Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Ernesto who?




Tropical storm Ernesto puzzled the forecasters who predicted a Cat 1 Hurricane in South Florida, the storm never gained strenght after going through Cuba, so now I hear people complaining because the state goverment "overreacted", anyway, I am glad things turned out the way they did. Better to be safe than sorry.

So we just got a bit of rain, we didn't even lose power at our house. It kind of worked out because I have some time to catch up with school work that I missed from last week.

Anyway, life is good, more later.

J.V.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Ernesto







So we have a new storm folks, All of South Florida is under Hurricane watch, the keys are evacuating again, so this is my welcome home thing. I apreciate that Florida!

J.V.

Things I’ve been thinking about.

So right now I am in a plane, flying from Detroit to Ft. Lauderdale, this probably won’t make it to the blog until Monday or Sunday, (busy with family)

Anyway, the thing is, I am having one of those moments when I learn something new, or when I read something that gets my wheels spinning, I am really bad at presenting my ideas clearly, the problem is that I don’t think I ever write anything new, that I don’t have any ideas of my own, it seems like all I do is merely repeat what someone else has said before me. This bothers me because I don’t want to give the appearance that I am so clever or what not, since I am not, I am not intelligent at all. I get very self-conscious when I write my thoughts, since I believe my thoughts are plagiarizing other thinkers before me.

I know nothing about computers, or better said, I only know a few basic principles about computers, but I am straying from the subject, the real thing I want to say is how much I appreciate other people who do not worry about what others think, people like Richard Feynman, Copernicus, people who doubt, and ask, scientists who know what it means to know something. It makes me understand that I don’t know much of anything, I feel humbled in comparison, I only wish to understand what they are talking about.

But the thing that bothers me is that I am supposed to be an educated person, (somewhat) I am about to graduate with a Bachelors of Science in Computer Engineering and I barely understand what my field is supposed to be about, not that I did not study, is just that I realize that I have only scratched the surface of what there is to know. I know that I don’t understand math that well, I must admit with a great deal of shame that I cannot do an integral without a calculator. I have forgotten most of what I’ve been taught about physics, so what do I know? Not much really.

Mysticism in our world

People seem to turn to mystic things to explain the world that we don’t understand, I can understand how we can have faith in the things that we cannot know, for example, science cannot prove that there isn’t a God out there.

I wonder

Just because somebody believes in evolution does not mean that they are against religion, why is that we think that?

Or why is it that we seem to associate atheism with immorality? How is atheism unmoral?

Why do we still believe in palm readers, astrology, superstitions and silly things like that? All these things that we know have to be fake, but we still believe it.

Humans are lazy

People seem to be very lazy when it comes to believing what they are told, it is easier to accept things and move on rather than to think and analyze what is going on. I think is great when we question things, like when we make our leaders accountable for their actions. I think that is a good thing, I think that’s what democracy is supposed to be about

I just want to write that like Feynman, I am not afraid of not knowing the answers to all the questions that haunt us, like what is the meaning of life and all of that, I may think about it for a second, but I am going to dedicate my life to continue to learn, but only learn those things that I can know for sure, things that I can prove with experiments, theories that have results and number that agree with it, not just some mumbo-jumbo that anyone with a typewriter can make up.

Maybe something good will come out of it, maybe I’ll work on a chip that will change the world, who knows? But that’s not what I am after, it’d be nice if it happens, but I just want to learn for the pleasure of finding things out.

Like the other day, they called me from work to see if I wanted to put in some extra hours going to the lab on a Saturday, so I had nothing to do that day anyway.

We had these medical machines that measure the performance of pacemakers, some expensive pieces of equipment that IBM makes for medical institutions, so anyhow, some of them had bugs in it so we were to take a look at them and if they had this error we were supposed to go in there and copy the log files and the software version for the engineers in Texas to figure out what was wrong, so it was a very basic thing, all we did was to look for this logs, compress them and copy them to a USB drive and then upload them to the web, the trick was, these machines run a version of Linux a bit different from what we normally use, our manager did not know Linux and this guy and I decided that we were going to figure out how to make the USB drive work. So we figured it out, well he did the USB part, I just figured out what order to do things in order for it to go faster.

So we didn’t accomplish anything significant, but the mere feeling of figuring out a puzzle, not knowing anything before, thinking about the problem and then finding a solution gives such a great satisfaction, it is great. I want to do these types of things. I like to solve problems. I don’t want to say that I am good at solving problems; I just want to say that I like doing that.

I am still a rookie, a newbie, I have ways to go. I am glad that I now know what I like to do. Let’s see how things turn out.

So this is what’s I’ve been thinking about as a cruise south across the country at forty thousand feet. It is 11:00 PM and I have one more hour before I get home to Florida.

Family

Tomorrow I am going to see my family. I want to see how Anthony has changed, he is growing up so fast, it is crazy, wow, and time doesn’t stop. My son is going to grow up and be and adult someday, isn’t that something? I mean, from a few cells to a full person.

Ok folks, that’s all I have.

J.V.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Back to School






Not quite, I'll be back monday. Anyway, University Press the school newspaper did something creative for a change. I thought this was cool.
Thanks to Oge's blog. (that's Dr. Marques for the rest of us)


J.V.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Going back to Florida earlier than planned



I was planning on staying in Rochester until labor day weekend, but since class started this week I have been missing out, one of my teachers highly recomended that I drop his course because two weeks is just too long to miss, we went back and forth on email and I agreed to come back early. So I will be leaving the land of corn for the land of..uh, Sun? Anyway, It's good because I do miss my family. But I have enjoyed Minnesota, not because of all the great things to do here (see corn grow, cow tipping, work) but because of its people. I seems like I have more, better quality friends here than out there in Florida. Don't know why, but I turn into a different person when I am here, is like I am more relaxed or something. Maybe Florida stresses me out too much.

I am anxious to see my Son, and my wife. Mom and Dad and my sister, and my brother in law, my good friends there. I am also ready for that last semester at FAU. Whoooohhoooooo! Yeah baby!

Tonight I saw the new Will Ferrell movie Tollega nights, it was hilarious. Classic Will Ferrell, if you liked old school, you will probably like this one. I was laughing the whole time. Don't get me wrong, I like good thoughtful movies, but sometimes you just need to have a good belly laugh.

Ok Folks, that is all.

J.V.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Summer Reading




So this week I finished reading another book, The Pentium Chronicles, is about how this dude managed a big, complex project, being in charge of P6, aka Pentium Pro, a landmark chip. I was curious about how they make chips at Intel, it was an interesting book, I was able to relate some of the things from my limited experience in a Design Team in IBM, but for the most part I learned a few things, like, I didn't know Intel did not trust their employees, they used to check their bags before they left work, afraid that they will steal their stuff, I could not stand that, they don't do that anymore.

I also read this book about the Ebola virus, The Hot Zone, I scared me, at the beginning I was terrified, nature is a mean bitch. At the end of the book the author hints at the idea that these new viruses are the earth's way of defending itself from their parasites, the human disease that's trying to kill the planet. I don't think I agree with that. I think those viruses have been there all along, living on some bug or something, but since humans are expanding their foothold, they catch diseases that are not meant for them, the jungles have nasty stuff, that's that.

I read Uncle Tungsten. A book about Chemistry. Wow, some people love science, but none like the author of this book, there is no way anyone can write about chemistry with so much passion.
Obrigado Arthur.

But the book I liked the most (this summer) was Life of Pi.
Thank you Sean.


Why I liked Life of Pi



Warning: Plot Spoiler.....


So, this 16 year old from India ends up in a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal Tiger, A Zebra, An Orangutan and a Hyena.

The Tiger eats the Zebra, Hyena and Orangutan, the rest of the way is the boy and the tiger, Alone for 277 days.

The way the book is written, you know that the boy survived the voyage, you are told that this story has a "happy ending".

There's also these curious things, in the beginning the author hears this story that's supposed to make you "believe in God". There's also this idea about how is better to live in a made up bliss instead of a dry reality.

When the boy gets to land, we find out that what really happened was something horrible, the story about the Tiger was a way for the boy to cope with reality.

The thing that impacted me was at the end, the boy tells both stories to the authorities and he asks them, when it comes down to it, it does not make a difference which story is true, which is the best story?

My wheels were spinning, It all made sense.

Ok, I am tired. I have to go to bed. I could go on. But, what else can I say? Think about what we believe, (God, Karma, luck, etc) why do we believe in it? For what purpose? Does it make our lives better?


Allright, that is all for now

J.V.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Good Friends Good times






It was a nice summer in Rochester, I missed most of it. But I got to see some friends from last year and I got the chance to meet new ones.







These are some pictures of us going rock-climbing.





I put more pictures here

J.V.

Update




I have been a bad, bad, bloggger, I hate to write excuses for not posting, "I am too busy" is a sucky reason, but it inconvinently happens to be the truth, I have been doing a bunch of "stuff".

This has been quite a summer for me. Let's review all of the things I had to do.

Take two classes in Summer A and the Senior Project in Summer C.
Summer A is Six weeks long, week 3 and 4 were spent in Camp Blanding Florida doing my National Guard Training, I had to catch up when I returned, not pretty.

That was in May and early Jume, whe I finished Summer A I had to concentrate on finishing the Senior Project early enough so I could have time to go up to Rochester for my internship.

After being here two weeks, I flew down to do the presentation, did that last week.
This week I had a few permanent job interviews. Thanks to Project View, IBM flew me down to Raleigh NC to meet managers that were looking for a few good engineers.

I got back to Rochester Wedndsday night. Things are still moving, I plan to get to Chicago somehow, someway to visit my old friend Kamran, Then, I get back to school, in true hispanic fashion..two weeks late. Yep, School starts Monday, but I am staying here until Labor Day, why? I am trying my best to learn as much as posible before heading back to Fl to work, also, no point in hiding it, I am trying to get noticed so that I get a permanent job offer. I hope it all goes well. I have a feeling that it will.

So, the summer is almost done, as a result, I feel a little closer to calling myself a Computer Engineer. Finishing the project did that.

Also, I am proud to announce that I am a civilian once again!

Finally, after all these years. I no longer owe Uncle Sam any more time of my life. I am out. I really cannot believe it. I almost forgot. Really.

But I am happy that is behind me now. No more deployments, no more weekend drills, but, in retrospect, I am glad I did it, I wish I would have gone to college first, but I would do it over. Even the Iraq part. No regrets.

Sometimes I think about how far I would have gone if I had known in 8th Grade that I wanted to be an engineer and I had set my goal to get in a good school. Then I try to shake that thought away, since dweling in the past is counter-productive, besides, I would be a different person. I would not have met my wife, or none of my friends.

I am the person that I am because of all the people I have met along the way. The Marines thought me a lot more than I give them credit for.

Sometimes people ask me if I would let my son Join the Marines, the answer depends on how I feel that day. I would like my son to be a college graduate, I wouldn't want me son to be a trained killer. But, there's more to it than that. I guess I would let him make his own decision, but I am not going to make the military seem glamorous for him.

I know how my Dad feels about me going to the Marines, he thinks that it was a waste of my time, because I should have gone to school first. I see the merit in that argument, but it misses the point, I joined the marines to develop myself, I thought I needed a chanllenge and guidance, it was an educational experience for me, I learned a lot about myself and about people in general, also, I never thought about college when I was in high school, I wonder why? I don't know, the marines were in my mind for a while, since, like 10th grade. I read a bunch of books about the Marines and I was determined to be a General someday, I did not go to College first because I was not an U.S. citizen at the time, so I did not qualify for any officer programs in college, so I enlisted instead.

Plans change, people change. It happens. I went from being a military minded person to an engineer wannabe. Now I am transitioning from broke college student with a family to an older-than-average-recent-college-graduate-professional.

I am not ungrateful, after all, the U.S. Military gave me money for school, but I had to go to Iraq, I had to study while working, I was older than the most kids, which sometimes made me feel out of place, but for the most part gave me an edge.

So that sums it up. Summer is almost done, and I am heading towards my last semester in my Bachelors degree.

Family is doing good. I miss them. In fact, I'll give them a call.

J.V.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Life of Pi




So here I am, sitting in front of my laptop. Next Week Thursday I have to be in Boca to do the final Project presentation. This weekend we have to finish the final report and the final presentation slides. We are actually going to show our project in action after a 10 minute slide show. So, all I have to do is write this report, the thing is, I don't feel like doing it. I am staring at the screen, looking at it, I know that once I get going I will be fine, the problem is getting into "the zone" maybe I need a little bit more pressure, like if it was the day before the presentation was due, I'd be sweating it. But since this thing is due next Thursday...But some part of me knows better.

I wanted to share with the world how much I liked the book Life of Pi, I was not expecting the book to impact me the way it did. It took me for a great ride and then it touched me in such a manner that I felt like I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. I don't want to spoil the plot for anyone that wants to read it. But let's just say that it made me think. I like that in a book.


J.V.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

My sunshine state




John Stewart takes time out to honor my Florida, our Florida. Thanks John!


Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Castro drives Florida Crazy



The after only 48 years! Castro is in his final throes...and I am sick of it!
Don't get me wrong, it is not that I want Castro to stay in Power, of course not. But, the reaction in South Florida is so strong that I think that things are going to get messy down there, people are literally losing their mind, or at least that's what it seems from the phone calls I've been getting. I knew things were going crazy when my own mother "knows for sure" that Castro is dead.

We'll see.