Saturday, January 29, 2005

Epic novel series

When it comes to Modern fantasy series, I've read quite a few of them:
-Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan
-Sword of Truth series by Goodkind
-RiftWar Saga by Feist
-The Belegariad by David Eddings
-Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams (his Otherland series scifi/fantasy/triller looks interesting too, and the quadrillogy is finished now, a big plus)
- The Thomas Covenant Saga (by Stephen Donaldson)

and some sci-fi / fantasy mix:
-Great Book of Amber by Roger Zelazny

I'm not very interested in the stereotypical fantasy with typical good /evil characters and cliched stories anymore -- I've read enough of them (ie Feist's, Eddings) or neverending series where each book is as long as the bible (Wheel of Time, Sword of Truth.)

I've told myself I'll never read another series that isn't yet completed -- reading a few 800 page novels, and then having to go back a few years later to re-read them for the next book can be quite challenging. The problem is you stop caring about the characters if you don't re-read the previous series. And what's the point of reading the next book if you don't care about the characters? Not much. That's Why I stopped reading Wheel of Time even though I really liked the series (of course, until Robert Jordan decided that a 800 page novel can contain no plot, no character development, and only pointless babble.)

Anyway, my favourite modern fantasy is by far:

The Song of Ice and Fire, by George RR Martin.

The 4th book is coming out this April, and the series will be 6 (and that's all) in length. Each book is like 800-1000 pages long, but it is a non-formulaic series with intrigue, grit, tons of interesting, non-cliched characters and this guy isn't afraid to kill them off! I like how each chapter is told from a different character's perspective, and the magic is subtle (for some reason, magic that is subtle always seems to work better in a movie/novel than overblown stuff.)

Still, re-reading 3 800 page novels is quite an adventure. Luckily there's a fan of the series making very indepth chapter by chapter summaries :)

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Movie: Pulp Fiction

I watched this movie yesterday. I tried watching it a few years ago, and was bored out of my mind. Since a lot of people seem to think it's great, I decided to give it another go.

It has some slow parts, but fun nevertheless / overall. Bizarre events, cool chatter. Definately a Tarsntino film. I can't say I much cared for Kill Bill 1 or 2, though. Perhaps after Pulp Fiction he let his success go to much to his head (The 4th Tarantino film!)

Another thing, why the hell does he act so much in his movies? He's a shitty actor. A lot of directors like to do bit parts in their own movies, but not where they blab on like an annoying bitch for a significant span of time (ie. his character in Pulp Fiction.)

Movie: Kinsey

I watched a fascinating film today, called Kinsey. It was about a biology professor who embarked on a scientific study on human sexuality, because it simply had never been done before.

Back in the 1940-1950’s, North American societies’ attitude towards sexuality was much different than it is today. Sex was not talked about and everything was kept in the closet. Religious and moral groups reigned and sanctioned only what they believed should be “normal” sexual behaviour. Modern Society has moved somewhat away from this, thank God, but the attitude is still there.

The main reason that this interested me was because I took a course in University called “Sociology of Sex”. Kinsey’s findings were used throughout. Guess he did a good job if the findings are still used today! I imagine it was very difficult for Kinsey to continue doing his research, when most of the powerful in society wanted it to stop, so that they could further their own beliefs.

I guess the moral of the story is… don’t let the “Man” get you down!

I highly recommend the movie. It covered a lot of issues, and made me wonder. I like movies like that. At the end of the movie, Kinsey is being asked survey questions that he designed. The interviewer notes that Kinsey had embellished on his whole sexual, personal, and career life, however, he never mentioned love.

Kinsey said that love cannot be measured, therefore it is not viable to study scientifically. In regards to love, we are all in the dark. Which is similar to the saying, love is blind. But that’s okay, it makes life more interesting ;)

Levels of Communication

On a somewhat related note, it occurred to me yesterday that I have to improve my communication skills. Communication is the key to relationships of all kinds. I broke personal audible communication into 3 steps:

1. “Hearing”- The brain simply receiving what the other person is saying.

2. “Listening” – The brain storing, and thus remembering, what was said.

3. “Understanding” – Really considering what the other person is saying, not just dismissing it and going by what you already know. Trying to relate to their situation, “putting yourself in their shoes.” If you are really understanding what the other person is saying, then you should be able to respond intelligently, and hopefully not totally piss the other person off.

I’m not deaf (yet), but I do have a horrible short term memory. So I’m working on #2 and #3. #3 is the most important. I think it’s helping.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Capstone Design

Well, it's only 2 weeks into the semester, and our group has decided on a senior design project. This idea has been around for about 10 years now, but no one has yet to perfect it. Basically, it replaces the camshaft on combustion engines (which have 1 timing only for the intake and exhaust valves, or very little flexibility) with a fully adjustable electronic solenoid system.

Siemens, among other companies, is also doing research on this. They believe it can improve engine performance by up to 10%.

Here's a block diagram of our design:

Anyways, hopefully we can get it finished with a working engine. It'll be tough, but I think we'll learn a lot. We are probably going to work on a small 1 cylinder or 2 cylinder engine.

A good thing is that the university will buy supplies for our design up to $250 a person. So we have $750 to buy everything. Hopefully one of my group members will get the small engine donated :)

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

George Carlin - A post on the direction of Modern Times

I received this "Spam" today, and thought it was quite insightful. George Carlin is one of my favourite comedians!


GEORGE CARLIN (His wife recently died...)

Isn't it amazing that George Carlin - iconoclastic and
mouthy comedian of the 70's and 80's - could write
something so very eloquent ...and so very appropriate post 9-11.

A wonderful Message by George Carlin:
The paradox of our time in history is that we have
taller buildings but shorter tempers, wider
freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more,
but have less, we buy more, but enjoy less. We have
bigger houses and smaller families, more
conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees
but less sense, more knowledge, but less judgment,
more experts, yet more problems, more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too
recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, g! et
too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read
too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our
values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.
We've learned how to make a living, but not a life.
We've added years to life not life to years. We've
been all the way to the moon and back, but have
trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbour.

We conquered outer space but not inner space. We've
done larger things, but not better things.
We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul.

We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice. We
write more, but learn less. We plan more, but
accomplish less. We've learned to rush, but not to
wait. We build more computers to hold more
information, to produce more copies than ever, but
we communicate less and less.

These are the times of fast foods and slow
digestion, big men and small character, steep
profits and shallow relationships. These are the
days of two incomes but more divorce, fancier
houses, but broken homes. These are days of quick
trips, disposable diapers, throwaway morality, one
night stands, overweight bodies, and pills that do
everything from cheer, to quiet, to kill.

It is a time when there is much in the showroom window and
nothing in the stockroom. A time wh! en technology can
bring this letter to you, and a time when you can
choose either to share this insight, or to just hit delete.

Remember, spend some time with your loved ones,
because they are not going to be around forever.
Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to
you in awe, because that little person soon will
grow up and leave your side.

Remember, to give a warm hug to the one next to you,
because that is the only treasure you can give with
your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember, to say, "I love you" to your partner and
your loved ones, but most of all mean it. A kiss and
an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.
Remember to hold! hands and cherish the moment for

someday that person will not be there again.

Give time to love, give time to speak, and give time
to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

Life is not measured by the number of breaths we
take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

If you don't send this to at least 8 people....who cares?
George Carlin

He's got the whole paradox idiocy of modern times quite down to the tee, if you ask me.

I always think to myself.. am I getting smarter, or is society as a whole getting stupider?

Well.... I don't really think I'm getting any smarter :)

Monday, January 17, 2005

Jan 14th, and on.

I'm trying to make a counter that will count the current number of days from Jan 14th on. I haven't figured out html code for it yet though.

# Days without a fight! :)

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Half Life 2

I haven't played many PC games lately, but Half Life 2 is perhaps the best action shooter I've played to date.

It strikes me as to why it's such a great game: it has an extreme amount of polish. Another developer's games that have this are Blizzard's. It shows because all the time you invest in the game is extremely fun because it's "fine tuned" to be that way.

Half Life 2 has it all for a great action game: lots of vehicles, great enemy AI, awesome graphics, great physics, the gravity gun, and more!


Last night me and Dani went to one of our favourite bars/hangout's, the Highway. The DJ there is really good, and Dani likes to sing Karaoke to her heart's content.

Anyway, I'm glad I had a few beers. Your mind gets a little displaced as you hear various people sing a fairly good version, actually, of Korn's Got the Life, then the Village People's YMCA, then Monster Magnet's Space Lord, then a slow dance song, then Kid's Rock's Bawitaba (I never thought there were actually words to that song!). A good time all round.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Some internet sites to see

Maddox's The Best Page in the Universe
This site is kinda like a blog. It's Maddox's hilarious view on various things, mostly in American culture. His humour is crude but cuts to the point. I like it.

How Stuff Works
Anyone who likes tech stuff or likes to tinker with stuff will love this website. Explains things in laymans terms from radios to car engines. I tell you this, I've learned more from this site than in 3 years of engineering. :)

Building a Balancing Scooter
Remember the Segway's? Those scooter type things that you just lean forward for it to go? This guy made his own for like $1000 worth of components. Pretty neat.

Caedes's Desktop Backgrounds
Basically a hangout for amateur photographers and computer artists. Lots of great desktop backgrounds.

Lots of interesting stuff on this site, from a fantasy name generator to "Book a Minute".

The Internet Movie Database

I've been becoming a movie enthusiast more of lately, and this site is simply awesome. The biggest database I've ever seen, and extremely convenient. Want to know what movies your favourite actor has played in, it's only a click a way.

The Internet Wayback Machine
See a website the way it was as far back as 1997. Or see just what news site's were reporting the day of the 9/11 attack.

Well, that's all I have for now.

Decisions, Decisions!

"Job" vs "Career". I sometimes wonder what this means exactly.

I figure a job is something you just do to earn money, and don't really care about.

A career is something you really want to do in life.

I took engineering, and then subsequently electrical engineering, because it's seemed the "logical" choice. I'm good at math, science, have a bit of creative flair, am interesting in physics/electronics/computer junk. It wasn't really a calling so to speak. Then again, I know of few people for who it was.

But now after 3 years of it and working in the auto industry, I find there's not a great deal of real "engineering" in Windsor.

Let me clarify. The engineering I want to do is design / research. That is, building or designing something and making it work. The Chief Operating Engineer at the Ford Powerhouse told me that one time, that would be an engineer's goal. His biggest achievement was getting the plant running after it had almost crashed ("operating engineer").

The engineering done at the Big 3 (at least from my experience at Ford) in Windsor (namely manufacturing) is what I would call "patch" or "maintenance"or "project" or "Management" engineering. Something small isn't working, figure out something you can purchase to fix it. Fix some logic in some PLC code. You might help design the overall part of a project, but mostly just the financial and purchashing stuff; the actual technical work is done by contractors. The one engineer I knew at Ford, who actually did engineering work when he was first there, designing the cold testing process, is now stuck doing bug testing with little or no support from the company. He'll soon move to bigger and brighter places.

Sure, there are some smaller companies in Windsor that do a bit of design work for Ford/Chrysler/GM, but you get about half the pay. Hrmm. I'm not all about money, but I'd like to live comfortably. I guess working at one of these companies would be good experience.

So I guess the question I should ask myself is, where should I work? There seems to be little opportunity in Windsor, the place I've lived my whole life, where all my friends and familiy are, and in one way I would like to stay. But another part of me wants to move away.

Anyways, my plan:

1 Look for potential jobs in this region (Windsor - Toronto) over the next 8 months.
2) If I don't find a job of interest, take a Master's of Engineering (already applied), take that (min 1 year), work on a design project, then ?

People tell me I'd be suited to be a professor or something. As much as the idea intrigues me, that's another 3 years or so after a Master's. I kinda want to get my life started, my own place, etc. I dunno.

I hate pondering stuff, but since this is a relatively important decision in my life ( "career"), I guess it doens't hurt.

Ah fuck it I already can't wait to chillax by the lake in May. :)

Difficulties with a small space

As my newly married friend Joe would say, it's entirely different living with someone than just dating them.

Compounding me and Dani's problem is that we live in 1 large room. So when we irritate each other, we are often stuck near each other, escalating the problem. We've lived together for 2 years now, and have been dating for 5, so it's something that will be alleviated a bit when we get our own place.

It's often hard to tell whether someone is mad at you, or frustrated with something else and you get the brunt end of it. I know that I do this all the time to people, especially Dani, even though it's wrong. Human condition I guess.

I think I need to learn more patience. More importantly, I think I need to try to calm down my "emotional unthinking". Occurs when I get really angry about something, and the brain stops working. Like, for instance, Dani will say something that pisses me off, I'll get real angry for like 2 mins, perhaps say something I shouldn't without realizing it. Then my brain "clicks" back in and I can be rational again, but by then it's too late, the gasoline has already been placed on the fire. ZUG ZUG LUCTAR, Erg!

Another problem I have is saying before I think. I often blurt out things I don't really mean, but then again, after you've said something, the damange is already done. Dani has an excellent memory, so if I say something stupid, she's going to remember. I can't hold that against her.

However, my problem is that my short term memory is about a good as a... what's a good metaphor..... well, nevertheless, it's really bad . I can't even remember what I said during the "emotional unthinking", so it makes it difficult to make a rational arguement afterwards.

Perhaps by thinking out my problems I will solve them , or atleast, that's the hope ;)

Gotta work at the important things in life.

Creation of my blog

My friend James recently created a blog. The idea intrigued me so I created one!

Not sure what I'm going to blab about yet.