Analog Electronics Life Renewable Energy

Inventions for the future

I was talking to my friend the other day about ways to become rich and famous. Surprisingly, blogging was not on the list :-). The best I could come up with for an engineer like me was to invent something and sell it. Even better, invent one thing, manufacture it, use the profits to invent something else, and so on.

Then I started thinking about it and the thoughts of money and fame kind of melted away. Sure, that’d be nice, but what does the world really need invented? What could change the world? What could start the next revolution (i.e. industrial, technological, etc)? Where is the future taking us and most importantly where are WE taking the future?

  1. A new method of propulsion for air travel
    • There is no doubt that the world is dependent on fossil fuels. And for all the talk of renewable energy and even all the progress of it, there are still some things that will be dependent on fuel. In 2004 alone 7.2% of the oil consumption came from air travel/military airplanes. That same link also mentions that there are some other ideas in the work for using hydrogen, but that is a ways off (and still has a significant environmental impact). I have also seen biofuel options, and even the government is in on the idea. Unfortunately, oil and biofuel are the most energy dense option option. Until we have significant advances in energy technologies, using fuel cells or batteries will not be possible. Perhaps renewable energy for travel is not viable by air at all? Maybe electric trains or boats will be the most efficient way, but these things need to be discovered. Of course, there have already been some…um…interesting ideas.
  2. A new method for energy storage
    • There’s a lot of chatter about this lately (see above). Batteries just don’t seem to be doing the job they need to, so people are looking to other options. In fact, the doozy of an article I reference happens to be on this very subject (hint: it’s not a positive article).
    • We need to develop high efficiency, low cost storage devices because renewable energy (solar, wind, geothermal, cow farts, etc) do us no good unless we can transport that power. We could try to make hydrogen, but that’s not exactly the safest way to transport energy. Long term, I think electricity is our best bet in terms of delivering power to devices, even if that’s not the safest option either (I’m not so sure there will be one). Some might say I’m a little biased on the whole idea of electricity though. To electricity’s benefit, a lot of the infrastructure is in place, as are the devices (i.e. electric motors).
  3. A new method for space travel
    • OK, maybe I’ve watched Star Trek and Star Wars once or twice in my life. But just because I have seen that and dreamed about it doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea. Long term, the earth isn’t going to cut it for us. Either some wacko will finally set off a bunch of nukes, we won’t figure out a solution to global warming, we’ll run out of non-oil natural resources or medical technology will extend life to the point where population is unreasonable. So we’ll have to get out there and poke around, find a new hang out. It’s not exactly a short bike ride, either: The closest star system is Alpha Centuri, a short 4.22 light years away. What we need is some way to either approach the speed of light or find another way around (wormholes, improbability drives, etc). The point remains, the whole take a bunch of rocket feul and shove it out the back of a space ship just isn’t cutting it anymore. I like the idea of ion engines, but we need to see some more progress.
  4. A universal translator
    • Every time I think about world events, I think how lucky I am that I speak English. There’s no other language in the world that people are more eager to learn. I mean, I worked at an international company for 2 years and only learned 4 words in their native language! (hello, thank you, beer, please) That includes spending 8 weeks in Korea bumbling around hoping others would speak English (they did).
    • Imagine it though. Imagine if there was a way that all people could instantly communicate at least on a low level (aside from hand gestures). It would open new pathways to business, travel and most importantly international relations (especially tense ones). I had heard rumors that there were some people working on such a device, but could not find any further information on it. If this ever became commercially viable, it would change the world…and then Rosetta Stone would get very angry.
  5. Memory/Cognitive enhancers
    • This could come in one of two forms. The first would be a drug/supplement induced type, where we take what the human mind has to offer and then improve it by offering more resources (oxygen, nutrients, etc) or whereby we stimulate  the memory center to work harder or faster (think caffeine, but healthier, hopefully). The other method would be more radical, but I could see becoming a viable option in the future. That would be neural implants (think matrix) whereby our brains interact with computers/electronics. There are tons and tons of ethics questions surrounding such a device, but it will be possible someday. I envision this kind of device allowing ease of access to information and even better access to communication between people hooked to such as system. Who needs a universal translator when you speak binary?

Sure, there’s other stuff that would be great to invent or even just see invented. Even better, there’s some really silly ideas out there that are fun to laugh about. I think it’s important to dream about these kinds of things though. For those interested, I would highly suggest that you look into the work of futurists such as Ray Kurzweil or inventor Dean Kamen. Both of these guys have driven some amazing inventions and will continue to do so. Plus Kurzweil has been pretty accurate on his predictions before, so trying to fulfill some of his predictions probably isn’t a bad idea if you want to invent something. I’ll let you know when I’ve come up with something.

Analog Electronics Life Work

Analog Definition

I have been working on a doozy of a blog post for about a week now. It’s almost there and I will definitely release it this week. However, in the interim I have been thinking about my blog and my (analog) life and realize I’ve never really defined it for many people. And like some others, I get questions about it:

What is Analog? What is my definition of Analog?

Analog is everywhere. Analog is the opposite of digital. It is continuous. It is real. Analog are the sights we see and the sounds we hear. Analog is the beauty of a symphony and the complexity of a transistor.

OK, maybe that last part is a little out there. But let’s get down to it. When I say that I am an analog engineer, what does that mean? It means that I work on devices that are primarily in the analog realm. As an example: If I made an electronic circuit that counted to five, there would be many different ways to do it. However, I think there are two basic definitions when it comes to circuits. I could create a circuit that counts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. This would be a digital circuit, because there are only 5 values, and they are not continuous. However, an analog circuit would count something more like 1.00000, 1.00001, 1.00002, 1.00003… 4.99999, 5.00000. There would technically be an infinite amount of information in between 1 and 5, and the precision would be infinitely more that what I have shown. However, as humans, we decide to define numbers to explain the world in finite amounts, either because of time constraints (it would take a very long time to count otherwise) or because of simplicity (we all learn to count to ten because most of us have ten fingers).

Alright, so that’s a good start. Analog = continuous, digital = not continuous.

So why did I choose analog? Well to be completely honest, I didn’t. I got lucky and was presented with an opportunity to work on analog. It seemed to fit many of my goals and it was a welcome change of scenery, not to mention that analog engineers are pretty scarce (and therefore being one has inherent value). However, the best part is that every day I discover something new about it. The weirdest thing I find though, is that I am working on problems that have been around for 50 years. There are people working on the newest digital devices at the bleeding edge of technology, but that stuff doesn’t really interest me. I like the problems that have been around because there need to be more succinct and elegant solutions. Plus, I think the most interesting stuff actually happens when you take all that digital information in the form of 1’s and 0’s and try and put it back into analog. Or vice versa, getting analog signals into digital form isn’t easy either.

Ok, one last example then I’m done. Here’s a decent way to think about what I do. Say you have an iPod. You hit the play button to turn on your favorite track. What happens? Well to start with, all the digital electronics pulls the data off of the flash memory. Then it says: “OK, I have 1’s and 0’s, now what?”. It pushes these 1’s and 0’s into a digital to analog converter (DAC). Now it’s a tiny little sound wave (but an analog signal, yay!). Ok, so now the iPod says “What volume did they want?”. So it takes the volume you select and it amplifies the signal so it will come out of your headphones at the proper volume (not too loud, kids) and you can walk down the street boppin and groovin. Everything from the DAC forward, is similar to what I work on (I don’t do audio, but the ideas are the same).

So there’s my analog definition. I hope it helps and I will reference and revise this post as my career and life change. Cheers!

Analog Electronics Life Work

Should I get a PE license?

I’ve never thought of myself as particularly upwards mobile in my career (yet). I’m actually very happy where I am right now, learning as much as I can and progressing through the rigorous on the job learning and tribulations I’ve been experiencing so far. However, the sign of a good career path is one where you are surrounded by people who both push you and are good role models for you. I am lucky to be in such a situation and as such, am thinking about getting my Professional Engineer (PE) certification.

This is actually not as common for electrical engineers as it is for other engineering disciplines. For example, most civil engineers can’t touch anything until they have obtained their certification. With the recent bridge disaster in Minneapolis, I can’t say I really object to this. However, just today I was talking with 2 of the 4 PEs at my company, both of whom happen to be in my group, and both were very convincing on reasons why it’d be good for a young engineer to take the Fundamentals of Engineering (or FE, the qualifying exam).

  1. Use it or lose it
    • Even the sites about the FE exam say it: The sooner you take the exam after school, the higher likelihood of passing it. It makes sense. You’re closer to your exam-taking, all-night-cramming, super-stressed-out days of engineering school. Once you enter the practically driven world of the workplace (as opposed to “academically driven”, to put it nicely), you lose some of those skills and they are hard to get back.
  2. Self-employment
    • Aside from the bridge builders and the others who need a PE to sign off on stuff, working as a consultant or a contractor sometimes requires that you have a PE (as an electrical engineer). As I’ve written before, self-employment is an eventual goal of mine, so that’s another reason to consider this.
    • Many power companies actually require that their engineers have their PE. This is because they work “directly for the people” and because the engineers sometimes actually work as contractors for the power company. Oh, and the stuff they make can really kill people quickly, forgot about that.
  3. Feather in the hat
    • As one of the two engineers I was talking to put it, “If you have 100 electrical engineers in a room and ask who has a PE, maybe two will step forward”. Great point. This is a way to show that you’re capable of achieving AND that you’re willing to stand behind your designs. As I really love reading about (and how this blog kind of came to be), careers these days are all about branding and a PE just helps strengthen your brand.

I could tell myself I’d wait until after grad school, but let’s be honest: grad school is about graduating and getting the paper. I think any time I take this exam, I would need to study pretty far in advance. So why not now?

Analog Electronics Life

My volunteer idea

I’ve been thinking a lot about learning lately. I’d say the amount I’m still learning at work has a good amount to do with it. But I’ve been brainstorming a charity I would like to start.

I would like to start a charity that goes around to schools and promotes science and engineering to lower and middle income schools.

Not because I’ve been reading about how the country will be hurt by less engineers coming out of our schools. To be completely honest, that would work in my favor because I would be more rare and therefore more valuable. But really I want others to experience engineering. I want others to be curious about the world. I want to inspire some kid that’s going to create the space shuttle that makes it to Mars.

At first I was thinking that my idea was original. It wasn’t. A lot of companies have some great programs in place for this sort of thing. But what drives me here is that most programs I have found are more localized. Some programs are national, but they aren’t educational programs so much as they are activities (as they should be, hands on is crucial). I was also thinking possibly this excitement could be generated in kids from books. But there are already these out there too, some more subtle than others. I even read some of these when I was a kid and perhaps this is why I became an engineer in the first place.

What I envision is a national network of engineers who are “dealt” out to schools to present to children in their classrooms. These should be hands on or at least exciting presentations, similar to a “career day” where kids’ parents come in and tell what they do. It needs to be more exciting though. Most importantly, the kids MUST realize why they need to learn certain things in school and how they apply in real life. I think back to all the things I learned and subsequently forgot because I thought it wasn’t going to be necessary in “real life”. I’m sure this has happened to everyone. But you need to plant that seed so kids get excited about learning the math and the science that we always hear about faltering, so they know what they have to do to reach an eventual goal of inventing something or helping people with science.

When I was thinking that a book might be the correct route, I began to outline the ideas I had for topics. I think they would be relevant as a framework for a volunteer speaking in front of a classroom. Here are some of those initial ideas:

  1. Why is great about engineering? What do engineers do?
    1. Example products are a great way to excite kids because it’s something tangible. If you show them the latest iPhone and tell them about all the different components inside and how they need to be made, kids will listen. If you tell them about how a bridge is made and how much weight they can support (preferably in units of #’s of elephants), they will listen. When you tell them that you can create an artificial limb for someone to walk again, they will listen. Stress all the different types of engineering and science and you will pique a lot of individual interests.
    2. Stress the fact that they can change the world.
    3. Sure, most engineers will tell you that there’s a lot of stuff that isn’t great about being an engineer or a scientist, but that’s not how you inspire people. You don’t tell a bunch of aspiring doctors how they’ll have to deal HMOs, do you? You don’t talk to aspiring lawyers about the boredom and monotony of reading legal cases for civil suits, do you? In this case, you tell them about designing and being creative and making things that will help the world. All the things that all of us aspire to do every day, even if we don’t get to. Extra points to the presenter who gives ideas to kids on how to inspire their creativity.
  2. What do you need to know to be an engineer?
    1. Math
      • This is probably one of the hardest subjects in school based solely on the fact that it is abstract. I remember the day that my calculus teacher started talking about a math theorem in terms of cars. Or the day I found out what a fourier transform really represented instead of the math you had to do in order to get a solution. Abstraction is something that is not learned until later in life and kids need reinforcement on why math is important. Hook them young and you’ll have a math fan for life (the other option is to force them to learn math at first and hope they appreciate it later…doesn’t work)
    2. Science
      • This is the obvious one and probably allows for the most demonstrations that will excite kids. It would also be a good opportunity to tie in the different types of engineering.
    3. Business
      • This is definitely something that engineers need but would really be a better way to work in other subjects that might not be thought of as necessary for aspiring scientists and engineers. Even English and history could be worked in as being necessary for writing and context. The idea would be to stress that all subjects are important in some way or another.
  3. Where can you learn more?
    1. Your parents/Your teachers/Your heroes
      • Stress good role models to kids. This is done in many avenues but cannot be done enough. Stop kids idolizing Pacman Jones, introduce them to Dean Kamen or Stephen Hawking. Make sure they know that they can learn a lot from their teachers and to utilize them any way possible.
    2. Wikipedia/Books/The internet
      • Curiosity didn’t kill the cat. It taught him something dangerous and then he was careless with it. Teaching kids to be curious is very important and stressing that they will need to teach themselves is even more important. Teaching oneself and doing useful research should be a class unto itself in college, let alone elementary/middle/high school.
    3. Each other
      • The most important thing that any aspiring scientist/engineer can do is to try something out themselves. Build a radio with a friend. Build a race car with a friend. Build a treehouse with a friend. Learn how to work well with others and don’t ever be afraid of failing. You will learn the most in your life from the things you don’t do right the first time.

Finally, in order to get this type of volunteer opportunity off the ground I think there would be some initial hurdles to get over:

  1. Finding volunteers
    • One of the problems with having engineers speak in front of kids is that…they’re engineers. Not so much the awkwardness factor (although I’m sure that could be a problem), but really the “having-a-day-job” factor. You’d have to ask engineers to take time out of their day to go speak at a school That could prove difficult.
    • Also, there would have to be a screening process, as bad as it sounds. A presentation that is boring in front of kids could have the opposite effect. Perhaps just a trial run for the volunteers to make sure they’re keeping kids engaged.
  2. Finding acceptance in schools
    • The target schools here would be middle to lower income. To be perfectly honest, I have no idea how receptive they would be to this idea, but there would definitely need to be planning.
    • Another hurdle would be maintaining contact. Say a volunteer goes to speak to kids once a year, then all the schools in an area would be covered pretty quickly. There would need to be an on-going effort with schools to maintain a program.
  3. Finding funding
    • Everything costs money. And similar to the point made above, engineers have day jobs, so someone would have to coordinate everything. That means assistants/interns/whoever and office supplies cost money. There could be a nominal fee to bring these people into schools, but then that contradicts with the above idea of middle-low income schools that might not have the funding. Perhaps there could be a corporate pairing (“JFK middle school loves Analog Devices!” t-shirts?) or perhaps with other professional organizations.
  4. Finding time
    • This is more of a personal thing. Sure I’d love to start this charity/volunteer thing, but it’s going to take some time to hash out and start up. If you’d like to help, let me know.
Life Work

2 years!

Today is the 2 year anniversary of when I officially entered the workforce. Or as I told my friend today, 2 down, 43 to go. Still, it’s a pretty crazy feeling. A couple things have been going through my head as I think about it.

1. I have a really long way to go

This is pretty obvious given my above comment. But I’m not really looking forward to retirement at all. I like being active and now that I’ve found something I enjoy doing I’m looking forward to what the future has in store for me.

2. I have already changed careers

In the end, my work at Samsung was valuable, but it was not a great situation. I decided to change careers in order to escape work I did not enjoy doing and to not have to deal with unnecessary stress.

3. I have a TON to learn

I’ll be posting more about this later, but it is really humbling when you try talking electronics with engineers who have been in the business for 20+ years. This was a major choice in moving and changing jobs so I knew it was coming. Plus, I really want to learn more.

4. I quit when the quitting was good

Another future post (what? I’m busy, people!) will be about knowing when to quit in bad situations. As much as I miss my friends in Austin, the feel of Austin and the lovely weather, I would do it all again in a heart beat. Sometimes things are just right.

5. Things I’ve accomplished

Short answer: Not much. I could blame this on a lot of things, but really the only one that matters is myself. I did not accomplish much at Samsung other than increasing my knowledge of Microsoft Excel and Powerpoint; I did keep the fab running smoothly and there’s something to be said about that. But I didn’t really change the world at all and I will be working on that more in the near future.

6. I’ve been out of school for 2 years now

This might be the most sobering thought of all. I really still think of myself as a student (not necessarily a bad thing), especially when going to the movies. But there are some different priorities that go along with no longer being a student. I try to network more now. I keep an eye on professional journals and towards any other career opportunities (I’m still happy at Keithley, don’t worry).  I drink less cheap college beer (ok, I still do once in a while). It’s just a different mindset now and I don’t think it’ll change if/when I go back for my master’s.

So that’s about it. 2 years down. Feels weird and I do miss the people I started with at Samsung. But I’d say I’m better off now.

Life Work

Another new goal: My career

Disclaimer: I am not a hippie

You may say that I have been on the verge of it a few times, but no, I’m not. Hell, you even look at my music choices and some of my political choices, but no, I’m not. Not saying hippies are bad people, I just think they lack some action on their admittedly good ideas, and that’s what I’m going for with all this. I want to define actions I want to take for my career.

I think I’d really like to work on renewable energy longterm.

So why did this come about? First, as anyone who reads these days, renewable energy is a definite need in the future and there will be great interest in it in the future (even after gas prices go back down, as they’re bound to). This in and of itself is not a great reason to change career goals, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that others talking about it got me thinking about it.

Another reason was because of a recent experience I had. My friend Dave took a few people out on his boat on Lake Erie (not the most carbon-neutral experience, but a fun one for sure). As we were sitting on the water, fishing with the setting sun to our back, I had a great view of Cleveland and the Lake Erie shoreline staring back out at me. I scanned the skyline and what do I see? Probably the most disgusting yellow cloud I’ve ever seen, just hanging over the coal fired power plant on the shore. And as we rode around, spewing some of our own fumes into the air (sorry ’bout that, we’ll take the sailboat next time), I could see that these clouds were not contained to around the power plant. They were everywhere. It was a pretty disgusting site (the reason you can’t see them usually is because of the angle of the sunlight and/or proximity to the lake).

The last reason (that I could think of) was when I almost had an anxiety attack the other day in a WalMart. I was there for a fishing license so I could go on the aforementioned boat and fish; as I stood in a line waiting to talk to a customer representative, I looked out over the immense store that they had just constructed. The shelves upon shelves and rows upon rows seem to go on forever. I don’t know if this was a particularly large WalMart in comparison to their other stores, but this one struck me as being gigantic. And I didn’t quite care about the size of the store (though I did think of the HVAC required for it) so much as all the crap on the shelves they were selling. The unspeakable numbers of trinkets and refined sugars that lay in wait, after their long journey from China where they may have been constructed by tiny hands or old hands or no hands at all. And before that, they may have been just oil in the ground, or sugar growing in the field. The effect it had on me is hard to describe, but it hit me pretty hard; I definitely teared up a little (not in the good way) and had a hard time breathing. I’m not one to stand on a soap box about large corporations, and that’s not what I’ll be doing here, but it made me think about a lot of world issues of sustainability and for that I’m grateful.

So why renewable energy?

As selfish as it may seem, I think it would fulfill a lot of my career goals.

  1. The opportunity for patents (a must-have personal career goal)
  2. Ability to positively affect the world (A long term personal goal too–who doesn’t want to be in the history books?)
  3. High likelihood of having my own company (even though this has no hope of me having reasonable hour)
  4. Working with intricate electronics

So despite my hope to work on this kind of work some day, there’s a long way to go. I know there are already a great deal of solutions out there, but really I would want to work with these people, hopefully from wherever I choose (another life goal). So, why do I think this could work for me?

  1. Background in test and measurement, a sure need for any electronics involving power storage and monitoring
  2. Possible association and/or development around Great Lakes Institute for Energy Innovation. This is an affiliate with my alma mater, Case Western Reserve University (Go Spartans!) and I think they will get funding and will be looking for entrepreneurs and possible grad students to work on this type of thing (I’m looking to go back to school eventually).
  3. Background in DSP, a possible way to improve monitoring capabilities and storage efficiencies
  4. Engineering and business mindset, as opposed to a scientist. Nothing wrong with scientists, just that sometimes the ability to get a product to market requires a different skillset. Profit is not the all important factor here (though it helps maintain a business model); instead, reaching the maximum amount of people at a reasonable cost is the most important factor (to create economies of scale)

The way I see it, there are a few options available to me in ways of working on renewable energy, some more plausible than others.

  1. Solar – There’s not a lot in NE Ohio, but there’s enough, apparently
  2. Wind – Anyone who has walked around Cleveland in the winter can tell you about the wind. The lake seems like a really great source of wind too, possibly the greatest energy resource in the NE.
  3. Biomass – This I would not be able to work on directly, seeing as my chemistry isn’t that great, but I think I could work out some devices to help monitor and improve efficiencies.
  4. Cyanobacteria – Again, biology is a weakness of mine, but I have a good friend considering doing a post doc in something in this field. Again, I’d be more of a measurements/instruments kind of designer, but whatever I can do, I will. And yes, that’d be a long way off, but he’s one of the few I’d consider starting a business with.

And now the most difficult thing, the first steps. Babies always start bolting around the living room when they figure out those first couple wobbly steps, and my development as an engineer interested in renewable energy will be similar I hope. I’d like to start with a small scale solar project. I think there are enough resources online and in print media to get this going, not to mention it won’t hit my wallet as hard as some of these projects can. I think a good first project would involve:

a.) Single solar panel
b.) Deep cycle battery
c.) Create a charging monitor device and/or an inverter
d.) Power small devices such as cell phone charger, etc.

This way I can find some of the beginner issues that would affect any new designs. After that I think I would like to move into more intricate re-designs of some of the components and begin constructing larger systems. I would also be interested in constructing a turbine made from commercial parts, as I have seen similar projects online similar to this idea.

My long term goals for sustainable, renewable energy would be a little bit selfish and hopefully a lot of bit helpful for others. I believe that you need to find issues by trying out products on yourself before you try and send them out to the market place. The first thing I think I would need to do is to create a sustainable living situation in NE Ohio. This would include solar panels on my house (still need to get one of those), efficient insulation and HVAC system throughout the house, a turbine in the yard with a self made battery storage system on my property AND have my electricity tied into the grid. Also, I would have a compost pit (hey, you gotta start somewhere). And the real long term goal would be to possibly break off and start a company, either part time or full time, and create products that would help the entire world become a better place to live.

Hey, I know that my goals are lofty…but I do not think they are unattainable. More importantly, I know that a lot of my conservation goals can start a lot sooner with improving efficiencies in my life and using solutions that are already in place. I hope that I will eventually be able to work on these life-altering energy methods and if you’re interested, I hope you’ll ask to help.

“Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler” ~Einstein

Life Work

Moving is hard!

So I don’t mean to complain…but well let’s be serious, that’s what blogs are all about, right?

Ok, so I won’t complain per se, but wow, moving is not how I remember it. I’ve even made the same move in the opposite direction. Granted, last time I did not have a dog nor a girlfriend moving with me (having Jess there actually made it easier), but I think I actually had more stuff back then (somehow). In reality, I’ve had it really easy. Here’s some of the stuff that made it easier on me:

1. Movers to pack and ship everything! That was a crazy idea to me. I actually wasn’t allowed to pack anything, or else I was liable. They were really nice too. Now that I’m in Cleveland, all I have to do is say the word and they will come and unload and unpack a bunch of the stuff. How crazy is that?

2. Having a furnished apartment for a few weeks. This saved me and Jess the trip up to Cleveland before we actually moved. Not like there was actually a lot of time in between finding out and our move (3 weeks maybe?), but it took a lot of the stress off. We’ve had the time to look for a place since we arrived.

3. 2 weeks off before starting. Normally I’d say this isn’t much time, but really getting this job was predicated on the fact that they need someone to start as soon as possible. This allowed us the time to find a place, which we are renting. Buying may be something we look at in the next few months with the idea that we would sublet our current place.

So what’s the bad of all this? I mean, we really do have it easy overall. However, there are always downsides:

1. Expense. We had to pay a lot of stuff out of pocket. Most noticeably, we had to pay to ship Jess’ car up here. Sure, we could have driven it up with each of in each car, but that would have been miserable. Plus, we had just had some work done on the car and we weren’t exactly confident in the car. C’est la vie, it’s a tax write off at least 🙂

2. Holy Crap, February is the worst month to move. Doubly so for Cleveland. Man, even moving to Austin would have been bad. As a good example, the moving company that packed and moved all of out stuff only had our stuff coming back up to Cleveland. That’s a huge moving van with maybe enough room to move 2 full houses and it really only had our 900 sq foot house. But nope, we had it all to ourselves, because NO ONE wants to move to Cleveland in February. We’re special!

3. Finding a place. You’d think finding a house in this crappy real estate market would be easy, but it really wasn’t. First off, I made the wrong assumption that the real estate agents were no good around here as I thought they were in Austin. But we ended up using an agent who was really helpful (for a rental). We would have liked to look for a house to buy with this buyers market, but there really wasn’t time. We tried craigslist at first, and that was an almost complete bust. Let’s just say the first house we looked at had this creepy lady who was insisting that we should buy her house…even though water damage on the first floor destroyed almost the entire house…and she showed it to us in that condition. Psychooooooo.

So yeah, I’m a bit of a whiner, but moving really is hard. We are probably moving again in a year, but hopefully we won’t have to deal with it until then. Let me know if you want to see pictures of our new place, they should be up in a bit.

Life Work

1 goal down…New Job!

I haven’t posted for a while, obviously.

But in the interim, good things have been happening. The number 1 thing being: I got a new job!

I will be working for Keithley Instruments, located in Solon, OH. My position will be Manufacturing Design Engineer, and I will be working directly with my good friend Dave Young. I am really excited about this opportunity and company. Here’s some of the highlights:

  1. I will be doing design work. Not all the time, but some. And the learning opportunities in this position are boundless. That is what has me most excited. Every day will be different, every day will be a challenge; this is the reason I got into engineering. Plus, I will have the opportunity to go back to school for my masters in a related field (analog)! How awesome is that??
  2. Jess will be moving with me to Ohio. We have talked about doing this for a while, mostly because nightshift nearly ruined our relationship. This is a perfect chance for us to start fresh and it is going to be great. Jess will have to find a new job, which is unfortunately stressful for her, but we are hoping she can get back into career counseling, which is her chosen field.
  3. I will be roughly 1200 miles closer to my family. This is obviously not part of the job, but a side benefit. No more hunting for plane tickets and sitting in airports for 8 hours. Now all I have to do is hop on the I-90, watch out for cops and fight the snow! Plus, Jess gets to see Buffalo! (yay?)
  4. I get to meet Jess’ family. Apparently it’s bad form to not meet your girlfriends’ extended family after dating for a year and a half :/ But now I get to! We will be within 2 hours of the farm, where we look forward to seeing her family and watching Lola romp with the cattle.
  5. Back to the job, the hours are flextime, which was a goal listed in my New Years resolution. Make no mistake, these will be non-stop, brain pulsing activity, which is in contrast to the Samsung sit and wait (due to waiting for tools/experiments to finish). This will make for a healthier work environment. Plus I can now spend each evening with Jess and Lola, something I won’t take for granted.

There are, of course, downsides to any situation. And while these should be downplayed in most situations, I think they should be listed here for the sake of historical accuracy (or at least until this blog dies a slow, quiet death)…

  1. The people. How can I describe how wonderful the people have been? Austinites in general are very friendly people and I think I have joined them in that regard. But my friends that I have made while I’ve been down here will be the hardest to leave. Most are friends I made when I started at Samsung and we’ve all been through a lot together. I have also made other friends in town that will be missed dearly, not to mention my roomate Steve, who seems destined to follow me back to Cleveland (he’s followed me everywhere else!). You will all be missed and you will all be visited…by me…and I’ll probably drink all the beer in your fridge while I do…
  2. The weather. No denying that this is a huge climate shift, as it was when I moved down here. The day I wrote this (in February), was 75 and sunny all day. Contrast with the gray and cloudy 40 degree Cleveland, and yeah, there’s a difference. We’re going to try our best to fight the winter blues (tanning, working out, going skiing, beer) and when spring and summer come around, we’ll appreciate it that much more.
  3. The city. Granted, Austin did not turn out to be what I expected. I expected full on, 24/7, can’t escape it, the most euphoric sound ever to bounce off your eardrums, music. Instead I have had some really great concerts and music experiences peppered in with a slew of mediocre bands trying to get their name out by playing covers (when does this work?). Music aside though, I love Austin. It’s like that adolescent kid trying to fit into his old elmo t-shirt. It’s geeky, yet hip. It’s growing, yet feels intimate. It’s old, yet new. I could definitely see myself ending up in Austin again as long as it maintains some integrity and doesn’t turn into Dallas.
  4. The pay is less because I won’t be working nightshift. To this I say: Good riddance. Working at Samsung taught me that quality of life is a very important factor in work. In fact, this extends beyond salary and benefits (both of which were better at Samsung). If you are being better compensated for a job that overworks you and you don’t enjoy the work, you probably need to step back and re-evaluate. So I did…and I tried to get  a new job…and then this one fell in my lap. Sometimes things just work out the way they should, you know?

So that’s it. Pretty big news. I’m super stressed about the move, but I’m sure everything will go fine. I’ll try to update once we get to Cleveland. Ohio, here we come!

Life Work

New Year’s Resolutions

I’m not one to make resolutions. Personally, I think many times people are setting themselves up for failure when they pick a random day to start doing everything they meant to in life, especially the big broad goals. However, in the spirit of the season, I’m going to throw everything I just mentioned out the window and list some stuff I want to do this year, mostly so I have these things recorded somewhere I’ll view them again.

  1.  Gain 10 pounds of muscle by April. Achieve this by going to the gym at least 2 times per week and doing high intensity lifting workouts.
  2. Be able to play a Chopin piano piece. Also, be able to improvise with piano over a simple chord progression (ii-V-I)
  3. Join a band and play 1 gig in the next year (drums)
  4. Increase my investing prowess by reading annual reports of all currently held stocks and doing thorough analysis of any new stocks that interest me.
  5. Finally and most importantly, I would like to find work that is more fitting to my personality and needs. However, I would like to make sure this position leaves me enough time to live life and spend time with those I love. I am willing to sacrifice money and possibly even my future career prospects to achieve this goal. This means I desire to:
    1. Work roughly 40-45 hours per week (the most negotiable of these desires)
    2. Have flexible vacation time and some amount of assurance that I will not be working on major holidays.
    3. Given responsibility and be judged on merit, and not time spent at the office.
    4. Be driven to create value and something of use to the world and my company
    5. Enjoy spending time with my co-workers

The last item about work is indicative of my generation. We realize that work is a main part of life and want to integrate it with all other aspects of living. To do so I think I need many of the things listed above. To end this post, I will paste in a story that I have sitting by my desk at work and read just about every day. I must admit, I found the story on the wall at Jimmy John’s first (my favorite sub shop), but it was too good to pass up. Here it is with the link where I found it. I hope it helps to illuminate how I think about work.

An American tourist was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat with just one fisherman docked.

Inside the small boat were several large yellowfin tuna. The tourist complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.

The Mexican replied, “Only a little while.”

The tourist then asked, “Why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more fish?”

The Mexican said, “With this I have more than enough to support my family’s needs.”

The tourist then asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

The Mexican fisherman said, “I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life.”

The tourist scoffed, ” I can help you. You should spend more time fishing; and with the proceeds, buy a bigger boat: With the proceeds from the bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor; eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing and distribution. You could leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then Los Angeles and eventually New York where you could run your ever-expanding enterprise.”

The Mexican fisherman asked, “But, how long will this all take?”

The tourist replied, “15 to 20 years.”

“But what then?” asked the Mexican.

The tourist laughed and said, “That’s the best part. When the time is right you would sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions.”

“Millions?…Then what?”

The American said, “Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take siesta with your wife, stroll to the village in the evenings where you could sip wine and play your guitar with your amigos.”

Reposted from



Hello everyone. I figured for a first post, it would be useful to explain why I decided to start a namesake site and subsequently begin blogging (again). The site is for three things:

  1. To create a personal brand, mostly for my professional life. This does not mean that I will speak and post only about work and work related issues, but more so that I will keep this blog and site clean of vulgar and incriminating content.
  2. My ego. Everyone has one, and I’m no exception.
  3. People are going to find information on you no matter where they look, why not put it all in one place and help them out?

So who are you?

I’m guessing you’re either a new acquaintance looking me up for the first time, an old friend checking in to see how I’m doing, a potential or current employer doing due diligence on a wonderful human being, or a family member who somehow finagled the web address out of me. To all of you, welcome. I hope you learn a little more about me.

In first line of this post I alluded to the fact that this is not my first blog. I have had multiple personal blogs, ranging from life experiences, to trips to Korea, to my most recent attempt at starting a money making site. To be fair, you (the reader) have probably never read any of the other sites, as I usually fall in and out of favor with my inner-poet. Translation: I’m not very good at updating blogs. So if you see this site start to fall by the way-side, feel free to contact me and tell me to post something new. I won’t post my email for fear of spam, but I’m sure you either already have my email (how else would you have found me?) or you are resourceful enough to find it.

Again, thanks for coming.