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.

April 21, 2010

Looking Back

Filed under: drama,kamakula,pittsburgh — kamakula @ 12:42 am
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So, these past couple weeks have been very non-productive for me. I’ve started eating twice a day (the same amount each time) which coupled with my liquids brings me close to 3000 calories a day (i’m working now to change that back to a reasonable 1500 – reasonable for my metabolism).

Since breaking up, I’ve dated one girl. We went out three times before things came to an end. But this time, the post mortem yielded some interesting information. First, the reason I got her number in the first place and got to the first date is that I did everything right up to that point. I was the pursuer. I made my interest known. I called her within a couple days of getting the number, I decided and organized our first date, etc.

And on that date and the second, I let her guide our interaction. I did not push to kiss or touch or anything else, I followed her lead. The third time around, I did not. And that is where I went wrong. Not only that, but when I think about it, that’s what has gone wrong in all the cases where I struck out within 3 dates.

It really is amazing to realize this about oneself. I feel so much happier as a person and look forward to getting to know the next person who takes a chance on me on a much better basis.

December 21, 2008

A Woman, A Ring, A Question

Filed under: drama,kamakula,pittsburgh — kamakula @ 8:35 pm
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Yes, you read that correctly. This post involves a woman, a ring, and a question. Perhaps you already know what I’m about to say. If so, please, skip straight to the comments and leave your response. I’d like to compare before and after thoughts. . . 

So, trapsing through craigslist one day, I ran into an ad a person had put up. Being a bit bored (at my apt, finals over, just finished reading my second book), I decided “what the heck, I can talk”. So we did. Now hold your horses. . . she’s just looking for friendship and that’s all this has been.

Ahem. So, after some talk over some time, we decided to hang out and meet up at a semi-local Chuck-E-Cheese like venue. We have fun, play games, chat a bit, then afterwards go to a mexican restauarant where we ate and chatted some more. Full disclosure: She paid for all her stuff and I mine except there’s still some discussion over which one of us won the most tickets for the prizes we’d gotten (I think that Sky Captain machine was rigged).

Anyway, I like her and have no problems being a friend. Yes, I’m that elusive male character that can be a woman’s platonic friend, given the requirements for such are met that:

  1. I am not attracted to her OR
  2. She is in a relationship OR
  3. I am in a relationship.

So, she’s married so obviously #2. Anyway, even though I myself am not a jealous individual, I’d be a bit uncomfortable with someone who was my wife spending time with a male individual (single or not) that I did not know on some level.

So, I have to decide, how do I bring about the question? When I tell my friends things like this, I always get asked “How do you get yourself into these situations?” Seriously, they don’t happen that often. Just in-between the last time we see each other.

Another thing, with few exceptions, most of the women with whom I’m friends now were met when we were both single. And there was some flirting, perhaps a bit more, then it stayed where it was. So now, it’s no big deal to joke around with them. So, here, I have to think about toning down the typical stuff though I’m not sure if it’s even an issue. 

Last year, I discovered a new friend where some of the initial circumstances were the same as this one. It wasn’t until maybe six months later that we started talking (and laughing) about the initial few weeks of getting to know each other.

Ok, I have a bit of a confession to make. Generally, I don’t really have conclusions for my posts. Perhaps because of the nature of these things, they’re not always “resolved” when I write them. However, being the type of person that I am, I feel bad about this. . . and now all of you will start noticing something you didn’t really see before. So . . .

Boom-shaka-laka. The End.

November 15, 2008

Mattress Factory: Art and Social Networking Collides

Filed under: blogging,kamakula,pittsburgh — kamakula @ 10:25 am
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So, it’s Friday afternoon. and due to scheduling, presence of food, and probably the positions of the moon and stars, our Wednesday noon seminar is moved to Friday at 3pm. The good thing, today, there’s actually going to be refreshments.

So, I’m listening to what’s actually an interesting discussion of a guy’s PhD dissertation in the field of power electronics, interesting for a couple reasons, I took a power electronics class last year where I met someone who would become a pretty good friend who’s Master’s work is in power systems.

Anyway, I’ve got my tablet with me and decide to check out a couple of my usual reads (VSB, C&L) and once that’s done, curious to see what’s going on at As soon as I’m there, the Mattress Factory post catches my attention: new exhibit, free admission to social networking blogging (geeks). Why geeks? Well, it’s implied in the signup page when they say “and all the WiFi one can handle”.

Naturally, I sign up, then get busy txting and IMing those within my network (strangely ironic considering that I did not utilize any of the social networking tools mentioned on the site to communicate this) about the event. This is interesting because I’d actually been thinking of staying in tonight and getting some reading done or finishing up projects.

So, because I am the kind of guy who’d carry around his laptop at such an event, it will be present. I’ll likely not be updating this in real-time, but perhaps we’ll get input from other goers vis-a-vis the tablet.


Well, we got there, laptops in tow, and being too lazy to wait in the online registration line, used our CMU ids to get in. Even though there seemed to be a lot of people who took advantage of the online registration, it became immediately obvious that either everyone else didn’t see the part about free wifi or were were the only true nerds to show up. (There is some irony in this because earlier today I’d been considering revoking my buddy’s geek card).

With the exception of a couple, most of the exhibits were a bit more technology based than the others I’d seen in my last visit to the Mattress Factory. One exhibit I thought created an optical illusion, turned out that the color changing and flashing lighting were just part of it. Due to the even being what it was, there was definitely a lot of interaction, discussion, and chatting than my last visit which felt more like walking around (a very interesting) library and perhaps smiling (or at best nodding) to the other patrons.

Of course, being engineers, at any computer related exhibit, we took the time to figure out how to replicate the artists efforts. Some good did come out of this, a plan for a prank to be played at the beginning of the next quarter has been devised. Whether it will be executed still remains to be seen. I will say though, that the Mattress Factory still remains a good place for a date.

November 9, 2008

It’s a New Day

Filed under: drama,kamakula,pittsburgh — kamakula @ 3:28 am
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This post is inspired in part by this song by Also good listens, this and that. So, I’m in a good mood. My stomach is still a bit angry with me, tonight probably didn’t help, but whatever. I’ll be fine. So, what happened to the stomach and why am I happy? Glad you asked. . . 

It started Friday evening, ok technically, part of the story probably starts before that, but we’ll fast-forward through those parts. So, Friday, I’m watching How I Met Your Mother with my current roomate and eating dinner. We both had a beer with dinner and went through the second half of season three and first five episodes of season four. Well, epsidoe five pretty much ends with a cliffhanger.  So, a bit distraught, we do a couple shots of Wisniowka and decide to head out to the southside.

I was thinking of going to shadowlounge or ava earlier that night, but I’m not sure what else is in the area and we typically hit up a couple places while out and were feeling lazy. Anyways, we goto Tiki, partly because it’s kinda my spot when I go out in the southside and because my roomate’s been wanting to take advantage of their $2 wells and get started. Well, I probably have about 7-8 of those, plus a jameson on the rocks, and a baileys on the rocks.

After dancing with the cougars in Tiki, we goto lava lounge, find out there’s a $3 cover, just as we’re leaving (too cheap to pay), the bouncer recognizes us as friends of a friend and lets us in free. I run into another guy I know there, we hang out with him for a bit and I drunkenly hit on a girl and get her number. Since I’ve convinced myself earlier that I left my phone in my car, I borrow my roomate’s. Lacking the manual dexterity to bypass his keypad lock, I have to get him to unlock the phone, then spend what seems to be 3 minutes mistyping the girls number. Of course, I don’t even hit save on the phone lol.

Anyway, we leave that and mosey on down to Elixir. It’s a bit boring, so we head to Jacks. Same there and we start walking back towards Tiki. Conveniently, there’s a cab stopped at a light. Realizing there’s no way I’m going to be able to drive, I make the executive decision to take the cab home and we pile in. My roomate starts talking to the cabbie about me and our groups plans. Cabbie tells us if he hits it rich, he’d be glad to invests and gives us a couple of his business cards for us to keep in touch.

I get home, make it up to my room, somehow manage to hit the on button on the heater, strip, and fall into bed. 9 hours later, I awake. Already, I smell trouble brewing, typically, I sleep 5-7 hours and usually less after a night out (where alcohol was involved). My stomach is killing me. I know the solution to the problem, water and food. However, I’m under the vicious circle of my stomach hurting makes the thought and action of eating unpleasant, yet if I don’t do it, my stomach won’t get better. I make it downstairs and fall onto the loveseat apparently “curled up in the fetal position”.

I manage to drink down some water and eat some potatoes provided by roomate and start thinking, hmm, I probably should get my laptop. Problem is, the laptop is a few feet away on the couch. Getting it would require getting up. Getting up will make my stomach hurt. So, I remain. . . until I remember that I’m missing more than just a morning study meeting, I may potentially be hanging out with this cool chick at noon and it’s. . .gasp 12:10 already!

So, feeling energized, I get up, grab the laptop and check my email. . .yep, I was supposed to be somewhere ten minutes ago. I tell my roomate, go change and freshen up, then we get out to his car. . .and have to inflate one of his tires. Then we make it to the southside and luckily, she’s still there 🙂 I have to say, I haven’t had this much fun in a while.

Oh, so while I was negotiating the terms of surrender with my stomach on the loveseat, my roomate was telling me that my best friend apparently got into town earlier that morning. Anyway, a few hours ago, we had drinks with him, his new old gf, and a couple other friends. I knew that he was seeing someone (who lives in pittsburgh) a month ago but for whatever reason her identity didn’t click until he texted me that he was bringing her with him tonight.

Anyways, that’s it for now. I’ll probably write more about this day later.

October 8, 2008

Confessions of a Bad Student

Filed under: blogging,grad school,kamakula,pittsburgh — kamakula @ 8:02 pm

My pen name is Kamakula, and I’m a bad student. Perhaps even a bad person.

Let me explain. For the past two weeks, I’ve been waking up later and later in the day. I’ve done very little for my TA assignment – arguably one of the cushiest, an open ended project where I have latitude to plan and spend to my hearts content. The only constraint is that I devote 20 hours per week to this as per my contract as a TA. I doubt I’ve even accumulated a TOTAL of 20 hours on this project 5+ weeks into the semester.

Meanwhile, I’ve been waiting till the last minute to do homework. Last week, I was unable to complete the homework for one of my classes. It was sacrificed so that I could finish work in another. This week, last minute work plus a dying battery and having to find a place to plug in resulted in my not completing the hw for another class.

Theoretically, a good student could recover from this missteps. After all, the assignments are fractions of 10-15% of my grade, not enough on their own to take me down. However, I already know I’m not a good student. Then, with all this going on, I’m taking the weekend off. Driving up to my alma mater. This means that there will be no work accomplished from Friday until Monday.

So, it can be shown I’m a bad student, but that does not necessarily mean I’m a bad person. Well, for that to be true, that would mean that the majority my “person” qualities are bad. So, if we define person qualities as the set consisting of

  • Student quality
  • Son quality
  • Friend quality
  • Citizen quality

We’ve already demonstrated I’m a bad student. What about son? My dad has been getting emails asking him to sit on decision boards for several fellowship foundations. He’s been encouraging me to apply to these (and I’ve been saying that I will). Because of my (anticipated by him) participation, he must recuse himself from serving – conflict of interest issues.

Now, most of these programs have deadlines at the end of this month or beginning of November. Given the catch-up I’ll be playing, my likelihood of applying decreases which means I’d curtailed my dad’s ability to serve on those boards. This will cause my parents to be disappointed in the future when they learn I did not earn any additional funding while I continue to be a (non-producing) financial burden to my department.

Also, I’ve been “encouraged” to choose a thesis advisor this semester. I’m not sure which category this falls into. Essentially here is the problem. My field of interest is robotics. Specifically, I’ve come to decide that I want to conduct research in the area of reasoning and decision making systems. There are two professors who do work in related areas. One is primarily a pattern classification guy. I’ve taken one class from him and currently I’m taking a second. I know without a shadow of a doubt that I CANNOT work with this guy. It’s not just that what I want to do is not really pattern classification or that he doesn’t really work with actual robots, but based on having him as a teacher, I know we’re not compatible.

The other option is my current advisor. He’s a young and rising star in our department. However, his focus is in biomedical robotics. Now, I’d admit that I haven’t read much of his work, so perhaps there’s more areas of convergence between his work and what I want to do, however, from talking to him, he’s reluctant to take on a new student. Now, I’ve learned that I have department funding for about two more years. More than enough time for me to get involved and work out an RA in the future. I’m not sure if he’s just unaware of this, or if there is more to it.

I knew coming in that there were few professors in my department who were actively doing research in my areas of interest. The other schools that accepted me had more opportunities (or stronger ones) however, I chose UPitt because I was awarded a fellowship, my best friend lived here (at the time), and I’d be closer to CMU (and somehow entertained fantasies of working there while being a UPitt student).

Hmm, citizen-wise, I routinely break speed limits. I’m not talking 45-50 in a 40. I’m talking 100mph in a 30. This typically happens tuesday and friday nights . . . nevertheless. I’m also driving an uninspected car. I know it will fail inspection, there is at least one thing that I need to fix before I even attempt to have it inspected, probably more. But I’m hoping I can get some sort of exception for the other issues.

So, how am I a bad friend. Well, there is a group of us who have loosely joined together to develop ideas for a potential tech company. The nominal head is currently busting his ass at an 80hr/wk job where he’s getting first hand experience with the running of a startup. Others are working hard at jobs or school. I’m viewed as one of the major technical drivers of the group. This means that I’m one of the two or three who’d be expected to do the major hands-on work converting our ideas into an actual working project. Yet based on things, I’m probably the laziest and least motivated one. I’m letting my friends down by not working hard at school, to complete my degree in a timely fashion, to take advantage of my schooling to make me highly qualified so that when our resumes are shown to prospective investors, they can feel safe investing with a group of people who have a proven track record of academic excellence and demonstrated capabilities of taking projects from start to finish.

Possibly though, my biggest failure as a person is recognizing my failures and still not actually doing much of anything to correct them beyond the useless tactic of writing about it. If I review my blogs and other writings, this is a recurring post. This means over the six years since I’ve graduated from high school, there’s been essentially zero personal improvement. I’m pretty much the same 18 year old except I have more responsibilities, more debt, and know a bit more about my field.

It’s ironic. I want to create rational artificial decision making agents yet I’m unable to make rational decisions in my own life. Fucking blind leading the blind. Or in this case, blind leading himself.

September 14, 2008

Affairs of the Heart

Filed under: drama,kamakula,pittsburgh — kamakula @ 2:42 pm
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Yesterday, I was out with a buddy of mine and decided to text HEC to see what she was up to. 90 minutes and a few text messages later, she was on her way to meet us at my favorite spot in the southside. HEC is someone in whom I see good LTR potential. She is very attractive, an engineer, fun to talk to, ambitious, involved with her family, and many other things. 

However, without getting into the history of what’s been going on, all my good female friends have pretty much told me that I should forget about it. Normally, I would. Normally, I could. However, for some reason, I’m not able to let this go. I tried to tell myself that we’re just friends, but whenever we’re out together, I can’t bring myself to seriously go after other girls. Sure, I may flirt with them, but I’d never let things get to the point where I was getting phone numbers or making out with one.

So, as much as I’d like to think otherwise, I’m still holding out. I don’t want to be one of those guys who is just friends hoping to get with her later and to be honest, if nothing ever happened, I’d still want to (and be) friends with her. I guess I want some sort of resolution to this so that I can move on, but there is something that’s not letting go.

Maybe I’ll figure it out eventually. I hope so. I’ve been telling myself that I’d eventually meet someone else who’d take my mind off HEC, well, a potential romantic relationship with HEC. We shall see.

September 9, 2008

The Fire Has Been Lit: A Stirring Tale of Ambition, Motivation, and Fraternization

Yesterday I had a meeting with the Graduate Student Advisor. He was very informed about me and what I’ve been up to. Kinda scary actually. The thrust of the meeting is that I’ve been going with the flow here and need to get my butt in gear so I can graduate quickly or I should transfer to another school (he picked up on the big robotics stuff in my application, resume, and that I spent the past summer working at CMU). Not that I necessarily have to obey (well, there is some slight coercion – he’ll guarantee me the TA assignment I want in the spring), but I need to pick a thesis advisor and get started on a planning committee and perhaps negotiate my prelim assignment. . . within the next two weeks.

So, the good news, we reviewed Pitt’s requirements, aside from the actual dissertation, comprehensive exams, and other things, I’ve got 72 credits total to collect before I pass graduate and collect unemployment insurance. The planning committee can transfer up to 30 of those from my Masters work. 16 will be thesis credits, and by the end of this semester, I’d have taken 18 at Pitt. This leaves me with just 8 more credits to take – pretty much three classes (or less, if graduate seminar counts, I could be done with classes).

It’s kinda scary and kinda exciting at the same time. On the one hand, within the course of two semesters, I’m almost halfway done with my PhD program (nevermind that the other half will take 2-3 more years). Still, I’ll be Dr. Kamakula by the time I’m 26 or 27. Awesome. On the other hand, I actually have been thinking about transferring to CMU and would have to go through at least the prelim process again if I do.

Then again, there’s still no guarantee that I’d actually get into CMU and the only professors at Pitt that I’d want to write me recommendation letters are the ones I’d want on my committees here. Well, I’ve learned a few more things:

  1. There are people here who will help me meet my graduation goals even if it means giving me swift kicks in the posterior.
  2. The graduate student secretary apparently tells other people in the department what I’m up to -there was no paper trail (here) on my CMU activities.
  3. I really have been slacking off and losing sight of the goal here: wham, bam, thanks for the PhD ma’am.

In other news, it must be raining cute psych majors. The girl I’ve been chatting with after my 230p class in the CS building (psych), the chick I chatted with on the bus this morning who goes to CMU (psych). The hot graduate student who gave the “Handling Difficult Situations”/sexual harrassment/don’t f*ck your students – talk at the TA orientation this past saturday (psych). [Oh, I forgot also the extremely hot chick sitting in the row in front of me in said session – also a psych major].

I think I’m finally getting over my crush and in doing so, I’m getting to know her better. Besides, I need more female friends. I’m going to see how things go over the next few months.

July 30, 2008

Ahh, Finally a relaxing week

Filed under: car,grad school,kamakula,pittsburgh,writing — kamakula @ 12:39 am
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Despite the fact that it is 12:30AM and I’m at work (I took a few hours off between 10 and 12 to goto my Tuesday night hangout – the Shadow Lounge), this is still a pretty relaxed week. Yes, there is some work to be done on my car, but nothing approaching the amount or intensity of any weekend in the previous two months.

I can now actually get out again and do stuff. . . or go places and not do stuff if I so desire. Perhaps it was the alcohol, or perhaps it was the affirmation, but I feel really good right now. Let me explain:

Tuesday nights at Shadow Lounge is open-mic night. I’ve gone up a couple times to share things and this week, during the break, I made an effort to go and chat with a couple people (after first talking with the chick who seemed to be eyeing me when I first came in). Anyway, someone told me that they liked my presentation from last week.

I was floored because frankly I feel that most people who come up are on a much different level than I. Even with that in the back of my head, I still felt good hearing that. Hopefully, this keeps up through next week when I’ll do a more or less finalized version of this.

Tonight, I also again put the car through some paces. . . whew, I’m falling in love all over again! This is a good thing. I already know that events such as accidents or major failure tends to alienate people from their cars and they usually end up selling it once it’s fixed. I’m glad that I still have the same enthusiasm for it. One thing that helps is that the car is, as my cousin put it on Saturday, “timeless”. I just love the look and can see myself with it for a long time. Having 50 more HP doesn’t hurt either 🙂

I’ve always felt that I could do well enough without having others to validate me. Certainly, that is a trait necessary for survival in a small company or research lab. But validation definitely has its good sides. Even though I’ve got a minimum of three more hours of work before I leave to catch some Zzzs, I feel really hyped to get my work done.

I think this is how I envisioned my entire summer experience. I’d work reasonable hours and be relaxed enough to enjoy it, even when doing boring things. Now, my goal is to attempt to replicate this zen-like feeling during the school year. I talked with a TLH friend online this evening and he mentioned leaving to go play volleyball. I definitely reminded me of the big sports void in my life. I’d love to get back into a volleyball and/or soccer league. That will definitely be on my calendar this fall semester!

June 26, 2008

This was Supposed to Be

Filed under: grad school,kamakula,pittsburgh — kamakula @ 2:07 pm
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My summer to relax. My summer to recover. My summer where I did not work very hard. Then several things happened. However, the car break down is probably the worst, in that it drains all my spare cash and time. Now I work 40-50 hours a week, admittedly on a job I like, then spend about another 20+ on the weekends fixing the car.

The cost of fixing the car means that I’m not going to be able to relax my working schedule for the entire summer. I suppose that within two weeks, I’d at least have reclaimed my weekends and being able to drive to and from work will net me a bit more time to sleep or at least give me more flexibility to work when I feel motivate rather than having to structure my time around a fixed bus schedule.

This post though is prompted by me feeling immensely tired and listless at the moment. Perhaps I should just take an hour or two to sit and read, then come back and continue working. I guess I’m worried that tomorrow afternoon, this feeling of ennui will return and cause me not to get as much work done on the car as I’d like. Then the process of having it up and running would be delayed even further.

Perhaps I’m just lazy. I can’t help but think of other people who work longer hours than I do and they don’t complain. Or maybe this is my unconscious attempting to test my resolve to stay in grad school. If so, I’d wish it’ll stop.

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