Atletico 4 – 0 Real Madrid, Feb 7, 2015: Notes

Atletico more than deserve to win the match. Real simply pay the price for not respecting their opponent enough. Real started with the formation 4-3-3, an astounding decision by Carlo Ancelotti. They went to Vicente Calderon without Ramos, Marcelo,James, and Carlo still insisted on playing with 3 forwards.

Really Atletico had a hell of an easy match. With Arda Turan and Koke (and later Saul) played as defensive wingers, they had no problem blocking all passes from Real. It was impossible for Real Madrid midfielders to do anything else than to lose the ball time and again. They only have 3 players in the midfield: Isco, Kroos and Khedira. Even worse, none of them is a ball-winning midfielder. If Real want to play 4-3-3 badly, they need a physical figure in the middle of the pitch, such as Paul Pogba.

I hope Real Madrid players will consider this a lesson. They must play against Atletico and any tricky team with a more balance shape.

 

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Xem phim thư giãn: Tết Này Ai Đến Xông Nhà

Sau một tuần học hành căng thẳng, hôm nay nghỉ ngơi và quyết định xem phim Việt Nam vì sắp đến Tết rồi. Cũng khá chán vì tối thứ 6 lại ngồi nhà nhưng thực sự với thời tiết -11 độ C thì cũng không biết làm gì hơn. Hôm nay xem lại phim Tết Này Ai Đến Xông Nhà vì thấy khá phù hợp với không khí Tết. Xem xong phim thấy khá cảm xúc nên lên blog viết lại một vài cảm nhận (vài gạch đầu dòng ngắn gọn thôi.)

– Đây là một phim điện ảnh hay, mặc dù không xuất sắc vì chỉ là một phim hài nhẹ nhàng. Mình cũng không có điều kiện xem nhiều phim điện ảnh của Việt Nam. Một phần cũng khá thất vọng với những phim mình được xem nên không có nhiều nhu cầu. Dù gì cũng rất thích Tết Này Ai Đến Xông Nhà vì phim diễn tả một bối cảnh Việt Nam thời cuối những năm 90, đầu 2000. Xem phim nhớ thời còn bé, khi mà Hà Nội tương đối khác so với bây giờ.

– Phim miêu tả nhân vật chính Thi, đã ngót nghét 40 tuổi nhưng có vẻ vẫn không biết (và không phải) làm việc nhà bao giờ. Đến việc mua hoa tặng bạn gái bố mẹ cũng phải mua và gói hộ. Việc bố mẹ bao bọc con cái đến tận răng thì vẫn rất phổ biến ở Việt Nam (nếu bây giờ mình đang ở nhà thì chính mình cũng không khác gì…)

– Có thể thời nay giới trẻ đã khác nhưng ít ra phim cũng lột tả được tâm lý của nhiều người ở VN, xác định yêu là để lấy nhau. Nhưng đáng ra thì trước hết yêu phải để cho vui. Còn việc cưới xin thì 2-3 năm sau hãy tính đến.

– Thi đặt câu hỏi ngu ngơ: Tại sao cô Hồng Linh lại từ chối tình cảm của mình, trong khi Thi yêu hết lòng. Thứ nhất, Thi không yêu cô Hồng Linh chút nào. Đơn giản là thấy cô này chân dài và xinh nên thích chứ chưa hề yêu. Thứ hai, kể cả có yêu say đắm đi nữa thì cũng chỉ là tình yêu một chiều. Thứ ba, người ta còn chưa nhận lời yêu đã chìa nhẫn ra. May là cô kia không sợ chết ngất.

– Tuy Thi ngu ngơ nhưng một số hành động khá được. Ví dụ như chia tay cô Thu Vân rõ ràng, dứt khoát. Điều này tốt ở chỗ giúp cô Vân sống thoải mái hơn, đến mức yêu và cưới ngay sau đó vài tháng. Nhưng đến khoảng gần cuối phim Thi lại có ý đồ quay lại. Không mê nổi ông Thi.

– Có lẽ cái hay nhất của phim là việc để cho Thi thất bại đau đớn trong tất cả các mưu mô tán gái của mình. Không chỉ có Thi ngơ như bò đội nón, ông Quốc thực ra cũng chả biết mô tê gì về con gái. Tuy đây là phim hài nhưng riêng khía cạnh này phim làm khá chuẩn. Nhìn chung các bạn trai nếu rút ra được kinh nghiệm của 2 ông Thi và Quốc thì sẽ có nhiều cơ hội hơn trong việc chinh phục các bạn gái.

– Tóm lại phim miêu tả được một số nhân vật rất thật, như Thi hay Quốc. Các sự kiện trong phim, tuy có phần phóng đại để gây cười, nhưng cũng rất đời thường. Riêng mình thì còn thấy ngoài đời nhiều chuyện bi hài hơn trong phim 🙂

The 2015 Challenge – Entry 3: My Plan for Research Attack

Last entries of this journal

1. The Introduction
2. No Headphone, No Music on-the-go

Now or Never

This may be only my second semester as a pre-candidate PhD student but my scientific career prospect all comes down to the next few months. I have to officially get into a research group. I need to get funding for the next summer as well as the next 4 or 5 years of my life. If I cannot do it this semester, my chance of having a career in research would be practically zero. In terms of tennis, it’s like you are 23 years old now (I am!!) and you have not yet played in the main draw of a Grand Slam, then you should forget about winning it altogether. It is not impossible, but far from doable.

The key thing is, up to this point, I still have been unable to accomplish any major project in my life, not just research. While I feel a little embarrassed when I write this, I know it is not too late to change that. Along with the changes I have made so far during this challenge, a plan for research is crucial for a successful semester in the short term, and a successful career in the long term.

The problem

One thing that I’ve learned about myself is I cannot concentrate on too many things at once. The problem is, like many others, I tend to overestimate my ability of getting things done efficiently. Take last semester for example, I signed up for a mountain biking class, tried to learn two courses on Coursera, registered for two electrical engineering classes, joined a soccer club and played at least once a week, opened a new blog and wrote a few articles.  Man, no wonder why I was helpless in the end of the semester. I must do less to accomplish more. A simple rule, but easy to forget one.

Clearly I need to invest a lot of time on research and get my priorities right.

Go all in for research

First thing, I want to make sure I have less things to occupy my mind this semester. I have one writing course at school and audit one electronics course. Auditing means the latter course is optional. I will try to take notes and do homework in that course only if I have time to spare. My extracurricular activities include only soccer and some regular gym time. Sports are indispensable for me and they actually help balance my life so it’s fine. I am also learning a Coursera course, Introduction to Classical Music by Yale University. It will not be a problem because I consider watching Coursera lectures similar to reading a book and I will do it in the evening only. That also applies to the writing course mentioned above. My plan is to put all the possibly distracting stuffs to the evening schedule, with an except of Saturday, when I’m free to do whatever I want.

That leaves the whole day, 6 days a week for me to do research and study for the electronics course. I want to spend at least 20 hours a week on research. It means for four days a week, I will do nothing but research (and research-related tasks like group meetings.) The other two days will be devoted for classes and maybe some homework (about 10 hours a week.) Even this seems to be a lazy man’s schedule but I cannot step into that trap — overestimating my ability — again. Also I think it’s a good idea to leave room for random events that may occur.

Learn to Focus

I believe that is a sound plan. Now I need to follow the schedule faithfully. Another important point is I have to make every hour of research counts. I must learn to focus and overcome distractions. It will be the main area to improve in the upcoming months.

(Photo by Sprint006)

The 2015 Challenge – Entry 2: No earphone, no music on-the-go

I notice that I have had a few more followers in the last few days. That’s encouraging. It is always better to have some reader than none. If you find this blog helpful, please share it to your friends. The more readers the more fun I have in accomplishing this challenge. 

Past entries of this journal
1. Entry 1: The Introduction

My addictionMusic downloading

It is no secret that I love music. This screenshot shows that over the last few days I have downloaded nearly 60GB of music (a big number because all of them are lossless classical music, more on classical music later.) Currently I store up to 600GB of high-quality music in my hard drive. I also have a small collection of audio-related gears: headphones, DACs
(sound cards) and speakers. Above all that, I rarely leave home without a pair of earbuds since secondary school, when I owned a portable MP3 player for the first time. I have had this habit for nearly 10 years. During that time, I listen to music wherever I go and I enjoy it a lot.

But now is the time to stop. I cannot always listen to music anymore.

Why no more Music on-the-go?
Listening to music, for me, is a good way to escape from difficulties in my life. Whenever I listen to music, I tend to forget about all of my worries. After all, that is one basic function of music — relaxing the listener. However, the feeling is only temporary. Over time I think it is better to focus on the problem at hand than to escape from it via music every time.

Furthermore, music makes me quickly lose grasp of time. It becomes very difficult to turn off the music after listening for a while. Moreover, when my mind is not totally in focus (because of the music), I begin to lose control of myself. With the music turned on, I would be likely to open a browser to surf the web and suddenly the workday is over before I even realize it. That’s the power of music. It can heal my soul but also can consume all of my time.

One more thing, listening to music requires a lot of energy from the brain, especially when I use headphones/earphones and listen to loud music. This must be the reason I always feel tired after a long session of music listening. Since energy is limited, I have to preserve it for study and research. Music can wait.

So how to get rid of this habit? It is simple: just do not bring an earphone with me. It’s convenient that I lost my Apple Earpod during my break in Vietnam (it’s a great pair of earbuds by the way, I should have given it to my dad.) I also have to form a new habit of listening to music only in the evening. It is not a bad idea, though, because I can focus on the music. It is important for my beginning study of classical music, a genre demands good concentration. After all, deep enjoyment should require deep focus.

Result from the First week
It’s not as easy as I thought. I truly miss my beloved headphone when I commute or when I have lunch at the dining hall. I even start to sing out loud when I have the chance. On the bright side, I seem to have plenty of energy even after a long day. My brain must have thanked me for that. It does not need to endure the music every single minute of the day.

More importantly, although I am bored without music, it actually helps me. Works and lectures, in a sudden, become very interesting. I’m more alerted and focused. It’s a great feeling that makes a long, hard session of study bearable. Also, a more relaxed brain has improved both my spoken and written English. With all these encouraging signs, all I have to do now is not carrying a pair of earbuds with me.

(Photo by LifeHacker)

2015 Challenge: The Introduction

Last Semester’s Pain

I did not fare well in my first semester as a graduate student. It was clear from the beginning this school was out of my league. I struggled to overcome each and every homework, project and exam. Towards the end of the semester, I even became depressed and looked for video games and manga to alleviate the pain. As you might guess, my problem only grew worse. I began to stay really late every night and started to lose weight. Had I not already booked a trip to Vietnam for winter break, I could not imagine how worse my life might get.

Nevertheless, that does not mean my life has to remain that way. Actually I believe it was the good sign that I struggled badly during my first semester here. It is always better to acknowledge the problem sooner rather than later. Also, it would give me the motivation to change my life in every possible way. As I said above, I am not on the same level with many students here at Cornell. But since I am already here, I will not give up without a great fight. My goal is not just to reach the Cornell level, I want to be one of the best students here.

Introduce the 2015 Challenge

To realize my goal of becoming a great graduate student, I will make drastic changes to many aspects of my life: from forming good study habits to forming good music listening habits, from improving concentration to improving stamina, from learning better presenting skills to learning better socializing skills, etc. It will not be easy, so I call this life-hacking project the 2015 Challenge.

Here in this blog, I will write a journal reporting about my progress during the challenge.I will give you my thoughts and my process of achieving each goal in the challenge.

Why I Do This?

I think it is important to record my plan in writing. It makes the plan clear and memorable. If I do not forget about my plan, I will be more likely to finish it.

Furthermore, I want to share my story with people. Many times I find myself struggling to follow my own advice that I give them. Now it is the time to stand up to the difficulty and show people my result. I want to make this challenge a case study for my friends and I hope it will encourage them to improve their lives as well.

You can play a part of this challenge too by discussing on my blog entries. Questions and comments are welcomed. If you think you have a better idea than what I write here, don’t hesitate to talk to me. I hope that you enjoy reading this journal.

A tribute to Nikolay Davydenko

Davydenko with his WTF trophy

I read the news about Davydenko’s retirement a few days ago. My first reaction was to open Youtube to search for his match against Nadal at Rome 2007. What a match it was. If I recall correctly, Davydenko took Nadal more than 3 hours in that intense semi final. Nadal beat him that day but Davydenko returned the favor by denying Rafa of two Masters titles that the Spaniard has never won in the past — Shanghai (in 2011) and Miami (in 2008.)

Davydenko is a no-nonsense player. He’s solid on both wings and does not make many mistakes in general play. Davydenko can definitely move around the court to dictate the points. His only but fatal weakness is his inability to finish the point. His forehand and backhand are strong but not deadly enough to kill off his opponents. His volley is ordinary and so is his serve. Davydenko does not possess a real weapon in his arsenal and that explains his failure of reaching a Grand Slam final, let alone winning one.

But I still remember Davydenko for one reason: he knows how to beat Nadal, especially on a hard court. I still don’t know exactly how Davydenko did it against Rafa so many times. Perhaps he dealt with spin well, or he just avoided making unforced errors. Anyway, Nadal has always struggled against Davydenko in all surfaces. Maybe this is similar to the case of David Ferrer. Ferrer also beat Nadal several times on hard court, including a few in Grand Slams. Again you can add another defensive player into the list, Andy Murray. After all, the best explanation for Nadal’s struggle against Davydenko (and other defensive guys) is the reduced effect of spinning on a hard court. It never happens on a clay court, such as Philippe Chatrier, for sure.

Back to Davydenko, I’m happy that he won the ATP World Tour Finals in 2009. His career, in many ways, is similar to David Nalbandian’s although you can argue that the Argentine is far more talented. Nonetheless, in terms of results and trophies, Davydenko and Nalbandian are comparable. They also have one more thing in common. They played in an incredibly strong era of men’s tennis. In this era, Davydenko was never expected to beat Federer, Nadal or Djokovic to win a Grand Slam. It’s asking too much of him.

Let’s enjoy perhaps the most glorious moment in his career.

First semester at a new school

Note: First, I decided to stop using Facebook this week. From now on, I will check Facebook only about 2-3 times a week. But I will write more on this blog and on another music blog (a new project of mine and my close friends.) So if you want to contact me, just shoot me an email to trimcao@gmail.com or comment on this blog.


Today, let me share with you my story at Cornell so far.

It is definitely a story of mixed feelings. I am very happy to be here but also very frustrated due to my shortcomings in study and research.

Ithaca is a great town, no doubt about that. I really enjoy the scenery of Cornell and Ithaca. It must be one of the most scenic campuses in the US. I feel relaxed each time I look at the endless hills from 7th floor of Olin Library (though it’s likely I will hate this town during its 6-month winter.)

IMG_0070

There are countless activities you can do here. For the first time I joined a proper soccer club and play real soccer – 11 vs. 11. Having been playing as a midfielder for three years in college, I came back to my usual position as a striker again. Basically I am trying to imitate Fillipo Inzaghi: beating the offside trap and being clinical in front of goals. Unfortunately, while I have done the former part fairly well I did miss a lot of sitters, i.e. one-on-ones. In many games I played exactly like (or worse than) Torres or Chicharito, pathetic and helpless with my finishing. Despite that, I have had a lot of fun playing soccer here, as if my love for soccer never ever waned.

My new soccer team

I can also tell you about mountain biking. It is a popular sport here because Ithaca possesses a number of hills and the quality of the bike trails is amazing. Honestly at first I was scared, especially when I faced a steep downhill or some crazy obstacle. Eventually I overcame some of the scary feeling and improved my biking skill to the point that I could conquer most of the trails in one hill.

Bikes

Okay, those above are all the good things about Cornell and Ithaca. Here come the bad ones. It’s simple: I feel I am a stupid person here. Yes, you are hearing me right. The truth is each time I sit in the Neuron Interfaces class I feel like I am brainwashed. Several times every week I ask myself ‘Do I really belong to this place?’

Here homework and exams make a horrible experience. All grades I get to this point were Cs and Ds. It is embarrassing but I have to accept the fact that I’m not yet good enough for this school. The key thing for me, I believe, is not working harder, but to keep working. Just don’t quit and I will be fine.

Having said all that, I enjoy studying here, just like I enjoy soccer and mountain biking. My grades may be terrible but I have learned a great deal in the last two months. The people here are nice and they help me a lot. Anyway, for me struggling in a new environment is unavoidable. There’s no way I can become one of the best students here in a few months, especially with my broken background knowledge in every area. Again, the best thing to do is fighting till the end. Never quit.

The bottom line is, this semester I am a fool on the hill (the comparison is valid thanks to the hilly Ithaca.) Let’s see how it will turn out next year.