grandma. Shared an amazing afternoon together catching up on our stories and feasted at a fancy Italian restaurant a college kid like me can't often afford. What an amazing family, I'm really thankful to "find" them here and once again realize how tiny this world can get.

Day 6,938


One particular perk of taking summer classes here is the 3-day weekend starting on Thursday. Interesting (and favorable) decision from the university to hold classes for four days. Today is a Thursday, which means I get to take a few deep breaths until final exams start.

Day 6,937


My older sister texts me a humorous article about younger siblings. She's recently been traveling all over the world, hopefully she gets some rest until she continues her PhD studies in the fall. Always grateful for having such a fun and caring sister.

Day 6,936


Enjoyed a destructive dinner featuring fried chicken, pepperoni pizza, and ice cream. Haven't had such a combination of food for a while, so it was pretty fun. Really need to start taking better care of my fitness though.

Day 6,935


I started watching a new TV show called Mr. Robot, an interesting story of a cybersecurity engineer (or more accurately, a hacker). The initial episodes exceeded my expectations as it dealt with many contemporary issues regarding online privacy and corporate corruption -- topics in which I have strong opinions.

Day 6,934


Skyped with a great friend from high school today. One of the brightest and enthusiastic people I've ever met, he doesn't stop inspiring me. I recall many of the sincere conversations we had on the bus ride to school every morning.

Day 6,933


I slept for a good 10 hours today, which is pretty rare relative to recent weeks. I always stumble across articles on how adults (if I am one) need 7 to 9 hours of sleep to function well, but most school days just do not let me. I really should manage my time better for extra sleep.

Day 6,932


Swam for the first time at the RSF today after a long career of swimming in high school. A bit taxing on my body but managed to follow behind a good friend (and swimmer) of mine. It was surprisingly more fun than painful; I should swim again in the near future.

Day 6,931


Pretty much stayed up all night finishing my Numerical Analysis homework. Fed my brain with Gaussian quadratures, Runge-Kutta methods, and extensive MATLAB code. I realized I'm at peak productivity when I'm blasting electronic dance music in a dark room at 3am.

Day 6,930


Had an amazing dinner with the FoCUS community at Jupiter. It's always fun to hear how everyone is spending their summer. Such wonderful people to share an evening with.

Day 6,929


Got a chicken curry rice bowl at Urbann Turbann today for lunch. Would recommend 9/10.

Day 6,928


Didn't do so well on my second midterm today. Though a little dismayed, I'm thankful that I have something to work towards and look forward to.

Day 6,927


Celebratory yet tearful, I attended Megan's farewell party today as she will be starting grad school at UNC soon. She's probably the most delightful, intelligent, and bubbly person I've met. I'm vastly grateful for meeting her last year, and I give her my best wishes for her exciting future ahead.

Day 6,926


Pretty much spent the whole day making a CPU for my computer architecture project and developing Berkeley Innovation's member portal. Grateful for being able to do what I enjoy.

Day 6,925


Caught up with a great friend and role model of mine, Ryan Pemberton from First Pres. We spontaneously visited the top of the Campanile and shared our stories living at Berkeley -- our impression of the city, our deeper understanding of the university.

This isn't our first time spending the afternoon together; Ryan actively seeks time to meet everyone in the FoCUS community, which I really admire considering his busy life. In addition to his genuine kindness, he is definitely one of the most compassionate and bright people I've met. One of my earliest encounters with Ryan was when I emailed him a question on God's proximity, and he replied with a page-long explanation of incredible insight and detail. Ryan, thanks for making my first year at Cal so special.

Day 6,924


Tried out two new flavors at Ben & Jerry's today: The Tonight Dough and Strawberry Cheesecake. They were preeeeeetty good.

Day 6,923


A fire alarm went off at home tonight. I was initially a bit startled but thankful that no one was hurt.

It turns out, a fire alarm is actually an effective tool to evaluate our lives. It forces us to realize our priorities and values by essentially compressing all our possessions into a single, say, fire alarm rescue list (FARL). Computer vs. phone? Wallet vs. keys? So the next time we purchase something, maybe we should first ask Where will this object rank in my FARL?, or mentally run the following script:

if (rank <= MYAGE) {buy()} else {doNotBuy()}

Day 6,922


The weather is beautiful here at Berkeley. Though it does occasionally get a bit too warm during the day and a bit too chilly at night (which I actually prefer over monotonous temperatures).

Day 6,921


Had my first meeting with the BERKE1337 computer security group to learn about secure networking and running CentOS on the VMware ESXi. Always fun to learn new stuff.

Day 6,920


Enjoyed a rather restful day to take a deep breath and prepare myself for a new week. Rewatched and analyzed Match 4 between Lee Sedol and AlphaGo as an effort to familiarize myself with top-notch tactics. This game taught me a few insightful life lessons:

Things are more connected than you think.

Sacrifice wisely and quickly.

Don't be too complacent.

Day 6,919


Spent a lovely evening with my girlfriend along the piers of San Francisco. Cannot be happier.

Day 6,918


Met up with an old high school friend today and talked about some recent changes (or the lack thereof) in our lives. It's always fun to reminisce about our mutual past and laugh over our unnoticed puerility.

Day 6,917


Finally getting used to Logisim, a lightweight logic simulator for circuit design. Built my own Fibonacci calculator today. Cool stuff.

Day 6,916


Met up with a great group of friends from FPCB to discuss The Four Loves by C. S. Lewis (and to share a wonderful dinner at the backyard, of course). Today we analyzed the interplay between Eros and Venus within a loving relationship. Grateful to belong in such a profound community throughout college.

Day 6,915


Had some delicious shaved ice at Vampire Penguin. Today's hot weather probably made it taste better. Strawberry flavor, lychee topping - I recommend.

Day 6,914


Professor Strain is awesome. Our first midterm for Math 128A Numerical Analysis is tomorrow, yet he told us to spend tonight watching TV since the exam will be too easy to study for. His quirky sense of humor and numerous analogies between polynomial interpolations and real life keep me happily awake during class everyday.

Day 6,913


Video called my old roommate today. It's been about two months since I've talked with him, so it was nice catching up on how we're spending our summer. He's a great friend and a great mathematician; I'm constantly inspired by the way he approaches analytical problems. I've been blessed to spend my college freshman year with him.

Note: Some people have been asking me questions along the lines of "Why now? What about all your previous days?"

I should have started this earlier. There's nothing particular about the number 6,913 or the summer of 2016; I simply felt ready to begin concretizing a habit of persistent gratitude in my life. I apologize if this answer reminds you of the epsilon-delta definition of a function's limit, in which for every epsilon (starting day) there will always be a delta (earlier day) closer to the limit (my day of birth).

Another frequent inquiry has been "Why are you making this public? Does this not invade the privacy of people mentioned above?"

I could have maintained a personal diary for myself. I however chose to host these entries online in the hope that other people can use this as motivation to start their own gratitude journal. It's a known fact that frequently expressing appreciation is key to a fulfilling life! As for the second question, I do not intend to harm anyone's reputation or privacy in my writings, and I do ask for permission when specifying names. If anything on this page troubles you, please email me.