Friday, April 28, 2006

Working from home today

Ah! Finally, I get to relax, I bought a good book, I cleaned up around the house, and now I can sit back, and do whatever, well, I am putting in some hours at work, since I didn't work that much in the past two weeks I got to make it up, but it feels like work only if I let it, I must remind myself that I actually WANT to work where I work, and that it can be enjoyable if I approach it the right way.

My biggest problem is that I am impatient, very impatient, I don't like to wait, I don't like surprises, Whenever I want to know something, I have to know right now.
In engineering, like a lot of other fields, you may not know what the answer is right away, and you have to do problem solving. I see my co-workers think about an issue, say, why a register is not getting a value. And they can figure it out in their heads in no time at all. I in the other hand, take a lot longer to solve problems, my co-workers don't seem surprised, it's all the experience, they say. But I get frustrated when I can't get the answer.

Another thing, the ability to sort and process a lot of information simultanously is something that is not always easy to do. Or at least it is not easy for me. When I try to do it is like trying to hold my breath, it can only last for so long. Anything can break that hard to get concentration, an email, the phone ringing. Or a random thought that pops up.

I wonder what is the best way to concentrate? I looked it up in the internet and didn't find anything useful. Suggesions are welcome.


Thursday, April 27, 2006

My Birthday

I turn 27 years old today. I've been working on the project proposal since early this morning, I mean very early, it is due at 12:30 along with our final presentation. After that I am going to Borders and buy myself a good book, which one? I don't know, there are so many good ones. I feel like reading a good novel. Oh well.

My B-day always falls on finals week.

But today as soon as I turn it my paper I will celebrate the proper way.

To all of you that have called me, Thank you so much. You mean a lot to me.

Take care.


*correction, my wife gave me a gift card for Borders, so technically, I am not buying it myself. Thanks babe for pointing that out.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Almost done with this semester. Can't wait.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Back to South Florida

Army training was pointless as usual, the only events worth mentioning were the fact that I saw good friends, I finished reading Joel Turnipseed's Baghdad Express, and I found out that I may not be going to England this summer after all. The reason for this I think is that they found out I actually wanted to go, so before they give you orders for anything they sit and figure out how miserable and inconvenienced you will be as a result, if they figure out there's a chance you might benefit from it or that you will somehow enjoy yourself, they pull the plug on it. In my case they probably said, "Sgt V wants to go to England, that's no good, let's find somebody who doesn't want to go and put him in his slot. Oh, Sgt Smuck is having a baby in the summer let's send him."

Oh well, is not like I am not used to it by now, I'll get over it. No big deal. I will have to bring up what I learned in the Corps the good ol' FIDO (Fuck it, Drive on)

This week I have one more Final Test, two more presentations and the Final Project proposal and then all I will have left is a project for Computer Architecture and that will end the Spring of 2006.

But, a blog post will not be complete without a link to something a little bit more entertaining than my usual rantings.

Check out this sad, depressing, but realistic outlook of life. Cool Soundtrack.


Friday, April 21, 2006

Off to Duty

In ten minutes I am leaving to report for weekend drill.

Math Test. Three problems, all straight from the homework. No problem. Expect to do good.

Comp. Arch. Test, the one class I actually liked, turned out to have some tricky questions, I didn't leave anything blank, hoping for that partial credit.

Anthony, doing good. He's big, he feels better, but is still coughing. Not as much, but still..

Anyway. Got to go.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Today we give our first presentation in ED1 (Senior Project), we are still not sure how we are implementing our design, I think we are better off hacking a Pocket PC than trying to build everything from the ground up, there is no way we can do Signal Processing by hand in Assembly languange, that's just nuts. But we don't know, that may be precisly what we'll end up doing.

After a presentation, Electronics Lab Test and then more cramming for the two finals tomorrow, as a reward for working hard this week, I get to go on my monthly training with the Reserves Friday night, skip all that resting crap, we are going to the field to do some training. Yeah! Taking a break is for sissies.

Come back Sunday night, Give another project presentation for a different class on Monday, and get ready write the final proposal for the Senior Project and study for the Lab Final.

After that, the semester is pretty much done. I will take a real break after this. I want to take a couple of days off when I will get out of bed only when absolutly necessary. I want the toughest challenge to be deciding what book to read next. Contrary to what Martha thinks, I don't want to see a computer for those couple of days. I can do without it. Thank you very much. Computers are my career but they are NOT my life. I can't wait to have a day when I can honestly say I don't have a freaking thing to do.

Well, I am done whining, and ranting. Sorry if you read this and didn't really care to know all this. I will write what I think are my ways of dealing whith all of this.

Rule number one:

One thing at a time.

Things are easier to deal with when you concentrate with the task at hand and forget the other things that are going on around you, like this blog post, I am only doing this as a way to get unwinded for the day. After this is done I am going to do another task and forget the rest.

Number two:

Be Organized and plan ahead

I can't say that I am good at following my own advice, but If I didn't keep a planner I would forget about things. I try to be as organized as I can, but I admit that I could be doing a better job at that. Especially this semester.

Number three:

Think postive

I know this sounds like some BS self-help tip, but I visualize myself completing the goal whether it's a test or something, if I can picture in my head how good it will go, it usually happens.

Number four:

Get started, NOW!

I suffer from chronic procrastination, but I make myself do these things,
what works for me is reminding myself that I was the one that decided to get a degree, so I am studying because I want to, because it is something that I desire, if I think of it as something that I have to do, my natural reaction is to rebel against it. But if I embrace it as something that I want to prove myself with, then it is more like a challenge. That's my way of self motivation.

Allright, I have burnt enough time. Time to do some work.

Take care everyone.


Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Random Thought

I want to live in Boston.

I'll have to explain that one to Martha.


Tuesday, April 18, 2006

So Far...

Last night I had trouble falling sleep, my head was full of so many thoughts. I felt anxious for a while, I went back and forth from the couch to the bedroom. At 7:00 AM I got up, attempted to study and could not get any material in my head. At 8:00 I got Anthony up, changed him, dressed him, and looked all over the place for a bottle, they are all over the place. I never spend time with my son, Even though he is a little sick and I have a gazillion things to do I cherish spending time with him, he is changing so fast. At 8:45 took him to the Doctor. I was the only Dad in the waiting room, Every other kid there was with their Moms, Dr R from South Africa saw Anthony for like 2 minutes and he made a diagnosis, Sinus infection. That was fast. He has had this cough for more than 4 weeks, Robitosin doesn't make it go away, so he is now taking antibiotics.

I saw Ramadi in CNN today, the Marines are fighting from the same building I used to live. The builiding you see in that video is the same exact one where I was standing the very first time I was shot at. I was doing a firewatch on that roof, it was a quiet night at 2:00 AM when they fired an RPG and some AK-47 bullets and then ran off. It was not much of a firefight. Anyway, seeing that makes me sad. Nothing has improved over there, Ramadi looks worse and worse everytime I read about it. You can see the difference of what the building looks like today compared to what it used to look like 3 years ago.

Back to Florida, I took Anthony to his sitter and went to school, today the first 5 groups gave their presentations. There will be a lot of interesting projects.

I am at the library waiting for my group to meet, we are supposed to finish up our presentation for Thursday.

I am starting to get a little worried about that Statistics test. I should be studyin g that. I just can't seem to get into it.

Monday, April 17, 2006


Tomorrow: Take Anthony to the doctor, he has had this cough for like 4 weeks, the Dr. says is nothing but it hasn't gone away, later on, study for my lab test, finish the Presentations and study statistics

Wedsnday: Go to Class and Study statistics.

Thursday: Senior Project, make a presentation of our proposed project, describe our design methodology and crap like that, Electronics lab test,

Friday: Stochastic Models Final, Computer Architecture Final.

The Stochastic Models (Statistic and Probability) Final covers Chapter 5, 6, 7 and 8.
I have started to read Ch 5, have not really done too many exercises, Ok, I have not done any exercises, I am now cramming, I am trying to read the whole book and do all the homeworks within the next 72 hours.

Computer Architecture is a different story, Statistics is like brocolli, Comp Arch is like Vanilla Ice Scream, but studying for the final is like eating a whole 5 gallon jug of it. I'll be ok.

The presentations are not hard, but they take so much time to put together, that's how I spent my weekend, meeting with my team to discuss what the hell are we going to make up, I mean, present to the class. It is not easy to BS the teachers, not in this class (Senior Design) The want sketeches, Schematics, Charts, Circuit layout, flowcharts and what not. These things take time, so unimportant things like shaving or changing my clothes are left for a later time.

Ok I was joking in the last part.

Well, Back to 5.4.1 The Distribution of the Sample Mean and 5.4.2 The Central Limit Theorem, so much fun.

Senior Project

Since the first draft of our proposal got accepted, it is safe to make the announcement, the Senior Project is the culmination of Engineering curriculum, the ultimate project, where you take everything you've learned over the past 4 years and apply it to design, develop and build your own creation.

Majid, Chriss, Jaime and I are going to make the most advanced child car seat up to date. This car seat will be able to detect whether the child is unattended inside a vehicle, this will prevent about 9000 injuries per year. If you leave a child unattended in this thing, it will send a text message to your cell phone reminding you that there's a baby, if nothing happens in the next five minutes, it will call the cops. Or something like that.

Not only that, but this child car seat will come equiped with a wireless LCD screen that will show you a live image of the baby while the car is in motion, that way you don't have to turn around while you are driving to check up on the baby.

This product has the full endorsement of Martha, her exact words were "Hurry up and build this thing, I want one NOW". With encouraging words like that, our team can't fail.

Our team is going to spend a lot of man-hours making this concept a reality. That's what engineering is supposed to be about. Good times ahead. This thing has to be done by August.


Sunday, April 16, 2006

Follow up

I should explain what I was trying to say in the last posting better, that was sloppy and unorganized, but it just came out in one big burst basically, I have to chose between taking the time to write well, or prepare for my final exams, I am choosing the latter. I think that I still have a lot to say about what happened to us in Iraq, but now is not the time.

I want to thank those of you who give service man support. Thank you, this means a lot, I don't write these post to get sympathy, or to make this war popular, I do it because taking my feeling and putting them into words helps me understand myself better.

I have spent a lot of time trying to decide whether I should be proud of myself for being there. I can't say that we were not trying to do the right thing, that we were bad people with bad intentions. We made a lot of effort to rebuild Iraq. But when you spend more time trying not to die on a patrol you stop focusing on doing good things like protecting the citizens of that country and rebuiliding the infrastructure that disapeared when Saddam's goverment was taken out.

Now that I have been back I am trying to decide what would have been the best thing to do, and for the life of me I don't know. I don't hate Iraq, I don't have anything against those folks.

One thing I learned from traveling is that ignorance and intolerance are the worst things in the world, Americans are guilty of it, As well as Europeans and Muslims, a little bit of education and understanding goes a long way, but sadly we are beyond a plain old "Can't we all just get along?" I am not that naive, but still, damn, so many ignorant people who can't tell the difference between a Sunny and Shiite, an Arab and a Persian, a Pakistani and an Indian, or who can't understand that just because one is an American that we must be some sort of Rich Right Wing religious nut, those ignorant perspectives are what's wrong with the world, when you use religion as an excuse to hate, you are wrong. When you use rhetoric as an excuse to go to war, you are wrong. When religion is used to kill innocent people, you are wrong, I believe that both sides are guilty. I better go, I have other business to take care of.

Be good to each other people.



Saturday, April 15, 2006

Ramadi Madness

This is one of those posts that have to be written, 3 tests, 2 presentations and 1 project proposal are due very soon, I should be studying. My study group is going to meet soon, but I need to get this off my chest.

About a year ago there was a series of news articles in the Palm Beach Post.

The Ramadi Madness they called it.

Warning, some parts are very gruesome, and they cut out the worst parts. Thankfully.

So it all starts like this, when we were in Iraq we were not officially prohibited from taking pictures, I don't think. But common sense was the rule. A lot of the restrictions that are imposed during training are left up to the person on the ground making the calls. One of our Sergeants taped some of the action with his handy digital camera. The big flaw is what you see can be misinterpreted when taken out of context, and most of it is. Since he obviously taped stuff after the fact, he never taped a live firefight, he was too busy shooting his weapon to shoot his video cam.

Most of the times he made "funny" tapes to kill the boredom. People who has never been in that situation will never understand what is like to bored out one's mind. People will do the darnest things to pass time. People react to averse situations differently. Some of us found humor on everything. We were not politically correct. I don't apologize for that. We did the best we could. This is not Abu Garib. This is war, and war is not pretty. To me seeing this feels like watching porn in front of you own Mom. I feel ashamed, yet I wanted to keep looking. I am not making sense. I am rambling. But that's ok.

Before I continue I want to emphasize that I used to get into arguments all the time over the way we treated the Iraqis. I never called them Hajis, I made every attempt to get to know and understand their culture, Whenever I was in charge of a patrol I would not allow any sort of mistreatment, and my guys knew it. Most of us strived to be professional, but please understand when you catch people who were trying to kill you moments before is very hard not allow feelings affect you.

So this is what happened. When we got back to the States we had a party in our Armory, this guy started showing the video and a Public Affairs officer saw it and decided to blow the wistle. A full blown investigation gets underway, everybody is interviwed and we had to explain the video. After six months the Army concludes that there was no criminal action. When the Army released the news the Palm Beach post decided to be angry and ran a series of articles. The timing coincided with the Abu Garib prision scandal. The wanted to throw our unit in the same leage as those people. We were not.

I was recently watching and we don't look like saints. Yet, every action is justified. I am in one of those videos, but I am not doing anything ilegal, well, yes I am, I am not wearing my helmet or my gear, but that's ok, Most of the videos have the second squad of 1st platoon. All those guys are very good close friends of mine. While they may not be mature, they are good guys. War sucks. It is ugly.

One video thing that you might want to know that does not show in the article is the explanation of the video labeled "See Haj Run", we were in a building next to the police station in the middle of Ramadi, a building that got blown up a couple of months after we left. That day we were surrounded by a crowd like in the movie "Rules of engament", but our captain did not want to issue the "waste those motherfucker" order. Until they started throwing granades at the compound, the shocking thing is, kids were the throwers, how the fuck do you deal with that? in the video you can see the little kids waving their granades. You can see one dude that got shot. Oh well, I can't write anymore, I must go now.

Reality awaits.

PS If you want to see yours truly in the videos I am in the one labeled "Another day"
All I do is stik my tongue out....

Friday, April 14, 2006

Thanks Joel

I just got two books as birthday presents, Baghdad Express by Joel Turnipseed, and Baghdad Journal by Steve Mumford.

Thanks Joel, you are sneaky!

Joel is a friend of mine, we met in Iraq, he came out of nowhere to take pictures of us. For some reason he thought I was funny looking or something. I don't know, the thing is, he is a good friend of mine now.

Baghdad Express is a story about a Marine from Minnesota who loves Philosophy, kind of like Kamran.

Baghdad Journal was written by artist who painted what he saw, very talented, I have written about him before. In it he describes my unit, Bravo Company 124th Infantry, Florida National Guard.

It is not my birthday just yet, (April 27) but this presents made my day. Thank you Joel, and Thank you mi Amor, I know Joel must have gotten our address from you.

I want to write about the "Ramadi Madness" controversy, but I don't have the heart right now. But I think I should write about it.

I will explain later.


Thursday, April 13, 2006

Last Registration

I am registered for the summer and fall term. Next stop, graduation! December can't get here fast enough.

This are my classes if anyone cares to know:


CDA 4504 Intro to Data Communication

Had to take it, don't really care about it. I am not really sure what it covers but the name should give me an idea.

CDA 6132 Multiprocessor Architecture

They have allowed me to take a graduate course to count towards my Bachelors degree, if I decide to stay for graduate school, they will count it too. I actually want to take this class. It looks like I could use the knowledge. I hope I don't get killed, my friends tell me that the classes in graduate school are easier, but that doesn't make sense to me.

ENGC 4411 Engineering Design II

This is the second and final semester of the Senior Project, this is where you actually build the project and make it work. I think is the single most important class of the whole curriculum.


CDA 4210 Intro to VLSI

I have been trying to get this class, no lie, since the Fall 04, and I finally was able to get in. They only offer this class once a year and it fills up quickly. VLSI stands for Very Large Scale Integration and it refers to packing millions of transistor into a single sylicon chip. This is the only class one of my friends is taking, it was the last class he needs to graduate, so he is going to have an easy fall.

EEL 4340 Digital Electronics

There has never been a Computer Engineer student in the history of FAU that has ever gotten anything higher than a 50 on the final exam for this class. I know of many people who take this course twice, not just the lazy bums but the over achievers too, this is one of those classes. But I am not scared, I am petrified.

I'll live.

COT 4935 Senior Seminar

Easy A, one credit course to learn about the Ethics in our profession. I wonder if Politcal Science Majors are required to take a similar course.

CHM 2045 General Chemistry and Lab

I dropped this class this semester, it takes too much time away! So I left it for the end. I don't know what it is about Chemistry that I have been avoiding it since I started, this is a freshman course that I just kept putting off since is not a pre-requesite to any other class. I will make the best attempt to enjoy it despite of all the 18 year olds acting like is the 13th grade. Sigh.

So, that's it, after that, a bachelor's degree!

Can't wait.


Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Learning from others

I just read an article that has reinforced my beliefs that being a good husband and father is the most important job in my life, I don't want to fail at neither.

Oh no! Tom Cruise Killed Oprah

This is hilarious
. Thanks Michael.

Video Clips of my Wedding

Since everyone else is doing the youtube thing, I thought I'd give it a try, now I think it's the next best thing after sliced bread and Wikipedia, anyway, the clips themselves are very um, sentimental? That was a special day, we were legally married already but we thought we had to have a wedding ceremony,so we saved for a couple of months and did this. The thing nobody at that party knew was that less than a month later I would get called upt to go to Iraq, the Date of the wedding was Dec 15 2002, January 11 2003 our unit got orders to deploy. I did not see it coming. Unlike many of my friends I did not get married in the face of a deployment to get more money, I truly thought I would never have to go. Oh, and another thing, technically I should have not worn my Marine dress blues, since at that time I was already part of the Army National Guard, but it was my girl's decision, and who can contradict a girl on her wedding day? This is the only clip in wich I am not dancing badly, but If you want to see my lack of skills, those clips are here and here. Plase don't laugh so loud, I can already hear you all the way down here.


Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Most recent pic of Anthony

This is my little monkey, he's starting to make sounds that could be interpreted as "words", but I think he's getting ready to talk for real.

Nothing can describe the joy of being a father.

I love you Son.


Monday, April 10, 2006


After all these years, I have found the meaning of life.

Sunday, April 09, 2006


Today I am going to work until 1:00pm then I am going to meet with my Senior Project Team, We have to come up with a proposal by Tuesday, this might take a lot of work, not only a lot of typing, but actual thought and effort, we have to make our idea sound good and we have to explain how in the world we are going to transfor our idea into a working device. I am very afraid. Which brings me to my to-do list:

This summer I have to:

Take Three Classes, ED2( Senior Project), Data Communication, and Multiprocessor System Architecture, the latter one is a Graduate Course which will count towards both my Undergrad and a Master if I decide to keep going.

Go to the U.K for two weeks whith the National Guard, it's that time of the year for the two weeks of training.

Go to Minnesota to do a summer internship, don't know how long I can stay, but it has to be something significant. I am sort of under the radar from here, I need to get noticed, I want a job offer.

Finish the Senior Project, this is by far the thing that will take up most of my time, I know it.

Be a father and a husband. This one kinda goes without saying.

Checklist for the month of April

Do my taxes. Ahhh!


2 projects (one presentation and one practical lab)

Make enough money to pay the bills

Plan a little break

My little break

Martha and I are talking about taking a trip to NYC once this semester ends. I think is a great idea.

Good Movie

I saw "Thank you for Smoking" it was hilarious. I liked this review.

Anthony makes a noise that could be interpreted as "Dah-Dah" My wife is not surprised, but I am.

Also, he does not like the Black eyed peas, whenever he hears the song "Pump it" he stars to cry. What's up with that?

That's all for now, Good luck and Good day


Friday, April 07, 2006

Anthony has spoken

He now says DA-DA-DA-DA-DA over and over. I don't know if he's calling me, or he just likes to hear himself talk.


Saturday, April 01, 2006

April's fool!

April is here already, and I can't wait for this semester to be over. 8 more months and I will have a degree!

That will be a happy day.

Anyway, I've gotta run. Good luck to you all.