Monday, January 19, 2009

Being Cold

This being an “El Nino” year, we have been hit with a few more snow storms and cold snaps than last year. I have never been one for cold weather living so I’ve put down some thoughts to avoid cabin fever (and since this will be our last winter here).

A lot of people say “Don’t worry, it is only like this a few months of the year”.
People drop off teenagers at the mall or take children there for somewhere to run around.
Your nose spontaneously starts running once you step outside.
I really don’t like the idea that there are so many more ways that can go wrong and die.
The snow takes on the appearance of glazed frosting because the top has frozen into ice.
When it gets cold enough the chemicals and salts do not melt the ice so people throw down more. Then you are walking on ball bearings AND ice.
It gets light and dark while I am at work.
Icicles on cars show what angle the car parks at during the night.
Wind howling between the buildings in NYC can knock you down.
For some reason the wind always blows down the streets (East-West), not the avenues (North-South).
Nothing is more disheartening that waking to the sound of snow plows and shovels.
I am SO glad I have a job that I can work from home when we get snowed in.
I do not think I will ever get the hang of padding 15 minutes into the leaving time for scraping off the car.
I don’t know why or how, but my wife is OK with me getting the garage parking spot when her car is uncovered.
No matter what the cold has a way of working its way through windows and walls and attacking your toes.
I really hate getting a runny nose and snorting snowflakes.
The cold makes you crazy, I mean being that happy about a warm goose down comforter.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

25 Things

So kind of to support the idea of Facebook is a place for narcissism there is something similar to a chain letter going around that if you are “tagged” then you write 25 things about yourself and “tag” some of your friends. I figure I would post the list here so that it didn’t get buried somewhere and I forget about it.

1. When I have time, I really love to cook. I learned how to cook out of necessity. I guess this is related to being in the middle of 10 kids (5 older, 4 younger).
2. When traveling I can just tell everyone I am two meters tall, and yes I get asked a lot.
3. I don't think I would be good at crime. I stick out in crowds and everyone seems to remember my name. Maybe I would be better for politics, so scratch that, crime it is.
4. Growing up, I was the invisible kid in the room, only noticed when I said something in the conversation. I was then quickly ushered out because they didn't like getting questioned by a smart-alec kid.
5. My personal ethos: Enjoy life as much as possible without making it harder for others to enjoy theirs.
6. One of the most enjoyable things I have found is to travel around and get different views on life from different cultures.
7. I have been to 30 countries. (Leaving 165, give or take, to go.)
8. I have been three continents so far, my goal is all seven. (The number of continents is one of the things that changes depending on where the person is from that you ask.)
9. I have "run" two Marathons. The first was in Los Angeles, as a life goal. The second was to see NYC. I have now decided there are easier ways to see a city.
10. No matter how hard I try, people's names do not stick in my brain. Random useless minutiae, sure; but two minutes after being introduced to someone, their name draws a blank. My wife finds it amusing to watch the strategies I use to get around this.
11. My spelling is as bad as remembering names but at least I have spell check.
12. After a good nights sleep I will always wake up with a song in my head. I might not have heard it in years, but I can't get it out of my head until I listen to it, then it is gone. As a side note finding songs on the Internet is a god-send.
13. Although my musical tastes span almost every single genre, I can not play an instrument or read music. (both are resolutions for this year.)
14. For all the art training I received it is probably my most squandered talent. (I currently use it for mock-ups at work, and I used photography as my outlet during school since I didn't have enough time to draw.)
15. I took college art class at the age of ten. The teacher said I needed a signed note when it came time to draw nudes. I didn't even ask because I already knew the answer. I still got a B+ for the class.
16. I also took a college ceramic class in fifth grade. One of the other students guessed my age at 23.
17. I have only done the carnival "guess your age" thing once. The professional barker guessed 10 years to old. The prize was a hollow victory and I've never felt the need to do it again.
18. My thesis for school involved using electrical pulses on the tongue to stimulate the visual cortex area of the brain. It took longer to get FDA clearance for user testing than it did to write the whole thesis.
19. So far I have taken classes at 6 colleges and universities, and I am currently looking for more education.
20. Flying a plane is more fun than any roller coaster and the best stress buster. The only thing keeping me from finishing getting my license is the need to pay off enough of my school debt before starting up again.
21. I consider myself very political. But I think that political parties' ability to polarize people is one of the main sources of government corruption. This leads my political beliefs to be very issue dependent.
22. Although my job involves helping poor people in other countries and people with disabilities I do not consider myself an advocate for either group.
23. Working with computers I know I am on a watch list for the CIA, FBI, and DOD since I have been offered jobs by all three. (Not what you were expecting was it.)
24. One program I wrote accidentally crashed Microsoft's FTP server and another accidentally erased my work's whole development server. Why do they give so much power to the new guy? And hooray for backups.
25. I have a picture of my wife and I in it, 4 years before we met. It is from my Friend's Mother's wedding. (I married one of my best friends cousins, making him my step-cousin-in-law.)

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Applying for School

I like working in research. It is usually the last area hit when the economy goes down (like right now) and deadlines are not something that vacation gets cancelled over. (One of the big reasons I had no problems leaving my last job.) To advance in research I do I have two choices: I can spend a few years working for advancement or I can work for a few years on a PhD for advancement. Even with the stigma of being a perpetual student I have decided to go with the PhD since that is easier to transfer to a new job than proving the same years of job experience.
I went with the same plan as when we applied for our Masters degrees. I call it the shotgun approach; fire off a bunch of applications and take the best one that sticks. Of course this means filling out a lot of applications and writing a lot of papers. I spent November and December doing just that, and is the reason why I fell behind on writing entries for this website. It also means having some really good professors who agree to be references. When applying for my Masters I just dropped off a bunch of self-addressed stamped envelopes and the professors just had to drop them in the mail. Now every school has a web form and apparently they are all different. I felt bad for putting them through it but made my conscious feel better by sending them our homemade carmel and fudge at Christmas. The most annoying part is trying to figure out where to send extra paperwork like grades and GRE scores. Anyone that thinks that universities have become an industry only needs to look at the application process. I spent on average about an hour or two search each university for their address to send papers to. (None had a phone number to call.)
So the outcome. Well, I don’t know. I am in the fun waiting stage right now. So far I have been accepted by the place with the earliest deadline, but I have not heard about funding yet. I have also heard back from another school that has funding but not sure if they can offer it to someone outside the country. (Yep, that is right I applied to a few schools in other countries. I figure I might as well try to see if someone will pay for me to live abroad for a few years. Why should I be the one paying for all my traveling.)

Friday, January 02, 2009

New Years 2009

Everyone thinks the total New York thing to do would be to go down to Time Square and watch the ball drop. I have yet to talk to a local that has gone. Most local people avoid Time Square like the plague because the tourists there do not know how to step out of the way of sidewalk traffic before stopping to take a picture. Apparently the idea of standing crammed up against other people for 8 hours, only to be moved out of the way by police because they need to set up a VIP area doesn’t appeal to some. I would have liked to have seen it once but it seems to just not be in the cards.
L. was still recovering and there was no way she would have been able to stand for any amount of time. The weather with wind chill was -2 degrees. L.’s bother and his wife did the smart thing and paid $125 each for a private party at Dave and Busters in Time Square where they just usher everyone out at the last second. L. and I just ended up playing video games and watching movies. At midnight we turned on the TV and watched everyone complain about how cold it was in Time Square.
New Years Day we all just hung out lazily and played games. One of the things I had meant to finish for Christmas but got the wrong size parts was to make marshmallow guns (instructables.com). I made up for this by finishing them and we had a huge war. I know I will be finding marshmallows around until we move but it was great to have almost unlimited ammo for $1.50 and the all the guns cost $4 total. We were laughing so hard we couldn’t blow into the guns by the end of it. Quite a nice way to ring in the new year.

My New Years Resolutions:
Learn to play guitar.
call all my siblings and spouses on their Birthdays.