It’s time for my bi-annual post on this blog to remind myself that yeah I’m still paying for this domain name and for the server space used to host my site. Don’t worry everyone, I’m still here and still answering all your steganography and STT questions. (。•̀ᴗ-)✧

My work has recently ramped up a bit, which is pretty awesome. Last week, I learned a lot about Bayesian inference because I had to give a presentation on a package that used it despite me never having taken statistics in college. Then on Friday I got to take a deep dive into Ceres, which is a numerical optimization framework. If my boss says it’s ok, I think I’ll make a blog post about them at some point since explaining concepts to other people also helps me learn it better. Ceres in particular is some next level black magic.

Anyway, I need to make a post about something, so here are two samples of Paparazzi by Lady Gaga that I’ve been learning how to sing. I don’t have a lot of stamina, so I really admire singers with powerful vocals. I’m trying to decide which version of the song I like better. I think the high version I could probably spin to be the more innocent sounding of the two. The lyrics can actually be pretty dark if sung the right way, haha. Also, these are rough drafts!! Recorded on my phone in one take, so I’ll come back and edit this post if I ever decided to do this song properly.

Hmm, can I make this one more like “oh no I really like this guy (°◡°♡).:。”
And I could spin this one to “oh no I REALLY like this guy ɾ⚈▿⚈ɹ”

Hope to talk to everyone soon.
– Sophie

Perfect The Way You Are

When I was 7, my grandma came from China to help raise me since both my parents were working full time jobs. As part of our daily routine, I would walk home from school during lunch and we would watch Mr. Rogers together over whatever delicious meal she prepared. Neither of us knew English well enough to understand what he was saying, but even kid me understood that Mr. Rogers was saying something important when he looked at the camera and sang, “I’m glad that you are the way you are.”

Adult me had completely forgotten about that idea until I heard it again in the recent documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

That film got me good. I was inconsolable after finishing it, mainly because they included a snippet of Fred Rogers’ 2002 Dartmouth commencement speech.

Seriously watch the whole thing, but if nothing else, the most important line for me was:

You don’t ever have to do anything sensational for people to love you.

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How Far I’ll Go

Moana was a great movie, and I liked how it had a really compelling hero’s journey with a main female character that didn’t fall in love with anyone! Also the music is amazing, so here’s a small tribute to my favorite song in it.

On reflection, the message in the song is a pretty positive one. During my work at Amazon Robotics, we’re always told to “Think Big” and have a “Bias for Action”. In other words, staying in the shallows where results are always known will also cause you to develop code/products that are squarely inside the box. Sometimes it takes a big failure in order to see possible paths for improvement in ways one couldn’t have otherwise known. Well, of course impulsively jumping into the ocean like Moana on her first voyage is a bad idea–but we’re all smarter than that. 😉

He is the sad frog trapped in a pot.

Okay, this one is more a “People” post directed towards some thoughts that have been rolling around in my head lately rather than a specific person.

Kind of heavy for a public blog post, but hey! These are the kinds of things I think about, for better or for worse. Next post will have more levity, promise. 😀

“Forgive me,” He whispers to me in low tones, “I don’t mean to be happy.”
How can he, when the one he hates is himself? He says that its easier this way, because it grants him an excuse. He looks for brighter avenues because that’s what people say he should do, but consoles his wholly failed half-measures with the reprieve of being hated. To him, his daily defeats are wounds only bearable because he knows he has already failed. He sits in a little hole dug by his hatred, face buried in his arms so the rocks tumbling into his pit hurt less.

The one he hates is himself.
A comforting sureness of who he is, in one pair of eyes at least. He hides behind this ugly excuse, crouching lower so as to let the hatred smother him faster.

“Forgive me.” He says to the world
“I don’t mean to be happy.” He cries into his arms.
But he’s forgotten that the world doesn’t give a shit. He won’t be glossed over. He won’t be forgotten, forgiven, have nothing expected from him just because he is hated. His pit is a pothole, and he will naturally be run over if he insists on sitting in the middle of an avalanche.

I want to shake him from his dark reverie, tell him to take one step–just one step!–out of that hole. But I know that the walls of his prison stretch high, and this yawning cavern only echoes back his ironic fear of the world outside. He insists on staying.

It is not my place to tell him what he needs to do, I know that. It is also not my place to assume that I know what is best for him. But I do so want to see his face, the original–unhidden by tearful creases and shadowed hatred.

Hatred isn’t the opposite of love.

Cowardice is.

Just needed to get that off my chest. (The aftermath of the election sucks.)
It comes from a place of fear, of needing to pull your treasures close for fear that they might get lost in the sea that is our world so broken and mended that it’s more tape than substance. There’s nothing wrong with fear in itself–wasn’t Jesus himself fearful that night before the crucifixion? But cowardice, when we are so paralyzed by fear that we can’t look hardship in the eyes, is what destroys us.

Cowardice is what says that a man is less for the color of his skin, the tiles on his house, or the quality of his soul because we’re fearful of the implications of embracing a difference. We convince ourselves that we are righteous, and in so doing carefully, artfully water those vines of hatred that tear us apart from the inside out.

Cowardice is what persuades us to set a man on fire for fear of our own treasures getting too cold, but love gives us the strength to burn so that another can sleep more comfortably. Theres no need for me to rattle on about love because everyone talks about it, but I want to make just one point: Can’t we just love one another and stop being jerks? That’s literally the bible in a nutshell. Is it really that hard??


Oh, wait, I’m not actually done. 😛
Here’s the bible verse that our pastor talked about last week that got me thinking about what love means in context of all the toxic sludge that’s been slung around recently.

Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive any complaint you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which is the bond of perfect unity.

Colossians 3:12-14

And here’s the song that goes along with it. It’s called “Brother” by The Brilliance. 

This post is a bit melodramatic. Election week 2016 and 2016 itself has been a rough time. But hey, my God is not so small that a bad year is enough to overshadow him… so I suppose that’s a consolation.


A Reflection on 2015

Since it’s the last day of the year, it’s prime time to do some reflecting!

All in all, this year was pretty great. I got a summer internship at Apple, which has opened up an insane amount of doors. Though I’ve still got far to go and much to learn, being selected for a summer internship at such a big company has given me quite an ego boost. Still, since confidence easily turns into pride, I hope that I can rein it in a bit in the coming months. Quiet confidence is what I’m aiming for, the kind that manifests itself as an aura instead of hot air.

I’d really like to make blogging a habit, but the lack of free time in my schedule makes it difficult. And it’s not just time, but motivation as well. I enter each semester brimming with ambitions and ideas, but always end up burning out near the end. I’d like to put more effort into work life balance next semester, impossible as it may sound. I’ll pour more free time into working on Edwin instead of fooling around on the internet.

edwin head

Look at how cute he is!

There’s a paper deadline coming up in March, and I really need to buckle down and really think about how I’m going to write this and present it. My robotics professor has poured a lot of time into my project, so I need to repay him in kind. Slacking off would not only be a detriment to me, but an insult to him.


I promise that we’ll do great things together Edwin!

On a separate note entirely, I haven’t been able to bake or cook as much as I’d like to this past semester, but I’m hoping to change that by having some new posts dedicated to cool recipes that I have. I have a lot of interests, but I think with proper time management I can succeed at all of them. It’s a matter of arbitration and passion I suppose. I made some really great green tea almond cookies last year, and I’m hoping I can dig up the recipe for it again.

I’ve also bought a new camera, and I’ve been playing around with the features. Photography is a really interesting art, one that I’m hoping to learn a bit about. One way I practiced was following my friends around and taking pictures of their lives. It was pretty fun and an interesting way to spend more time with people. I think I’ll try to do more of that next year too.


She’s super talented. (Taken and published with permission.)

Whether its music, photography, or technical expertise, I’m going to continue working on learning all the things and doing all the stuff. Next year is going to be great. 😀


In Defense of the Screw

I’ve been posting a lot of “Life” stuff lately because I’m working at Apple and the IPA says I can’t do engineer-y things off work while I’m here for the summer. No worries, I’ll get right back into the thick of things with the new school year in September. Until then, read my thoughts and look at pretty pictures–I have plenty of both, haha.

Anyhow, this post was originally titled, “In Defense of the Pawn”, but I felt that a pawn’s promotion and evolution upon reaching the 8th row had a different meaning than what I was looking for. I don’t want to talk about how a caterpillar suddenly grows in worth when it becomes a butterfly, or how the ugly duckling becomes great because it was a swan all along. They are marvelous stories, but I want to be something different than that. I wanna be a screw.

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Auguries of Innocence


This poem is a commentary on recent events in the news of sorts:

The imageries are lovely–though unsettling. My take on this poem is that in all things, we must value respect. We are meant to share this world with so many other beings, all of whom are precious to someone, somewhere. Respecting someone’s dignity doesn’t mean I have to like them. Abandoning that respect out of anger, though, means that I’ve allowed my morals to be bent by the ravings of another–a victory I won’t concede.

To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
A Robin Red breast in a Cage
Puts all Heaven in a Rage
A Dove house filld with Doves & Pigeons
Shudders Hell thr’ all its regions
A dog starvd at his Masters Gate
Predicts the ruin of the State
A Horse misusd upon the Road
Calls to Heaven for Human blood

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Mountain Peaks

Found this gem today:

You are pitiable in the way you gaze at the top of the mountain in servitude. The path to the top will only grow longer if you belittle yourself. A mountain peak does not exist to show how small you are, it’s there to provide you with a goal. It’s fine if you wander down a side path, you can take your time to slowly climb up. It’s possible that you may never reach the top. You may even burn out halfway. However, you’ll still have a better view than you do now.

Hideaki Sorachi

(Sorachi-sensei and his words of wisdom, haha)



Found this picture and this piece of writing in the recesses of my folders. The picture was really pretty, and the piece was really interesting. What better way to showcase two completely unrelated things than to make a post about them? 😀

The photo was taken during an evening run, when I was particularly astonished at how prettily the light backlit the trees where I was running. The piece is a rant from some moment last year when I was upset.

Whenever I write, I tend to get caught up in the feelings of the words. Colors and sounds mean the same thing a lot of times, so they tend to bleed into each other when I write. Though I am far from a good writer, I’d like to continue working on being a better one.

I was working through some feelings while writing this, so it is a bit melodramatic, haha. Anyhow, here we go:

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