Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Week 1: Mathematical Expression

"This is SO HARD!" he exclaims as he throws his head back, a tortured look on his face. We had been working through some basic addition flashcards for the last 45 minutes, and by some I mean about 10. 5 minutes of awkward finger counting per problem: it was painful for us both.

"Of course it's hard. You're learning a new language. Learning a new language is always hard." I explain. 

He scratches his head. "Huh?"

"Math. Think of it like English, or Chinese, or Turkish. It's just another way of speaking to other people."

He looks at me like I'm crazy. I tear out a fresh sheet of notebook paper and set up a horizontal grid. I sketch a rough circle in the leftmost box, point to it, and ask him what it is.

"A circle." he responds. 

"Right. So in English, we say circle. I write 'circle' in the second box. "How do you say this in Turkish?"


" in Turkish it's yooo-ahhh-rruj." Billy giggles as I struggle with the word. I add my phonetic interpretation to the third box, and then begin writing the Chinese character for circle in the fourth box.

"What is that?" Billy asks, leaning forward in his chair for a closer look.

"This is Chinese for circle. This character is pronounced: yuan." 

"Wow cool!" Billy picks up his pencil and tries to copy the character.

"Yep. Now watch this." I write the mathematical equation for a circle in the last box. "Do you know what this says?"

"X-two plus y-two equals 1!" he proclaims. His attempt is valiant. I laugh out loud.

"It says circle. This is how we say 'circle' in math--in the language of math. You read it like this: x-squared plus y-squared equals 1."

"Did Einstein create this? My dad says Einstein was the smartest guy in the world."

"Well, he didn't really create this. But if you showed this to him, he would know that it says circle. He spoke math."

"Can I speak math?" 

"Yes, you can speak some math, but you still have a lot more words to learn."

Friday, January 22, 2010

Congratulations! It's a Boy!

I received a response to my ad! The kid, we'll call him "Billy", is in 3rd grade, and his parents feel like he is behind his classmates in mathematics. They would like me to assess where Billy is, and then to "go from there". Talk about ambiguous situations!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


Looking for a K-12 tutor, mentor, or governess? Some strange mixture of all three? Well look no further! I am a teacher at heart: not a teacher in the sense that I want to teach kids how to do math or write an English paper; but a teacher in the sense that I want to show them that math and science and English are so much more than just a-b-c and 1-2-3. I want to empower others with the same passion for lifelong learning that, for me, has opened my eyes to a beautifully interconnected world of limitless possibilities.

Read more, decide if my background is a good fit, and then contact me at to set up a free trial session!

Fast Facts
  • UC Berkeley Graduate (Class of 2006, B.S. Mechanical Engineering)
  • Professional IT Consultant (ranked top 15% of class for last 2 consecutive years)
  • Experienced mentor/tutor (Project SMILE: mentor/tutor for elementary school youth)
  • Quick-learner. Knowledgeable in all K-12 Math, Science, English, Social Studies subjects (graduated top-10 of HS class)
  • Rates vary from $20/hr to $50/hr depending on how many hours you can commit to.

Why I Am Doing This
I am that rare blend of individual who is both passionately idealistic and fully endowed with the intellectual ability and skills necessary to turn my dreams of a better future into reality. In the past, my Chinese sensibilities would have prevented me from indulging in such a conceit, but after having traveled extensively through the “motherland”, I have come to realize that the only thing Chinese about me is the food that I eat. More and more, the American in me grows more confident, more assertive. It tells me that, no matter what, I will always land on my feet; therefore, I should quit my job and take a risk. And so I listened. I have decided to take a hiatus from my generally successful yet utterly uninspiring career to dabble in some starving artistry (this is where YOU come in) before heading back to graduate school this fall for a Masters in City Planning. I’m not doing this because I’m some misguided, altruistic, anti-capitalist do-gooder; I’m doing this because I want to live forever, and the only way to live forever is through the timelessness of the ideas that you incubate and share with others. Like Suze Orman says: people first; then money; then things.

What I Teach
  • Math/Physics/Chemistry/Any Science: I love math. I love the mechanics of math, and I love the idea of math even more. I love the unique perspective of the world that my strong mathematical grounding has given me. I have a special place in my heart for Calculus, but Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, and Linear Algebra are all equally loved. I appreciate the great irony of physics and chemistry: whereby reshaping our understanding of the universe has helped us to better understand ourselves.
  • English: As an “engineer”, my love for and command of the English language often catches people off guard. 75% of my professional career thus far has been spent writing. I write both professionally, and for leisure: that is, English, for me, doubles as both a tool for basic communications, as well as a medium for more nuanced, artful expressions of the soul.
  • Mandarin Chinese: My family is from Southern China, where Cantonese is the lingua franca, but growing up I was instructed in the language of the imperial court. I studied Mandarin from ages 9-15 (not very diligently), and then from 21-23 (much more diligently). I have a standard, respectable Beijing accent, which impresses mainlanders, but annoys my parents. I can read, write, and converse at an intermediate level. I can also speak Cantonese, which really helps when ordering dim sum.

What My Former Clients Have Said About Me
  • “The ability to seek out common threads, to simplify without being simplistic, is a critical skill for any successful consultant, which Earl has proven himself to be. In his role as a transition partner, Earl was responsible for teaching a new team member about our enterprise work scheduling system. His ability to balance a grasp of detailed complexity against the need to see past that complexity served him very well in that role. It is a common mistake in these types of “training” roles to simply describe different features and functionality in isolation.  Earl, understanding that IT is about more than just technology, helped his partner develop a framework for understanding how all the pieces fit together. The system was more than just a piece of technology: it was a confluence of people, process, and technology, and Earl understood that the technology could only be fully understood in that context.“  -Director @ [Namewitheld], December 1, 2009 
  • “Earl significantly exceeded the expectations of a first year analyst along all dimensions. His performance was clearly more consistent with that of an experienced analyst. I could not have been more pleased with Earl's contribution. He demonstrated the ability to immerse himself in training to master complex skills and complete highly complex deliverables. His mastery of both the detail and the big picture content made him the de facto leader among the analysts working on this effort. Earl remained committed to the project long after he had been assigned to a fulltime client role. He showed an extraordinary level of commitment and a great attitude throughout the effort.” -Senior Executive @ [Namewitheld], May 22, 2008 
  • “Earl combines uncompromising customer focus with the ability to understand both business needs and IT constraints, striking a harmonious balance between the two. He developed and maintained strong relationships with the business and IT teams, drawing out the information needed to build a solid foundation for requirements. Knowledgeable, smart, organized, diligent, and efficient, he picks up new processes and technology quickly and consistently meets and exceeds expectations.” -Sr. Project Manager @ [Namewitheld], October 21, 2009 
  • “Earl worked with me as a Business Analyst on a project I was asked to step in and briefly manage while the established PM was on holiday. Without Earl's self direction and commitment to "getting it done", the project would not have smoothly moved forward in the short time we had to complete scoping and requirements. Earl is an excellent listener / questioner which allowed him to translate business concepts and processes into refined requirements. He clearly evaluated all scenarios and options and translated these into very well written / documented requirements, putting the project on solid ground for success. It was a pleasure to work with Earl, given his great attitude and abilities. I wish he was the assigned BA for all my projects!!” -Sr. Project Manager @ [Namewitheld], July 27, 2009