Friday, December 25, 2009

Personal Manifesto

It's Christmas night, late, I am tired from having an exhaustingly good day. It was so nice today that I can't stand to be awake anymore, yet, I feel compelled to share with the whole world my most personal thoughts, I will briefly attempt to describe the forces that drive my life, the principles that I attempt to live by.

But first, let me tell you about my day. Anthony woke us up at 5:45 AM, we opened our Christmas presents at 6:00, we had my sister, Chuck and my in-laws over for breakfast, I got a couple of good books, cologne and a shirt, the kids got a lot presents. I spent some time with my parents, went to the park, put the kids to bed (that was a battle), drank a shocktop beer, watched Benicio del Toro's CHE, which I highly recommend, if not for the battle scenes. Took a long bath and now that I am ready to go to bed, I got this feeling that I must write this post.

The number one principle in my life, it's quite simple and generic, but it's the most powerful thing, and I think it's what got me to where I am today, I am not sure but I believe this comes straight out of the USMC leadership manual:

"Know yourself and constantly seek self-improvement"

That is it my friends, that's my life in a nutshell, the rest it's just details.

Know yourself

As simple as this sounds, this is the most difficult thing I think. Sometimes it's easier to see other people's fault than our own. This takes personal honesty and courage. It's tough to face one's fears, to work on our weaknesses and to identify the areas in which one is best suited for.

constantly seek self-improvement

I try, and I try, sometimes I succeed, sometimes I take longer to succeed, occasionally I fail, I always make mistakes, but I never give up.

I think I started using this principle right after I went through a period of personal failures while I was in the second half of my enlistment in the Corps. I learned a lot about myself and about leadership from my own failures as a leader.

The second principle has been with me for a little while now, but only recently did it actually form as a concise sentence. I don't think it's original at all, I heard the same message on different formats all over the place, but here it is:

"To gain peace of mind, make sure your actions match your values"

This one is hard, because there are many factors that shape our own actions, This means that our values must be always present in our minds when we speak and when we do things, which is easier said than done.

The areas of my life that I wish to improve are the following:

1. My relationships with the people I care about.

Being a good Dad, husband, brother, son, and friend.
Not much to say here except that it's very personal and that I care about this the most. Nothing else matters iff I don't do this one right.

2. Emotional Intelligence and Social IQ

This is new one for me, I had developed this disdain for people who used "charm" or "people skills" to get their ways, I always saw that as manipulating and selfish, I have always been looking inward to get to know myself, but now I recognize that I need to understand other people in order to succeed in life, this is accomplished by developing a genuine interest in other people, by practicing Empathy, this is a challenge for me, I have always lived inside my own head sort of speak, and I really don't "get" other people, this has gotten me in trouble in the past, I've decided I will end this problem and become proficient in people skills, the good news is that I learned a lot about people in the service, now the hard part is to actually apply the knowledge.

3. My Craft, my Profession

This one I enjoy doing. I love Computer Engineering, and I am always trying to expand my horizons. I could write a 5 page blog spot on this topic alone. I am constantly reading about the craft and discovering ways to become a better Engineer. The Master's Degree, Programming books and blogs, practicing coding on my own, these are the things I've been doing to become better .

The art of computer programming is so rich, enthralling and exciting that I really enjoy improving this area, it's rewarding to have a profession that I love.

4. Handyman around the house

This I don't enjoy as much, but I recognize its necessity. I need to know how to maintain my house, repair appliances, dry wall, roofs and that stuff, I am not naturally inclined to do stuff with my hands, but it's a role that I must fulfill, so I might as well go all in, maybe I'll even have fun doing it.

So I think that is it. I have covered pretty much my whole life, at least the driving forces behind my actions. This is what keeps me busy.

Monday, December 21, 2009

I am glad

I am glad we have flood insurance.

I am glad we caught it early.

I am glad we have good neighbors.

I am glad the kids didn't wake up.

I am glad it the Christmas presents didn't get wet.

You might be wondering, wtf I am talking about, right?
Well, a couple of hours ago after watching a couple of Dexter episodes on netflix, we decided to call it a night. I went downstairs to get a glass of water, when I notice that hum...there's water all over the place, in the kitchen and the living room, to make a long story short, the empty townhouse next door was completely flooded and the waters was seeping over trough the wall, since our building has slight slant, it was going directly to us. I am glad that our neighbors across the street were kind enough to give a helping hand, we spent the last two hours cleaning up. But it's not so bad. Things will look better in the morning.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Avatar the Movie

I thought this was a great movie for multiple reasons. For starters, the Computer Animation was amazing. I really could not tell which parts were CG and which ones were actual camera-captured images. The jungle-planet Pandora looked suspiciously too much like the Amazon rain forest. The waterfalls looked almost exactly like the Angel Falls. In other words, this fils is pure visual candy all around. However, what I think made this movie interesting was the story line:

In the year 2154, the human race has a colony in a planet called Pandora. In this planet we have a mining operation run by some corporation and protected by an attachment of US Marines. The marines are there because of it's inhabitants, the novii


I started writing a description of the plot but found a much better written one on wikipedia, here's the link

***END OF EDIT****

Anyway, the one thing that stuck with me about this movie, is the fact that a US Marine turned against his own people. I believe that this is a taboo in the culture of the Corps. In a culture where loyalty is given such high value treason is the ultimate sin, literally punishable by death (when done in the face of the enemy, yep it's in the UCMJ) . In this movie Justice is placed on a higher pedestal than loyalty to a group, something that I cannot really disagree with. Still, turning against your own group is so against the Marine ethos that I was a bit disturbed.

I wonder how other marines feel about this movie.

This movie made me think about the things I learned in the Marines, Some of it I see it as necessary things that one must learn in order to survive in battles and win wars. Attention to detail and self-discipline are obvious ones. But the marines have a different code that I believe set them apart, The Marine Corps places an acute emphasis on leadership, down to the lowest enlisted man up the chain to the Commandant all marines are taught the traits of a leader. We are also taught that there's nothing a Marine can't accomplish given a plan and determination. I have been taking all that for grated but I think it's a powerful message. Many people take that and make it work for them outside in the real world. Others completely miss the point and think the Marines is some sort of gun club fraternity, well, it probably is, but I decided to take away the intangibles and utilize it to get ahead. I am no longer in the Corps, but I will alway think of myself as a marine, I am not your typical jarhead, that's for sure, but I am still a marine at heart until the day that I die.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

My Day Off

Finally I am taking a day off. No school work (well, a little, but not much) We're taking the kids to see a movie, I am reading the HItchhiker's guide to the Galaxy, and not much else. Earlier I was looking at the source code for the chrome browser, I am thinking about becoming a contributor. Funny thing is, I have no idea about how web browsers work. I have no knowledge of javascript or css, or any of that stuff, but I don't feel like these things are outside of my reach. Anyway, the crhome project has all the backing of google, it's well documented and it has a lot of support. I want to dabble in it and see what happens.

We'll see how that goes. I was looking into Iphone Apps earlier in the summer, but once the fall semester began it was hard to keep doing it. The problem is that in order to develop an app, (specially in the beginning when the learning curve is steep) I need to spend at least 4 or 5 uninterrupted hours to it. That's not that hard to do in the weekend if I am determined enough. But when I have lectures to watch, textbooks to read, homework to do, projects to write and so on, it's very hard to devote that much time to something else. Coding is not something that I can do 10 minutes at the time, worse yet, it's hard to start something when you know that you will have a lot of interruptions, like when I know I have to stop what I am doing in 20 minutes because of a meeting or some obligation, I can't concentrate. I wish I could do that, but in order for me to do math, write code, or write a blog post, the circumstances have to be JUST RIGHT. If they aren't, things don't come out quite right.

Anyway, I have to go, the movie starts in 40 minutes and we're not ready to go yet.

Be Good to Each Other.


Wednesday, December 02, 2009


I saw this picture and remembered so many different things about old friends, how different my view of the world was back then, how little did I know about things to come. In this picture I had no idea that in a year the whole world would be different, this is in Rota Spain in the fall of the year 2000, a year later 11 hijackers would have change the course of our Nation, two years later I would be married, 3 years later I would be in Iraq, and here we are, 9 years later, T. and I live in Florida, and I don't have frigging clue what's up with Ben E.

I am very satisfied with the way things turned out. In fact I am glad that things didn't go according to my plan back then. I wanted to go to the Naval Academy or to ROTC. I wanted to study law and someday be a bad ass General.

Today I consider myself a parent, husband, engineer and a civilian citizen, things I can't really do well in that environment. I love it now. I had a great time then, but it's not what I wanted out of life. I am glad I met all the demented people that you see in my facebook pic. I learned more from them than any of Marine Corps Schools I went to.