Chronicles: 2015 Winter

Chronicles #2! This is way late! Ahh!



  • Made a paper submission to ICWSM and a poster submission to Creativity & Cognition this year. Fingers crossed.
  • I started the Machine Learning course on Coursera. I actually really like it so far — it’s very practical in that it’s programming-oriented rather than theory-oriented, which made it a good fit for me. Now I’m no longer embarrassed about not knowing what people are talking about when words like features and examples come up.
  • Since I’ve finished most of my PhD requirements, I’m able to submit a petition to get my Master’s degree. So I did that. And I got it! Somewhat anticlimatically, I now have a Master’s degree in Computer Science from Stanford University.
  • I started mentoring some undergraduates who want to get some research experience, and I decided to participate in Stanford’s CURIS program this summer. I find myself swinging back and forth between handing over too much and too little responsibility… hopefully I can figure out a good balance soon.
  • I volunteered during our department’s PhD Admit Weekend! I had a lot of fun meeting all the potentially new students and leading them around downtown Palo Alto for various desserts.


  • I tabled at an Artist Alley for the first time at AOD 2015 in San Francisco! It was an amazing experience, and I wrote up a step-by-step reflection on my Tumblr which fellow artists seem to be finding useful, so yay!
  • Gave my DeviantArt page a bit of a makeover, with a slightly new design and a new ID.
  • Drew way more. A LOT MORE.
  • Some stats for Herogirl:
    • 10,934 users made 77,327 pageviews for this quarter
    • People are viewing about 5 pages in 2 – 3 minutes per visit session
    • Bounce rate is 72% overall, and slightly lower for new visitors
    • This comic was the most viewed comic, and grabbed a lot of visitors from /r/pokemon


  • Made an effort to read a little each day.
    • I finished reading Surely You’re Joking, Mr. Feynman! Really interesting to read as a researcher — Feynman is very honest about his struggles with his work and the people he worked with. My big takeaway: follow your interests, and be reflective about what works and what doesn’t. It’s easier to not get stuck that way! Also, concentrate on process and integrity rather than how much of a bigwig someone is or the results that you get. It’s about how you do things and whether you feel like you’re doing the right thing for you. Don’t be afraid to drop stuff you don’t want.
    • I also finished The PhD Grind. I wish I could say I had similar profound thoughts, but I didn’t. It really is just a description of someone’s experience through grad school without too much connections to other parts of life, but the author also makes it clear he wasn’t attempting the memoir to be more than that. As a fourth-year grad student now, I felt like I knew how things were going to go, but at the same time, I felt that I probably would not have understood the memoir fully if I had read it any earlier. Not sure when a good time to read it is.
  • Some anime I finished: Nagi no Asakura (frustrating but a very cool setting), Yuki Yuna is a Hero (meh), Your Lie in April (super meh), Aldnoah Zero (awesome), I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying (hilarious and cute).
  • I kind of went on a Zelda marathon. I finished A Link to the Past after like a million decades, then played A Link Between Worlds (super fun, and Ravio is a great character!) I then played through Link’s Awakening (surprisingly amazing, possibly now my second favorite Zelda under Windwaker!)

Chronicles: 2014 Autumn

Because I’m a wannabe front-end developer, I follow the CSS-Tricks blog by Chris Coyier. One of things that has stuck out to me most while I’ve been reading the blog has not been a clever CSS hack or one of the many interesting discussions about web development standards — it’s been the occasional additions to Chris’ Chronicle. The CSS-Tricks Chronicle is an ever-growing reflection of stuff done, attempted, and attended, and it seemed to me like a good way to either 1) remind myself that I actually do a lot of cool stuff or 2) help me realize that I’m not doing cool enough stuff and I need some self butt-kicking.

Looking at my list below, I’m now realizing it’s a good way to reflect on whether I’m balancing the important stuff in my life the way I want to.

Here’s Joy’s Chronicle #1.


  • I TA’d for my last program requirement this quarter, meaning all I’ve got left is thesis/defense/dissertation left before I can call myself The Doctor. Uh, easy-peasy, right?
  • A paper I wrote as part of my Adobe Research internship last-last summer about supporting video story creation for novices got into CHI 2015.
  • I’m preparing another paper that didn’t get into CHI for a different conference. Stay tuned!
  • Finished up my tenure as a Brown Magic Grantee. The last all-hands meeting at Columbia was great. Now I’m going to be a mentor at the upcoming Brown Institute Base Camp at Stanford in mid-January.
  • Overall, did lots of brainstorming for upcoming projects. I have some ideas about supporting creative experiments I’m excited about, so hopefully those can turn into something shareable soon.


  • I made an overall commitment to work on art more! I started out doing really well with daily drawing exercises, but that tapered off towards the end of the quarter. Weirdly, it wasn’t a motivation thing — I just ran out of ideas for things to draw. Maybe /r/sketchdaily or similar would help?
  • In a moment of delusion, I decided I was going to table at an Artist Alley matter what. I spent a weekend planning out what I would need to buy and make, and applied for tabling for AODSF and Fanime. I actually got a table at AOD and now I have to follow through on this crazy plan. Making middle-school-Joy’s dreams come true!
  • I did 24-Hour Comic Day! I didn’t do Nanomango, but instead committed to drawing two comic pages per week in November, and realized how awesome having a backlog of comics is.


  • I started this blog. The original goal was to write a post a week, but I think it’s going to end up being more bi-monthly.
  • I started waking up earlier.
  • Tried needle-felting for the first time. It’s deceptively tiring.
  • Enrolled in TSA Pre. I feel kinda weird inside for paying for something that should be normal for everyone, but I have to say zooming through security is pretty nice.
  • Starting listening to podcasts! Ones I like: Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me (makes me laugh), This American Life (makes me cry), Serial, Stuff You Should Know, and Digital Strips. So, mostly NPR. I’m using PocketCasts for Android.
  • I actually read this over the summer, but I got through I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi on a friend’s recommendation. It’s very practical and action-oriented. Definitely a recommended read if you don’t know much about personal finances yet (I’m lookin’ at you, fellow students).
  • Other books I managed to complete this quarter: American Born Chinese, Seconds, Who Could That Be At This Hour?, What If?, The Shadow of the Torturer/The Claw of the Concilitor.

Waking Up Early

I’ve always liked being awake early, but I did not like getting out of bed.

I’ve tried the typical trick of putting my alarm/phone on the other side of the room to force myself to get up in the morning. But all that resulted in was 1) me getting up, turning off the alarm, being cranky at how cold I was, and making a bee-line back under the covers and 2) eventually getting too lazy for that and learning to sleep through my alarm. Eeek.

My sleep schedule consisted of me doing work until 1am or so (give or take a half-hour), sleeping until about 7:30am, and falling back asleep until about 9 or 10am (depending on whether or not I had morning meetings that day). My sleep schedule was all over the place, and I would always start my day grumbling either about why do I have to get up ugh I’ll never schedule myself for morning meetings again or I got up late again I’m the worst person ever. There was no winning.

Furthermore, because grad school is so flexible, there were no outside constraints to force myself into a schedule. I had no regular work hours to keep me in line.

Waking Up Early

This quarter, I decided to start waking up early. I have resolved to do this countless times before, but this time, it was for reals. I had read about developing and sticking to a morning ritual, and it turned out the key to making me get up in the morning was making a morning ritual that was actually kind of fun. Here’s what I decided I wanted to do in the morning:

  • Some light exercise (10 min)
  • Make and eat breakfast (20 min)
  • Get a little video game playing time in (30 min)
  • Shower and get ready for the day (30 min, reserved for last, because being cold after getting wet was not motivating for getting up in the morning!)

The next step was figuring out how long all of this would take and making sure I woke up on time to do it. I set myself a goal to wake up at 7:00am each day (including weekends) and give myself 1.5 hours of just me time. At 8:30am, I’m ready to do whatever the universe wants me to do that day.

Sleeping Earlier, Too

Of course, I had to make some adjustments to how I go to sleep as well. My typical bedtime of 1am was not gonna fly with this new plan. So, I made myself a rough nighttime ritual as well:

  • Stop working by 9:30pm
  • Write a diary entry
  • Do a bit of drawing/art-related stuff
  • Games/TV if there’s time for it
  • Shower/get ready for bed
  • Read until I sleep at around 12am

I have a bit harder time following this, because my promise to stop working by 9:30pm hinges on how not-distracted I am that day. Keeping myself productive and managing my time is still a work in progress and probably merits a whole other blog post.

How Is It Going?

I’ve been doing this since the end of September, and it turns out that giving myself permission to play 3DS (at the time of this writing, I’m working through Omega Ruby. :P) in the morning gets me out of bed faster than a really annoying phone alarm. I get to start the day on my own terms and not anyone else’s — things can get super hectic and overwhelming in grad school, and having a morning where you can just feel in control of your life for a few hours is pretty great.

Comic Trip Notes: HCIC 2014


Spent last week at HCIC and decided to try something new to kick off this blog — a trip report with a comic for each day!

Will people find it funny? Probably not! Oh well!