Monday, January 31, 2011

Just in case you were worried

The Babies here in PGH are going to be ok.

This video is worth checking out. Saw this segment on the Friday news.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

More, in honor of Dr. King

 Last weekend was awesome! (and by last weekend, I mean two weekends ago... it has taken me a while to write this.)

The fun started with a little sledding fun on Flagstaff hill with some of the YadGrad group. You would think that for a town built on crazy hills, there would be plenty of sledding opportunities. This is false. Any clear area they have built something in the way! And we all know that sledding down the middle of the road is a bad idea... so I we were able to go to Flagstaff, right next to CMU, a rather long and easy slope. People had previously been there, so the snow was packed down and jumps were already constructed. Which we hit. A number of times. Including a fiasco of a last run: So there were 4 of us. And we had two long sleds. So it was obvious that we had to do a group run, two people in each sled, legs connecting the two sleds. This was also going to be our last run, so we had all of our stuff with us. Like a saucer sled that I was carrying... on my lap... obstructing my view completely... and someone (I am not naming names) decided it would be a good idea to aim for the jump. I heard some worried yells, then peaked out behind my shield. Saw an impending doom, and put my feet out to try to stop us. That didn't have the effect I was looking for. Trying to stop a 4 person super sled with your feet just causes a bunch of snow to fly up in to your face. So we landed about 3 feet from each other on the other side. Awesome!

Yep. Gwyn brought a bowl to sled in....
 The next notable event was after yadgrad on sunday. Seeing as none of us had work the next day, a special gathering was in store. I got to experience another Pittsburgh thing: Eat'n Park. I don't really know much about this place, other than it is like Sharris, but local to Pittsburgh. And people have a little bit of a love hate thing going with it. The consensus was that no one liked the food, but everyone likes going there... and they have Smiley Cookies! Their trademark. And for the Steelers, they only had yellow and black ones. It was suggested that I got Grilled Stickies (apparently also unique to Eat'n Park). More or less a giant slice of Cinnamon roll that is cooked like french toast, in this case served with ice cream:
Mmmm... Apparently the sauce is key.
 I was also told that I had to get a Smiley cookie, so I did. The outing was awesome, lots of laughing, lots of stories. It was a great end to a week.

Ah... Yeah...

On The Doctors celebrated birthday, I got the pleasure of going to a 'sacred' place. Or at least a sacred place for someone. The Ashland University Art professors were showing some of their art, Gwyn (being a alumnus of the program) wanted to go check it out. So early Monday morning, we set off to Ohio. This would be the second time driving out of the city since moving here. It was great. Toll roads the whole way to Ohio... silly tolls. The drive was sunny and full of great music and equally good conversation. On the way we stopped at Swenson's a burger place (not to be confused with Swensen's Mom..) in Akron Ohio.
It reminded me of a classy old school Sonic, with way better food. Like if Zips got their act together and ran the food out to your car. Shortly after lunch, we happened past a Lama farm. Supposedly Lamas are not common in PA, and thus we had to stop and take pictures... and talk to them.

Eventually we got to Ashland, the whole drive, Gwyn was calling/texting people who might be in the area to let them know that she was on her way. When we got there, we met up with Dan! Who gets an exclamation point, because he is a cool guy. First stop was the art gallery, I would have taken pictures, but I didn't know if it was kosher to... so I didn't. There was some really cool pieces and some that I didn't really get... but hey I am an engineer, I am not supposed to 'get' art. From there on I got the VIP tour of Ashland University for two rather excited and proud Alumni:
That cool. (if you cannot tell, they are pointing to 'Alumni')
From my perspective, Ashland is roughly right in between Whitworth and GU in size. A quaint campus in a small-ish town. But it was fun to walk around and hear stories from Gwyn and Dan about their 'glory' days. One of the town's landmarks is 'Grandpa's Cheesebarn' where you can get a plethora of cheeses, sauces, mustards, and other tasty food items, including Ashland's best milkshakes! Directly adjoining is an aptly named candy and fudge shop.
That would be me and the Cheesebarn.
  Around this point in the trip we parted ways with Dan, and headed back towards Akon (I think) to meet up with Dayna and Cory, some more friends of Gwyn from Ashland. The four of us were heading towards a burger type place for dinner... but then Cory pointed out a mexican place. I asked if it was legit, or a bad attempt, he said it was great. After indulging in some Fajitas, I had to agree, it was the best mexican I have had this side of the Mississippi. After dinner,Gwyn and I bid farewell to Ohio and headed back to PGH. The drive home was accompanied with some Brian Regan and Jim Gaffigan (Dad, you and I listend to them on the way here... 'Hot Pockets!').

The trip was awesome! Great company (thanks Gwyn!), great food, exciting (in a unique way, more because of the aformentioned company) location, and cool new people.

**ok, now I am caught up to last monday...  ugg. I need to write more! Silly school, get off my back!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Dang. I need some sleep.

So I have not forgotten about all of you. School tried to... nope it did... take my attention for the entire duration of Saturday, Sunday and Monday. Of course with the exception of church on Sunday and the last half of the Steelers game... HERE WE GO! Ill post more on this topic later.

As a brief update:
- I turned in my first Kinematics assignment. Only 3/4 of it was done. Sad Day. It was an exercise in illdefinded project scope, a lack of connection on my part, and a general steep learning curve. I could post the webpage for it, but to be honest it is not worth sharing.
 - What is worth sharing is my posts for this weeks Robotic Ethics assignment. The reading was super interesting, about the fopa that was Cold Fusion. And how that supposed 'finding' re-shaped the scientific community. You can find some cartographic maps of boundary shaping events here. You can also get the original reading too... super interesting. (you know, if you have a hour or so to read)
- In the next 48 hours (most likely in the next 4) I will post about the past two weeks! I never did tell you about Ashland! Oh boy... you are in for a treat!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ethics and Robotics

So to finish...

16-899E: Ethics and Robotics
This is a new class, both at CMU and in general in academia. Not to many people are sitting down to talk about this realm of ethics. The class is a heavy discussion based class, both in class and for homework. In class we sit around and talk about the readings we do, very openly, sort of like a round table! There are about 8 people in the class so it makes it easy. For the homework, we are assigned readings and asked fairly open ended questions to respond to. The cool thing about this class, the professor wants it to be an 'open' class. His idea is that we are going to be shaping this little niche in academics, so he is having all of our assignments open to the public. Yep, you can see what I turned in for homework today, as well as other peoples stuff. You can even read the literature we are (it is posted online) and respond if you got really ambitious. If you want to see more, check it out!

Gramps, you would love this class, it is glorified Big Dog Talk!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

In Honor of Rev. King.

I know I promissed an overview of my classes... so here they are:

16-711: Kinematics, Dynamic Systems and Control
On of the first technical Robotics institute classes that I am taking. The basic idea of the course is how to program robots to move. Something that I tried to do with the Herak robot, but as we found out, was a little (a lot) harder than it seemed. The course is going to be taught by two professors, but we have only had one in class so far, he is a rather amusing lecturer. In the two whole lectures we have had, I have learned a lot. This class is going to be really hard, and really fun. First homework assignment, get this simulation going... I programmed it to wave at you! I think next week that arm will be following a trajectory and ballancing (like a human... we will see).

If you really want to see more, here is the class website.

18-649: Distributed Embedded Systems
One of my favorite classes at GU was Embedded System Design with Dr. T. We are going to be looking at how to propperly implement a large scale distributed embedded system, as a case study we are going to be using an elevator to test the process. So an entire elevator system will be simulated, from the lights in the buttons to the doors and the motion of the car. So far it has been an interesting class, I am still getting used to the teaching style. The project so far seems like a experiance in self discovery (that is not entirely true... the professor has given us a lot of information on how to get the ball rolling). I am sure this one is going to get interesting, I'll be sure keep you all updated.

If you want to see more on this one.

Then last, but not least:
16-899E: Ethics and Robotics
This is.... going to get finished later... I have to go to class!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

5 Inches Under

For the past few days it has been snowing fairly hard. To the effect of about 4-6 inches of snow everywhere (including covered portches!). This morning's snow was super light and fulffy, to the point of when I stepped out from the house on to the walk, a 'puff' of snow came up. It was so cool! I don't think I have ever really seen that...

I have greatly enjoyed walking to the bus these past few days. Very peaceful. A little slippery given the hills. But beautiful.

I have not enjoyed the bus situation the past few days. It has been absurd. On Tuesday I almost walked in to downtown (I ended up going about a mile and a half) just to catch a bus. Of the 6 or 7 stops I passed, the minimum number of people waiting was around 30 people! That is crazy! That should not happen! And of course everyone was on edge because of that... and everyone was wearing their snow gear, making the bus super humid and hot. The walls were sweating. Ugg... I need to move closer to school!

In other news, classes are going well, Ill do a full update this weekend about them. I am thinking this sememster is going to be sweet!

I also got a chance to talk to a few old friends, Bill and Alana on Tuesday and James and Jamie on Wednesday. All conversations were great, and just emphisised how much I miss you guys!

Well I need to get ready for class... Ill fill you guys in more later.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Tie greatness

If anyone needs to get me a gift, or a gift for a guy, or a gift for a trendy girl, I point you in this direction: Ties that Don't Suck

I give you some of my favorites:

(none of these are mine... but I would wear them!)

Monday, January 10, 2011

New Career Option

Computer Engineer by day... Masked hero by night.

Check out this.

As a sidenote, I pose a question:

If I were to be a masked hero, what would my name be?

Back in to it.

Ok. Well this is it. Tomorrow is my first day of second semester. I am a little excited, and a little worried that all of this free time that I have been enjoying is going to disappear. But alas, such is life...

So tomorrow at 10:30, I will be heading in to Robot Ethics, followed by a little Kinematics and Motion Control at 3:00. Then Wednesday I will be attending Distributed Embedded Systems. I am really looking forward to this semester. These courses are the ones I really want to take, they are the ones that I came to CMU for. Don't worry, Ill let you know how they go :)

In other news, it did not take very long to get connected with friends again. Saturday was Tracey's birthday, so something had to happen. And She was busy all night with family, so Sam, Gwyn and I consulted Chelsea on what to do. Among other things, Chelsea suggested hanging candy canes from some trees It was determined that Tracey's house did not have sufficient trees so in order to give her proper attention the next morning at church, we descended upon a tree (and some bushes...) there. The apparent theme for the evening was 'Ninja' complete with a soundtrack of Ninja music provided by Gwyn. Chelsea: great idea, and great price. We bought 192 candy canes for $3.25. Awesome!

So here is the work:
We had to jump a little...
Yep. Everyone Saw them...
"Act like a Ninja!"
Also there had to be cake... so here is a 'T' cake. (I am getting quite good at these...)

Sunday was filled with church. After spending time with Jessie and dropping in on a CPC youthgroup, I realized that I really missed that whole thing (ill avoid getting sentimental...). Before Christmas, I had talked to Jackie (the high school and junior high youth leader, and avid member of the YadGrad group) about getting involved again. Seeing as Shadyside is in need of leaders, she was more than happy to have the help. So Sunday was my first jump in to the ministry here. It was great and scary at the same time. As many of my colleagues know, I am not a huge fan of Junior High. At Colbert I predominately worked with High School, and for good reason. Shadyside's group has loads of Junior high and a rather scant Sr. High. So, rolled my sleeves up, and got busy. The students are energetic, but they are very distracted, and lack motivation to do anything other than be a distraction. I am very excited to be a part of it, but it is going to be some work.

Today was another day of rest. I met up with Skanda for lunch, chatted about break, about this semester, about New Years in Oman... it was great to catch up. I did some birthday shopping (man... think there is enough of those in January?). Then later in the afternoon got an invite from Luke for a evening movie event. There is a theater that does $5 Mondays! Sweet! A large group, some I knew, and lots I didn't know made it. We watched "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader," It was great. I don't really want to say much more that that ;)

Oh! And here are some pictures of my time in Gig Harbor!
While walking along the beach, Jessie terrorized the poor little crabs....
Found some huge claws!
Yay! This is going up on my wall 'o pics!
Then the epic drive home. The Misty Mountains.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

So far a great year.

I am sitting here in my living room for the last evening. When I say 'my living room,' I mean in Colbert. I have three bags and my 'bag' bag packed and sitting in front of me, all ready to head off to the airport tomorrow. Bitter sweet; yes, very much so.

I am really excited about what is in store for me this next semester. I feel as though I am comfortable enough with my surroundings and the friends that I have made to really start having fun. I am excited about another round of classes, I am excited to be challenged again. I am excited about planning more fun events (Flogging Molly, Frodo fest, and my first Cinematic Adventure night).

However I am sad to leave. It might be apparent that I have been having too much fun as to the number of posts I have made in the past 3 weeks. Almost none.... sorry! I am in vacation mode. Thinking about it, I don't really know if I am motivated to write up the past few weeks in detail. Most of my audience was there... except for Stan (and I talked to you too!! :) ).

So briefly:
I got to hang out with Holly in San Diego.
Met up with the Hogle clan in the OC. Highlights include: Hogle Shirts, Boating, Disneyland in the rain, Christmas, MERRY STARCRAFT!!! , lots of pictures, lots of laughs, lots of fun.
Relaxing in Spokane with my parents
Hot Tubbing and Tostadas (Daren, Drew, Ryan, Kurt and Nick)
Lots of Snow
Holly coming up here for New Years
New Years
Lady Zags game

If you want details about any of the above, let me know... I would be glad to elaborate, I just don't know who would want to know.

So this Tuesday I got to head over to Gig Harbor and visit my dear friend Jessie. It was wonderful. Tuesday afternoon and evening I got to watch the interesting process of youth ministry at Chapel Hill Pres, including a leader meeting, which very much reminded me of Colbert meetings. Afterwards Jessie and I headed over to 'The Tides' for some evening libations and Nachos. In the morning a trip to Kelly's for breakfast, a walk around the harbor, and then a little adventure down to the beach near here house and in to Kopachuck state park. Oh, it should be stated: as normal for time spent with Jessie, there was lots of great conversation and lots of laughing. There may or may not be some sweet pictures too, but my camera is packed away, and I don't really want to get it out.

On my way back home, I found myself centering around an interesting revelation: there is something to be said about time spent with long standing friends as opposed to fairly new friends. This may seem blatantly obvious, and it is, however the difference was greatly pronounced in my little trip. Because of my 'new' situation in PGH, I had sort of forgotten what it was like to be around well established friends. In Pittsburgh, I am still figuring out people, I am finding out how people react to things, I am finding who is good to talk to about different things, and who is comfortable with what. I am trying to build up the understanding of relationships there. I greatly value this, and I do enjoy this; but the contrast was great after being around Jessie. I have known Jessie for quite some time, and consider her a close friend. We have an understanding of each other that makes time in proximity 'easy' (for lack of a better word). This comfort is something that I didn't know I missed, I had not really identified it at all...

This leads to two quick conclusions: 1) I need to spend more time around my friends (not that I have been avoiding you guys... quiet the opposite, more of we all have things going on. Just it would be awesome to hang out! Jamie, Dannica and Bill, I am looking at you) and 2) I cannot wait for relationships in the 'Burgh to get to that level.

Anyway, Thanks Jessie! It was totally awesome! We should do it again sometime.

I think on that note, it is time for my last slumber on the west coast for a while. 

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year!

I would just like to welcome everyone to the new year. As per tradition, the Griffith and Laiho families came together to 'bring in the new year.' Like last year, Holly was able to join us. It was great. High light would have to be to 2-0 Guys cranium record. Good work Men!

Well before I go grab me some Strawberry waffles, I leave you with two quotes that I heard last night.

Via Text:
Tracey: Happy New Year from Florida!
Me: Yay! Silly east coast. How is 2011?
Tracey: It is so much better than 2010. Just wait you'll see. We have Flying cars now! ;P

and My father while toasting right after midnight: "Happy Birthday!"
Me: "Dad... that was Christmas, Jesus was born on Christmas day."
Dad: "No... isn't there something about a birthday here?"