So Let it be Written, So Let it be Done!

October 25, 2010

And Life Keeps Moving

Filed under: blogging,grad school,kamakula,pittsburgh — kamakula @ 10:29 pm

I’m still behind on my research work. Nothing new when it comes to that. Slow trudging work for now. I think like many other things, one of these days I’ll either go over an edge and suddenly things will feel like they are moving too fast. Or I’ll reach a dead end. Whichever way it happens, I that will be it for me.

I’ve improved my media system. With my usb enabled router running dd-wrt, I finally bit the bullet and got a 2TB drive. With a dual bay dock, I could potentially increase my storage by another 2TB. We’ll see what prices are like for black friday and Christmas. In the meantime, all of my existing media, apps, backups, and pictures can go there. And probably not even use more than 40% of the available space.

The xbox (running xbmc) is pretty awesome. . . but as more things are available in HD and when my projector finally dies, I will definitely want a HD solution. . and the ability to watch Hulu without needing my laptop. From what I’ve seen, roku is looking like an awesome solution. For just about $60 shipped, I can have a little box that will take care of all that. In fact, the roku box + my drive/dock combo and router all take up less space than the xbox uses now. So that’s another plus.

My cooking abilities just leveled up too. I’m getting better at making my faves. Time to start adding some more dishes to the usual repertoire. I’m also making steady progress on the debt front. . .though breaking my cars and having to fix those isn’t helping. . . But I guess that’s how you learn. And I suppose the more I do this, the more experience I get if I ever want to startup the hobby of flipping cars with major, but cheaply (in terms of parts, not time) fixable problems.

Speaking of hobbies, I haven’t worked on a robot or any programming project in a while. There is always the trinity competition and I’ve got a game to port to my newest platform of choice – Android. . . though I suppose I also want to do the iphone as well at some point. I tell myself that once things look good on the research front, I will devote more time to these. . .I guess we’ll see.

It is annoying just how obvious it feels right now that if I were working fulltime, I’d have the resources and free time to do so much of all of these things that are on hold or moving by so slowly. I suppose that should be motivation to make my current life choices worth it, or matter more than they feel like they do now.


August 29, 2010

You can’t be Right 100% of the time.

Filed under: blogging,drama,kamakula — kamakula @ 8:03 pm

People who know me, maybe with the exception of my parents, are probably divided into two camps. The first are filled with people with whom I have pretty much always been right. My guesses, conclusions, thoughts, comments about things have always been correct – or there were perfectly logical reasons why they’d be wrong and those who from time to time dislike that I pretty much live like I am always right.

For the most part (and take this with an entire bottle of salt), I am correct about things. . . except when those things concern me personally. Then my radar or whatever metaphorical sensory-computing device is at play gets scrambled.

I’ve been in a great relationship. I think the best I’ve had in my life (full disclosure, I’ve only had 4 if we start counting from when I was 17 – i’m now 26 and by relationship, I mean something lasting more than 1 month).  But recently we’ve been having the “do you really want to see me or see someone else” conversation a lot.

I think that this stems mostly a series of incidents. My gf and I attended an event where an acquittance of mine displayed a lot of interest in me. And in the month since then, I have had more interaction with that acquittance including going to lunch with them – which I did not tell my gf about until two days afterward.

So, I won’t disagree that I am the cause for some of these problems. But in any case, tomorrow my girlfriend is going to break up with me. And I’m going to let her. I think I have decided that when it comes to relationships, you are either in or you are out. Flip-flopping may be fine the first few weeks, but not 3 months afterwards.

I always put more weight in the actions that people take, than necessarily the words they say. Though this may just be a cop out – and I will explain shortly. The reason I’m not going to fight it is because if this is what she wants, then I should not try to convince her otherwise. If someone is unhappy or unsatisfied enough that ending a relationship is among their best options for moving forward, then I should not stand in the way.

The reason I say this is a cop out is perhaps I don’t care enough to be willing to do or say whatever it would take to stay in this relationship. And so what I”m doing is taking the path of least resistance. Which if that is the case, then perhaps it should end anyway.

As sad as my day is going to be this time tomorrow, all my mind wants to snap at now is the thought that “This only proves my dad right – I have no idea what I’m doing where it comes to relationships”.

It is so easy to give other people advice. But this has me thinking, when it comes to something as subjective as this, who can really be qualified to give advice? Almost nobody has identical situation, and the odds of you being through the exact same thing twice, only the second time being able to make different decisions and have different outcomes is practically impossible.

So rather than vow to stop giving advice, I will instead try to recognize and verbalize the difference between my advice and my opinion.

June 13, 2010

Just Because Something Is The Best You’ve Experienced, Doesn’t Mean You’re Done Learning

Filed under: blogging,dating,drama,kamakula — kamakula @ 10:50 pm
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So, I am currently enjoying what seems to be the beginnings of a wonderful relationship. She is sexy, funny, smart, amazing, and caring. We seem to get along so well and are in the stage where we can’t get enough of each other. I’m starting to lose count of the number of dates which changed from our plans of about 4 hours with each other to 8 [or longer ;)].

One thing that we discussed on our first date is being open and honest with each other and in the subsequent times since then, we’ve kept that up. In fact, we’ve both remarked to each other that this is the most communicative romantic relationship either one of us have had.

But we’ve also had a couple hiccups in this regard. Where miscommunication on our part led to issues that took some time to resolve. Where for a few hours, one or both of us were walking around with our hearts in our throats. And if we were different people, if our feelings for each other weren’t so strong – to the point where no matter what happens, we’d still have a sit down and talk things through – things may have ended or gotten a bit rocky.

So, why is it that our most communicative relationship still has problems with communication? It’s not a paradox actually. And it took these two events for me to realize that just because something is my personal best, doesn’t mean I’m done working on improvements. I’d let myself think that once I’d found someone with whom I’d made such a great connection, that would be it. I’d be done working on my ability to share myself.

Not so fast . . . things are not that easy. Yes, it is amazing how comfortable I am with her and how much we are able to share with each other. Yes, this is the best we’ve ever had. No – it is still not enough. And to be honest, I find this amazing. We’d agreed before that one thing we really liked was that though it feels like we’ve known each other for much longer than our 1.5 months (of which we’ve been dating for 2 weeks), there is still an excitement and feeling of there being much more to discover.

Where in the past, miscommunication and disagreements have led to arguments (whose resolutions admittedly were followed up by great makeup sex), here, those things lead to discussions about ourselves where we talk about what happened and how to better communicate with each other [and romp as usual ;)]

It was very easy for me to discover that I wanted to be a lifelong learner, that no matter what I do academically and professionally, I will always have more to be taught, that I can always learn from others. Now I’m seeing that the same applies to being a communicator. And where at times before I’d seen it as a chore, now I find that my passion and desire to learn has expanded to this area.

June 8, 2010

My Take on the iPhone 4G – The Dell Streak is Better

Filed under: blogging,kamakula,rant — kamakula @ 12:27 am
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Ok, first, let us begin with a disclaimer. I have not actually handled either one of these phones. I’ve just been reading about them for the past 3 months. Actually, longer if we are just speaking of the Streak (since January when it was known as the Mini 5). Also, as anyone who knows me can attest, the Streak will be my immediate next phone. That is not to say I won’t have plenty of opportunity to get up close and personal with the 4G iPhone, but my purchase decision has already been made.

So, why am I not so impressed (especially given that my previous phone was an Iphone)? If we compare the design of the two phones, the 4G is just another iteration on the iPhone. Cleaner – yes. A Thinner? Definitely. Faster – uh huh. But these are all ho-hum to be expected changes. You don’t release another version of a phone that is worse than the previous.

So, incremental improvements aside, the fundamental difference between the 4G and 3GS is a front facing camera and higher resolution better view display. The display improvement is big enough that it cannot be lumped in as a incremental improvement (like styling, extra mic for noise cancelling, improved camera resolution, etc). So, that plus of course, a new OS – which is just again improvements over the old – so you’re not going to be seeing lots of new mindblowing things, mostly things that with the new hardware make everything work better and more smoothly.

So, if you were blown away by the iphone but had a few nagging issues that kept it from being the perfect device for you, yes, the 4G is definitely worth the upgrade. But that isn’t me. When it got down to it, I did 5 main things on my iPhone.

  1. Check and respond to email.
  2. Casual web browsing and some youtube when out at a bar.
  3. Facebook, IM, and about 2 games.
  4. Txting and phone calls
  5. Output video and music to my car

Even with the gaming – which I actually thought would be a big part of my iPhone usage – I ended up mainly only playing games when I was around my (at the time) gf’s iPhone. I’d jailbroken/unlocked mine and played around with other things, but mostly I ended up using that for UI tweaks and so that I could enable MMS on my unlocked phone. Being able to ssh to/from the phone was a bit useful but that was still mostly a useful trick I could do.

Given that there is only so much you can do with the actual process of making phone calls and sending txt messages, the dominating aspects of my use are interaction with the web and email. Since I am a heavy dual core thinkpad tablet user – and it is light enough that I have no real issues carrying it around throughout the day (and I have two batteries so I can go approx 6 hours at 80% brightness with wifi running) crunching through lots of open tabs, One Note, perhaps another office app, and matlab all running, my actual phone use was just when making calls, txting, in transit somewhere or out at a bar or away from home but not at school.

Given that essentially my life is mostly spent either at home or school and only an idiot would use a phone for entertainment when larger screened more powerful computing devices are present, there is really only a small subset of my life for a third device. As you can imagine, an iPad definitely doesn’t fit – too large. I’m not carrying one to the bar or gym. Any place else that I could be where I would/could use an iPad, my tablet is already there. What would be the point.

So, if I were to get a new phone, what would I prioritize? Well, look at my above list. Like it or not, google has the upper hand in implementing email access. Like I mentioned, phone and texting aren’t rocket science and everyone has gone the way of threaded conversations, so essentially my experience would be the same whether I’m on Apple or elsewhere. Access to social networking is roughly independent of platform since they all develop their own apps and game wise – I barely play at all – so again not a big deal.

So, the only other differentiator aside from using a google vs MS vs Apple email implementation would be in screen size/performance and media playback. Since I’m relatively agnostic to my media sources (ie I’m not tied to iTunes), my choices are either the larger 5 screen display of the Streak or higher resolution display of the 4G. Given that most of my time will be spent staring and interacting with the screen, that I have big hands, and I disliked the time I spent zooming in and out on the iPhone. . . my choice is relatively clear.

The Dell Streak just fits me more. So, this explains my decision. Now, just so you know, I from time to time will respond to what I see as blind devotion to all things Apple by attempting to destroy arguments as to why the 4G is better than anything else out there, even though I have clearly outlined here that such arguments are inherently faulty since what is more important now is the particular usage scenario for a given person. I tend to hold off making that point until the other side devolves to emotional responses (my usual cue that there is no further point in actually continuing an argument with someone) unless I’m feeling particularly evil. Since I don’t express an emotional response, if I don’t do this, I essentially keep the other side from ever getting closure.

March 20, 2010

New Beginnings and Old Pain

Filed under: blogging,drama,kamakula — kamakula @ 2:06 pm

I feel like I’ve been just been bandaging something that needs to be amputated. But because of deep sentimental attachment, not wanting to deal with the pain that separation will cause, and feeling some guilt that I’ve reached this point, I find myself in a limbo, trying to decide what to do.

It is easy to end things when they go bad, really bad – where both of you have arguments daily, you stop sleeping in the same bed, you revert to full names rather than any nicknames. It is easy to end when things have gotten to the point where it is obvious to outsiders that something is wrong. It is not easy, when what is wrong is you. Where you have tried to figure out what is wrong with yourself, why can’t you feel all the right things. You know you’ve felt the correct way before, so why not now.

And yet that state of being remains elusive, beyond your grasp, a wisp behind some cloth, hiding as if there is some secret that you don’t know, but is crucial to resolving your current dilemma. While I have some ideas on what it takes to make a relationship last – certainly a conscious decision of commitment – are there emotional states to begin relationships where they are more likely to succeed?

Certainly, we would expect relationships starting from one night stands to be of the shorter variety than those between two co-workers increasingly spending more time with each other. But how long should you be in a relationship before you decide or realize yes or no? Is there a set point? I don’t know and I certainly don’t have a wealth of experience to draw upon to figure this out.

In fact, nobody could possibly have enough personal experience to figure this out. Either their reasoning would be false – why would you take long term relationship experience from someone who clearly cannot maintain one? Or the person would have a several pathetic life story, having fallen in love several times only to have their significant other ripped from life in a series of tragic but sometimes mundane happenings.

It doesn’t help to meet new people and consistently see something different. It doesn’t help to constantly have to validate your attraction, to be reminded of just how little you had in common, and then to reaffirm why you should still be together. Or perhaps it does, but my negative feelings about this are just an indicator that something truly is not right, and not actually a commentary on the actual process itself.

I am a person that does two things when someone asks me a question. While formulating the answer, simultaneously, I am also wondering why I’ve been asked. Is this a test? Or if I believe it to be a query for which the asker already knows the response, then why am I being asked? Is it to annoy me? Test whether I’m paying attention? A grab for attention. It is no wonder that I’m not the easiest person to be with.

I’m competitive, I pretend to be humble though apparently flaunt my knowledge. I’m judgmental, and at times can be very short and lack any patience or humor. Yet if someone has sticked with me through all of this for so long, don’t I owe them the benefit of the doubt. To be very thorough about analyzing my feelings. To only end things when we are ready to kill each other, and not just when I’m feeling more indifferent?

Even more problematic – isn’t this feeling part of a normal relationship? Don’t we go through times when our attraction and verve for our partner wanes? Isn’t the mark of a conscientious and committed person the ability to persevere and rekindle that spark? If I’m unable or unwilling to do this now, how does that bode for any future relationship? Would I just then throw it in the bag and move on yet again? I don’t want to establish a pattern of behavior that is disagreeable to me.

I wish I had answers, but I wonder, even if someone could claim to be the expert, to have the wisdom I require, the knowledge for which I thirst, would I even listen?

February 22, 2010

I am Tired

Filed under: blogging,grad school,kamakula,politics — kamakula @ 2:46 pm
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I am tired of a lot of things for a lot of reasons. I dislike the financial juggling act that has been my life since January 2006. I thought after working full-time for a year, I would finally be free of all that. However, that turns out not to be the case. I’d hopes that even first quarter 2010 may be the time I finally step out of the red so to speak, but that door seems to be fast closing in my face.

I’m tired of the state of our country. Our financial and health systems. The lip service we give to education. The idea that research and engineering and innovation can only be driven by the private sector. I ask you – who drove Boeing and Lockheed to come up with anything? If the US government was not engaged in wars, would they be the powerhouses they are now? Or rather, would the be the American powerhouses that they are now? So much of the technology and innovation we take for granted today has been driven by the federal government. Yes, ofttimes as a byproduct of defense and nation security ambitions but also through basic research.

Did the free market really need a space program capable of landing men on the moon? I think not.

I also want to address my previous post. In case I did not make it clear, I do not support the actions taken by Joseph Stack and in no way condone such violence as a means of expressing his frustration at the world. This tragedy serves as a prompt for discussion yes, but sadly because of the lives lost so horribly and not because violence was the only way to bring it to the forefront. I know I’ve not gone too much into political and related discussion here, but such topics are constantly flitting through my mind being worked for some semblance of rational solutions.

Returning to my main thesis, I am tired because in a couple hours, I need to have the barebones of a conference or journal paper written. The meat of the work has yet to really be done, but to be honest, I should have written 1/3 of the paper by now. I could have written that much. There isn’t much that would go in the abstract or introduction areas that I don’t already now. Certainly not much new will come up in the next couple weeks as a product of my work.

I’m tired because I’m splitting my time between research (which at the moment sits on the back burner), a robotics project, my relationship, and putting together the mess that is my finances. Supposedly starting at the end of this week, I will no longer be unpaid. However, I’ll also start a part time job where I’ll be working about 30 hours a week. The intersection of time between research, project, and work before the project ends will probably feel worse than this. Maybe. Perhaps once I have an income, I will be able to relax even in the midst of doing other things.

Who knows.

February 18, 2010

What words are there to say?

Filed under: blogging,kamakula — kamakula @ 9:32 pm
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I have just finished reading this apparently the writings of a software engineer who is believed to be the pilot of a small plane that was deliberately flown into a federal office building in Austin TX. My sympathies go out to those who were injured or killed in this horrible event and their families.

I started reading it thinking it was the usual right wing complaint about big government taking over everything. But it is not. Instead it is the writings of a man who has lost all hope in making sense of his life, his government, and his country. This is a scary development, in part because it marks the second time in less than a year, that an engineer has gone out an taken the lives of several people for various reasons.

Reasons that while don’t justify their actions, I certainly feel are reasonable complaints. It is easy for me to denounce the acts of someone whose rationale makes no sense to me. Whose arguments seem not to be based in reality. I’m not saying I don’t denounce the actions of this man today, but it pains me to find that I agree or certainly sympathize with him, because I feel by treating him as a victim of sorts I am marginalizing the deaths that he has caused.

This is not the future I want to shape. I want to put an end to life where yesterday, one man could be seen to be a victim of circumstances beyond his control, the greed of others and injustice that has crept into our society, and today that same man becomes the architect of unspeakable, haunting, and senseless death and destruction.

February 17, 2010

Welcome to 2010

Filed under: blogging,car,grad school,kamakula — kamakula @ 2:42 pm

It has been a while since I’ve written a post. I sometimes visit my own blog in a vain attempt to trick coerce or otherwise tempt myself into writing something new. But here I am today. I’m not sure there is a point to this other than to mark that once again I’ve reached a time where I have to make decisions about my life. Decisions that for better or worse will have impact that I will feel for a long time to come.

I’ve been in a relationship for about a year now. It’s had its ups and downs and a couple hiatuses. Now though, I’m not sure whether it can continue. However, this could be because I’m feeling stress in other areas of my life. I’ve started working on a research project and have been unpaid for the past two months. Running broke with my car breaking down and requiring repair, behind on bills, work, and projects, my outlook is no longer as optimistic as it usually is.

When this happens, my patience for other things wear thin and suddenly things that may bother my slightly become problems. I start to wonder if this relationship is ok for me because it always sours when I’m under a lot of stress. I guess I feel like I carry the weight of supporting both of us and while I honestly don’t mind am happy to do so under normal circumstances, there are times, this is the time that I want the roles to reverse and they can’t.

As I find myself approaching 26 years of age, I wonder just how much of my life I’ve wasted. Could I have accomplished more? Probably. No, definitely. If I worked harder 6 years ago, I could have started the grad school process 2 years earlier. I could be right now at this moment putting the finishing touches on a dissertation or even be done and starting work somewhere as Dr. Kamakula. I could be in a stable relationship with good credit and buying a house.

But I’m not. And I look to my future and only see things getting worse. I have a year left and only a vague outline of the research and work between here and graduation. I will need to spend 40-60 hours a week working, reading, studying, testing. I will also want to spend time fixing my car, building my robots, and working on side projects. Between school, work, hobbies, and friends, do I really have time for someone else?

A couple days ago I was asked to list the qualities in my ideal girlfriend. At the time, I thought to myself, that is not possible, that people are different and I cannot expect to find one set of qualities in a person absent other idiosyncrasy that would bother me. But maybe I should make this list. I find myself daydreaming about going out, meeting someone who may for example say “I’m a physics major and work for X company” and asking her to solve some freshman physics problem and responding with “It was nice meeting you” if I don’t get the correct answer.

I’m sometimes often accused of being cold and emotionless. Uncaring and not willing to sacrifice anything for a relationship. Does this mean that I’m not truly invested. If I were an outside observer, would I draw different conclusions than the ones in my head? What does it mean that the same charges are leveled at me over and over again? The cynic in me says there is only one answer – you do not learn, you do not change.

There are times when I wish for a guidebook to life, even though I know, like just about any other source of advice that has been volunteered to me, I will read, listen, then follow my own lead anyway. I think this is just a search for validation. I don’t need guidance, I just want an authority that tells me my decisions are always the right ones.

October 15, 2009

You may be a hardcore engineer (or PhD student) if you

For those who are not engineers, this can serve as a handy guide to sniff out those of us around you. For those who are, but may be questioning your credentials or trying to play down your nerd card, this is your wake up call.

If you apply engineering principles to your regular life? I.e. the noisy channel model to dating, optimization methods to arranging your dishwasher, minimum entropy to your porn, you are likely a hardcore engineer.

Perhaps you solve “interesting” problems just to solve them, not for any possible benefit – grades, pay, extra credit, impress your boss/adviser – just to see if you can do it. If you regularly use up what is likely scant resources of your time and brainpower on problems that have a very low chance of actually paying you back something later, you are probably a hardcore engineer.

Or maybe you’ve having a conversation with a friend about something you’ve been working on and they ask for the “simple” explanation. And after you give them what is arguably the elementary school (in your head) explanation, they ask you to dumb it down some more. Until you end up saying, “well, pretty much I’m trying to *verb* *noun* much more {efficiently, cheaply, faster, simpler, to use less resources} and only then is when they nod and make that ‘aahhh’ noise that says “I still don’t understand but you’ve probably reached the limit that you mind will allow you to simplify this problem”, you are most likely a hardcore engineer.

Do you have boxes, parts, notebooks, and files on projects that you started in the past, where you were really excited about what you were going to do, but somehow never finished because you started on another project that had similar potential, but you never throw them away because one weekend, after you’ve caught up on the work you’re doing now, you’re going to go back and finish? You are definitely a hardcore engineer.

Did you read this and spend the whole time thinking, wow, this is all so familiar, but in actuality you spend your days teaching kids how to draw, or designing purses to be made out of eco-friendly fibers, or writing copy for a news article? If so, you are likely a hardcore engineer’s girlfriend.

October 8, 2009

There are no Correct Decisions

Filed under: blogging,drama,kamakula — kamakula @ 3:01 pm

Well, I’ve returned to singledom. After months of being in an exclusive relationship, I found that she was not for me. This is a pretty hard decision to make because we still care a lot about each other. Sure, there were arguments and fights from time to time, but nothing I’d especially consider bad warning signs. There was hardly any bringing up of past wrongs, so most fights were on new things.

But as much as I would want, it just wasn’t there. Perhaps it is something that I could grow into or perhaps not. I think maybe not, at least not with me the way I am now. I want something else, someone else, and I need to be able to answer myself whether this something else (that I can’t obviously put down in words) actually exists with someone else.

Of course, the danger is that I’m wrong, and then I’d have ended a relationship that was otherwise going well. In these situations, no amount of list making and rationalization can help. Gut feelings is where the solution lies and my gut says I’m doing the right thing.

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