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Posts Tagged ‘Life’

TIL: Music Festivals

September 22nd, 2013 No comments

This weekend I attended Music Midtown 2013. The music was good, the sound quality and video work was excellent, but there were some downsides that I’m going to enumerate for myself so maybe, possibly, I’ll come back to this before buying tickets to another music festival.

  1. It’s cool to go with a group of people, but don’t insist on hanging with them for every single show, especially when there are multiple stages. Not everyone has the same taste in music.
  2. If there is just a chance of rain, be sure to already have panchos/other rain gear. Man was that field muddy!
  3. It’s nice to hear the music, but you don’t get the vibe of the band if you aren’t near the stage. When there’s an artist you like, get there early and camp it.
  4. If someone forgets their ticket, don’t let them hold up the group who’s made plans to be there on time/early. They can cab down and ride back with you.
  5. If one of your goals is to be drunk throughout the majority of the festival (assuming you have transportation of course), getting drunk beforehand can work quite nicely to be maintained via the overpriced light beers at the festival.
  6. Since there is no need to constantly be with your group every second of the festival, setup regrouping places and times so there’s no worries of “no cell service and can’t find people, now what?”

I’ll add more if I think of more, but those seem to be the big takeaways.

Behind Again

October 8th, 2010 No comments

So it would seem that I can’t keep up with my desired blogging output (of at least one post a week). It’s been… a while since my last post to say the least! My focuses lately have been with applying to jobs, working for my part-time job (continuation of my summer job), keeping up with academia, and a bit of recreation in the form of beating Fable 2 last night. So, that brings me to what I am going to post about over the next week or so (and actually post about, not just “want” to post about).

  • A review of Fable 2: I believe I did a review of Fable 1 way back when I played that, so might as well do a follow-up.
  • The jobs I am applying for and what opportunities I am presently interviewing for (this is likely to be my next post actually).
  • My senior design project: we are actually working on a pretty cool concept, but I really don’t like the restrictions to what technologies we have to work with. Expect a rant on this subject…
  • Other subjects that come to mind, maybe my entrepreneurship class project…? Depends if I want to release this idea into the wild since it is a bit more unique.

The plan is to do the job offer applying one this weekend, and have it post on Monday. Then knock out the next one by the end of Monday and have it post late next week, etc. Basically the time-table I WAS working with before I started getting lazy about it.

My Taglit Trip to Israel

May 27th, 2010 1 comment

Yeah, that’s right, I went to Israel. It was pretty awesome actually to get to see the country, not to mention it was an experience I won’t ever forget. Most would say that they won’t forget seeing Israel because they are more religious now, or because a sight in Israel really touched them, but for us, this trip was all about the connections to others that we made. The group of people that we had the opportunity to go with was absolutely awesome! I could not imagine a better group of people. By the end of it, we were more akin to family than simply close friends. I will go through some of the sights we got the opportunity to see, and then talk about the best part of the trip a bit further. The trip itself is called “Taglit-Birthright” and is a free opportunity that college students can take advantage of, if they are between the age of 18 and 25.

So every day was basically non-stop. We were doing 12 hour days from the time we touched down in Israel. Our plane left Newark airport at 2:30 PM on 5/10, and hence landed at 7:30 AM on 5/11 (local time) in Israel. Not one to waste time, we were seeing sights all day WITHOUT any sleep for pretty much any of us. We landed, and started the trip in Jaffa. From there, we went to a market for lunch and then moved on to Independence Hall in Tel Aviv and Rabin Square. Independence Hall is where the country was declared a sovereign Jewish state, and Rabin Square is where Rabin (one of the leaders of Israel in the 90’s) was killed during his term. We then ended the first day on Mount Scopus.

Mount Scopus deserves a little bit more of a description. Firstly, it is just outside of Jerusalem, and gives a gorgeous view of the city along with the Dome of the Rock. Also, it is the home of one of the Israeli universities and did I mention it is gorgeous up there at sunset? This is where they welcomed us, officially, to Israel, served us challah and wine, and provided some music to encourage some ethnic dancing (of which there was lots of). At this point, we have ONLY had one day in Israel, and that hasn’t even included sleep yet!

The next day started with a tour of the Jewish Quarter of the old city, and a little exploring around there, but was focused around the visit to the Western Wall. I had REALLY high expectations about the connection I would feel when I got to touch the Western Wall, but I unfortunately had TOO high of expectations for the experience. When I touched the Wall, I only saw all the people around me who were affected more, and I regret not taking the moment to truly go within myself. I wish I had allowed myself to be more introspective, but sadly I did not, and this is the ONLY regret of my entire trip!

The Western Wall was followed by dinner and a thing they called the “Mega Event,” but that was just a huge opportunity for them to talk about how great Birthright is and how it has been around for 10 years, etc. The next day started early with a talk from a man named Avraham Infeld. As speakers go, Avraham was amazingly good, and the sad room he talked to us in was an embarrassment to the message he was trying to tell us. The greatest quote from him was that “Judaism is not a religion” and that it is a culture and a people and a connection that we all have. He continued by telling us many stories about his life experiences, how he grew up hearing that Judaism is not a religion, and that to others, Judaism is a religion and not a culture. It depends on the person, their upbringing, and many other factors that shape that opinion in a Jew’s life. However, the crux to it all was that we are all a family. We are connected to each other in an almost indescribable manner that goes deeper than any religion truly can (he also inserted a plug here for all of us to move to Israel). His talk was definitely a highlight and learning experience!

We then followed Avraham’s talk with a visit to Yad Vashem. For those who don’t know, Yad Vashem is a Holocaust Memorial Museum. But calling it that understates its importance and connection to anyone and everyone who has learned about the Holocaust, not just Jews and other peoples who lost loved ones during World War II. You can equate much of the memorial to the one in Washington D.C., and as a result, many of the images had been seen by me before and were a little less profound, but the final room is where I was truly touched. Of the 6 million Jews who died in the Holocaust, they have managed to collect in this final room boxes upon boxes of identifying information for 3 million of the men, women, and children who died. For many of them, this includes pictures of them before the war and information about their birthdays and country of origin. For others it is simply a name and the signature of a relative who survived saying it was so. Seeing this room, being able to truly grasp the enormity of 3 million, really hit home for me compared to the entirety of the rest of the memorial.

The next day, we met the soldiers who would be with us for the next 5 days, and volunteered at a local soup kitchen. Since the soldiers were THE highlight of the trip, let me say a little bit more about them here, and then I’ll move on to a description of Mount Herzl. In America, we imagine soldiers as burly men, or the depiction of them in Jarhead and other movies. Israeli soldiers are very different. Their military is based upon all men and women serving 3 years, and being in the reserves well into their 40’s (or maybe right up to 40). As a result, the soldiers are no different than myself when out of uniform. The group of 8 soldiers who joined our group for 5 days had something even more special than that. They connected with us. Each and everyone one of the 40 people who went to Israel in our group. We hung out with them at night, joked with them during the tour, cried with them at Mount Herzl and at departure, and connected with them at a level akin to the lifelong connections that people typically make over the course of years. All in just 5 days! They are our family, and we are theres. As if the group of people we flew to Israel with weren’t awesome enough, we got there and met these soldiers who truly resonated with us and will always be part of the memories that this trip gave each and everyone of us.

Mount Herzl is what Americans would call a cemetery for the Israeli soldiers who have died for the state of Israel. To Israeli’s, and clearly to anyone who visits it, it is more akin to a memorial of what people are capable of when they truly believe in their cause. There are stories for each and every grave, some of camaraderie, others of bravery, and many of commitment and believing in what they fight for. Even to the most staunch anti-Zionists, the stories that accompany the sight of the graves is moving.

Shabbat services were led by a member of our group, and would have been great if the other buses had been more respectful. Also, I have never heard so many diverse and different tunes for the same songs. Who uses the tune of Yankee Doodle? The next day was Shabbat, and the first time that we had some time to relax, and we used it! The majority of the day was spent sleeping, and it was a good thing that we got so much rest, because the next day started with hiking Masada. For those who don’t know, Masada was the site of the Jewish Zealots’ last stand against the Roman Legionnaires where, the night before the Romans were going to overrun the outpost of Masada, after a terribly long siege, the Zealots took their own lives to never surrender, so that they would “die as free men” instead of under the whip or sword as defeated men. The hike up was not easy, since we climbed up the Snake Path (a series of many, many switchbacks that took us up about 400+ meters in elevation to the top), but the hike back down was on the Roman Path, which was a straight shot done, and much easier to do.

After our hike, we got to ride camels, and float in the Dead Sea before we headed to the hotel. Israel without getting the experience of riding a camel is not worth the money, I’m glad we got to do that, even if the ride was short. Floating in the Dead Sea is… painful. Imagine the saltiest water you’ve ever seen (it creates salt crystals on the bottom in lieu of a sand bed) getting into any cut, nick, or orifice, and multiply that by 4. For anyone who had a cut, it stung like hell. If you got it in your eye or nose, that hurt to no end and you were out of the water in a snap to rinse. But just staying in the water eventually causes is to get into areas that most prefer not to talk about, and that stinging is just annoying. With all that being said, floating in the Dead Sea is a true experience!

The highlights of the next day were a nature walk in the Tel Dan Nature Reserve, standing atop the Golan Heights, and rafting down the Jordan River. The walk was really cool because the area was very nice, we got to see the ruins of a Canaanite temple, and we were able to see the border of Lebanon. Later that day, we went up the Golan Heights and were able to look out from atop the mountain, through the haze since it was a bit rainy, and see the border of Syria. Then rafting down the Jordan was TONS of fun (once people got into the mood of it). We started out with a bunch of people who just didn’t want to be splashed by the cool water, but by the end of it, everyone was splashing each other, jumping from one boat to the other, and dragging people into the water. It was tons of fun (and I ended up with a broken sandal from the experience).

The following day was the saddest day of our entire trip. It was our last day with the soldiers, and saying good bye to people who we had connected to so thoroughly was difficult at best. You know the song Absolutely (Story of a Girl)? Well we cried 40 rivers that all drowned the world!!! We sat in a circle and basically kept talking about how much none of us ever expected to connect to each other and to the soldiers at half the level that we did, and there were SO many tears! The rest of the day from then on was pretty much shot. That evening was Shavuot, which was delicious! The rest of the night was spent with everyone just kind of going to bed. The next day included bnei mitzvah services and naming ceremonies on the beach in Nahariya, which were beautiful! We hung out on the beach for the rest of the day and then were surprised by some of the soldiers when we got back to the hotel. It was so awesome to get to see some of them just one more time and we went out that night and had a great last night together at a couple bars on the beach. Was a stellar way to end the trip minus the fact that many of us didn’t bother going to bed since we were leaving the hotel at 4:30 AM.

Overall, the trip was absolutely awesome! There are precious few moments in life that I would be willing to trade for the memories that I have from Israel. I love everyone who we were with and all 8 soldiers! You are all awesome and that was the most fucking Taglit trip of my life!!!

Spam and Playing God

February 26th, 2010 No comments

Alright, so first off, if only people wouldn’t post spam to these WordPress blogs. As a lot of you know (yes, all 3 of you readers), my girlfriend is keeping a blog while she is studying abroad in China this semester. Unfortunately, China blocks blogs in general, so she just emails me the posts and I update the blog for her. This also means that I have to do all other maintenance and advertisements though through her Facebook and Twitter accounts, but that’s beside the point. The maintenance is the important, and sometimes annoying part. She gets a bunch of spam comments from all sorts of sources, and it’s funny how most of them actually read like a normal human commenting. Some have the shit grammar that would be expected, but a few read normally, and almost pertain to the post. As a rule though, I have noticed that if there is a website listed with the comment, or if the commenter makes their name something that is a product name or a site name, then I just delete them. As a result, I’ve probably deleted a few legit comments from her blog, but it is difficult at best to tell what’s legit and what’s not. I haven’t installed a captcha system (the pictures with the random characters that you have to type in so it makes sure you aren’t a robot), so I can’t eliminate the spam unfortunately.

As for the “Playing God” part of this post. This is actually an old article that I meant to write about a while back, but it reminds me of Jurassic Park… They are trying to resurrect the Galapagos Tortoises, the ones that were there before Darwin’s famed visit. You know how fruit farmers will splice together certain strains of plants to make new produce like Nectarines from Peaches and Plums? Well, that’s what they are trying to do with tortoises and breeding. At least they aren’t trying to transfuse the DNA of the ancient animals with modern embryo or whatever nonsense they had in Jurassic Park, but it’s a close second in my book! Here’s the article: Mother Nature Network.

Another Day

February 15th, 2010 No comments

So I am mildly surprised that I am finding the time to write a post today considering my work load. It isn’t even really a matter of a huge homework load as it is that I have been pretty busy from when I woke up this morning till now when I am taking a break from doing my algorithms homework. Had 2 group meetings, attended my professor’s office hours, attended my classes today, and did homework for the rest of it. Overall, I’m impressed that I can say I am feeling comfortable about where my work is at.

In other news, I am thinking about looking into the described “waiting to happen” disasters here for a future blog post. Possibly for Friday? I was thinking about writing instead about one of my other planned posts like college student finances and my opinion on how it is done (and how well it has worked for me).

Lastly, this weekend was Valentine’s Day as so many of you got to enjoy. Unfortunately, I was unable to spend the “holiday” with my own girlfriend since she is 14,000 miles away and all. It was actually really depressing this weekend with my lack of motivation to do my homework and my desire to procrastinate leading to me reading about how great everyone else’s V-Day had gone with their significant other or as “Singles Awareness Day” for them. Overall, Sunday was not the greatest, that is until I got a phone call from my girlfriend wishing me a happy Valentine’s Day, which brightened my entire day. Moral of the story? It is amazing what a simple phone call can do for someone’s mood, especially when all they want is to hear from that certain someone.

Missing Her

January 11th, 2010 2 comments

I have returned to Atlanta after being with my girlfriend for almost 4 weeks. We drove to NYC, Albany NY, north Va. near DC, and were supposed to go to Israel (as described in a previous post). It was great to spend all that time with her, but since she is leaving for China for the next 4 months, it seems like it was all too short! Funny how that happens even when the two of us spent essentially every waking minute together. We will do our best to talk nearly everyday, if not everyday over email and/or IM if not via Skype. But physically, I am going to miss her a ton!

  • I will miss the way our hands just fit together.
  • I will miss the ability to just cuddle
  • I will miss how good it feels to hug her and be hugged back in return
  • I will miss being able to wake up holding her
  • I will miss her ability to make issues and problems just melt away simply by talking about it or with a hug or just a small squeeze of my hand

Essentially, I will miss her more than I have ever missed anyone before!!! I love her in a way that goes beyond what words can describe. It will be hard to go without her over the next 3 months, 3 weeks, and 1 day (yes I did count from when I left till 5/2), but we will make it work because we are not giving ourselves a choice in the matter. Maybe I’ll even be able to see her in China during my spring break? I have to purchase the round trip airfare tickets and I want to wait until she is in China so she can scope out the feasibility of me being able to visit.

Categories: Inspired Tags: , , ,

What’s Been Missed

January 8th, 2010 No comments

First off, to tie up some loose ends from the fall semester that I blogged about briefly in that “ages ago” post from August. I did not manage to get the required GPA needed for achieving my 3.5 overall GPA, but I believe I can manage it this year much more easily. I really should have gotten it, but I ended with a 3.4 for the fall semester, which resulted in a 3.43 overall. Not too shabby regardless, but not what I had hoped for. If only I had… well it doesn’t really matter what I could and should have done, the semester is over and I have now dealt with some of the best and worst professors of my entire stay at GT thus far (yes, in a single semester…).

As many of my readers know (do I have many readers? I have no idea…) I am a Jewish student and have been planning, with my girlfriend, on going to Israel this winter break on what is called Taglit Birthright (for more information, see her posts at abroadburger.wordpress.com about the trip and why we ended up missing it in its full detail). The short version of the story is that we really wanted to go and had planned our entire vacation around it. My girlfriend’s passport ended up not getting picked up from the Chinese Embassy (where it was getting validated for her trip to China during the spring semester) and hence we were unable to take the trip. The rest of the vacation has been GREAT though! Since we were unable to spend the holiday in Israel, we have done a whole lot of relaxing at her parent’s house and that has been the sum of the vacation. I did end up beating Fable: The Lost Chapters while here, so I will most likely write a review of that game at a later point.

Last point that I highlighted in my previous post: I have been checking out a note-taking suite called Evernote. It seems to be a very cool suite and I have noticed a few things about it. Firstly, it’s free with a premium account option (that I shouldn’t need for the spring semester). Secondly, it comes with both Windows and Mac native apps along with auto-syncing with the web version of the interface. Essentially they are notes that can be accessed from anywhere if I so desire, along with sharing and some other nifty features. My planned usage is going to be:

  • Create a new notebook per subject
  • Create a new entry per lecture that is dated
  • Take pictures of any notes that are handwritten and attach those using the iSight on my laptop
  • There is also tagging, but I am not sure how well I’ll be able to utilize that

Like I said before, a review will come later, but until then, I advise others to check it out for general tasks, note-taking, and anything else you can think of to use it for. There is a review of it on Lifehacker already.

Is Memory Everything?

August 22nd, 2009 No comments

“Another weekend visit with my dad’s parents is almost over and it is another weekend to remind me why having a sharp memory is so important! In fact, it is only important to still have a memory that works!!! I am reminded of these things every time I visit my dad’s parents because my grandmother has a severe cause of Alzheimer’s. Combine a severe case of Alzheimer’s with her propensity to try to do things her way and I am shocked the depth of my grandfather’s love for her (and hence his patience and commitment to her).”

I wrote that on the 9th of August after visiting my father’s parents. It is difficult, at best, to watch someone’s memory go so completely and still try to interact with them like I normally would. Ask me if I wish my grandmother weren’t suffering from a debilitating disease, I would say “OF COURSE!” I do not know if the lose of memory is something that CAN be easily handled. The only thing that I don’t understand when it comes to my grandmother is the fact that my grandfather refuses to tell her that she is suffering from Alzheimer’s. As a result, we cannot simply remind her about that when she asks us to repeat something for the umpteenth time, instead we have to retell the story again, or re-answer her question. You would think that this could turn into a bit of a game, give a different answer each time because you can and see how creative you can get with it, but instead you begin to simplify your answers so you do not have to give the full story again. It is sad, depressing, and terrifying, but it is also a relief that she still remembers our names and faces right now. It will be hardest when she starts thinking my father is her brother and I am a distant cousin. Hopefully that will be VERY far off in the future… sadly it will probably be all to soon.

Categories: Inspired Tags: ,

Frustration = Parenting?

April 24th, 2009 No comments

I don’t claim to understand the reasoning and motives behind other people’s behavior but I there seems to be an increased number of incidents lately where I have been unable to understand another’s view point, alone motives. So here’s the scenario that I don’t understand at all:

A person’s parents are decently well off, we will call this person Sally to have as generic a name as possible. Sally’s parents are not only well off, but the father has worked at many high level (and even fortune 500) companies. Throughout all of Sally’s college career, her parents have supplier her with a monthly allowance so that she can take care of any additional everyday expenses beyond tuition and the like. As for tuition itself, that is covered by financial aid, scholarships, and a few grand that Sally comes up with each year to make up the difference/remainder not covered by scholarships. With this allowance, Sally covers personal food that isn’t on the meal plan, entertainment (on occasion for the allowance doesn’t cover a huge amount of activities), monthly phone bill, and any other expenses that might be incurred during the course of the month.

Well, the summer semester is approaching and Sally is now looking for an internship or job that can fill the summer semester between academic semesters. Well, she has been considering non-paying internships because they typically better augment and enhance a resum? than other opportunities. Suddenly Sally finds out that her parents will not be able to pay her monthly allowance because her father hasn’t gotten a new job yet and the family doesn’t know if they will be moving during the course of the summer to accomodate. They then follow this with trying to get Sally to come home for the summer which not only seems extremely unproductive with the possibility that she won’t be able to hold and job should she even find one in her remote home town.

So now Sally is saddled with expenses during the course of the summer that she doesn’t have a means to pay for, pressure to come home for the summer, and no idea how she is going to come up with the means to pay for her summer expenses. I simply don’t understand the motive behind the wishy-washiness of the parents or the lack of support that is being offered to their daughter because she is looking for a job that will enhance her resum? instead of one that will cover her summer expenses. When Sally asks for advice, her mother tells her that she shouldn’t waste her summer working for a non-paid internship and should work on earning money. The ironic part to this entire scenario is that Sally’s parents want her to succeed, expect her to succeed, and put a lot of pressure on her to succeed. How they expect her to succeed when they limit her possibilities so severely is beyond me, ESPECIALLY in this present economy.

That is my rant/point I am lacking understanding of at present. I am sure at some point a solution will be found for with time, there will be a result regardless of it being a good or bad solution to the problem at hand.

While Classes are Drawing to a Close

April 23rd, 2009 No comments

Well classes have begun to draw to a close now. There is one more day of classes, and I plan to skip one of those two classes I have tomorrow. CS 2200 classes are complete and there is just the exam left to take next week. EAS 1601 is done, FINALLY, and I just have the exam on Monday and will be done with lab sciences for the rest of my college career. Econ 2106 is the class I am skipping the class for tomorrow because there is an optional quiz tomorrow and my average in the class is already a 98 and we aren’t on a +/- system so it won’t make a difference if my grade is higher than it is right now. All that leaves is one class to attend tomorrow at noon, CS 2340 and then that exam also next week. Fortunately, the final project for CS 2340 has been completed at long last and I don’t have to worry about the project ANY MORE! I am so so so excited about the fact that I don’t have that project to work on any longer. We presented it to our TA today and so are just awaiting our final grade for that. I believe that we will get some extra credit on the final project and can’t wait to just be FINISHED with the class completely. I have found it so hard to find any true value in the class itself and the project has simply taught me who I won’t include in future group projects with the goal of avoiding issues like I have had to deal with this semester.

Other work that I have to do by the end of next week is take care of some website updates for castplays.com, work on my personal code library project for PHP, study for exams, and get some of my stuff home to make the move next weekend easier and quicker. In the mean time, today has been spent basically just turning off my brain and trying to relax a little bit. Tomorrow, until tomorrow night when I go to a party with my girlfriend, it will be back to the books for a little bit so that I can get a mild head start on things since I want to be prepared for my exams next week. Sadly, even with the highest possible grade on my final in CS 2200, I won’t be able to earn an A in that class without some help from the graders/teacher because of my screwing up the tests a little bit and messing up that one project demo by missing the demo slot I signed up for. Shit happens, but it is really sad that the highest I can get in the class right now is about an 87-88 with a 100 on the final in the class… ah well.

As for my personal coding project/code library for my future and present sites, my current goals are:

  • Create a string library to handle things like validating an email address or a date.
  • Create an object oriented db class/find a good one online that does everything that I want.
  • Create a user class so that I can then work on the next task of
  • Creating an authentication process so that I can move closer to actually being underway with my business ideas (more to come on that once they are more concrete and there is a site to back it up).

Until I have more/until tomorrow when I publish the other blog post that I am presently working on, I am going to relax a little bit.