Saturday, May 22, 2010

Second Diaologe, Part I

A-Hey Corporal, you look depressed, you got a Dear John letter or something? what happened?

J- Nothing Ali, I just, been thinking...

A- Oh boy, here we go...

J-See that's the thing, people misunderstand what I've been saying.

A-No, I think you made your point clear from last time we talked

J-no, but when you called me an atheist, you were merely learning something about what I don't believe in, but you know very little about what I do believe in. You make a bunch of assumptions, and but at the end you have not heard what I am supposed to be about.

A- I guess that's true, so what's the big deal?

J- well, for starters, I don't define myself as an atheist, many people think that I am obsessed with the subject because I am willing to speak about the things nobody else wants to talk about. But the reality is that I spend my time worrying about many other things.

A- like what, staying alive?

J- yes, that and my wife back home, I wonder how my life will play out once I get out of here, but in the meantime, this war is teaching me a lot about the nature of human beings. I am shocked at the fact that after all the cultural differences how much we are all the same. We have more things in common with the people we fight that we like to admit. I think about that and about how amazing it is to be alive. If I make it out alive, I will not make any excuses, I will live my life trying to improve myself, living to my full potential.

A- what do you mean? what's your full potential?

J- I don't know yet, but I am going to go to college, and I will educate myself as well, getting a degree is not bad, but that's not the point of educating myself, I want to sharpen my intellect, I also want to raise a family, if I make it back I am not going to leave my wife's side any more. I am going to get out of the Corps, and I am moving back to my hometown to be close to the rest of my family.

A- well that makes sense, that's pretty much what we all want, right?

J-well, I don't know about everyone else, but yes, I have these goals, I want to sharpen my mind, I want to cultivate my efforts on spending time with people I actually like, and I want to exercise my freedom, I want to seek wisdom to the best of my knowledge.

A- All these things you are saying, don't they sound self-centered?

J- well, when all individuals try to improve themselves, society as a whole benefits.

A-I see

J- so that's it, I hope you understand that, I don't go by any label, I don't stand for being anti anything. Hell I don't even consider myself a member of any political party, I just decide on my own which things make sense, whatever seems like the right thing to do, you know?

A- I guess so, it's just so much easier to leave the thinking to someone else, you don't actually get things done if you just sit there pondering

J- I know, words without actions don't mean much. But raw power with dull intellects are the true enemies of humanity.

A- Corporal, I see that you've been reading Nietzsche, that's what happens when you get into that crap.

J- who's the hater now?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


Just got back from a nice, relaxing vacation with the family. What I loved the most is that the kids and Martha were very happy. Although Anthony thought that the animals you see from your window at the Animal Kingdom Lodge were "boring", I had to laugh at that one, damn, they have no idea about how good they have it.

I have been reading that book "Founders at Work" Stories about startups' early days. I have learned a lot from it. I know a few things about starting something. However, I know that I am not ready from the technical point of view, to take the plunge, I might do it someday, everything depends, I am glad I don't have an MBA though, business types think that the hard part of a business is the analysis, figuring out if there is a market for something, all these things of course are important, but the thing they don't get is that they think that implementing something is trivial, that the execution part is straight forward and the programmers are in the back just doing their thing while they (business people) run the company and make it rain or something. The fact is, that the engineering matters. Making a high-quality product that matters is hard. Good programmers that know how to write quality code quickly, who understand the business and the technology, those people are invaluable, that's what I am planning on becoming. I am more than a code monkey, I understand the customer, the business, the product, the science and the math. Having this knowledge yields the power to start a whole industry all in one person. That's how strong an engineering education is. I know that I can get there, that's why I keep investing in my education, because this gives me the freedom to create whatever I want.

Anyway, right now I must focus my energy and effort to COP5555, one of the projects is to write a lexical analyzer ,which I knew it was coming, but the challenge seems good, I feel ready for this battle, all I have is the summer, the fall, and I'll be graduating in the spring, FSM willing.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Some thoughts here and there

I finally get to blog! I have been meaning to write this whole week, but every single day something keeps coming up. I had three birthdays this week, and there's always something to do around the house. Plus this week I've been getting up early to go to work early, and I am really tired by the time the kids go to bed, which is when I usually have some spare time to do these things. But I've had these thoughts about these things I want to share here and so here it goes.

Philosophy is for everyone

So last week I finished reading Plato's Republic. Now, that sounds so...intellectual or something, right? well no, it is not, I found Plato deeply approachable. The book is not only about Government, is much more than that.

I can't read a book more than once, but I think I am going to make an exception for the Republic. I have the Spanish edition that belonged to my father and a new copy I just bought when I was at Chicago. Anyway, I would read a chapter in English and then I'd do the same in the Spanish version and I would always find something in the second reading that I somehow missed the first time I read it. I know I probably didn't do a good job of "getting" everything about the book, since the book itself is so rich, and I was reading a few pages right before falling sleep. However, there are a few things that stuck with me.


I remember hearing about this when I took an undergraduate course in philosophy, but when the teacher mentioned the word "justice" I thought about the Judicial system, meaning justice as punishment. But Plato is not about that, it is a dialogue where they discuss what does it mean to be just.

One of the things that I keep thinking about, is the question: is it better to be perceived as just but in actuality not be just? or is it better to actually be just, but perceived as unjust? The issue being, should we be just just for its rewards or is there something good about being just in itself?

In politics and business perception is reality, but we see how CEOs politicians and the like don't always do what they preach, which tells me that they would rather be unjust but be perceived as just, which explains why so many people distrust politicians.

Another thing that caught my attention was how Plato classified people, he divided people by those who love wisdom, those who love money and those who love honor (soldiers).

I see that we all have a little of each, I would say that there are those who seek pleasure, those who seek money, power, fame, and wisdom.

I see the utility and the necessity to have money, and I don't think there is anything wrong in being industrious and seeking to create and accumulate wealth. But the love of money changes people. I turns people into conniving, lying, calculating creatures that lack compassion, I think that greed can be a very bad thing, a person who only loves money and pleasures will never be satisfied.

Same kind of goes for people who seek fame, power, honor, just for their own sake. Those things by themselves do not bring fulfillment. The thing that Plato said that I will carry with me forever, is that the love of wisdom is the best thing we can aim for. It's a simple yet powerful concept.

Another thing that I really liked, and there's a lot gems like these in the book, is the part where it explains that true freedom comes from being able to control the passions of the soul. It seems paradox, but, self-control actually gives us more freedom. When we lack self-discipline we become slaves to our vices and appetites.

Anyway, I highly recommend it to everyone, books like these are classic for a reason, they have survived the test of time. Generations and generations of thinkers have written their ideas but all most of them are either a response to or an echo of what Plato wrote. That's awesome.

Founders at Work

Reading a great book about how some great companies got started. Eye opener. I know that I will never be a businessman, but I will not be ignorant about the subject. I am going to get more knowledge in economics, finance and accounting. I want to know how to read contracts and how to run a business, it will come in handy someday. However, I want to be an engineer all the way, I enjoy making things, but the temptation to start a company has been there, maybe someday...

COP 5555

This week I start the famous compiler class in UF, is my second Computer Science course in Grad school and I can't wait, I actually want to start reading the book now. It can wait though.

Ok everyone, that's all I have. Be good.