Monday, November 21, 2011

Vacation Time!

So here I am, sitting at home relaxing. Work at the office will be there when I get back, so finally I am taking the best kind of vacation, time off, with no plans, no hassles, just me at home, doing nothing in particular. Martha is at Gaby's school volunteering, so I am going to go for a run to the park, I'm running fairly often these days, last couple of times 3.5 miles, today I am shooting for 4 miles.

I am exited to be volunteering as mentor for a high school robotics competition, FIRST with Terra High School, it's my first time doing it, so it should be interesting.

I want to finally start making android and iPhone Apps, but I just don't have the time, every time I do have some spare time I do spend it sharpening my technical skills, there are a few books I want to get trough before I spend time doing projects, I think the best way to become a good engineer is to actually make cool things, like robots, mobile apps, and such, but before I get there, I want to get the fundamentals right, so I am trying to get trough that first.

Anthony is showing interest in robots, but then again, what kid doesn't? I am trying to figure out the best way to show him and teach him the ropes without turning him off of it. He wants to do all these things but he's too impatient, he wants to do everything the first day. I can understand that because I used to be the same way, I need to show him the virtue of patience and perseverance, but not sure exactly how to do that.

Another thing I got planned for this week is to finish reading Don Quijote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes, I have noticed that my Spanish has been on a decline lately, and when I think about it, it's a shame that my heritage would be lost in the next generation, my children already refuse to speak my mother tongue even though they can definitely understand most of it. So I think that it's worth the effort to teach them my language. Anyway, I am reading Don Quijote, and it's not as bad as I thought it was going to be, when you know what's going on, it's actually a funny book.

I've read a few really good books lately, I finished Steve Job's biography, Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment, and Phil Dick's Minority Report and Do Androids dream of electric sheep. Each of these books is awesome in it's own way.

Steve Jobs taught me the value of good craftsmanship, when making things, (and engineering, in essence is about making things) engineering students are taught to provide functionality. For a product to have quality is must be functional, it must not have defects, it must do what it was designed to do, optimizing the available resources, not wasting materials, time, energy or cost, but for Jobs that's a "stupid" way of looking at it. For him, design is an art, the creator and designer must pay attention to how an artifact makes the user feel, a designer must get to the essence of the product, and make something beautiful, something that will delight the user, we engineers must make something useful, elegant, tasteful and ...yes, beautiful. This combination of technology and art has become cliche lately, with the fame of apple products it seems like a fad, but there is something profound to it, it makes sense, engineers just don't pay attention to beauty and it shows.

There has been a lot said about Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment, so I don't want to try to give a complete review, but
this is a psychological story before psychology was invented, in this novel, a crime was committed, but the mystery is not who did it, but why was it done? Was it a feeling of alienation? was it madness? social conditions? lack of god? depending on who you are and your convictions, you will get a different answer, the protagonist Raskolnikov has something that everyone can relate to, and yet, he is the strangest character of any novel I've ever read. Reading this was torture, yet I couldn't stay away from this book I had to read it till it was done.

I read Crime and Punishment and Steve Jobs biography for education and personal growth, to gain some wisdom and what not, Phil Dick's novels are for pure pleasure, after reading The Lord of the Rings and Neal Stephenson's Anathem and being underwhelmed I declared myself, but Phil Dick is changing that, although I can't get over his unfortunate last name. The dystopian worlds he and Asimov created are luring me back to the Sci-Fi realm. Reading Asimov and Phil D. is better than watching any Hollywood movie. A good book is to a movie what sex is to masturbation, movies are ok, but the real thing is way better.

So that's it for now, I am going for a run, I might give another vacation update, or not.


No comments: