August 20, 2006

{mottos} What's your school's motto?

I have always wondered what the Latin words one sees around the schools' coat-of-arms mean.
Ours at the University of Alberta is "Quaecumque Vera", which means "Whatsoever things are true". I found these and the meaning of other mottos on Wikipedia (see list of mottos). Most of the academic mottos promote finding truth, having wisdom, or being knowledgable. I suspect that having coat-of-arms and mottos are mainly European traditions, since the coat-of-arms belongs to medieval knights and the words are usually in Latin.

The wiki page has mottos from different universities, most of which are located in Britain, Australia, Canada, and occasionally US. Having few universities from other parts of the world might be due to the fact that I found the page on the English wikipedia, but still I have no clue why few US schools are included.

Most old schools seem to have been inspired by religion:
University of Cambridge: Hinc lucem et pocula sacra ([From] here [the university] [we receive] light and sacred draughts [knowledge])
University of Oxford: Dominus Illuminatio Mea (The Lord is my Light)

Most modern ones emphasize truth, wisdom, and knowledge.

Some post-modern schools tend to be different in everything:
Stanford University: Die Luft der Freiheit weht (The wind of freedom blows)

I found the motto of Univ. of British Columbia particularly short and nice: Tuum est ("It is yours"). It doesn't say what is yours, so I guess you can fill in the blanks as you desire!

What's your school's motto?

August 19, 2006

{poetry.amateur} Heaven

A rainy day,
walking under a red umbrella
Towards a local farmers' market ...

An hour or so passes,
but still no signs
of the market or anything else

Is this a Saturday?
Or time has frozen,
and it's still Friday?
Or any other day?

Still wandering in the rain,
Under a dark red umbrella ...

We arrive at a place
with colourful people
who do silly things
and there are other people
who laugh at those silly things
And we laugh at them all

We have no more time to stay
"We are looking for a market,"
"A market?" she asks and laughs
She looks like Satan's sister
with her bright orange hair
Men eat swords and other shiny things
This must be hell
All are fat and laugh out loud
This must be hell

I wonder, "If this is hell,
heaven might be close then"

We walk and walk and walk
Suddenly, the rain stops
and we arrive at this other place
full of beautiful people
beautiful hard-working people

An old Russian lady who thinks I speak Russian
She sells hand-woven wool attire
She smiles when someone buys
one of her beloved machine-washables
"Cold water," she insists, "and no dryer."
She doesn't smile or laugh
at silly things

One fellow sells everything gold
He smiles when you stop at his shop
He has a golden envelope opener
and a golden nail clipper
and other golden things, which
aren't made from gold unless
you are in heaven

I start to wonder,
"Are we in a market, or
are we in heaven?"

Another lady sells red fruits
She calls them tart cherries
I have looked for tart cherries all over Canada
Some cherries exist everywhere,
but not tart cherries!

Tart cherries, I am sure, exist only in heaven!

We are in heaven!
Heaven's very beautiful
Heaven's very beautiful.


{opinions.senses} Sense of humor and common sense

Common sense is inversely proportional to the level of education. The less one stays in school, the more common sense he/she has in daily activities. That's simply because real life is way too different from student life. Common sense is different from logical thinking. Lack of common sense is not necessarily a bad thing.

Sense of humor is inversely proportional to cold climates. The colder it gets, the less one observes the sense of humor among people.

There are some exceptions to both.

I live in a very cold country. I am a grad student. Most of my friends are grad students too. Do I need to continue?

August 17, 2006

{poetry.amateur} Freedom

In the woods of regret,
I pause, turn, and
look back at my life.
What do I see?
A failed attempt
to find the hidden treasures
of body, mind, and soul

Inhales are deep 'n heavy
Heavier than ever
capturing my body.
Time has come
to free my body.
Two long exhales or three,
Lighter gets my body,
Lighter again and free.

Freedom of body

Bitter sarcasms everyday
freeze my mind.
A frozen mind is not free
Melt it down and float
in the plasma of emptiness,
where all minds are free
from searching for something
no one knows it exists.

Two minutes after, or three
I am not thinking, but floating
and my mind is free.

Freedom of body and mind

A rope is in my hand
Again, I look around
Amongst the trees, the very tall ones
and too far away from everyone
My soul's still searching
This time, searching for hope
Show my soul some hope!
A sign or any other thing
to continue with hope

I still exhale lightly
wihtout thinking
eyes are closed, floating.

The rope's around my soul,
this may look crazy,
but it's the only way
for my soul to be free
From the haunting demons of
my torn pride.

Hesitation I have no more
and I let go

My soul's not a
prisoner of my body
or mind, or both
My soul's free

Freedom of body, mind,
and freedom of soul


August 15, 2006

{non.academic} why I continue to write

Recently, I have had a few suggestions to write more about myself rather than my nonsense academic experiences. It's interesting to observe that personal blogs can act as a means of communications to friends and family. When I started to write, I just wanted to practice writing in English as a second language. It turns out that my blog is more of a means of talking to friends and family. I can practice writing in English and you can get to know that I am doing fine! What's better than that? Jamaican Paradise, perhaps, but that should be discussed.

Anyhow, I remember getting all sorts of feedback from family/friends and also people whom I never thought would read my blog. Some were positive, most were negative, but I continued to write and I am glad that there are still people who visit here. I get the infamous question, 'why do you write?', from time to time; a question I would rather deflect than reply to. What's the point of doing somehting I am good at, anyways? I think, admitting your weaknesses is the first step to do something about them. Next steps are to practice, practice, practice, and practice more. I am not sure if I have improved at all, but I google less than I used to, when I write.

I read friend's blogs too. When they write and especially when they write positively, I have a pleasant feeling that they are doing all right (even if my emails are left without a reply, which I imagine is due to busy lifestyle). I would have rathered talking to my friends on the phone, or even chatting on messenger, but we are all on different time zones and often too busy to even get in touch with local ones.


August 10, 2006

{lovable.kidz} Arteen

This photo is taken a month ago. Arteen is 9 months old now (8 months old in the pic). I have missed you a lot, handsome.


August 08, 2006


I haven't been blogging for a good ten days. I have missed you guys, too. Life's been good, I can't complain.

Today, we had the first reading group meeting on variational methods in computer vision. Dana, a post doc of our lab, gave an intro to the field and highlighted the differences between snakes (active contour models) and geodesic active contours. I guess next time, Neil and Martin would present some other related ideas. I liked her presentation; it gave me more insight and it was a good idea to read the paper before the meething. I probably need to read the paper again. She seems to be more concerned about the numerical solutions to the Partial Differential Equations, but I want to know more about its math formulations. She didn't spend too much time on the theorem proofs. I want to know what the authors (see reference below) mean by the Riemannian space and I want to know more than the definition of a Riemannian space. I want to have a deeper insight to how they arrived at the idea of geodesic active contours.

Reference: Caselles, Kimmel, and Sapiro, "Geodesic Active Contours," IJCV 1997.