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The Ultimate App

On the quest to find the ultimate app, I believe I have arrived at a sublime truth. Productivity and efficiency are not software problems. If they were, you’d be able to assemble enough code to do a persons job for them, so that they wouldn’t have to do anything. While at first, this seems appealing, Meriam-Webster defines a state of “requiring little attention or thought” as mindlessness. It turns out that humans have a fundamental aversion to mindlessness, and prefer rather to be in a state of mindfulness.


Float Your Projects

One of the (many) stresses we face in life is feeling overwhelmed with daunting projects that we have not yet started on. A youth pastor once gave me an interesting strategy that he applied when he was in school: whenever he received an assignment, he immediately (that night) began to work on it and did not rest until he felt that he had brought that project up to a B.


The Zeigarnik Effect

I’m always amazed when a waiter takes my order without writing anything down. I’m a vegetarian, and occasionally I ask for substitutions with my order. My wife absolutely loves to make substitutions, and when our order is transformed into food 20 minutes later, I’m blown away when it comes through 100% accurate. It’s most shocking when I’m in a big group, and the waiter can keep a dozen orders straight and remember where everyone was seated at the table. This also shocked Bluma Zeigarnik, a Lithuanian researcher who wrote about it in her Ph.D. thesis in 1927.


The 80/20 Principle

I’ve always dreamed of running a mile in less than 5 minutes. I have always been a fast runner (one standard deviation above the mean). I can remember in high school, whenever we would have the mile run for fitness tests, I always did pretty well. I think my slowest miles were in the 7:45 range. When I joined track, I quickly learned though that shaving seconds off a 7:45 mile is easier than shaving seconds off a 6:45 mile, which is easier than shaving seconds off a 5:45 mile (the fastest I’ve ever run).


What Clash Of Clans Taught Me About Productivity

For those who never played Clash of Clans (good for you!), it’s a game where you have to open their app every 4 hours in order to upgrade your village and raid someone else’s village. Your village produces resources, and you use these resources (and the resources you plunder from others) to build bigger warehouses and to build defense structures for your bigger warehouses. These bigger warehouses allow you to build bigger warehouses and bigger defense structures, and bigger armies for more plundering other villages. Repeat ad nauseum.


No More Image Friction

I get it. Images are nice to look at. But the problem is that I’m not a full time blogger. I’m a full time student. When blogging is your side hustle and there are no due dates, it’s easy to find excuses to procstinate. That’s why I’m no longer putting images on this blog (mostly).


My Research in 4 minutes!

I’m researching fiber optic gyroscopes. I just put together a non-techincal description video and uploaded it to youtube. Here’s the link:


Airplane Intentionality

Airplanes are a tricky thing. You’re boxed up with a bunch of other people, most of whom are really interesting but travel protocol makes it hard to get to talking with someone you don’t know.


Vote for Yourself

When November rolled around in 2012, I was a politically ambivalent sophomore at Andrews University. I grew up in Wisconsin, but was studying in Michigan, and the hassle of registering to vote seemed like too much work to spend an hour or two on election day casting a single vote that wouldn’t make a difference in how my state fell. Studying for classes seemed like a more useful way to spend my time.


How to Submit a Fellowship Application in 48 hours

This afternoon, I submitted an a fellowship application to the National Science Foundation (NSF). I’m extremely blessed to have a PI with enough research funding to not have to worry about funding for the rest of my Ph.D. at Stanford. However, the funding source is not infinite, and paying a graduate student a stipend, health insurance, tuition, and associated university fees slowly depletes even the best endowed account. In order to extend the longevity of the funding, we looked into some fellowship options as an additional source of funding.


'Twas the Night Before Stanford

‘Twas the night before Stanford I did hardly believe
The events that transpired that led to that eve.


The Day of Reconciliation

I discovered rewards credit cards almost two years ago. In case you haven’t heard of them, they’re these nifty little pieces of plastic, where if you use them to spend money, they’ll give some of the money that you’ve spent back to you.


Contributing to Open Source

A friend texted me a few months ago saying that he was officially an open source contributor. He explained that he had found a bug with some software that he was using, and was able to find the error in the source code. He made some modifications, committed the changes on a github fork, and then issued a pull request to the original author so that other users could benefit from it too.


Our First Silicon Valley Apartment

Rent in San Francisco Bay Area is expensive.


The Spy's Prayer

Last night, I had a dream that I was a spy in Soviet Russia during the later years of the Cold War. I think I was having this dream because I had watched a special feature about an ex-spy at O’Hare while waiting for my flight to San Jose this last Sunday evening. In this feature, a retired CIA agent recounted her experience during the Cold War, and the last bit that I heard before I left was when the KGB kidnapped her, and interrogated her. The other CIA agent with whom she was working had a small pen which could take secret photos, and so when she was sat down at a table to be interrogated and the KGB placed that pen in front of her, she knew that she had been found out.


The Maze

Here at camp, we are always looking for new activities to provide for the kids. The number of activities is actually the limiting factor to how many campers we can accommodate during family camp. Right now, we are capped at 190, but if we found more activities for them to participate in during the week, we would be able to increase that number.


Camp Creativity

At camp, sometimes you need something, and you gotta make it work with what you have. I’ve seen that pop up a couple times this last week. I thought that you, esteemed reader, would appreciate these creative solutions.


Solving Song Service Struggles

For at least the last 8 years, I have helped out with the primary division at the annual Wisconsin SDA Camp Meeting. Every day, my family and I lead out a morning and an evening program for the 7, 8, and 9 year olds. We also do games and crafts in the afternoon, totaling 37 hours of programming over the 9 days of Campmeeting.


Welcome to Wakonda

This summer, I’m working at Camp Wakonda, about an hour north of Madison, Wisconsin. This will be my fourth, and likely final summer working here. It has always been a great place for transitions in my life: 2 years ago, it helped me navigate culture shock coming back after a year as a student missionary to Lebanon. Last year, my wife Mateja and I spent the first 2 years of our marriage working at camp, and then went on our honeymoon. This summer, we are in the process of moving from Berrien to Stanford, CA.


Bye Bye Berrien

This morning, I finished packing up a Toyota Station Wagon and drove out through Snow Road away from Berrien for the last time in a while. I said my final goodbyes, and promised to keep in touch with many of you. I’m not sure whether life’s memories stay where they are made, or whether they follow you wherever you go. In either case, life’s memories should be made together, celebrated together, and shared together.


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