Chronicles: 2015 Autumn


  • I gave my thesis proposal this quarter! It involves a whopping four projects (two have already been done, though!) which resulted in a 40 minute talk (apologies to my entire research group). I received lots of great feedback from my committee and other faculty and students, so thanks all for that! It’s the beginning of the end…
  • I’ve been continuing work on my failure project, which has been on a rocky journey, to say the least! The underlying idea is one that resonates strongly with me and pretty much everyone else I’ve pitched it to: that current creativity tools focus on good output, rather than on the fact that creative work lies in exploring and developing a creative process. So, let’s design tools that help people do that! The problem is, I’ve been having a lot of trouble deciding what that even looks like:
    • First, the project started out as online community where people upload intermediate screenshots of things they’re working on in Photoshop.
    • Then, it turned into an analysis of online art mentoring communities.
    • Then, it turned into a tool that answers art process questions based on data from these art mentoring communities.
    • Then, because that didn’t work out so well, it turned back into looking at how to create an online community where people share works-in-progress.
    • And all the while, I kept floundering because I wasn’t sure whether the project was achieving my goal of creating a tool that encouraged failure. This is a prime case of me limiting my research direction by hanging onto an idea that I really liked, in addition to not clearly identifying to myself and my collaborators what I really meant by failure. I think what happened is that I really liked the idea of process, and I probably should have stuck with that instinct instead of trying to fit this grand idea of creating tools for failure I knew everyone already approved.
    • Plus, I got really scared of putting a lot of work into something because I was convinced it probably wasn’t going to work out anyway. But I just need to keep telling myself that’s silly (and ironic, given the project idea), because why would that be a sure thing?
    • I’m hoping I can tackle this project with a vengeance next quarter and get it done!
  • I… have to start thinking about jobs. Currently, I’m about 80% sure I don’t want to go into academia. (That percentage fluctuates multiple times a day, though.)
  • One of my favorite artists is also a life sciences researcher, and they made an awesome mini-comic about how research works that I really enjoyed. Also a good way to explain research to friends and family who want to know more about what research work is actually like!


  • I tabled at CampbellCon, which was my first comic con! I even got to work on a few custom sketch covers for a fellow vendor there, which was a fun experience. I think I’m swearing off super-small cons from now on, though — they’re fun, but a lot of work and time for not as many customers.
  • I also tabled at Krakencon Fall, which was an insane experience! Not only was it held on the USS Hornet, it was crazy busy and this single event put me back in the green for the year. I sold a ton of stuff!
  • I participated in Inktober this year, which resulted in a lot of drawings! Each one took about 1 or 2 hours, and I’m proud of myself for drawing every day. I also tried to create backgrounds and scenes for each ones, rather than being lazy and drawing portraits over and over. I’ve definitely gotten better at composition!
  • There is now a print version of Herogirl Chapter 1! Learning Indesign and putting together a book was so much fun. I’ll be selling these at cons and in my online store from now on!
  • Book mania! I also put together an artbook of my Inktober sketches which will also be sold at cons and in my online store.
  • Herogirl Chapter 4 is underway!
  • Reached 1000+ followers on Tumblr, and 400+ likes on Facebook!
  • I’ve actually been doing a fair number of commissions also, but most of them are gifts so I won’t post them online for fear of spoiling surprises :) But it feels good to know that people find my work valuable enough to give as a gift.


  • Travel: I was in Singapore for about 10 days! It’s super hot, humid, and I was being eaten up by mosquitos, but I had a grand time visiting people, learning about the history, and eating oh-so-delicious (and cheap!) food. I especially enjoyed the Night and River Safari near the Singapore Zoo.
  • Books: I finished The Righteous Mind, and found it really good! I found it appropriately neutral in its explanation of why people believe what they do. I also finished reading Creativity Inc. It’s not a practical handbook, but rather the story of how a bunch of people who really wanted to make something stayed reflective and determined in maintaining their creative spirit. Loved it.
  • Anime: Classroom Crisis (started out so great, but pretty unhappy with the ending!), Wagnaria (creeped out by the first season but it grew on me during the next two seasons), Nichijou (weirded out at first, but slowly became hilarious), The Devil is a Part Timer (this is now among my top ten favorite anime), One Punch Man (can’t speak for the story, but the characters are funny and the animation is majestic), Nichibro AKA The Daily Lives of High School Boys (super off-the-wall and kind of cute in a weird way?), Yuru Yuri Season 3 (meh), Digimon Adventure Tri (heartbroken — the story was OK, characters were written great, the animation quality was awful!?), Love Live (better than expected!), Inu x Boku (cute), Saekano (ew), Shokugeki no Souma (weekly dose of shounen), Himouto (meh), Wooser (hilarious)
    • Anime I started and abandoned: Charlotte, Gatchaman Crowds, Is Your Order a Rabbit
  • Games: Undertale. UNDERTALE! I knew it was supposed to be a good game, but it blew my expectations out of the water. It’s charming, clever, and emotional, and has wonderful music besides. In a complete 180, I also achieved 100% completion on Hatoful Boyfriend because despite how horrifying it is, I couldn’t put it down. I still can’t decide whether I hate it or love it. Pausing on FFXII because I’ve wasted too much time already. Instead, I’m wasting time trying to catch up in FFXIV. Send help.

Chronicles: 2015 Summer


  • I participated in the Graduate Symposium for Creativity and Cognition 2015! Basically, I gave a short talk about all the research I’ve done so far (sorta like a practice version of my eventual thesis proposal). It was a very valuable experience — not only did I get great feedback from fellow graduate students and the panel, but it was also a good forcing function for me to think clearly about how all my work so far fits together and how to construct a cohesive story and theme. Also, I think I picked the right conference for my work, which helped a lot (I loved all the talks!). I also had a poster on designing creativity tools for failure.
  • This summer, I also had the opportunity to participate in the CURIS program at Stanford! It’s basically a summer research internship experience for undergraduates, who apply to various ongoing research projects in the department and help out with them over the summer! I had two wonderful undergrads to help me out with my project on designing tools for failure, and had a lot of fun organizing board game nights for our research group 😀
  • My paper on crowdsourcing social media stories using narrative structure got into CSCW, after two rejections from CHI and ICWSM! The feedback from reviewers were great, and I’m much happier with the state of the paper now.



  • Travel: I spent about two days in Edinburgh hostels right after Creativity and Cognition. Scotland is amazing! There’s something relaxing about travelling alone.
  • Books: I finished American Gods! It was interesting, and super weird. Not sure how I feel about the ending! I’m in the middle of The Righteous Mind right now.
  • Anime: Kuroko no Basuke (FEELS), Ore Monogatari (cute and relaxing), Kinmoza 2 (cute as always!), Hibike Euphonium (WOW, I loved it. The last two episodes were fantastic!), Food Wars (my weekly dose of shounen), I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying 2 (more cuteness), Punchline (so promising but so bad), Oregairu (sarcastic and clever)
  • Games: I got Fantasy Life and Story of Seasons for my birthday! Started Fantasy Life — it’s a nice relaxing sort of game, kinda like Animal Crossing with RPG elements. Currently chugging through FFXII (still). My boyfriend got me back into FFXIV, so now I have a level 50 Bard, and I have bought Heavensward. 😛

Chronicles: 2015 Spring


  • Participated in yearly Berkeley-Stanford Women in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering meetup! I gave a talk on my project, Motif (and also used this as a chance to practice my talk before CHI :P) It was great to get together with all the cool women who were there, but I am noticing that I know less and less people with each coming year because the people I know start graduating. T_T
  • Presented Motif at CHI 2015, which was in Seoul, Korea! Motif was one of the several papers from the Stanford Research group to receive an Honorable Mention award. Really proud of everyone!
  • My poster to Creativity & Cognition got in! I also ended up applying for and getting accepted to the Graduate Symposium sooooo I guess I’m working on pitching my thesis now.
  • My ICWSM submission didn’t get in, so I submitted it to CSCW instead! I tried to submit a more recent project to CSCW as well, but my results didn’t turn out well so that project ended up getting shelved for now.
  • Spun up a new project about how to support experiences of failure for creative novices! That will be the project my CURIS students and I will be working on this summer.
  • I completed the Machine Learning course on Coursera.


  • I made my first printsCatprint, the printing company I used, wants to feature me as an Artist of the Month, so in the near future, one of my prints will be sent out with every anime-related order they ship for one month!
  • My drawing frequency dropped a bit due to paper deadlines, but I still got some drawing done!
  • I wasn’t able to get into Fanime’s Artist Alley, so I registered to table at a few small conventions instead: CogsCon and Kinyoobicon.
  • CogsCon happened June 6, and it was my first time having a full table for myself! The Artist Alley was super dead for the first few hours, but got much busier during the second half of the day, during which I was able to make some good sales! It was good practice for larger cons, and both staff and attendees were super nice. I was sad when they announced this would probably be their last year.
  • Continuing my streak of putting out a Herogirl page once a week. I need to start writing the next chapter…
    • 4,311 unique users made 57,319 pageviews this quarter. I didn’t have any superstar comics this quarter that pulled a lot of people from one place, like last quarter.
    • People are viewing about 6 pages in 3 – 4 minutes per visit session
    • Bounce rate is about 60% overall
    • The most viewed comic is the first comic!
  • Started setting up a Storenvy store to sell leftover product online. It’ll open in the summer!


  • Travel: CHI was in Korea, so I took the chance to visit a bunch of family! Then, I spent about 10 days in Japan, sightseeing in Kyoto and Tokyo. AMAZING.
  • Attended Fanime 2015! It was fun seeing so many artists I met at AOD, and it was amazing how much more fun the Artist Alley was now that I know people! I bought too much stuff.
  • Books: Not a lot of reading this quarter. I read my first Terry Pratchett book, Small Gods.
  • Anime: Yuru Yuri (hilarious), Kiniro Mosaic (also hilarious), Shirobako (LOVED IT! Highly recommended to anyone who’s ever worked really hard to make anything), Yowamushi Pedal (got super repetitive but I COULD NOT STOP WATCHING IT)
  • Games: No games finished this quarter :( I’m working very slowly through FFXII.

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!