My semi-final is my final.

—Su Bingtian

All men naturally desire knowledge. An indication of this is our esteem for the senses; for apart from their use we esteem them for their own sake, and most of all the sense of sight.


What Is Work?

Exercise from the book, Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans:

Write a short reflection about your Workview. [ . . . ] A Workview should address the critical issues related to what work is and what it means to you. It is not just a list of what you want from or out of work, but a general statement of your view of work. It’s your definition for what good work deserves to be.

For the purpose of this exercise, I define work as the activities I do that yield monetary rewards. It falls into two categories: my job, and my investment. “Job” is what I would like to focus on discussing here. Read More

Happiness is not the reward of virtue, but is virtue itself; nor do we delight in happiness because we restrain our lusts; but, on the contrary, because we delight in it, therefore are we able to restrain them.

—Baruch Spinoza

. . . the tragedy of human situation . . . man always dies before he is fully born.”

—Erich Fromm

Strongest Form of Confidence

Question on Quora:

In your opinion, what is the strongest form of confidence one can have?

The strongest form of confidence is one backed with humbleness, knowing how little I know and how much more there is still to learn.

As the Dunning-Kruger Effect has taught us, both mastery and ignorance can be the source of confidence. We wouldn’t want our confidence to emerge from the latter. Read More

Why Don’t Things Work Out

Question on Quora:

Why is it that things don’t work out in life?

There is no such phenomenon as “things that don’t work out” because all things work according to the laws of physics in the universe where we exist. So by asking “why things don’t work out,” what you probably mean to ask is: Why don’t things just go your way?

If I have not misinterpreted the question, the answer is simple: Probability. We all have to deal with probability when our expected outcomes depend on one or more factors that are out of our reach. Read More

Money Over Religion

Question on Quora:

Is religion the best “social media tool” for connecting strangers around the world? Do religions actually have apps for that, to keep up with businesses?

No. History tells us that money, but not religion, is the best tool that connects people around the world. Read More

There are two great days in a person’s life — the day we are born and the day we discover why.

—Mark Twain

A Journey Called Life

Clara, look at how small you were when you were just five minutes old.

Time flies by and it has been almost a year since you joined the family Mommy and Daddy started some years ago. Watching you grow and become more curious about the world day after day has been the greatest joy Daddy could have ever asked for in life. Read More

If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.

—Marcus Tullius Cicero

Moralizing Historian

A few years ago, a photo of a group of junior high kids in Taiwan who dressed up as Nazi soldiers for a school parade went viral, promoting a severe outrage from the society and Israeli’s representatives at the local office. I didn’t really pay attention to the news until a few days later when I could no longer bear the rage and moralizing talks on my Facebook homepage. I never knew I had so many such enthusiastic and perhaps somewhat maniac historian friends.

By the time I finally decided to look up the news, the photo that went viral were no longer showing up alone: Next to the photo of the kids hoisting swastika banners and having fun with their near-life-size cardboard tank was a picture of the school’s principal bowing and apologizing to the public while preparing to resign from the office. Still, I didn’t really form any opinion, not until I read a comment from a friend who started accusing the kids for not being able to learn from their study of history, of which the purpose was to teach us about, quote and quote, the “rights and wrongs.”

Interesting. Does history to teach us about the rights and wrongs? Read More

Portraits of I

Photography has the ability to preserve authenticity and freeze moments in time. As a photographer myself, I am intrigued by the idea of the “joiner portrait”† as a way to examine one’s life at the very moment of the shot. How would I take my own joiner portrait at the age of 40 today? What would the shot look like if I am to compose a joiner portrait of myself living an ideal life in the future? Read More


This blog is a long and perhaps never-ending meditation on a single question:

How do I live?

The question may seem like a strange thing to ask. Ancient Greek philosophers spent a lifetime studying philosophy in search for a way to live a virtuous life; where I live, one of the wealthiest and most educated nations in an era that is arguably the most peaceful time in the entirety of human history, however, there seems to be a simple and yet definite answer to the question: by maximizing our happiness in life. For some, it means relentless pursuit of material pleasure such as wealth and fame while others dedicate their life seeking internal fulfillment such as relationship and tranquility. Read More

Myself, at 40

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Hedonism or Not

Question on Quora:

What is wrong with being a hedonist?

Being a hedonist is not necessarily “wrong,” but neither is hedonism an adequate philosophy of life for people who seek tranquility as a goal in living. However, personal choice of lifestyle aside, the idea of hedonism by itself can still be problematic for two reasons:

First, the paradox of hedonism makes hedonism literally a self-defeating philosophy of life to live by: We will likely fail to attain true pleasures if we deliberately seek them. For example, which of the following efforts would bring us a more profound pleasure?

  • I seek pleasure, therefore I help others.
  • I help others, therefore I attain pleasure.

Pleasure seems to be best treated as a byproduct of other goals we commit ourselves to in life, not the other way around. Read More

Why Is Reading Painful?

Question on Quora:

Why does reading feel so painful?

If you are suffering from reading disability, you should seek medical help as soon as possible. Do not take it lightly. Assuming reading disability is not the problem, reading should be painful only when you are forced onto it. In such case, there are two remedies I think might help. Read More


Here’s a little interesting story from Taleb’s book, The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable. Read More

Objective Beauty

Question on Quora:

Is the Mona Lisa truly objectively beautiful?

There’s no evidence than anything is objectively beautiful. Can you think of a single thing that all people, of all cultures, find beautiful? So, no, the Mona Lisa is not objectively beautiful. Though I like it.

Can anyone genuinely appreciate the Theory of Relativity without the knowledge of science? Probably not. So can one truly see the beauty in things without ever spending a minute in life learning aesthetics? Surprisingly, most people think so before being asked the question. Read More

Was Big Bang by God?

Question on Quora:

As an atheist, what is your view of the idea that some kind of sentient being could have kicked off the events that led to the Big Bang?

Maybe. Maybe not. But let’s not confuse imagination with Science.

To quote the great scientist, Thomas H. Huxley: “The great tragedy of Science – the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact.” Science requires falsifiability and is built on observation and empirical evidence. Imagination, on the other hand, requires nothing but a creative mind; literally anything can happen in the world of fantasy. Read More

Success Coach, Schmocess Cockroach

Bob wants to be rich but does not know how.

Tired and fed up with poverty, Bob decides to find someone who can teach him how to become rich. Bob is not a schmo and believes that only those who have been there done that qualify for giving advices. So with an extensive amount of research, Bob is able to find a rich man with an impressive resume: A legendary best of the best gold digging master who has defied all odds and conventional wisdom to make millions and millions of dollars by digging gold. Better yet, the rich man is now giving lessons for an unbelivable once-in-a-life time affordable low low price with a zero interest monthly payment plan!

Bob signs up for the rich man’s class. Read More

Photo Contest?

Question on Quora:

Are photography contests really worthwhile competing in?

I did the math when I entered the annual National Geographic photo contest back in 2012: For every $15 you get to submit one photo, which gives you a 0.01% chance to be one of the winners and 1% to be picked as one of editors’ weekly favorites. Better yet, each photo gets only 6 seconds of the jury’s time assuming they judge through the entire pool nonstop in a week (which is unlikely) and spend an equal amount of time on every single photo (which is even more unlikely).

So, I asked myself: Was it worth it? Read More

The Feeling of Depression

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Bob Is Stupid

Question on Quora:

Why do I find most people around me stupid and keep getting a feeling that I don’t belong here?

Here’s a true story. A man was told that he was the wisest of all. “How could I be the wisest one?” The man was puzzled and set out to prove it wrong. He started wandering around his town questioning anyone he saw about the knowledge they claimed to possess. The man soon came to the conclusion that… he was indeed the wisest of all, for a little piece of wisdom that he but no one else had: the knowledge that he knew nothing. The man’s name was Socrates. Read More

Hello Baby Clara

Hello, Baby Clara!

Hello, Clara Ying-Hsi Chen, welcome to the world at 12:40 pm on June 25th, 2017! Your Chinese name, Ying-Hsi, means embracing dawn and you sure have brought the whole family a lot of joy since you were born.

Daddy wants to tell you a little secret: He will never forget how you stopped crying for a moment when you saw him for the first time out of Mommy’s tummy. His heart was melted by your cute little face full of curiosity.

You have a whole world waiting for you to explore and a lot of pictures to be taken by Daddy. Trust Daddy, you will be busy! So for now, can you give Mommy and Daddy some sleep at night? Read More

Why do we do science? Why do we do art? The things that are least important for our survival are the very things that make us human.

—Savas Dimopoulos

Nothing is granted in life. Everything is not in your hands. Sincere effort, that is the only thing you can do. That is the only duty of the human being.

—Teja Singh Dhaliwal

Landscape Photography

I love nature and have been traveling the world in search for the perfect shots. I am neither a professional nor an artist but hope that my personal experiences would help contribute to the topic. Here are some of the challenges that I have personally been struggling with:

  • Poor Sharpness
  • Tripod vs. Handheld
  • Boring Light
  • Poor or No Editing
  • Inclusion vs. Exclusion
  • Looking Out vs. Looking In

I will use some of my own works as examples to elaborate a bit. Read More


This is Ying.

I travel the world to explore the beauty of nature.

Complexity drives my curiosity. Simplicity inspires my creativity.

I am on a journey with a map and a camera.

I see. I feel. And I love.

08-21-2016 @ Read More

Last Day @ Microsoft

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

1 + 1 = ?

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

藝術 != 主觀


每當聽到這樣的說法時,我總是在想:真的是這樣嗎?如果藝術是主觀的,那每人都有資格評論藝術,藝術也沒有好壞之分了。若真如此,那為何有些作品會被世人珍藏,有些卻只能流落街頭,賤價都還不一定賣得出去?又是否「收藏」,就是藝術客觀的標準? Read More

What Is Strategy?

“Competitive strategy is about being different.”
—Michael E. Porter

“What is Strategy?” is a paper that Michael E. Porter published on HRB back in 1996 in an attempt to clarify the definition of strategy, which had been blurred by Japanese companies’ disruptive innovation in operational efficiency that had reshaped the competitive landscape in the US market during the 80s. So… What exactly is strategy according to Porter? Long story short: differentiation, trade-off, and fit. Read More


珮嘉,這半年來籌備這場婚禮,妳辛苦了。半年前當我們才開始準備這場婚禮的時候,妳說,妳希望我能在婚禮上,以新郎的身份說些感性的話,主題是幸福宣言。 這一聽我心想,哇!這主題也未免太肉麻了一點。但珮嘉,妳以老婆的身份對我的第一個願望,我實在沒有什麼理由拒絕。那到底什麼是幸福宣言?我又該說些什麼呢?我想了想,我希望我的幸福宣言,是我從今以後,身為丈夫,身為一家之主,所要做出的承諾。而我所要做出的承諾,是我在生命中最重要的三個人身上,所學到的三個課程。

三個故事,三堂人生課程,三個我要做出的承諾。 Read More


Success is Freedom

In the course of creating the principles for his philosophy on morality, Immanuel Kant addresses an equally important question: What is freedom? Kant refutes Utilitarianism, an idea that seeks to maximize welfare and rests moral principles on collective preferences and desires, for what he believes is the essence of our existence as human beings: the autonomous freedom that stems from our unique ability as human to reason. “To act freely,” Kant argues, “is not to choose the best means to a given end; it is to choose the end itself, for its own sake.”† It is when we act autonomously according to our reason, we human can finally realize the true freedom in life and cease to conform to what might otherwise be biologically determined or socially conditioned. Read More

Success Is Giving

Love is giving. This is the primary thesis of Erich Fromm’s theory of love in his classic work, The Art of Loving. Contrary to the widespread misunderstanding that the act of giving is synonymous to “give up” or “sacrifice,” Fromm believes that giving is an expression of potency. It is exactly at the moment of giving you experience the highest form of joy fueled by a profound sense of vitality, empowerment, and humanity, or what I truly believe is the most desirable form of success in life. It is my belief that success, hence, is when you know that you are capable of giving and do give, realizing that you are in love at the very moment you give. Read More

Let’s Talk About Choice

Congrats on completing your first year of college!

I see, you don’t feel excited because college is essentially just one thing you feel must do as told. Moreover, you have chosen to pursue a degree in engineering merely to avoid college-level English classes, a subject you have painfully survived as an ESL student back in high school. Electrical Engineering, in particular, will be your major starting from second year not because you enjoy the subject — you have absolutely no idea what an electrical engineer does — but because the program demands the brightest students with the highest GPA’s of all engineering disciplines. After all, your passion does not matter because what you should do, as always, has already been pre-determined: Conforming to the “norm” and studying for a lucrative job upon graduation.

Nonsense. You do have choices. Read More

We don’t become what we know. Education is a process of love formation. When you go to a school, it should offer you new things to love.

—Charles Handy

Let’s Talk About Family

Yes, I understand. You have just arrived at a new country and will spend the next God-knows-how-many years of your life living in a town so remote that you have never even heard of before. You have lost all your friends and worse yet, you can’t speak a word of the local language. Sure, there is a phone but a long-distance call over the Pacific Ocean back to where you come from will cost a fortune that you know your family cannot afford. So here you are, left alone in isolation at a foreign place. You are lonely. You are scared. And you feel hopeless.

As despairing as it may seem for the days to come, however, don’t you ever let fear take over your life. Think about it: This is not the end of the world, far from it. You will make new friends, if you stay open-minded. You will learn the language, if you are willing to put in the efforts. You will even realize what a beautiful place you have come to, if you are willing to walk out of that tiny little room of yours and start exploring. So don’t be afraid, for life has just presented you an adventure, one that perhaps at this point seems overwhelming and yet, I guarantee you, will be rewarding when you look back in life. Read More

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