Thursday, May 30, 2013

Just a short post tonight.  Today, my friend Kshipra, who I've know for 9 years now both at Duke and Stanford, passed her PhD defense.  It was good to see her pass and I'm excited for what the future holds for her.  Since we started grad school at the same time, there's a part of me that thinks I should be finishing soon too.  Logically I know that systems PhDs take longer than theory ones (like Kshipra's), but still, the competitive side of me likes to think of things as races.  Turning off that competitive side of me is harder than I would like to admit.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Today was a pretty standard day and I'll make this short because I have a meeting with my advisor early tomorrow morning and it's already past 2am.  I managed to get into work at a reasonable hour to get some experiments running for a class project that I'm working on (trying to get our programming system to run in the cloud). I then messed around with numerical methods for a while.  Gave a brief presentation with in class about the status of our project.  Ended up having dinner with my friend Eric where we had a good conversation about what we want to do with our futures (we both started our PhDs at the same time and now work with the same advisor).  Even after talking to him, things still seem very fuzzy to me.  I spent the rest of the night working on numerics and finished the day implementing an iterative Jacobi solver while watching the movie Finding Neverland (a movie that happened across my mind after coming across something about the movie Hook last week that reminded me of something from my past that I don't want to get into here).  The movie was as good as I remembered, and even better my solver worked by the end.  I biked home in the dark and dropped the DVD for the movie in the mail, so Netflix can send me my next disk by Friday.  Got home at 2am and here I am.  Time to go to sleep again (I hope)...

Monday, May 27, 2013

Today was an interesting day, although not really.  I woke up rather late as usual and watched the end of the Indy 500.  I then went to work for a few hours and fixed a few bugs.  Around 3pm I made my weekly call home to let Mom and Dad know that I was alive, which then digressed into a conversation about what jobs I might consider taking and ultimately what lifestyle changes I might consider enacting post grad school to live a more "normal" life.  I'm still not convinced that that is the right answer.  I feel like I'm selling on my potential if I take a big corporate job rather than doing true science with my coding abilities.  I'll get into that more in a later post.

I went running for the first time in a few days.  Did a little 6 mile out and back trail in Portola Valley to the top of Alpine road.  I ran decently fast considering I haven't been running much.  It's always surprising how fast I can run on a trail when I just let me mind go.  I managed to scare a few hikers along the way who weren't anticipating a human body traveling around 10 mph to be approaching on a single track trail.  For some perverse reason, I get enjoyment out of that: knowing that I'm an unusual phenomenon on the trails of the world.

Upon arriving home I watched the Miami Heat destroy the Indiana Pacers in the third game of the NBA eastern conference finals, while cooking fish, rice, and steamed broccoli for dinner.  It was yummy but the game wasn't much for entertainment.  I biked back to work as the sun was setting.  I could feel the air warming up just a touch.  The war between summer and the cold waters of the Pacific was heating up.  Back at work I fixed a few more bugs, and then spent some time reading about numerical methods, trying to fill in the holes left in my undergrad degree in math.  Biking home at 1:30am, I was flying.  There was a waning moon on the rise, and the night was cool, all of which contributed to my speed.  Not a single car passed me.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Almost five years after I initially "finished" this blog when I arrived in California, I've learned many things about myself and the world around me.  In the hopes of dealing with a bunch of things that I've been ignoring I'm going to just start chronicling the mundane details of my day-to-day life in the hopes that some patterns might emerge.  We'll see what happens.

I haven't been sleeping well recently.  At night I can't fall asleep.  There's no conscious thoughts that are really causing it.  I'm not dwelling on any ideas, but my brain is still active well into the night.  It's unclear to me why.  When I wake up in the morning I feel tired.  As the cobwebs clear, eventually my brain gets enticed back into the world of engineering where the problems are always interesting and on my way I go.  The day passes rapidly.  As long as I have code to write, I'm never bored.  Time is constantly slipping through my fingers.  And then, without warning it's time to sleep again, and my brain just isn't ready.

Tonight for the first night in a long while I didn't code and just let my brain peruse the internet, which happened to drop me back here in my old blog.  I read the sad tale of Oscar Wilde (I'm reading The Picture of Dorian Grey (sleeplessness initiated before I started reading this in case you thought it might be the cause (note as a programmer I properly nest my parenthesis (and yet I hate lisp )))) and marveled at how much impact he had in such a short lifetime.  In the process I enjoyed listening to Random Access Memories, the new Daft Punk album released today.  I tried letting myself dream a little bit about where I might choose to work on the future.  It's fair to say that grad school is starting to drag upon my soul.  Not to say that I don't enjoy my project, but I'm ready to work on something new.  There's only so much complexity that, I at least, can maintain in my mind, and if all of that complexity is concentrated around ideas, the rest of my live divulges into simplicity.  We'll see what tomorrow brings.

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Well after my massive bout of driving on Friday, I was left with a very short 19 mile drive from San Jose to Stanford. This concluded my 3973.9 miles of driving across the country. For those who are wondering, I averaged 39.42 miles per gallon, which considering the fact that my car was fully loaded and I drove over two mountain ranges, I think is pretty good.

When I arrived back it Stanford it was almost surreal driving through a place that I had been thinking about for the past few months. I checked in and received the keys to my apartment. My apartment is on the fifth floor of one of the couple of graduate student high rise buildings. While this made it a little bit difficult unloading the car, it also makes for a very nice view.

You can see the Hoover tower there and when the sun isn't quite so bright you can also see the ridge that runs on the far western edge of Stanford's campus. Despite the fact that room is smaller than my last apartment, the fact that I have such a nice view it makes it feel much more spacious.

When I arrived my roomate had already moved in, but wasn't in the apartment. He eventually came back and I learned that his name is Vincent. He's french and attended the University de Polytechnique in Paris. He couldn't bring much stuff on the plan and today we spent some time in Walmart and Radio Shack getting him some stuff including a new cell phone. He seems very nice and plans on being here for about two years doing a master's degree in materials science.

In the meantime in the little bit of time that I have been here. I've already driven up to San Francisco and run 10 miles with Kamil in Golden Gate park and along the ocean front trail. We also had breakfast in a small cafe near Kamil's apartment. I've also been out to have dinner with Andrew (from Berkeley), Kshipra (from Stanford), and Albert at a small Italian place in Mountain View. Apparently the Duke network is still alive and well. Although I'm also looking forward to building a Stanford one as well.

As for the apartment, her e a couple of shots of my desk and my bed. It's not much, but its comfortable and I can't wait to get working on stuff.

Well I hope you have all enjoyed reading about my trip. It's been awesome and I can only hope that the adventure that I have here at Stanford will be able to match it. I know at times I have been prone to rambling, but I think that most of the trains of thought have been at least a little coherent. I think I'll try and post something to this blog whenever I do something fun or experience something cool at Stanford so check back every now and then. Thanks for reading and I hope you all enjoyed the journey. California, here I am.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

All the Way to Reno... and California

I left Salt Lake City pretty early on Friday. I stopped by to see the great salt lake on the way out of the city. It has a certain natural beauty to it, but it's also a little bit barren. It seemed to stretch out forever into the desert with only the mountains to bound it.

Unfortunately, after the great salt lake, there wasn't much to see in Utah or Nevada. For the first 300 miles or so there were at least some mountains to look at, but eventually it was all just rolling hills with scrub bushes on them. The worst part was that the road was straight for periods of 30 or 40 miles at a time. Without my IPod, I'm not sure how I would have made it without going crazy.

It was 511 miles just to get to Reno and the R.E.M. song couldn't have been more appropriate. It seemed to last forever, but I got there. I kept myself occuppied racing the freight trains.

I also saw too rather curious things along the way. The first was what appeared to be a random sculpture in the desert. I managed to get a picture of it as I drove by at 75mph. If anybody can tell me exactly what it is I will pay them money. The second was a road sign that I couldn't help, but get a picture of as I drove past. Along the Utah/Nevada border there is a small town named Ola, which I couldn't help but be reminded of a certain computer science professor.

After racing down I-80 out of Reno and finally into California, I stopped by to see Lake Tahoe. It wasn't very far off the highway and to my surprise, there were still people out swimming in the lake. I guess it's a little bit warmer than the ocean this time of year. It really was impressive to see just how big it was. I guess Friday was the day of two lakes. Not many people can claim to have seen both the great salt lake and lake Tahoe both in the same day.

After seeing lake Tahoe, I had a relatively short (150 mile) drive down to Albert's house. Albert is a former Duke grad student that I worked with who is now working for NVIDIA in San Jose. I finally made it to his house around 9pm PDT. I had been driving for 13 hours and I'd gone more than 800 miles, but I made it to California! Now all I've got left is a short 19 mile hop up to Stanford. Whoohoo!

Friday, September 12, 2008


The morning of September 11th always seems to be especially poignant for me. This year that day again dawned clear and cold without a cloud in the sky, just like it had 7 years earlier back in Maryland. Even the National Park Service out in the wilderness of Wyoming remembered to honor the day:

I realized that I didn't have much time left to spend in the Grand Tetons so I decided to begin my morning with a little run to the top of nearby Signal Mountain.

Signal Mountain is really just a small mountain in comparison to some of the nearby true mountains. It's only about 9000 feet high and isn't very steep on any side. It even has a small 1.5 lane road that leads to the top. For me this was ideal for a run. I hadn't been able to run much recently and I wasn't about to go flying into the forest where I might happen to find myself suddenly between a mother bear and her cubs. Instead I decided that running up the road was a slightly safer idea and also would present more of a challenge as the grade would be steeper. The ascent proved to be about 3.5 miles and I felt pretty good other than the mild headache that I usually get when running at altitude. I carried my camera with me to the top and I was amazed at the view. Signal Mountain is located almost at the very center of Grand Tetons national park and without many other high points of elevation nearby, provides extraordinary views over much of the park.
Interestingly, most of the best photos that I took from the Grand Tetons came from this short run to the top of Signal Mountain. It was nice to get out for a run as well. :)
After leaving the Grand Tetons, I stumbled around nearby Jackson, WY for a little bit. I had lunch at a very peculiar shack and read about the rising rate of deadly incidents involving domestic petroleum workers. Apparently many of them are taking meth to help them get through long shifts and stay focused. I can't even begin to contemplate operating heavy machinery while being high on meth.
Post lunch, I began the journey out of the northwest corner of Wyoming down to Salt Lake City. Surprisingly the fastest route first took me northwest into Idaho, before dumping me down onto I-15 down to SLC. Let me just say that all of you should goto Idaho just to see their license plates. "Famous Potatos" is the motto enscribed on their tags. Despite this I can't think of a famous potato off the top of my head other than Mr. Potato Head from Toy Story. All right I'm rambling now so I'll also mention that I crossed the Snake River 5 times over the course of 2 hours! See snakes really are everywhere, just as Samuel L. Jackson said.
I made it to SLC before sunset and managed to go see the Mormon temple in downtown SLC. It was very interesting and not nearly as large as I would have expected. However, their attention to detail was phenomenal. Everything was well tended and every stone had been perfectly cut. My favorite part of the visit was later in the evening when I came back from dinner to hear the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearse. Here's a short video of them practising one of their songs for the upcoming Sunday worship.

The power of the choir was remarkable and I'm sad that I won't have the opportunity to hear them on a Sunday morning. Nevertheless it's cool to know that I've at least heard them.

After briefly venturing west of the city I realized I was progressing into the wilderness and retreated back to the safety of the city for the night. After some trouble locating a free hotel I managed to find one near the airport (expensive) and get a little sleep.