I must ask myself the hard question.

At the end of the day, how do you want to be remembered? What is your legacy?

Get real. You know your problem. You had a whole year to pursue what you believe. What is the outcome? Is that what you want?

Be effective. Do what is necessary, not what you like. There are things you hate but necessary. Do it anyway when you have to. You must develop this capacity.

You question now is not how to execute. Rather, given the limited resource, what is your priority? What is your direction?

It boils down to two things, career and family. It’s time to settle down. How should I proceed? You know your choices, CZL, TL, CL. Do you have time for another adventure? You have seen enough. Take the best option. You don’t have much choice left.

So what to do next? Need to execute one by one?

A detour on glamor. You cannot just chase glamor at the expense of other aspects. This has been your main problem.

Glamor is a misleading criterion. Everybody loves glamor. But the real question is, how much would you like to pay for it? Do you really want to put up with all the trouble, for the sake of glamor? Isn’t glamor another variant of vanity?

Maybe I don’t value relations that much? Your behavior is a better prediction of your future. So what makes you truly gratifying?

Raise a kid is worthwhile, if romance is not your destiny. So get real.

To experience it deeply, you must commit. Otherwise, you won’t feel the same. Will reading help me? Maybe. But it won’t be a lot.

In 2016, I can excuse out the plan I committed to. I can take the hardship, whenever necessary. So you have what it takes. The question is, what’s your goal?

You can have all tactics right, but what is your goal? How do you keep your vision?



5.28.2016-9.03.2016. Infinite Dimensional Analysis: A Hitchhiker’s Guide, by Charalambos D. Aliprantis, Kim Border, total 209 hours.

4.08.2016-5.13.2016. An Introduction to the Theory of Mechanism Design, by Tilman Borgers, unfinished, last four chapters.

3.04.2016-4.06.2016. Game Theory: An Introduction, by Steven Tadelis,

11.15.2015-3.03.2016. Optimization by Vector Space Methods, by David G. Luenberger.

TQ: a bumpy ride

K. always need reassurance. He needs to learn that this is a real game. As such, there will be win or lose. The question is how you deal with it. If you cannot control your emotion, and let the temporary setback consume you,  you won’t get very far.


Hi, K,

We put a lot of efforts into this paper. I have no doubt about its quality. I would be surprised if AE would reject the paper for quality reason. Even if it is the case, we can still go for MS: our paper is much better than B.’s. 

We will prevail.


Hi L,

I think the AE rejected the paper – the status indicates waiting EIC decision.



Academic Hazing

It seems you find an ideal job in business. Passionate colleagues, new projects for enhancing skills, constant challenges for growth, these are the recipe for a happy working life :)

The academic flexibility can be deceptive. Teaching is never a big part of research schools. It takes only about 10% of your time; the rest is all for research, at least that is the case before tenure. 

The tenure process is academic hazing. It is meant to filter and fail people: as a newly minted PHD, you have seven years to prove yourself, by producing enough top publications. The stake cannot be any higher: by the end of year seven, either you have life-long job security with great freedom, or you are fired. In the latter case, you have to start all over again, either move to another school or go to industry. Your senior colleagues who attended your birthday party yesterday may well vote you down in today’s tenure meeting. It is that cruel.

The most frustration part is the peer review process. typically it takes one-two years to write a paper. That is the easy part. to get it published, you must get the blessing by 2-3 your anonymous peers in the field. This means, you need to demonstrate you know better than them in the chosen topic. But who are we kidding? Academic is full of freaks with inflated ego, you can only imagine how ugly the game could turn. Besides its chaotic nature, the review process is also frustratingly long: if your paper is not rejected in the process, it can take up to two years to get published (from the submission to print). And you count that as luck, because the acceptance rate is only 5-10%.

Unlike corporate life, academia does not have clear boundary between work and life. Because you don’t know whether your current work will go through, how long it will take, you never know if you have produced enough for tenure. So you will put into this rat race every minute you can squeeze.  Even if you reduce service and teaching to the bare minimum, time is still in short supply. You really don’t have relaxing evenings; weekends are for making up the time loss in the committee meetings. Before long work creeps into every corner of your life. You are conditioned to feel guilty if you are not working. Even in sleep your work will haunt your dream. If anything, academic life before tenure is a work of 24/7. So don’t let 20-day teaching fool you :)

And then there is nasty school politics. Because your senior colleagues hold your future, you cannot afford to piss them off. Bullying is the norm. You pretty much have to do what they ask. If you don’t, they will ‘love’ you doubly: solicit twice as many outside letters to screw you case.

For many, the struggle is not just to make tenure, but also to keep the soul :)

2016-07-13 12.06.19

A Small Town

State College is so different from SoCal. Though a small town, it has every piece in good shape. The mountains have lush green; the lakes are clean and tranquil; the trees stand tall and erect. The colonial style buildings fit the surroundings well. When the first fall season came, I was stunned: I have never seen such rich and saturated colors in B.

There are not a lot of stores, but each does its job properly. On N. Athoton St, I like Kimchi Korean Restaurant, Original Waffle Shop, and Champs Sports Grill (it boasts full rack babyback BBQ at 9 bucks, off the menu,  on Wed. after 9pm :)

When I first came to R, I was a bit depressed. On day one I was greeted with the heat wave of 105F (I heard WH is hot too, but at least it has green!!!). The lush green I took for granted is now a Luxury. When I visited San Diego Zoo, its exotic plants made it more of a botany garden than of a zoo. The shock took its toll: my appetite was gone and I lost 30 pounds in the first three months. It took me quite a while to get over of that depression. I have long thought to go back to the east coast, until I moved out of R :)

2016-07-20 08.00.52