Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Your thoughts on making the transition to the real world...


As you know I'm working with Engineers Without Borders at my school. Over the past few years, I've observed some things that students need to learn so as to make the transition to the real world. I want to incorporate it into how we at EWB do business.

For example, you've got to be able to jump on a moving train; rarely do you start at the beginning of a project, you come in somewhere in the middle.

I'm looking for your thoughts on the subject. Now it may be some time since you made the transition but you have probably seen others come into a company where you work and struggle with this or that. What is it they need to know?

So far I've come up with:
* Your decisions have consequences on others, no choice is made in a void.
* Punctuality is also how you show you care.
* You need to be able to talk to strangers (especially on the phone).
* There are four basic fears (failure, success, looking foolish and rejection); you have at least one, which one(s)? How are you going to deal?
* You can't ignore the money and live in an idealized world.
* You must be able to function with incomplete information.
* When you start your job, you are part of an already functioning business. Your start is not the start of the business, so you will have to jump into an operation that is already in motion.

Or share nice expressions that have been helpful to you, one boss gave me these two:
# Accuracy is the price of admission.
# Speed is the currency of the future.

I know you are all a bunch of Gurus, so put on your Swami cap and give me your thoughts?

Friday, May 23, 2008

Happy Birthday!

Could there be a better day? Exams are over - finishing up last night at 8 pm. By 8.30 I was at the pub.

Slept in this morning and the sun is shining in The Big Apple! My parents are in town; they are finishing up a one week elderhostel - awesome that they've the main tourism with a group. We'll do our own thing.

I've spent the morning reading the ecards from around the world. What great fun!

I'm thinking of treating myself to everything on my Amazon.com wish list. For $100, I can get everything. That includes Amy Guth's book "Three Fallen Women" which I became especially interested in after seeing her interview in New Orleans. I got some recommended reading from Schwartzy in her recent interview with Farmhouse and her book Emotionally Pantsed is coming out this summer. Both Katie and Amy are reading at the Pilcrow Lit Fest. Exxxcellent! Wishing them well in their work. Break a leg.

Roberto, the property supervisor, just gave me a knock to let be know that the water will be off for the next hour or two, no shower yet to start the day, so I will just have to chill in my jammies...today just keeps getting better. I couldn't get any work done if I wanted to.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Tagged - part 6

Jobs I've Had

Growing up and this was before moving from Lima to Naperville, so before I was eight; people would ask, "So Marty, what do you want to be when you grow up?" And I replied, "I wanna be an alcoholic!" My best friend was Tom Schroeder and he wanted to be an alcoholic and so I had to be one too. I had no clue what an alcoholic was but it was what Tom wanted and so it was definitely for me.

[1] Model. So, I was living on the upper east side and doing my laundry one day as the laundromat. I met this girl who did advertising for Broadway shows. They desperately needed someone for a photo shoot and I didn't have a job. For 3 1/2 hours I jumped up playing air guitar; the next day my calves were so sore I couldn't walk up or down stairs...I lived in a 4th floor walk up.

[2] Accountant. Yeah, that exciting. I did travel to Latin America quite a bit for a while and I loved it. The people were great; I'm still in touch with a few of them. My boss joked that I had the longest title in the company: Manager of Budgeting and Finance, Controller for Latin America.

[3] Writer. I actually got paid to write something. I was so excited I didn't know if I should cash the check or frame it. The dream goes on…

[4] Waiter. I loved waiting tables when I was in college the first time. I worked in fine dining and adored the prestige of it all. (I tried again when I came to NY with no job – God didn't want me to wait tables any more.)

[5] ESL teacher. I really enjoyed teaching English as a second language. I met some wonderful people. Mostly in France and Brazil but casually when I lived in Spain.

So, this leads to who am I tagging. Seeing as I am yet to have 2 comments on my blogs, it seems like a way to see if people are even reading my blog. Of course, that's not fair; I'm a sporadic writer. Plus, I have so little time, I've not cruised too many sights of friends of friends. I'd tag Schwartzy but she got tagged by someone who got tagged by Kevin Bacon or something. So,

Jenn (aka Je Sais), come on down, you're the next contestant on this meme.
Coaster Punchman, come on down, you're the next contestant on this meme.
Jintrinsique, come on down, you're the next contestant on this meme.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tagged - part 5

Places I’ve Lived

[1] New York City is home to me. After living here for 6 months, I went to see “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” – a good laugh. Many of the outdoor scenes were filmed in Chicago and I saw that and thought very casually, that’s where I’m from. I did hold any emotional attachment as it being home. It was bizarre as I’ve traveled the world telling people my home is Chicago and in 6 months, it was no longer. It is New York. I must add it is amazing how place plays a factor. I lived in the Chicago suburbs for years as I always got the best job offers there. For as much as I wanted to be in the city, I wouldn’t do the commute and just decided to make my own way and be me and blah, blah, blah. Stunning how being in the environment that is New York was perfect; I no longer felt as though I was fighting my surroundings but moving in step with them. Awesome!

[2] Chantilly, France. I posted earlier that it still feels like home. It was a wonderful year. CP was also an exchange student there two years prior to me.

[3] Orleans, France. The city is proud of its savior Joan of Arc. I did my sophomore year at the Université d’Orléans (Molière studied there). A good experience – I really got my French fluency down and I met some wonderful people.

[4] Glasgow, Scotland. I attended Strathclyde University and received my Master of Finance. A nice place, I’m still in touch with some friends there. (Today was a big day as one of the soccer teams was in the UEFA cup tournament.) I have plenty of stories to tell but I’ll save those for when we meet up. I must say it was bizarre that the shortest day of the year, the sun rose at 9 am and set at 3 pm. Summertime, I left the pub at 10 pm and the sun’s glow was still on the horizon.

[5] Bilbao, Spain. After finishing my Master’s I went to Spain and had a great time. The neat story here is that I worked for the engineering company that built the Guggenheim Museum designed by Frank Gehry. I left before construction, but I was the one who translated the firm’s bid into English.

[6] Rio de Janeiro. The last major stop on my sabbatical in 2000-2001, I lived for 6 months in Copacabana only three blocks from the beach. I have been told that the three greatest parties in the world are Carnival, Oktoberfest, and San Fermín (Pampolona). Well, I was at San Fermín when living in Spain (and I ran with the bulls) and it is a great party – incredible! Carnival is ten times better…truly amazing and beyond words. I was there for New Year’s, Carnival and Easter – an experience like none other.

I’ve skipped the towns were I grew up… Naperville, Illinois and Lima, Ohio. If you’re interested, google them. Last time I was there was for my sister’s wedding and I stayed with a friend. Gretchen has a nice home with a yard and was telling me all about home ownership. I explained that for me, I have two back yards: Riverside Park which is has the Hudson River, the famous George Washington Bridge and the Little Red Lighthouse, Grant's Tomb (guess who is buried there?), a trapeze school, a beautiful recreational port, the aircraft carrier US Nimitz, and people like Justin Timberlake film their videos there like Dick in a Box. Meanwhile, Central Park hosts amazing artistic triumphs like The Gates and every summer there are concerts typically with a headliner like Billy Joel. Billy Joel isn’t playing in no backyard in Naperville. And I don’t have to mow the lawn.

Honorable mentions

[a] Buenos Aires, Argentina. My brother now lives there; he married a Porteña, so it is clearly a sentimental favorite. But I was there first. Ahh, I love Argentina. I also fell in love there. I could tango forever...

[b] Caesarea, Israel – a great experience doing nautical archeology.

[c] Moscow, Russia – a little mission work way back when. I didn’t stay long but I’d have to say St. Petersburg was better. I was ecstatic to visit the Hermitage! Stunning!

[d] Mexico City – great city, great people and as they say, “Like Mexico, there is no other.”

[e] San Diego, California. My best friends live there and I go there a lot. I love it. But I must admit, if my friends were not living there, it would not make the list. It is making its way as a big city and cultural center but it’s not there yet.

Tagged - part 4

Three Bad Habits

[1] I do too much. I am so overworked and doing way too much. It’s all good stuff but it is really too much. Between school, work and the rest, I work 80 hours per week. It really cuts into living life.

[2] I swear too much. I laugh at the scene when I was 8 years old and was playing baseball in the park. Suddenly, I left and the other kids didn’t understand. “I don’t hang around kids that swear.” I said.

[3] Rather than say something gross like I pick my nose and seeing as I’m going through a tough time with something…I ask of people that they be responsible for themselves but somehow that seems to be asking too much; still think that they should.

I could share more but that conflicts with my perfectionism.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Just a few pics from Gracie Mansion


The Mayor was quite witty (my compliments to his speech writer) and I met and chatted with some wonderful folks...however, none of the folks in the pics decided to hang with eebie. (Also see #7 of the list from the meme of the last post.)


And yeah, Jessie Martin (no realation) of Law & Order was there...picking up a prize for supporting NY Film, Television and Broadcasting.



One last pic of all the winners, great stuff...




The irony is too much. The last post was "If I was a billionaire" and sure enough I'm chillin' with the Mayor who is a billionaire. Appearantly some who make billions go into politics and do things like running the greatest city in the world.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Tagged - part 3

I didn't want to dive in to completing the impulse blade project so the meme goes on...

If I Were a Billionaire

It’s a lot of money. It’s quite difficult to spend that kind of dosh. Let’s start with me ‘cuz I think it would be fun, especially as I am so poor right now.

I’d certainly buy a place in NYC and I’d probably stay on the Upper West Side. With a billion, I’m sure I could get into The Dakota and I’d see Yoko Ono in the elevator, but it’s not so much my style. I may not wander far from Central Park West. The only exception I could foresee is The Plaza; it is renovating for condos/co-ops. I’m not for big, I don’t like to clean it all and I don’t like to be far from anything in the house. But who knows, I could get a cleaning person and change my habits.

I would probably buy a place in Paris as I have so many friends from when I lived in France and one of my sisters, so I would certainly be traveling there more often. Buenos Aires would be tempting too; I love that city and one of my brothers lives there. It is no small trip, at least 11 hours by plane. Not sure if I’d buy but I’d visit more often.

I’d like a boat and so perhaps a place on Long Island or the Jersey shore, depends which has better scuba diving. That would also mean doing a dry suit certification, been meaning to do that, not enough time.

But that’s all together only $3 million tops (well, $12 million if I get a crib at The Plaza). I’ve not put a dent in a billion. Assuming also that it is a billion after taxes otherwise the question would be “What would you to with the $11.36 in after-tax proceeds from your billion dollar windfall?”

I have my favorite charities such as EWB. I also have some pet projects. When I lived in Rio de Janeiro, I saw 11 abandoned vessels in the Guanabara Bay. I recall a news report saying it cost R$1 million just to check in on these abandoned boats. (Not all the boats in the pic of Rio are abandoned but certainly some are.)
Also, I’ve added a nice pic of the Atlantic Trader that ran aground near Puerto Cortes, Honduras (not far from where I work with EWB). As an avid scuba diver I, like my colleagues, love ship wrecks. They have been shown to make nice artificial reefs. So, let’s find a nice place outside of shipping lanes and sink these babies. The great advantage to this is they can be prepped in advance: chemicals removed, doors taken off, bubble holes created, etc. – all make for safer waters and safer diving.

Clearly, I would give lots towards building agricultural systems in Africa, solar stoves/ovens, and the like. I’m trying to keep to things that are a bit off the beaten track for the meme.

I’d give some money for writers too but I can assure you that if I don’t get any freakin’ comments to these memes, that idea will get nixed.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Tagged - part 2

The meme goes on...this is great to be able to eek out 4 posts.

Five Things on Today’s To-do List

I never have less than 15 things on a to-do list.

1. Check on my babies…glioma cells (brain cancer cells) to see if they are confluent. If not, which is likely, feed them with 5 ml of DMEM. [done] In the pics, in one area of the flask, they cover about 80% of the surface, but in another area they are sporadic at best. I need the entire flask to be about 95% covered (aka confluent) to run my experiments. In the lesser filled picture, you can see two interesting things. First, the big cell in the middle has lots of appendages, this is what characterizes astrocytes. Second, this cell is huge! Most remain below 100 micro-meters (µm) and more often less than that. But at 200 µm, this baby is gigantic! Look closely and you will see two circles in the middle. They are two nuclei. The cell has finished mitosis (division of DNA) and about to start cytokinesis (separation into two cells). Pics were taken this morning.
2. ecard for Mom. [done] I promise to be better with real cards when school is over.
3. Figure out and get ½ completed of my Thermal Systems Design paper on the design of an impulse blade for a steam turbine. The velocity triangle calculations are simple enough mathematically but conceptually I’m not there yet.
4. Clean house a bit, got a guest coming, oooh, and buy flowers for the entry-way.
5. Write “Tagged – part 2” of the meme from Beth. [in progress while enjoy downloads from her...now done]
6. Review notes for micro-/nanotechnology test on Tuesday.
7. Do laundry! I need to have something to wear on Monday eve...I have a reception at Gracie Mansion with the Mayor thanks to my work with the Mayor’s Office of Television, Film and Broadcasting to move the industry to using cleaner fuels when doing onsite shooting. (It has been fairly successful, but there is a press lock down until it all comes together, so don’t ask any questions, I can say a thing.) I so need new shoes and I'm such a shoe guy, ugh! That's student life. I don't have time to shop.
8. Bring tools purchased for Eng w/o Borders (EWB) to campus. [½ done]
9. Email a Rotary Club on Long Island about the art auction our EWB chapter helped them with and see if they have decided on how much of the proceeds will come to us. This impacts how many students can travel on the assessment trip in Aug 08.
10. Thank you letter and 501(c)3 letter to a Rotary Club in Brooklyn for their contribution to EWB. Also ask if they will hook us up with a Rotary Club in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
11. Practice piano and voice. (Usually in the morning but I slept in, the ol’ bod’ needed the rest.)
12. Write up Aero-thermo-fluids lab on parallel and crossflow heat exchangers. This one may take some time as the theoretical results from the correlation equation are way off from the experimental results.
13. Email condolence to friends who lost their baby at 20 weeks of pregnancy. Pray they find peace and recover together. [done] Try not to cry. When I found out they were pregnant, I immediately offered to babysit and we were all so excited. And now...my thoughts recall the expriences of several friends who have endured this sorrow and for all the compassion and love, I can do nothing ... so I pray. (This is not just another item on the to do list, yet at the same time that is today's blog. Everyday has incredible highs and lows, so I included it.)
14. See what classes are available in the summer and fall and fill out the forms.
15. Find a sneaky way to remind my potential new boss how much I get paid so that when I move I still get the same amount of cash. I currently work in bio-medical engineering which is great but my area is energy, so I have an opportunity to do solar nano-wires. If the EE department can come up with the $, I will work both this summer part-time and switch next semester (Fall 08).
16. Get an extra set of keys for the apt made.
17. Fill out dental forms, new dentist.
18. Oh, shit! My week for lab duties. I’ve decided not to do any aliquots of chemicals as we are low on people for the moment so they are not being used up fast.
19. etc., etc., etc. and a whole list of stuff that ain't gonna get done until after exams...

I must admit, this list is light on homework. Most projects are done and I’m waiting for finals. I also have an unusually light final schedule as the three tough engineering classes have open notes finals. I just have to review a few things.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Tagged - part 1

Tagged by the best Coffey on the net, I'm following her advice to break it into pieces as I'm in my busy season.

Ten Years Ago

I had just been promoted to Manager of Budgeting and Finance, Controller for Latin America for a marketing research company. My boss and I joked that I had the longest title in the company. Very exciting as it was really the first big step into working internationally – a long held dream – and I love Latin America. (And I was often busy fighting with the US Controller, the man got off on playing politics.) Traveling was great, quite a few times to Mexico and once to Brazil before I left. We also had a lot going in Chile and Argentina.

I also had recently broken up with Karen, which was a turning point for me. There was a real moment of truth about learning to take a different approach to relationships, with that came sorting out some personal stuff. That was very liberating.

For as much as I had been idealistic, it began to fade when I turned 31. I must say it was quite helpful to be idealistic; it kept me out of a lot of trouble. I swear I would have been a coke-head in college had I not been proud of my principles.

Around the same time I began re-examining the idea of faith, God and looking to find what it is to forgive and to be forgiven.

Friends recommended that I consider acting as I loved to tell stories and physically act them out. A favorite one was about an insurance claim. Oh, and thanks to the magic of Google, here it is…

When I got home I found that my father's brick silo had been struck by lightning, knocking some of the bricks off at the top. I decided to fix the silo, and so I rigged up a beam, with a pulley and whip at the top of the silo, and hoisted a couple of barrels full of bricks to the top. When I got through fixing the silo there were a lot of bricks left over.

I hoisted the barrel back up again, secured the line at the bottom, and then went up and filled the barrel with extra bricks. Then I went down to the bottom and cast off the line.

Unfortunately, the barrel of bricks was heavier than I was and before I knew what was happening, the barrel started down and jerked me off the ground. I decided to hang on, and halfway up I met the barrel coming down and received a severe blow on the shoulder. I then continued on up to the top, banging my head against the beam and getting my fingers jammed in the pulley.

When the barrel hit the ground it busted the bottom, allowing all the bricks to spill out. I was now heavier than the barrel and so started down again at high speed. Halfway down I again met the barrel and received severe injuries to my shins. When I hit the ground I landed on the bricks, getting numerous painful cuts from the sharp edges.

At this point I must have lost my presence of mind because I let go of the rope…You remember the bucket? Yeah… The barrel then came down and struck me another heavy blow on the head, putting me in the hospital for three days.

Of course, I embellished this little gem with dramatic pauses and silly chin tapping effects on a ladder, and getting the audience so involved in the injuries then letting go of the rope, they had forgotten about the bucket, then “You remember the bucket? Yeah…” Folks were floored. So, I took an acting class; it went well. I’ve kept with it.