James Tang

Month: March, 2008


I have allowed my life to fill up with too much clutter with not enough margin.

From now on, my goal will be to simply not accept anything that is not important.

I need to go shopping for a notebook to keep these thoughts


Take Care of Your Body


My eating habits may seem a bit weird. I like to follow the idea of eating healthy, but only when I’m eating alone. With other people, I tend to not care as much.

Healthy for me means eating natural foods and avoiding simple carbohydrates and bad fat.

In exercise, I think cardio takes precedence over lifting weights. My current schedule is:

Monday: Run 3 miles

Wednesday: Row 2 km, Elliptical for 2 miles

Friday: Bench Press, Military Press, various triceps/chest exercises

Saturday Morning: Run around campus ~ 2.5 miles.

Sunday Night: Abs and Pull-ups.

I am starting to feel fat again from this lazy spring break. Abs Diet and Workout again when I get back to Berkeley


Sleep is probably too important for me to be neglecting. If all goes right with my plan, I will be getting 8 hours of sleep.


7 AM: Shower, breakfast – hardboiled egg, fruit

8 AM: Class

12 PM: Lunch at La Burrita

3 PM: Snack – Almonds

5 PM Run

6 PM: Dinner

11 PM: Bed


7 AM: Gym

8 AM: Shower, change, breakfast

12 PM: Lunch at La Burrita

3 PM: Snack – Almonds

6 PM: Dinner

11 PM: Bed

This schedule leaves me with 4 hours in the morning of class and 6 hours in the afternoon for class and studying. Time till bed is free time.

Turn computer off after 10PM.


It’s one of those things that are so easy to do, and it fills up everyone with happiness. And it makes the kitchen smell incredible.

How to Listen

The most important thing I have learned when it comes to dealing with people is simple.

People talk because they want you to understand them.

Their tone, volume, and words are all little subcategories of speech. People use a certain voice when they want to convey something.

When there is conflict and you see people shouting, it’s because they believe that they are not being heard. The quickest way to defuse someone is to show that you hear and understand them. The best way to do this is to see if you can repeat back what their main points are. You can do this in the middle of someone’s rant simply by saying, “Wait, lemme see if I understand you correctly”. Don’t try to add your point of view or do anything other than a complete repetition. Stop at moments to clarify. People love to hear that they’re being taken seriously. The added benefit is that they are given time to cool down and think about what they’re saying since they’re hearing the exact same words that they said. So many times it seems like if the other person only slowed down to hear themselves, they would actually understand what they’re saying.

Things I Wish I Had Known Starting College

A junior studying EECS at UC Berkeley

1. Live on Southside Freshman year – If your reason for living on Northside is that it’s closer to your classes, forget it. Freshman year, your classes are so scattered over the campus that it really makes no difference. Southside also has easier access to the RSF and now Underhill Field. The people you live with will really make or break your year. The people I’ve met in the Units have just been more interesting and much more diverse.

2. Get deeply involved in your major – EECS is fascinating. Unfortunately, many of the introductory courses¬† are taught so poorly that it’s really easy to blow off some of the importance of what you’re learning. Until I took my first big project course (CS162), I had this mentality where I believed EECS was boring, filled with uninteresting people, and hard work with little reward. Stick with it and try taking upper division courses as early as possible. You don’t want to get to a point where you realize it’s impossible to fit in all the courses you really want to take because you have to graduate in a semester. Along with this, get involved in student organizations dedicated towards EECS. This includes HKN, IEEE, SWE, or UPE. You’ll get to meet plenty of people so you know who is reliable and a good partner to have for the projects.

3. Keep up that GPA – My GPA isn’t terrible but it has on a few occasions limited my options in terms of internships, honor societies, and research opportunities. GPA is one of the hardest things to bring up since the mass your semester’s grades are averaged together with gets bigger and bigger.

4.¬† Take math seriously – I had completed almost all the required math for my major before I came to Berkeley because I didn’t want to have to deal with it anymore. It was a serious mistake to think that I would never need it again. Linear Algebra in particular has so many uses in EE. Set Theory, Graph Theory, and Combinatorics help you think in creative ways to approach programming. You never know when you’ll need Calculus again so it’s good to know the basics of it very well.

5. Skip the prereqs for non-tech classes- In general I think most motivated people can find themselves skipping prereqs for some classes. They usually don’t offer much value towards the class you really want to take and the class usually reviews it heavily during the first few weeks. If you had used your breaks to study a bit and learn the class, it shouldn’t affect you. Since it’s a non tech, there is usually just a few concepts you really need to know and a lot of excess detail that the Professor doesn’t expect you to know.