Dapeng Li

Hungry, foolish and passionate – yet another software developer.

Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

Set your work on fire, let it burn

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The family of my ex-roommate had moved to another city, they mailed four big packages to the city before they left. For some reason the packages got returned, and I would help my friends mailing them back.

I took me some time to get all the packages from parcel store, then called a taxi to the post office (where packages can be sent). The packages were heavy, and the taxi could only stop as near as 100 meters away from the post office so I decided to move the packages one by one. When I was there with the first package, I found out I could not leave the package there because of ‘security reasons’. The staff showed no sympathy to me – a person in a struggling position – instead they asked for understanding from me. Rush, anger, disappointment and frustration. Luckily the owner of a shop nearby agreed to let me leave the package there while I went back to the taxi to get the others. When I finally have all four packages in the shop and then moved one of them to the post office, the staff again told me I have to mail them one after another for the same security reason. I managed to keep my calm, but could not keep my beads of sweat from falling onto my glasses, the desk and post forms. Finally the packages got sent out successfully and hopefully my friends are going to receive them soon, that’s the good news. That was also a stressful morning, my experience definitely fell somewhere between unpleasant and miserable.

The reason I’m telling this story is not showing ‘how apathetic government staff can be’ or ‘how good a person I am to help friends in need’.

No. The point of the story is that I want to tell you what happened next.

The day after, I told the story to another friend, my friend asked me some questions and suggested there might be a better way in which I could have handled the situation.

I was very defensive, even a little bit emotional. I felt like my friend not only didn’t appreciate my effort, but also wanted to criticize me.

I totally overreacted.

Then I realized I was wrong. I overreacted that way because I was too attached to what I had done – not because I did it perfectly, but because it costed me so much (in time, energy and emotion). From that perspective, even a friendly suggestion sounds like criticism.

I apologized to my friend afterwards, and started thinking more about what happened.

This small incident reminds me of a talk I heard in 2013, by Obie Fernandez in the Ruby conference in Beijing, China. The talk was about the Burning Man festival and community of Ruby programming language.

The Burning Man is a week-long annual event in the desert of Nevada, USA. People gather together for a week, they create art, share with each other and had good time; but after that week, they burn everything they had created – the fine art, the temple, and of course, the ‘Burning Man’.

What striked me the most in Burning Man was the attitude people showed towards their work. They burn everything, to remind themselves not to be too attached to what they had made, and give them the oppotunity to achieve something even greater in the future.

That’s the spirit I want to have, the spirit of immediacy.

Live in the moment, don’t get too attached to what you have done, and don’t take yourself too seriously.

Written by Dapeng

February 13th, 2015 at 5:05 am

Posted in Life

One year away from home – reviewing my 2014 and looking forward to 2015

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In 2014 I have lived, worked and traveled in places and with people totally new to me, I’m very happy with the past year and would like more of it in 2015.

About 2014

I can think of three words for my 2014 – independence, immersion and curiosity.


In 2014 I lived by myself, for the first time in my life I didn’t depent on my parents. YES!

I think I probably should be embarrased rather than proud to say so – at my age – still, I’m happy I did it. I also think that’s one important step to becoming mature and responsible: you must be able to take care of yourself before taking care of others.



Most of my programming work in 2014 was with AngularJS and CoffeeScript, I also had the chance to learn Git and sometimes wrote Ruby and Rails. It was great! Although I didn’t use Ruby and Rails as much as I wished, I am very happy with my work and what I have learned in programming.


I want to know more about Spain, its people and culture, considering the affinity of Gibraltar to Spain and the potential opportunity of me working in Spain. I had been learning Spanish for about 10 months in 2014, and I think I’m starting to ‘get it’. Vamos, amigos.

Wonderful people

I’m very grateful that I have been surrounded by wonderful people in 2014, I enjoyed very much being with roommates, colleagues, friends old and new and most strangers. I think one of the reasons I didn’t suffer from “culture shock” was because of them.


I had traveled a lot in 2014, more times than in any previous year and probably longer than I have ever did in my life; because I wanted to, I had the chance, and the necesity for applying Schegen visas in Gibraltar (you have to book flights, so use or waste). Traveling makes me curious.

I have finished a Coursera course on Programming Languages, that was 10 weekends of intense study, I learned and enjoyed a lot.

Actually everyday experience of me in 2014 had some elements of surprise and amazement, I guess maybe not because environment had radically changed (although it did to some extent) but because of the change of perspective on life.

I love one quote from Rick Steves on traveling (from his Europe Through the Back Door book) – which I believe can be equally applied to everyday life.

Travel more like Gandhi – with simple clothes, open eyes, and an uncluttered mind.

Some reflections

I hope you would agree that each item above and its sub-items need motivation, in the book Drive Dan Pink argues (and I agree) that things that motivates people have three characteristics: autonomy, mastery and purpose. Every one of my items needs them.

However, when I step back, I see a bigger picture of motivation. Independence is all about autonomy, immersion is all about mastery, curiosity is all about purpose. The ‘thing’ they motivate is life.

About 2015

I want to understand, experience and enjoy more in 2015.

On independence

About food… Not only feed myself, I want to be able to serve myself. I wish I can learn to cook more. I was reluctant to do so in 2014 and maybe also in 2015 is that, it takes time to cook and cleanup; I would like to spend the time on other stuff, like learning and reading. Well, that’s some BS, isn’t it? The truth is: I’m lazy. I will need a stronger motivation, and then balance cooking with my other activities well.

On immersion


I wish I can have more chance working on Ruby and Rails, although they don’t seem that ‘magical’ to me now, I am still distance away from elequency. And in general, more open source, please.


I will continue my learning of Spanish, both in class and with self study. I’m planning to take the A2 level of DELE exam on Spanish in 2015.

Wonderful people

I would like to keep engaged with my wonderful friends and colleagues, share and learn more with them.

On curiosity

I want to keep on traveling, but I need to educate myself so I have the knowledge to appreciate.

I also would like to read and learn more in 2015, not only about programming, For example, maybe this introduction course to finance.

Some more reflections

I believe people learn and grow the most when they are out of their comfort zone, when they are challenged and stretched (but not overwhelmed).

That’s why I enjoyed 2014 so much.

The external environment might be less new to me than in 2014, but I think I will be equally amazed. Remember what Steve Jobs said: 

Stay hungry, stay foolish.

Hope you had a wonderful 2014, and 2015 is going to be even more awesome.

Written by Dapeng

February 2nd, 2015 at 5:03 am

Posted in Life

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