l33tminion: (L33t)
Last weekend, we went to Lubbock to visit Julie's folks. Erica got to spend some quality time with her grandparents and get in another visit with her great-grandma. We also took her to see the animals at the South Plains Fair. Scott (Julie's dad) made homemade paella, which was really good! Was nice to get in some good times with family.

This week work was quite busy. Wednesday I went out to the Olin campus for the fall career fair. I love helping with campus recruiting, it's always great to get back to Olin and see the current crop of students, they always really seem to have it together. It's strange to be so far removed from undergrad, still feels like not that long ago. (Enjoyed the lunch, too. The Olin dining hall is now run by Rebecca's Cafe instead of Sodexo, and that seems to be a big improvement.)

Speaking of Olin, I've also been reading a book by one of my Olin profs, A Whole New Engineer, about Olin and Olin's collaboration with the iFoundry at the University of Illinois. Pretty interesting so far. While I already knew a lot of the background about Olin, I didn't know much about the iFoundry program, which seems to be an attempt to replicate some of Olin's successes with a small, low-budget program at a much larger university.

This weekend was mostly pretty quiet. I managed to play a bit of Deus Ex: Mankind Divided on Saturday (worth the time, though I stayed up a bit later than ideal). Sunday, went to Octoberfest in Harvard Square, which was for some reason not postponed to the rain date despite pouring rain. The weather was pretty lousy, but I don't regret trying to make the most of it since it got me out of the house. Erica napped in her stroller and I enjoyed a little bit of the music (though from a bit of a distance; Erica's ability to sleep through brass bands, while impressive, is not unlimited).

I took down the AC yesterday, just in time. So much easier when I get to it while the weather is still dry.

Of course, I've also been following the presidential election with great interest. Looking forward to the second debate tonight (will probably brave the weather to watch that in company instead of streaming it at home). Though I'm also looking forward to this whole thing being over. (How much crazier can it get in less than a month?)

Erisitic improvements: Erica is eating a bit more adult food (she really liked having some of Julie's scrambled eggs this morning), she's more interested in playing with blocks (though not yet up to nesting or stacking, mostly just hitting together or knocking down), she seems to be understanding some words (maybe???), she's more visibly interested in hearing people read aloud (though she doesn't yet follow along or turn the pages or pay attention to specifics).
l33tminion: (Jon Stewart)
Last weekend: Just about perfect. I got in some relaxation, played To the Moon (a charming little indie-RPG, very light on gameplay mechanics), went to the latest Magic: the Gathering prerelease (and went 4-0!), and Julie took me out for a special dinner at Bergamot.

This week: Nothing eventful. Mostly just trying to stay out of the heat. It's been extremely hot, and as a result I've been extremely tired.

This weekend: Olin summer party in Somerville!

In the news:

The RNC happened in Cleveland, and I was glad to hear that went largely without incident. The Republicans are officially the Party of Trump now, it seems. Cruz showed up to emphasize that he wouldn't endorse Trump to his face (2020 guyz!), while many former presidents and current legislators were conspicuously absent. Most notably, Governor Kasich didn't show up to the RNC in his own state (though evidently he put in an appearance at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame down the street).

Was Kasich really offered the VP post and was that offer really worded the way anonymous Kasich adviser claims? I don't even know what to believe at this point.

Trump's actual VP choice was unexpectedly uninteresting, Pence is a sitting governor and seems to be a good public speaker. Clinton followed suit by picking Tim Kaine, not a surprising pick, but a reasonable one.

Most interesting bit of convention reporting: This essay on a convention party hosted by gay anti-feminist and professional troll Milo Yiannopoulos. Most interesting thing about the convention itself: Trump's acceptance speech, mainly in thinking about what a Trump presidency might actually be like. Best moment in general: Jon Stewart's guest appearance on Stephen Colbert's Late Show.

Next week: Wikileaks (and everyone else) will try to shake up the DNC.
l33tminion: (Enlightened)
Very tired lately.

Olin Career Fair last week was great. I enjoyed the panel discussion. Career Fair is very lively, my voice was really tired by the end of the day.

There was an Ingress event in Boston last Saturday, a lightning-round version of the global game of keep-away that was part of the last round of events. Each team fought over 36 in-game objects, jumping them from landmark to landmark to one of their team's goals. The field was set at 20 minutes past noon, with jumps every 15 minutes from 1PM to 5. My team (the green Enlightened) fought our way to victory, 18-15. Was a good game, strategy was dynamic and interesting, and both teams brought a good crowd of players and high-level gameplay.

My mom was in town last weekend, so we got in some lunches at Google and dinner with extended family. On Sunday, we wandered into Honk! and the annual Octoberfest in Harvard Square. Very nice to have an opportunity to catch up.

Next weekend, Julie and I will be visiting her family in Lubbock.
l33tminion: (Rock!)
Housing acquired! Picking up keys tomorrow, move scheduled for mid-November.

It took an extra week due to circumstances beyond our control (some finicky details about an international deed transfer not done correctly the first time by the seller). But now it's done for real.

Stress is still wearing on me. Still, there are quite a few things I'm really looking forward to: Spending time with cousins this weekend, my mom is visiting town next weekend, there's an Ingress event in Boston next Saturday, and the weekends after that include some last-minute trips home.

I led a tech talk on interviewing at Google at Olin last week, and I'll be at Olin again for the career fair and a tech interviews panel discussion this week. I really enjoy helping out with that aspect of recruiting!

I saw The Martian on a work movie outing on Friday. The book is great, and the movie is a great adaptation. For the most part, it sticks closely to the book's plot with some judicious trimming for time. Though it does manage to make the book's over-the-top ending even more implausible, and there are a few moments where the cuts cause some of the funny bits to make less sense, or where the movie goes a little bit too far with putting viewer-friendly interfaces on everything. If you at all think you might like a story about an astronaut trying to survive being stranded on Mars, I recommend you see the movie and watch the book, in either order.
l33tminion: (L33t)
After the snow last week, I got out to Olin for career fair, which was awesome! Also ran a resume workshop, which went really well.

I came up with a silly metaphor for my resume remarks, which I hope will stick in students' minds: A resume is like a cupcake, served upside-down.

You have the wrapper, essential but not exciting. That's name, contact information, what are you studying and when, and your summary of skills (useful, but that's a summary of a summary, so keep it short).

You have the cake, the main point. That's delicious work experience! Ideally, this section is the closest approximation you can muster to, "I did exactly this job, did it extremely well, and have the numbers to prove it." Prioritize discussing relevant paid work, followed by relevant close approximations of paid work and relevant projects that produced something concrete. Discuss unrelated employment if necessary, but more briefly. Use metrics to quantify your achievement (at least showing that you set goals and measured results, ideally show that your results were impressive). Estimate if necessary. On the job learning is a good thing to demonstrate, and that can be something to quantify as well.

Finally, you may want to add a bit of icing, some leadership position or award or hobby that makes you look cool or smart or interesting but isn't directly relevant to work. I don't think there's a real risk that the person who doesn't put any hobbies on their resume will be looked down on, but if you have something cool, it might help your resume be memorable and might help you have something good to talk about in interviews that have more social-skills-y "so tell me about you" sorts of questions.


The rest of the week was very busy, and this weekend is once again mired in snow. (With more scheduled for next Tuesday and then a significant amount next weekend.) I braved the snow to have Valentine's Day dinner with Julie at Cafe Artscience. We went out for brunch at Puritan and Co. and I made hot chocolate at home.

I'm glad to have the day off tomorrow.
l33tminion: (L33t)
Snow day today. And tomorrow.

This is not a repost from last week. Or the week before. This is the snowiest winter recorded in Boston. And it's not letting up. Getting a bit more snow Thursday and Sunday, very cold into the weekend and next week.

It was a pretty good day, warm at home. Did a bit of cooking yesterday and today, got some work done, and took Julie out to dinner at Bergamot (always a fantastic meal).

Spent a lot of time with friends this weekend and played a lot of games (of which a favorite was Splendor).

On Wednesday, I'll be back at Olin running Google's table at the spring career fair.
l33tminion: (L33t)
I've started playing Ingress (a territory-capturing MMOARG game by Google's Niantic Labs). I originally tried the game when it was first in beta, but then didn't get into it until just recently. It's pretty fun, and I got Julie to start playing, too. (My username is Macrologist, my faction is Enlightened.)

Other things:

Olin Expo was awesome! Especially the Principles of Engineering projects (a "create a hardware/software prototype" class, which in my day was PIC micro-controller + PIC assembly or C, but now is a lot of Arduino or Raspberry Pi + Python using libraries like OpenCV). The tech available for hardware/software prototyping has come a long way in the last eight year. Olin's computer science curriculum is getting stronger, too.

Hanukkah parties with extended family and family friends were fun.

Wednesday, we woke-up super-early to fly to Lubbock and visit Julie's extended family for Christmas. I am really enjoying the vacation.
l33tminion: (Rock!)
Sorry to be neglecting this blog so badly.

Time for a quick update: Last weekend was my five-year college reunion (featuring some good food, old friends, and an insane* candidates' weekend design-build challenge activity), the previous weekend went to Davis Megamaze with some friends (about as fun as running around a corn-field maze can be, which is to say fairly fun), next weekend is the Marshmallow Fluff Festival in Union Square.

Performance review time at work has been uneventful. They've really streamlined the process. I'm not going up for promotion this time, but I'm planning to give it another go in six months, so I'm looking to increase my impact. Want to study more, too.

For fun, I've been playing Spelunky again, and a bit of Half-Minute Hero. Short-form but addictive games over the long-form stuff I'm still in the middle of.

Speaking of games, Valve making a big play to move PC gaming towards Linux is interesting stuff. Relative lack of games was a big disadvantage of switching to Linux, but that gap seems to be narrowing on a variety of fronts.


* The challenge was: Your team (of three people) and a randomly chosen partner team build a structure that crosses a four-foot span (between two tables, the structure cannot be adhered to the tables). Your team's structure can only extend at most 60% across the span. The combined structure must pass water from each side to a cup on the other side, and then from both cups to a small bucket suspended by the structure over the center of the span. To win, the bucket must be filled in this manner, and water that has not first crossed the span to the cup on the other side must not spill into the bucket. Teams can only communicate with their partner team by means of post-it notes relayed by the judges. Structures are built with parts purchased from a menu of components with a limited budget (including those post-it notes), and orders of parts are fulfilled first-come first-serve against limited availability. Surprisingly, one pair of teams (of four pairs) actually passed this challenge.
l33tminion: (Exile)
Work has been crazy-but-productive for me the last few weeks. I'm doing a presentation on some of the stuff I've been working on for my coworkers on Monday, hope it won't be too boring.

Pi-Con last weekend was fun, with not nearly as many hurricanes as last year. Skipped most of the panels, spent a lot of time on games: More Innovation, a round of Fiasco (a quick collaborative storytelling game that produces convoluted movie-like plots), Red November (a crazy collaborative players-versus-environment boardgame featuring gnomish submariners), and a one-off tabletop RPG the Fallout universe (played with the Savage Worlds system). Due to organizational difficulties, there was no video-gaming at Pi-Con this year. And the whole con is on hiatus next year, returning in 2014.

Today, I went to see Red Bull's cliff-diving event (in which athletes jumped off of the ICA into Boston Harbor). Was pretty awesome!

Tomorrow, there's an Olin alumni meetup on the Cambridge Common. Should be fun.
l33tminion: (Default)
Saturday afternoon was the Assassin's Guild X-Games, which was pretty zany (My Little Fortress: Losing is Magic was about as insane as anyone familiar with the source material would expect).

Saturday evening was the Olin Alumni party. Can't believe I'm now four years out.

Sunday, hosted a garden party at home. Guests came to help transplant seedlings and enjoy delicious snacks. Julie is the real brains behind the gardening project, so I spent most of the time running around the kitchen, but that was fun. The Grotto now has a bit of a raised bed plot in the backyard, we'll see how that grows.
l33tminion: (Nom)
The better my life gets, the less time I find to write a coherent blog post about how well things are going.

Last weekend, I was at this, which I discussed more at length in my other blog (and seriously, even if you don't read that, read the speech here). There was also this, which I only saw a bit of, but it was fun, and the resulting photos were good:

Steampunk Duo

That's myself and DJ. The immediate reaction of Michelle (and Tara) was that we looked like certain muppets. I'll accept that.

Other stuff: Went on a lot of good dates, watched 5 Centimeters Per Second (good, and pretty, but a little sad) and saw Incendies with Film Club (sadder than I thought it would be, and I thought it would be sad; still a well-crafted film), worked on v1s and v2s bouldering, attended an annual Olin alumni event and caught up with some old friends, continued to be overwhelmed by Google-ness, and stumbled home after dawn.

Enjoying the weather and very much looking forward to summer.
l33tminion: (Default)
Anime: Japanator's top 50 for the decade. An interesting selection. I've watched all of 22 of those and touched on 6 more.

Clothes: Ties! Also, the other kind of ties! umbrellas! Blue shoes! Double monks!

It occurs to me that I've gone from two pairs of shoes (running shoes, black oxford dress shoes; three if you include beach sandals) to seven (running shoes (which I still wear at least 95% of the time), black oxford dress shoes, cheap old wingtips, moar better wingtips, thrifted fringe loafer, cheap blue canvas sneakers (CVOs), casual slip-ons (I like the idea of using those as beach shoes much, much more than sandals, which I hate)). Basically, if I ever win the lottery I'm in danger of becoming this guy. (Not really. I hope.)

Education: Here's a method of learning phonetic alphabets (like Japanese kana): transliterate random things.

An interview with the Olin College president. I find the answers both interesting and disappointingly moderate.

A Wellesley student discusses Wellesley's admissions office's discrimination against transgendered students. Yet another "the writing is on the wall for Wellesley as women-only" story, there were several others during my Olin days. A good example of how overt, allegedly acceptable discrimination leads to covert, obviously shady discrimination.

An MIT researcher turns his house into a (self-directed) panopticon, with interesting results. I discussed this at length on my other blog.

A discussion of the World Peace Game, an educational game of global politics played by fourth graders.

Random Interesting: Broken lottery scratch-off games and their relation to security, math, and crime.'

Overthinking It analyzes Rebecca Black's "Friday", which must be the most successful vanity video of all time.

Playing video games while blind.

A bit of randomly interesting math: What is the highest value of n for which the decimal representation of 2^n has no 0s?

An article on a handbook for overthrowing dictators, which has evidently been quite influential this year.

An article on the psychology of (media) overabundance.

Better libertarian rhetoric with regard to "anti-privilege" liberals. Good stuff.

Dinosaur Comic's take on polyamory. Read the extra title text. I love that brand of subtle snark.
l33tminion: (Default)
I've been friending a bunch of distant (and not-so-distant) relatives on Facebook recently after being friended by a fourth cousin (my father's father's father's father's father is his father's mother's father's father's father) who seems determined to friend everyone in the world he can prove he's related to (and to get all of them to friend eachother).

Graduation weekend for Olin was this weekend! Went to the alumni get-together, saw lots of people I hadn't seen for some time. Oliners are an awesome bunch indeed.

Lots of housing arrangement switches coming up. Xave is moving to Zuul with Patti at the end of the month. Patti's other roommates are moving out. DJ is moving in with Maya and me in July. Ginneh is going elsewhere, probably back to California.

Urgent Evoke is wrapping up this week.

Trying to figure out travel plans for June and July.
l33tminion: (Default)
This morning, I was informed that Michael Moody (aka Dr. M), Dean of the Faculty of Olin College, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and professor par excellence, died last night at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. He was one of the luminaries of Olin College, he played a crucial role as a founder and did the equivalent of two or three full-time jobs without ever seeming tired. I often joked that Dr. M was the Olin professor "most likely to actually be a genetically-engineered cyborg".

A few days ago, President Miller informed the Olin Community that Dr. M's treatment had not gone as well as might be hoped, that despite doctors' best efforts, his condition was serious. (From the message, I realized that Dr. M might die, but even after reading that, I had not expected that he might die tomorrow.) As suggested, I sent Dr. M a note, saying that I'd very much enjoyed working with him, and that I remained determinedly optimistic that a great many Oliners might yet enjoy the same opportunity.

While it saddens me that future Oliners will not have the opportunity of working with Dr. M personally, I know that their lives will still be positively affected by his work. Dr. M will live on in the memories of those who knew him, in his contributions to academia, and in the institution of Olin College, which would not exist in its present form without his extraordinary skill and dedication. He will be missed.
l33tminion: (Skilled)
I continue to receive sporadic messages from recruiters, but the latest is more interesting than most. Evidently, Ning is looking to hire Olin students. It seems that their recruiter, Brad Fullenbach, was working as a recruiter for Google until recently, so maybe he knows about Olin through Google's recent Olin hires (seems more probable in light of the fact that he found me through LinkedIn, although it may just be that he was keeping an eye on the school for other reasons). The fact that he found me through LinkedIn but contacted me through Facebook is also interesting, I think he's the first recruiter to contact me that way.
l33tminion: (Emotopia)
Olin College, by consent of the remaining former directors of the Franklin W. Olin Foundation and a majority vote of the College Trustees, has amended the Founding Precepts of Olin College, item six, to reduce the Olin Scholarship by 50% starting for the class of 2014 (entering in Fall 2010).

I would like to say that I totally called the current crisis in my letter to President Miller back in 2004. I wish I had taken a less alarmist tone in that letter, maybe if I had, it wouldn't have been ignored. But let's be honest, it probably would have been ignored anyways.

What really saddens me isn't the abandonment of the founding precepts or the charging of tuition (although that's plenty sad, too). It's the lost opportunity to respond to the crisis with an experimental, innovative, radically creative solution. By responding with a conventional business solution, the administration has dealt a real blow to the Olin ethos, one that will likely remain even if scholarships are eventually restored.

Early Olin was a risk, and the students who signed on reflected that. Now, as the memory of that time begins to fade from the minds of the student body, Olin is in a critical time of transition. But just when leadership was most needed, the administration has wimped out.
l33tminion: (Conga!)
Saturday was the alumni association meeting and karaoke at Razzy's, which was fun, with promise of more alumni goodness in the future as the size of the group grows.

Sunday, I went out to Olin for Commencement. Mark (faculty) and Bootles ('09) both had good speeches, although the guest speaker was less impressive. The invocation and benediction were non-denominationally bland (in the "but we all believe in god, right?" sense) but insipid, I would have preferred something interesting, even if it was more explicitly religious. But it was wonderful to see so many of my friends graduate. Olin allows each student to choose a brief message (up to fifteen words) to be read with their name at graduation, there were a lot of clever or entertaining ones, but Gui upstaged everyone by using his fifteen words to propose marriage to his girlfriend, Jenn.

After, hung out with DJ, Ginneh, Mel, and Mark, then went with them plus Andrew to Sunset for dinner.

Can't believe it's been a year.
l33tminion: (Cory Doctorow)
Olin College is in an interesting predicament due to the recent economic mess. One of Olin's Founding Precepts (a binding agreement, part of the conditional grant from the Olin Foundation) requires giving full-tuition scholarships to all students (at least through 2020). Unfortunately, the endowment which pays for said scholarships has not fared well.

The precepts can be amended with written consent of the three remaining Olin Foundation directors and a majority of the Olin Trustees. The Trustees met recently and made some secret recommendation to the Directors. I'm hoping the Directors hold out on principle, but it doesn't look good.

Today, Olin's commencement events kicked off with an alumni reception and an alumni planning meeting with Olin's new director of business development (the guy who develops the relationships that provide for Olin's financial future). Being back on campus increased my optimism quite a bit, and the meeting even more so. The initial discussion ended up being quite interesting, then Mel (characteristically) suggested we split up into groups and brainstorm. In the brainstorming session, someone noted the need for a better alumni directory to facilitate Olin getting specific information to relevant alumni about ways they could help. I noted I could implement something basic in Google Docs, and the rest of my group said "well, you do that then". So I did. Worst case, it doesn't work (although I do hope people aren't mad at me for sending too many emails to alumni-all).

Was good to see a lot of the other alumni, too. I had an especially nice conversation with Maria, who was kind enough to give me a ride to the T after the meeting.

Looking Up

Feb. 23rd, 2009 07:46 pm
l33tminion: (Default)
This weekend was quite good. On Saturday I got out to Wellesley (for Yuki Matsuri, Japanese Club's winter event) and ended up taking a detour to Olin for a party, so saw a lot of friends I haven't seen in a while. I was also glad to see that the new Man Hall continues the Olin tradition of quality parties.

Saturday I went to All Star with Patti for lunch, then in the evening went to Sunset with Nikkie and DJ.

Today I might be meeting someone for tea who I met on OKCupid, but we'll see. She was going to call about timing, but I haven't heard from her yet.

My arm has been fine, too, but I'll have to see how that goes after my next real workout.
l33tminion: (Default)
I'm graduated, with a diploma and everything. I've moved into my new home. Seeing my family was very nice. I start work at ITA Software tomorrow.

Guess I'm in the real world now.
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