Tuesday, March 11, 2008

In Retrospect

Depression makes you appreciate the little things

When I was severely depressed, I wouldn't/couldn't seem to

- enjoy music
- use smilies on IRC, and in everything else. Annoying as it may be, that's me ;)
- feel like my "nothing can phase me" "Matt the goof" (as I coined it to my therapist.)
- enjoy a high
- etc etc

When I got over it and then got them mostly back, I developed a new appreciation of just that: the little things.

Life is all about enjoying all of the little things along the way.

On that note, I simply don't know how some people get by -- remaining severely depressed for years and years on end. When you get to the point that absolutely nothing makes sense or brings enjoyment (which I never got to, thankfully)- you're risk of "accidentally jumping off the cliff" rise exponentially.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A note on absurdity

The US gov't has made many drugs illegal in it's history, many times for good reason, other not so much (come on, MJ is highly illegal, and alchol was during the Prohibition.)

Of course, the CIA had no problems giving LSD to tons of people without their knowledge in the 50's-70's, causing problems for many and suicide for some.

Seems a bit hypocritical, doesn't it?

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Work XMAS party

So, at work on Friday I wa bitching at the 3 other new guys, since they weren't coming to the XMAS party. I'm like, damnit, don't leave me to sit with Rick (the older excentric engineer who sits across from me.)

After slowly talking Dani into coming with me; we were a bit late because of the god awful border, but in time for the food! :) Carlos welcomed me to sit at his table with Jerry (the other manager, funny guy), another tech, and.. not Rick, but Rick Jr.

Good times all round; after 4 drinks and Dani's suggestion, I danced to Stevie Wonder's classic wedding/party tune.

I shook hands with the VP of Link, and he's like "glad to have you here. HR gave me a lot of shit to get you hired on, but I told them, you work for me, not the other way around." Heh. :)

The other day at lunch, the other guy who was hired on around the same time as me, noted that he had to take his drug test before he was actually hired (a good sign, ofcourse, as they doubt they waste the money for someone they aren't strongly considering.)

Anyway... I told him it was good that he took the drug test then, and not after his trip to Amsterdam he left for the next day.

Amsterdam rules! :)

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Gov. Mitt Romney meets a medical marijuana patient

The policies of the US federal government are often strange grandfathered laws, policies made often based on personal political gains rather than to make a "better" society.

Anyhoo, I can't attest to marijuana's "healing" nature, besides the fact it does work well for stomach ache / nausea (after all, marijuana in some form is often prescribed to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy.)

It seems to me a herb that you cannot overdose on (unlike almost every other legal medication, including alcohol and cigs.), logically, should not be classified in the same class as a hard narcotic. In most countries, including Canada, it isn't. In the US, however...

Then again, I guess that's just American culture thing, you could argue. Paranoia based on lies seems to go along very well with some logic. Perhaps if I was a religious person, and did things the bible and preacher told me to, I might see things differently.

To me, it seems most of the politicians there are very conservative, religious men, where religion/how they are brought up, is more important than what is actually correct (science.)

This guy is an example :)

Thursday, December 06, 2007


The US should invest all the money they have in "the War on Drugs" into increased funding for children, runaways, mental health, and how about.. better gun control. Perhaps that would have prevented the most recent shooting spree.

"The War on Guns".. I don't think that would make very much sense. Heh.

Marijuana? No way! Sex on television! No way! Tons of guns, everyone should own a gun, violence everywhere! Yep!


Wednesday, November 28, 2007


That was a heavy conversation.

Regarding my "situation" at work, Aerotek got back to me today and said there may be a waiver form that my supervisor could sign, and then called me back telling me I could no longer be employed through Aerotek, but that I should talk to Carlos in the morning about seeing them hire me on there.

That left me with hope but a bit of an uneasy feeling.

The recruiter then called me back about 20 minutes later; he's always been very friendly.

Anyways, he's like, man to man, this is no big deal. He informs me that I should know it normally only stays in your system 7-30 days, and that there is a product down the street in the pharmacy that will ensure you pass 100%. Good information to know.

I obviously thank him for being so helpful (as I was afraid Aerotek would take this the wrong way, so I tried to be as nice as possible.)

He then tells me I handled the situation in a very smart manner, by going to them and to my supervisor first. He goes on to mention what I should say, basically, "I really appreciate the opportunity to work here... would like to become a member of the team... I won't let you down... would have no problem taking a re-test". If he asks me how the problem occurred , I'll tell him that I used it on my honeymoon, as it was a present from my sister - which certainly is not a lie ;)

Also, he mentioned that Aerotek would ensure the job transition would go over carefree and smoothly.

Everything is going okay so far, I'm hoping it will go well tomorrow.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Damnit Jay

As far as I'm aware, Jay doesn't blog nor read blogs, especially my blog, hence the bluntness of the following muse:

Jay's always been weird: he prides himself in it, infact. I've really been thinking he's actually becoming quite a lot weirder lately, if you can believe it.

Jay sent a message a few days ago "Take Tina Kell of your list, because of this,that, and this other thing she did." First of all, it's none of my business, was the first thing I told him. Dani put it much more elaborately than I did:

"Jay you do realize that it's none of my business what goes on in their marriage, and frankly I don't think it's any of yours either. They may work it out, I've seen a lot worse., so as for me deleting her, I really don't care.
I never talk to her any way,but I think everyone should stay out of other peoples relationships and worry about their own shit"

Hopefully Jay takes that to heart: he has in the past, and enjoys to cause trouble in me + Dani's relationship. He has no business doing that, and really should stay out of his brothers.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Insurance companies...

I learned after watching "Sicko" by Michael Moore (which I realized is very biased against the US, nevertheless) that big surprise who started the HMO's in the US: Nixon. Why? I bet he got a cut of the profits that the HMO's would make by letting sick people die.

It seems to me, health care should not be denied to you if you have one of the million or so "conditions" that the HMO's have setup, such that you can't get insurance if you have them.

Never having to do a drug test for work before (I've only had a few jobs, most in Canada), it seems to me it's not about a safer workplace: it's about money.

Companies probably save money by ensuring all their employees are drug free... but let's wait a second here.

What's next? You can't smoke to get hired? Drink? Too much caffeine? Diabetes? Health problems? Genetics say you have to high of a risk for certain diseases/prepositions? Medicinal prescription of "illegal" drugs (morphine, marijuana, opiates, etc). Sorry. No job for you.

One of the reasons I'm glad I live in Canada: at least our government doesn't have their heads FULLY up their asses.

The US and drug screening

Ahhh... the absurdity of it all. When I went to my doctor/psychiatrist, and explained the situation, he's like "bloody stupid ass Americans" (yep, that's the way he said it.. heh.)

Anyway, back in early November, Aerotek (the recruitment company) informed me that they forgot to give me the drug screen.

The US is stupid about pot.. so I'm not going to say I use it. I tried the "flush method" that got me past the first part of the test, but apparently in the more detailed laboratory review, it spotted good ol' THC, and I got a call from the doctor (who was a uber bitch.. but hey, if I spent 8-10 years of school to become a doctor, and then tested piss all day, I'd be a bitch too.) The second hand smoke, haven't used it since my honeymoon in August "excuses" didn't work (she said it didn't matter, only a prescription.)

Hold on here.. so I fail the test if I smoked a joint 2 months ago (I did my reading after the test, unfortunately.. apparently THC metabolizes in your fat, and can stay around a very long time.) However, I could have snorted crack, popped some E, injected some heroin less than a week ago, but that's okay, and wouldn't show up on the test.

Logical system to me.;)

Anyway, although Aerotek has a 0 tolerance policy, after speaking with different individuals, I believe Link just has to have a clean screen on file for insurance purposes. Keeping my fingers crossed.

I asked my doc for advice (well, I had a slim hope that he might give me that perscription for MJ that would get me through the loophole.)

His opinion was what I was already thinking: if they like you, they'll keep you on. If they don't , it wasn't meant to be. I've spearheaded numerous projects so far, and my boss already wants to hire me on as a full employee. So I think I'm okay. In fact, I'm going to inform him before Aerotek gets a chance.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Working with Americans: what if Bush had made the right moves?

Is great overall!

Anyway, besides being made fun of (very funnily) of being Canadian in very many respects (eh!), the most notable interesting aspect has been learning political/social/cultural opinions of Americans.

Rick, the engineer who's been there the longest (and is very, eccentric?), and who happens to sit across from me, has very interesting opinions, which sometimes mirror my own, but most of the time are on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Anyway, he's a very educated, Republican. His views are logical, not just conservative in every way: he thinks as I do, that drugs should be legalized (even though his brother works for the "war on drugs" feds) .

Anyway, he noted to me that, although Bush did not win with a major% of the people's votes, neither did Clinton in either of his 2 terms (although, I pointed out to him, that Clinton never had an under 30% approval rating.) He argued that Ross Perot ate up 12% of the votes, most of which would have been Republican votes (that's arguable), enough to sway the vote either way.

An interesting break-up of Republican/Democrat parties: Democrats hold almost all the large cities, and Republican the rest :) I wonder if Canada would have a similar structure with the Conservatives / Liberals (which, really, are the only 2 significant parties.. the Bloq are a joke and the NDP too underpowered.)

According the him, the biggest mistake the current administration made was to not the War on Iraq seriously, right away.

He's right: had the US went into Iraq with perhaps 2-4X the force, and ready for a semi-long war, the sectarian violence would never have escalated to this level,the Iraqi people would have had better supplies/infrastructure (i.e. working electrical grid). Bush would have been praised for saving Iraq and "winning" a battle on terrorism, instead of being damned for muddling it up.

Ultimately: Cheney, Bush, and his government gambled on a war in Iraq (and are still struggling to win.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Starting a career... while finishing master's

So.. I found a job at Link Testing Laboratories in Detroit, as a software engineer. I'm making custom vba applications for reporting, data aquisition, etc. The staff there is really great, which helps!

Thankfully, it only takes me about 20 mins (10 mins border time) to get to work everyday (about the distance to Tecumseh from the West End, just you're going a lot faster.)

Things are going good on the job front, but, big surprise, I'm having further problems with my thesis supervisor. I told him 3 months ago I was looking for a job, and he was cool with it. Now he's pissed, apparently; perhaps he didn't expect me to find something so soon.

In retrospect, I would have did a master's under the supervision of someone who wasn't a complete asshole, but alas, that's life.

I've almost completed a now 18 page journal paper (which will basically be most of my content of my thesis, just expanded a bit and add appendices/etc). However, the visiting student in the lab found a defficiency with my hardware setup, and just HAD to report it to Dr Chen... it had a problem I couldn't find the solution to, so instead of completely solving it, I setup the simulation such that the condition never occurred.

This student unintentionally created a lot of headache for me; at least he apologized after Chen talked down to us both for like an hour.

Why I didn't tell X Chen about it? Well, he's an asshole about everything, that's why. He threatened to call my current boss and get me fired (yep... he did). I gave him the evilest look when he said that: getting my master's is important to me, but this guy takes the cake, and I'm no longer afraid to stand up to him (he doesn't like this.)

Infact , after discussing with other students, the only type to get along with him are complete pushovers, or perhaps people more culturally inclined to his assholicness; it's no surprise the lab now has mostly students with a similar nationality to him.

I've put a lot of work into this master's work - I'd like to finish it, but it seems a bit out of my control. I discussed with Chen a new circuit configuration that I found recently that should remedy the limitation, and implemented it last night (still got to work out some kinks, doesn't work yet.) I can't let Chen get me down (he's EXTREMELY good at this) -- which is what he's trying to do, have me give up so he no longer has to deal with me. He ain't getting off that easy.

You know, there's only a few people I've ever met or dealt with that I can say I hate. I can say that for Dr. Chen - he drove me almost to the depths of madness when I took to heart most things he said. He put me down, time and time again ,and again, and again ( a note to Chen: telling people they suck is not a good motivator.) For better or for worse, I probably won't have to see him after January: Thank God.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Oh, sure, Blog's now replaced by Facebook

Yep... that's the fact folks. No one uses their blog's anymore. It's all about facebookin'.

Which I don't mind.. I like facebook :) I still don't check it enough, as my soon-to-be-wife Dani reminds me :)

Anyway, I'm still struggling to finish my Master's... but I've learned that I can't get down about things that are seemingly out of my control.

I sent my supervisor an email the other night, with a copy of the paper for the American Control Conference attached.. I also reminded him of the dates I'd be gone for my wedding / Honeymoon.

He said.. to my amazement .. "1 week isn't long enough for wedding/honeymoon". Gosh, for a guy so against everything I do, this was a pleasant surprise.

Too good to be true: later on during the Controls exam which we were proctoring, he said to me " I was going to say something else about your wedding, but I decided not to because you'd hate me for the rest of your life".

Good job buddy. Maybe I would have had to just sock you one this time :)

I don't know how Ali did it: a total of 7 years (2 master's/5 phd) under said supervision. I'll give it to him, he must have the patience of a saint.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

On Dieting

A few months back Dani "enrolled" in the Dr. Bernstein Diet. I had been following it with her, but eating a bit more since I didn't get as much supplements (just taking a multivitamin.)

Well.. I somehow cut those cravings for carbs, don't use any more oils, etc, etc.

I lost ~40-50 lbs in 3 months. Dani lost more.

After going to the school doctor (what can I say.. I don't much care for my family doctor), she pointed out that losing that much weight fucks up your body chemistry and puts a lot of stress (even if you don't realize it at first) on your body.

This explains my sensitive mental state in the past few weeks. Lesson learned ;)

It wasn't just my imagination either: MIT researchers discovered carbs crank up serotonin.

Interesting... so eating carbs triggers serotonin production in your body (which in turns regulates mood and appetite.) So.. if your serotonin production is low, you could take a medication, or eat a lot more carbs.

Down in the dumps? Eat some pasta.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Real men of genius: Mr Taco Salad Inventor

MMM... Beer. I'll have a diet coke with that 12,000 calorie salad. I'm watching my weight.

You know, Bud Light is actually really good. However, it's too damn weak for my liking. It almost makes Coors Light seem strong :)

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.. that's a mouthful.

This guy is quite the loon... first and foremost, he denies that the Holocaust ever happened (there are seriously people who think that?). Furthermore, his demeanor is that of a nutcase.

I mentioned this idiot to people who come from Iran... big surprise, they think he's an idiot too. A good % of the grad students in EE are from Iran (perhaps because the most well know prof in the department is from Iran.)

Here's hoping Bush and Blair squash this idiot soon. I'm getting sick of seeing his fugly mug in the news ;)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Mac vs PC Parody: The Unspoken Message

Maddox, you cynical bastard.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Do you know where Concordia University is?

Well, during a discussion with my supervisor , he mentioned he was going to Concordia the rest of the week to attend a phd defense.

I asked him where that was... simple question, right, simple answer, I thought? I asked and he just kind of grumbled. Later, before I left his office, I asked him again out of curiosity and he said, "What are you, stupid ?".. pause (no he didn't say pause, though I bet the people who do the local A Channel news would read pause aloud) ..."It's in Montreal. Ask your Dad, I'm sure he'll know ".

At this point, I realized trying to get my supervisor to look over my results would be fruitless.

Well, I'm sorry, Jesus Christ, I didn't know where some stupid University in Quebec was. I don't even know them all in Ontario!

So, to test to see if my supervisor is really full of shit, I asked my fellow lab guys , "where's Concordia U?" - only 2 of 5 had any clue; only 1 answered correctly.

My supervisor picks bad students, aparently; 80 % of them are stupid.

Anyways, I asked my dad, and he had the answer on the tip of his tongue: he recognized the name from local sports competitions (Lancers) . My dad didn't know, thank god, else I'd really be in trouble. :)

Earlier my supervisor said " I don't know what I can do.. it's not like I can beat you". You know, I'm twice the weight of my supervisor, I bet... but I wouldn't want to try to fight him. Something tells me he knows Kung Fu or something. I know he was a champion ping pong player in China.

Earlier in the day I went to speak with him; he was busy talking to another of the guys in the lab, and he had this extremely disgruntled look on his face.

I thought to myself, as I think to myself now: this guy needs to smoke a joint, in a real bad way. I told the guys in the lab "I think he needs to relax I bit"... I'm sure they know what I meant :)

Monday, March 05, 2007


Dani asks me sometimes "how do you put up with your supervisor"?

Lately, I've been asking myself the same question.

I've kinda given up arguing with the guy; I can learn a lot from him, so I just bear with it and just agree with him to let the argument go. At that point, who was wrong or right in the conversation no longer matters; he's right in his mind, and I'm right in mine (or at least mostly right, there's always a shade of gray.)

Things are working out conveniently for me, actually; Since I don't think he's bothered to read my supplementary reports, some of which he's asked me to write, I've already obtained the experimental results for a "new" solution he wants me to implement after our discussion today . My gain there, as the work is already done :)

Anyway, the reason I can tolerate this guy is because I've dealt with much worse at Ford.

Like... my supervisor's supervisor at my last work term. It was impossible to reason with the guy at all, plus he had a major power trip attitude.

Wednesday, February 28, 2007

The world needs a new Lennon

Heh.. today, Cheney was in audible distance of a suicide bombing... I wonder how he lives with himself knowing he had a big part in making the problem.

That's Karma for ya, Cheney... next time you might not luck out so much, and might be in the middle of the blast (this is what Karma tells us is likely to happen). If I were him, I'd stay clear of the whole region, else I'd really would feel I'm "pushing my luck".

I watched "The US VS John Lennon" yesterday; good movie. If Lennon were alive today, he'd probably be boggled out of his mind "Why are the exact same mistakes made in the 60's/70's being made again today?". The Bush administration needs to review their history, I think. To think... Vietnam just ended in the 70's... it's only 30 years later, and here the Western world is, making the exact same mistake (just it's Terrorism now, it was Communism then). I know history repeats itself, but come on, it's only about 30 years!

This shouldn't be a surprise: the average North American only has a 10 minute memory, anyway (damn TV).

Anyway, the Nixon administration had this normal joe put to jail for 9 1/2 years for possession of 2 joints (........ murderers hardly get 9 1/2 years, great justice system there.. :) )

Lennon sang a song, that he wrote for this normal joe, at a peace rally soon thereafter, saying "Nixon/Supreme Court Judge, you're full of shit, release this guy". The next day the jailed guy was released, as the Supreme Court came to their senses.

Of course Lennon was right; Nixon was full of shit, and resigned for the Watergate scandal not too long after. If the Bush administration had any integrity (which they don't), they would have resigned back in 2003 for their massive farce of Iraq.

Then again, the Republicans learned after Nixon was axed. The key here is, do lots of illegal stuff... just don't get caught! :)

Monday, February 26, 2007

Conan and Jim Carrey Talk Quantum Physics

Heh.. it's funny when regular people people talk about quantum physics :)

No matter what field you are in, everything comes down to pi... mmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.... pie.

Anyway, I discovered on Saturday night:
drinking super sweet frozen drinks with tons of vodka, followed by chugged beer, followed by numerous chugged Saki (it's good stuff!), equals a bit of praying to the porcelain god

Saturday, February 24, 2007

It's official

Let's see.. Cheney mentioned in a conference today that military action against Iran (due to their refusal to participate with the UN in nuclear programs) is now considered on the table.

So.. let's see.. Bush and Cheney are out of most influence by 2008 elections (assuming the Democrats win); they decided to invade Iraq even though they had no real proof of "weapons of mass destruction".

Here, they have proof, and this Iran president is a fucking loon, is an Invasion of Iran next, and soon?

"It's easier to say your sorry than to ask permission".

Me thinks that is Bush's current rationale.

Hey, his administration is knee deep in a failed Iraq conquest, why not try to take over Iran? They have more oil than Iraq I bet, anyway. Perhaps if, against all odds, he could succeed in Iran, Bush's ratings would go up, and he could get re-elected; or at least, ensure a Republican gets re-elected.

All he needs to win in Iran is a massive increase in soldiers to Iraq/Iran: just send the whole fucking US and Allied Army to the region and declare major martial law; either shoot or chop of the hands, feet, and nose of any terrorists who attempt to get through the protected borders of the region. Stop fucking around over there, either go big or go home, I say ;)

Why not? FDR got re-elected a 3rd time during WW2; all Bush needs to do is start a reasonable sized war in the Middle East (which I'd say he has already).

Soon for Iran? Well, this move would have to be soon... all that's needed is Mr. Crazy President of Iran to make a bit bolder of a move...

Hopefully, of course, with Bush's low approval ratings, his administration might not be able to get away with all this. Cheney wants to get away with it: he's like the big fat guy who feeds on oil (he is an Oil exec too after all). He wants oil, and more of it, damnit, and Bush listens to Cheney.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

The "Global Warming" debate - people just don't get it

All this debate over whether Global Warming is indeed "real" or "not".


I live in Windsor.. if I drive 5 hours North, I can "smell" "feel" the air being cleaner. I don't need a global scientific study to tell me that.

The world needs to reduce it's dependency on fossil fuels, not just because of the environment, but that's certainly a good reason!

I realize that, unless the theories of fossil fuels being "renewable" are true, that in say 20-30 years time (I'm still living I hope), our supply of oil will start to dwindle, or it will be come uneconomical and inefficient to draw the last remaining spots where oil is in abundant, yet hard to extract locations.


The right move is to move more and more towards renewable energy sources, as fast as possible, to avoid a massive world crisis 20-30 years from now. We shouldn't need "global warming" to force us to do this, but maybe we do.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Some final thoughts on religion / politics and power

If science is the best thing we have to "logic" (although, come on now, some of the new science "branches" I'm not sure are always that logical), what's politics? Religion?

Religion - since for better or for worse, human beings are spiritual in nature. We wonder about an afterlife, we are the only "intelligent" beings on the earth (one could argue Dolphins are smarter, it happened in the Simpsons) , the world around is supernatural (although more is considered "natural" as we discover more.) So the concept of God, someone who ultimately created this world around us, is natural.

Religion is "organized" spirituality. Ideally, people should join a religion for a sense of community, spiritual fulfillment, etc. However, such is not the case in practice. In practice, "those people in power" seemingly more often than not, force their brainwashing upon their "followers" for pursuits of power. Examples: the Crusades, mass Muslim conversion by the sword, Muslim terrorist extremists, Christian extremists, etc etc.

That's why religion bugs me. I'm a spiritual guy, but religion it's just a tool that seemingly goes wrong more often than not, because well, most things are like that (politics, for example.). Humans are humans: some are greedy, some are perverts, pedophiles, assholes, all round nice people (we'd like to hope most fit this category), it doesn't matter if their priests, politicians, lawyers or janitors.

The problems in the world today are in part due to religion, but in the end, it's not really religion: it's religious people getting caught up in a power struggle.

For example,

The US

It's current leader clearly does things for religious regions, ie. stem cell research, that fucking retarded joke of a president. He also does things because him and all of his friends are oil gurus, but I won't get on to that.

Then there's the Muslim terrorist situation: in a largely poverty stricken region, where a group of wealthy rich oil tycoons live in prosperity, which situation the US makes better (and much worse) through it's foreign policies.

This situation is a breeding ground for "rebellion", and the Muslim religion is it's tool. Similarly, politics aren't the problem, it's the people in charge, and also, the systems themselves, and human nature.

It's hard for me to take organized religion serious when their leaders are so in denial of the world around them. Also, the Bible is the biggest "joke" ever when taken seriously, and woe to our world right now for the extremists who do (this also goes for the Koran,etc).

PEOPLE are blowing themselves up and raising people as Bush lovers, ultimately, based on what some people wrote 2000-6000 years ago and has been rewrote a zillion times in the world's biggest game of "phone tag". I've read some of the Bible, it's cool and all, but taking it "word for word" has got to be one of the most absurd things I've ever heard of.

Perhaps I'll become a buddhist -- I've never heard of buddhist name attached to terrorism; I can't say the same for "my" religion, or any of the other "Abraham God" religions: Jewish, Christian ("Catholicism" being a subbranch), Muslim.

Buddhists believe in balance in life, karma, etc etc.

The Bible is ridiculous:

Part 1: The vengeful God who zaps people with lightning and petrifies them for being gay, and then we're supposed to believe the same "God" wished the New Testament, Part 2, to be divinely written by the gospel people.

Part 2: Love is good, Jesus says so (much better message than the Old Testament.) Too bad some people read between the lines too much...

So, let me get this straight, the Divine God, creator of the 10 Billion + year old galaxy, 6 billion year old planet, whose natural laws make the world go round, made a big lapse in judgement in the Old Testament days, and then had a change of heart?

Anyway, I'm reminded of the song lyrics:

Mick Jagger:
"I watched with glee
While your kings and queens
Fought for ten decades
For the gods they made
I shouted out,
Who killed the Kennedy's?
When after all
It was you and me

The world is as it is because of people I mentioned before. Is Mick Jagger singing about the devil? Or the human result of many leaders conquest of power? Is this really any different than what's going on today? Somehow I don't think so.

I hate to use the US / middle east as examples: Our PM is not much better- Harper's an idiot who follows dumbass ideologies. Sure, he's going with the environment thing now, but only because he has to "go with the flow": those ice caps are a meltin', and people are taking notice. He didn't even have a plan and just borrowed the Liberals. I hope the Liberals get him kicked out early like he did to them (as it turns out, some people the Conversatives falsely accused of financial scandals.)

What will a PHD take?

So.. this PHD will require:

good supervisor
my supervisor is being pushy lately, but that could mean he's just concerned about me finishing my defense by May (as that seems to be the target of one of the other guys in my lab.)

-then again, I know we don't communicate very well. The thing is, I'm not sure if any of the professors at Windsor in EE would be "better" than X Chen. What I mean is, some are either likely more of a "hard ass" then his, retiring this year, not doing research I'm interested in, etc. However, I can think of the new EE prof ( Stephen O'Leary, who I'm TA'ing for) who I'd likely get along with well - I joke around with him a lot ... as a supervisor, who knows?.

- If I choose a different supervisor (and probably subject area) I lose a lot of time. I'm just getting used to literature in my subfield of control systems. Additional background survey work would take 4 months. I have a hardware platform to validate my ideas, which would lose me at least another 4 months time to build another for another subject area entirely. Approx 8 months.

- passing the comprehensive (which basically means you have to know the 8 core subject areas of UofW undergrad program in EE). I have an advantage here is that I have old "comprehensives" from which to study, know the curriculum well, and the professors who make the questions.

problem to focus on, proper motivation

Electric Power steering is interesting.. but not that interesting anymore to me anymore. The advanced motor drive control I've developed could potentially be applied to other types of electromechanical systems.


"Active Suspension" -- the idea has been around for a while, but no product yet available on a commercial vehicle. Bose is working on one.

"Brake by Wire" "Steer-by-Wire (no mechanical linkage, drive with a joystick!)".. I've did enough Steering stuff. I'd prefer to keep my mechanical linkage, thank you. It's the best "fault tolerance" you can design for a steering system. That is, if the electronics in your car fail, you don't die. ;)

Electronic braking (ABS) and EPS (electric power steering) are pretty much standard on vehicles now a days.

Hyrbid and electric vehicle technology are somewhat readily available, but again, could be improved by better controls I'm sure. Some of these systems get into heavy vehicle based modeling; I know the electric actuator part better.

Problem: these above subjects have been tackled even more then EPS.

So.. what then.....

Return to our Capstone 4th year project!

The fully varied, linear electric motor actuated, intake and exhaust valves to open and close IC engine valves.

Our system used "linear motors" (solenoids); the main limitation here was the size/power ratio of the solenoids could not meet the demands to drive the IC engine fast enough. However, I know hobbyists who have mastered the idea: it works, but doesn't work very well.

Our design used just a one-way solenoid to open the valve, and a spring to return it. Simple, and cheaper, is better here: more mechanical parts mean more wear. On a 6 cylinder 4 valve engine, that's 24 seperate actuators that would be needed. They need to have simple drivers, be heat efficient (being on the engine cylinder heads). However, changing the control design (assuming you don't have to add many sensors, which is the focus of my current research) just means adding some lines of code to your microcontroller.

Besides, there's many control objectives for the actuator:

- it needs to have a smooth motion (preferably "fit" the sinusoidal cam profile);
- it needs to deliver that power fast (as valves open, hold, and then close each time your engine makes a revolution... that goes past 7000 RPM!).
- there must be enough force available initially to ensure the actuator begins to move.
- Once the solenoid is done opening the valve, it needs to apply only the power required to hold the valve open, not more (as this wastes energy, and dissipates tons of heat in the solenoids.)
- Variable Valve timing required (this can be done with a few hall effect sensors mounted on an IC engine, as per our Capstone.)
- Variable valve lift required
- You need to dynamically control the position of valve (variable valve lift) - preferably without more hardware.

So, the controller here probably HAS to be complex. EPS only 3 basic objectives, in comparison, and dynamics are more linear. So, it's a good target for advanced control design. I suppose advanced aircraft engine or actuators would be interesting, too ( a fellow grad student is working on advanced design for a jet aircraft engine.)

All this implies you need to know information about your system to make better "control decisions" to make the actuator work better. You can certainly measure the force of the actuator (by measuring the current with a $0.01 resistor). You might might need speed/position information to do this, or know, or at least estimate, the "gas" force holding down the solenoid.

Indeed, my idea is perhaps more important now. Not having to add a $20 tachometer or $200 torque sensor to your steering assembly is still a big deal; having to add 24 high speed position sensors to the valve actuators would be expensive and a wiring/failure nightmare.

Most current industry research solutions use a dual acting valve -- that is, 2 solenoids, which allows you to use weaker springs and solenoids. No commercialized product, yet, though.

So, if my supervisor wants to get into more demanding, state of the art, vehicle/engine controls, this is the way to go.

Finally, I would have to:
-pass the comprehensive (which basically means you have to know the 8 core subject areas of UofW undergrad program in EE). I have some advantages: I have old "comprehensives" from which to study, know the curriculum well, and the professors who make the questions.

I figured out some things:

1) My supervisor and I were looking at my master's thesis problem much different: I found a solution to a similar problem recently published in literature in order to solve the problem he gave me: "Fault tolerant control for an EPS"; my idea was to combine other methods to improve said performance. That's what he has been saying for over a year now, as to what I need to do to get my master's (which implies a publishable(s) result).

2) I look at the research in what I can do to finish my master's -whereas my supervisor wants papers suitable for good publication.

3) I've learned a few things about "what a suitable paper is".
- it must be published, preferably, in a prestigious journal
- the problem must seem overly complex: trying to simplify a problem to a readable level gets your paper jettisoned quickly.
-this makes a PHD a nightmare, since your main job is to "defend" is to have a published paper(s) in "good" journals.
- in order to do this, your contribution "to the known scientific and technological knowledge" must be "significant".

The requirements of a PHD sound pretty vauge to me, heh. However, my "variable valve" idea has one advantage: there's little to no literature out there on the subject! Most info is a tightly held industry secret, as there are no commercial designs available.

4) Getting a PHD is a game of psychology. The hardest part is keeping yourself motivated enough to finish.

5) "Engineering" does not equal "research". Engineering is to implement/design based around an idea, based on scientific principles. Journal paper publishing research only overlaps engineering sometimes. :)

5) I learned truly "what I'm good at". Quite simply, I'm good at focusing on one thing at a time, and trying my best to finish it. Unfortunately, this makes me bad at most other things besides "nerdism" and "booksmartism" (like multitasking, or cooking a large multi-course meal).

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Wow, what a day . . . . . . . . life direction, and more (long)!

I get bitched out by my supervisor for like 4+ hours!

Well, that's a bit of an exaggeration.

There was a 40 minute weekly group seminar and 35 minutes of me waiting in the faculty lounge waiting for "I'll just be a minute" him talking to a fellow faculty member. I didn't mind waiting, as I was talking to a friend / fellow grad student.

He calls me back over to see him, and I get up, and as I walk into his office, and he says, at once,
"What took you so long ?????", and I said "Well... I don't know what you are talking about, I was just saying goodbye to a colleauge about 20 seconds", and he quickly went back to discussing my research. Him and the prof are friends and chummy chummy, so he was he mad at me or what?

Throughout this 4 hour discussion, he thought I was wrong, and he was right. Which is good, which makes me "defend" the idea --- he wants me to ready for my defense in May.

This today, after he asked me yesterday: when do you plan to do your 2nd seminar? My answer was April-May area. One of my fellow master students in the lab (who started the same time I did) is doing his 2nd seminar March 6th. I have some results, and just need to get 1 more, before I'm ready, I suppose. Throwing together a presentation isn't quite as long as writing the thesis, which I figure I can write in 2 weeks with solid editing / organization hints from my supervisor. I gave him for the next 8 weeks or so (by the end of April), then. I think I can at least meet that.

Let's just say communication with my current supervisor is difficult, since we think on entirely different wavelengths a vast majority of the time. Lots of times when I've tried to present my ideas or preliminary results, he shrugs them off as insignificant. He tries his best, in his own way, and I try my best, in my own way, but... :)

I can't help to think my supervisor is a bit of eh... I don't want to say asshole, but just a hard ass, so to speak. After chatting with fellow students in the lab (one about to finish his PHD), I realize most everyone else thinks of him the same way: he's tough to get along with, expects a lot, and tries his best to make you a good researcher, even if he has to be a hardass, I guess.

So here I am, at a "CrossRoad" in my life. If I can manage to start a PHD (with a continued scholarship) and teach, I should do it. If I can finish the PHD in a reasonable 2 - 2 1/2 years of study (and I'll have to know by the end of 1 year of study), that would be ideal.

I was speaking with my friend Eric (my friend Joe's brother) while waiting for X Chen in the faculty lounge today. He's looking at the job market to (trying to finish up his Master's in Mechanical Engineering.)
While shooting the shit, he asked me what my plans were, and I told him of teacher's college, possible PHD, job.. blah blah. Then he mentions "Why stay in Windsor?" - family/friends.

Then he tells me of jobs in California, such as at Lockheed -- jobs requiring a PHD in EE, ME, comp science, etc or other technical field - which start at $110K a year. Wow- but I'm sure the cost of living is through the roof.

So, with said PHD plan, the job market is open to anywhere, even in most of Ontario, with good salaries. Post-doc positions at companies pay much better than academia (obviously.) I could also try to find a professorship, but those are hard to come by these days, but not impossible. Teaching high school physics/math would also be cool, as I would also have my teacher's certificate too.

I don't want to get ahead of myself, though... a PHD is serious business. They don't call you doctor for nothing (Ross.. you're not a real Doctor!).

It's like a much more serious, longer, and vigorous master's. Choosing a good supervisor, problem to focus on, proper motivation, and having research skills are a must.

So.. I have to consider said factors. Those "how to survive grad student" guides become more real.

So... I want to finish a PHD fast (2 1/2 years). This means a lot of hard work, but doable, maybe.