Me 2016

Armen Kaleshian

Thoughts of a life hacker

Politics '12
Guido Angry
akale
I don't like discussing politics, and so I rarely make public posts regarding the topic. However, today, I dealt with a situation on a social network that required additional commentary. If you aren't interested in reading about my view on politics, and/or specifically, the topic as it pertains to the current election cycle in the US, feel free to go occupy your time elsewhere (I like kongregate.com; you may as well).

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In this incident, a 'friend' on this social network posted a link to the following YouTube video of Trump revealing his 'big announcement' today.

I heard of the announcement a couple of days ago, and wasn't expecting much. Based on my previous assessment of Trump, I regard him as a flamboyant attention seeker, with deep pockets. The comment associated with the video post was to the affect of, 'Obama sucks; he hasn't accomplished anything. Why would he not take Trump up on his offer to donate to kids?'. Did I mention that the comment was entirely in capitals?

I watched the video in its entirety and my opinion of Trump stayed exactly the same; a flamboyant attention seeker with deep pockets. I commented on the OP's wall, stating that this was 'a dumb stunt' and that 'the only person it benefits is Trump, since he'll have a $5m tax write-off for 2012.' The reply was quick from the OP, mentioning that Trump was going to exclusively donate to kids, who cares if Trump gets a write-off, and restatement of the original opinion that President Obama hasn't accomplished a thing while in office.

As an engineer, I gather, analyze data, and make an appropriate decision on my discovery. I watched the video again, and quoted in my reply that Trump states '... a charity of his choice' to negate the claim that the money would only go to children. For the second point, specifically around jobs, I visited the Bureau of Labor Statistics to find information against the point that President Obama has not improved the employment situation in the US since the financial issue of Q4'09. I found that the September unemployment rate was 7.8%; that 142M people are employed, compared to the worst in Q4'10, when only 137M were. In my opinion (whether it be by direct involvement of President Obama or not), that's a +5M person gain in employment over roughly two years. This growth occurred on President Obama's watch, and it deserves credit.

My frustration with this scenario is that it proves the voting majority are making decisions based on all points other than the raw data. I understand that humans are emotional; I understand that humans have an affinity to physical appearance that appeases them, but depending on those two points to decide the future leader of the most powerful country in the world is ridiculous.

Over the years, I found myself aligning with candidates and issues that were fiscally conservative, and socially liberal. Early on, I associated myself with the Republican party, but soon discovered that their opinions on social issues were completely backward (especially recently). Today, I'm a registered independent, because I don't agree with either major partys' agenda in its entirety. I respect the concept of Libertarianism but understand that it will never be implemented, as its closely related to a form of anarchism. I hope that over the course of time, the Republican and Democratic parties of today merge (as its obvious they've both swayed from their core over the past +200 years), and a new party emerges to cater to those who share the same opinions as I.

I'm frustrated by the partisan stances the majority of the population hold, without having properly validated their alignment; blind allegiance is why this country is where it is.

Do your research.
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Nesting
Me 2012
akale
The Verona I had this afternoon is keeping me awake so I decided to make a very overdue post.

My wife and I are expecting! When she told me the news, which was several months ago, I became quite emotional. It wasn't a surprise because we were trying, but the realization that I was going to be a father set in immediately. It wasn't fear, but an excitement and a sense of responsibility that had no comparison.

Each day, especially lately, since we now have the baby's ultrasound photos on the fridge, I act with more purpose than I have in quite a while. It's an awesome feeling! Granted, there was some time initially, after the initial news had set in, where I felt overwhelmed, only because my wife appeared to be so prepared and I felt eons behind.

After reading two books, one being the baby owner's manual, which is a great read, and a visit to look at nursery furniture, I'm feeling more prepared each day.

Regarding the title of the post, we decided when we moved in, that we would want to completely renovate the den (which is a room between the garage and the kitchen) when we had a chance. The chance arrived, and I've been working on it since Labor Day.

I removed all of the old paneling, and have started to remove and isolate the circuits between the rest of the house, the den, and the garage. The end result will be to have each of the spaces be on separate circuits.

Additionally, I'll be foaming the joints between all the studs, the ceiling, and the exterior walls. Once that's done, insulation will be added as there were only pieces of aluminum foil between the paneling and the exterior walls.

The end result is to have a cozy family room where we can spend time together.

I never realized where my dad would get the strength and the perseverance to work on tasks that he had never done before; I do now.

Being a father (or at least knowing you're going to be one), gives you this energy that can't be explained. It's a combination of strength, courage, calmness, and inherent wisdom that helps you overcome obstacles that you knew you wouldn't be able to before.

I'll continue to post more, especially regarding the progress of the room, and soon after completing it, the arrival of our first child.

Inspiration from a jump rope
Me 2016
akale
I'm still sore.

My calves aren't as bad as they were yesterday, but I can still feel it... and it feels awesome.

I've always been pretty happy about how quickly my body gets into a rhythm once I start training regularly, and this time it's no different. I already feel that my energy level is elevated, and my mood has definitely improved.

I started seriously working out as soon as I started college in the fall of '98, and have been off and on since then. The one constant in my repertoire had always been the elliptical because it was low impact, and I could burn a ridiculous amount of calories. Coupled with a mid-range weight training regime, it would only take a few weeks for great results.

Over the past few years, I developed a negative connotation to the elliptical, and every time I would think about getting on it, I'd lose interest. I'd have to force myself, but once I was mid-workout, I was in a good place. I tried mixing up my cardio workouts with the stair climber, the rowing machine, and the 'dreadmill' (coined by a colleague of mine), but none of them really incited the same inspiration that I felt for the elliptical.

Tuesday, the rope did it. The rope brought back the excitement of the challenge of overcoming an obstacle only limited by my own creativity. On top of that, I realized that I didn't have to be at the gym, or need anything else when I wanted to visit with it again; all I needed was the rope.

I intent on visiting with the rope later this afternoon, and even though I'm still sore, I really can't wait.

If you haven't picked up a rope lately, pick one up; it might be the change you've been looking for.

New York City
Random Beach Chair
akale
Two weekends ago, for our first wedding anniversary, Sheena and I took the train to Manhattan. We had a fantastic time, and the following is a set of what I think are the best photos from the weekend.

Midtown Manhattan from the Empire State Building
_MG_2315

Read more...Collapse )

The rest of the set is on Flickr here.

Finding Happiness
Random Beach Chair
akale
Yesterday, after helping with the MINIs On Top packing party, I came home, and for the first time in months spent hours tidying up my workspace. It felt absolutely wonderful when I was finished.

As a child, I was always tidy, and always kept my room, my own space, clean. This habit continued as I became an adult, when others thought that it would dwindle over time. Once, a good friend of mine invited a friend of his over to my first apartment, and when entering for the first time, asked if I had someone to regularly come clean. I chuckled, only because, for this individual, a space couldn't become that clean without the work of an expert. I guess, 20 years of cleaning up after myself, I can call myself an expert.

I found happiness in my own space yesterday evening. It had been a long time coming, and since moving into our new house, priorities above my own took precedence.

What I'm slowly coming to realize is that a balance between routine and non-routine is important. Keeping a routine has always been part of my core, and I realized last night, that it's okay when you steer away from it for a while. However, in an effort to have a bit more structure in my life, I've decided to implement a bit of a daily schedule, now that the number of fires that we've been used to putting out have dwindled.

I intend (again) to make posting here, and especially, to write in my paper journal as part of that schedule for my own sanity.

Morning Routine
Me 2016
akale
"So what would our mornings look like if we re-engineered them in the interest of maximizing our creative-problem-solving capacities?

We’d set the alarm a few minutes early and lie awake in bed, following our thoughts where they lead (with a pen and paper nearby to jot down any evanescent inspirations). We’d stand a little longer under the warm water of the shower, dismissing task-oriented thoughts (“What will I say at that 9 a.m. meeting?”) in favor of a few more minutes of mental dilation. We’d take some deep breaths during our commute instead of succumbing to road rage. And once in the office — after we get that cup of coffee — we’d direct our computer browser not to the news of the day but to the funniest videos the Web has to offer."


-- Annie Murphy Paul @anniemurphypaul http://ti.me/xq8PrU

Yes. So much yes, that I want to go to sleep right now, so I can wake up tomorrow and try this.



228 Days
Me 2016
akale
As the subject of this entry suggests, it’s been 228 days since I last wrote in this journal; how disappointing. However, in perspective to time within the universe, 228 days isn’t much, but in a human’s lifetime, so much can change, and in this segment of time, so much has changed, yet so little has changed. Confused yet?

Looking back to the past seven months, here’s a brief overview:

A combined family Christmas
New Year’s Eve with good friends
Wedding planning
Wedding planning
Wedding planning
Wedding planning
Wedding planning
Wedding!
Honeymoon!
Back to work...

Find the theme? In all seriousness, most of our free time was taken up by planning the minutia of our wedding. To this day, I’m baffled by how we put together the largest party of our lives in such short time. Last night, we watched our wedding video for the first time (taken by my Godfather, and uncle), and couldn’t believe by how spectacular it really was. In the moment, you lose track of yourself, time, and all the details you painstakingly planned because you’re so busy with being a newlywed couple. Both my bride and I agreed that without teamwork, it would not have been as successful. All of our guests enjoyed themselves, and we still hear about how well appointed the venue was. ‘Twas a day that we wanted not to be ever forgotten, not by us, nor by any of our family and friends.

With that said, our adventure to the island of Kauai was well deserved (as any who have planned a wedding can attest to). It was paradise, plain and simple. We enjoyed every aspect of being away from responsibility, reveling in each other, and our achievement. The scenery was magnificent, and if any who read this ever have the opportunity to visit, I behoove you to before you are unable. I have traveled quite a bit, and have seen some wonderful places, but this island is majestic in a sense that can only paralleled to a prehistoric place. It was explained to us that Kauai was the oldest out of the main islands, and it most certainly shows.

This photo was taken at the start of our drive through the Waimea Canyon.
_MG_0877

Having returned from our trip to paradise and completed a majority of our post-wedding obligations, we’re ready to embark on a new adventure of selling our current home, and finding a new one to satisfy our current and future needs.

I’ll be keeping this journal as a public view of my paper/pencil journal as it has generally been in the past. Feel free to check back from time to time, and I’ll make sure post more frequently.

Code!
Me 2016
akale
For a while now, I’ve been alluding to working on a project without providing any details on what it is. I figured that it’s about time I mention something a bit more concrete to my only real on-line thought repository.

Several years ago, a few folks wanted to start a web based forum for like minded automobile enthusiasts that weren’t quite happy with the current state of affairs at the site we were all on. Fast forward 3+ years, and our little community has grown to 301 members, averaging about 2550 views and 60 posts a day. This may not sound like much, but I’m really quite happy with how well it’s kept together.

From a technical perspective, the site runs a normal LAMP stack, on a slice with only 256MB of RAM. Yep. That’s right. Skin/Bones. I had to optimize the db and web servers significantly. On top of that, I have APC and memcache running in the background to help with streamlining content to the webserver. Overall, quite pleased.

A little more than a year ago, some members asked for the ability to synchronize the site’s calendar entries to their mobile devices/personal calendars. After whiteboarding a couple of ideas, I decided that an integration with Google Calendar would be the safest bet, as users have the ability to sync through whatever means Google Calendar supports (e.g. ics, xml, etc.). The challenge was to provide an automated mechanism to synchronize calendar entries to a Google Calendar.

Development from start to finish really took about eight months. In the process, I learned *quite* a bit about PHP, and I’m really happy with the end result. There are a few features that I’d like to add in the future, but for now, not only is it working well on the site it was meant for, but it’s deployed on a few other sites as well.

The name of the project is called gCalSync. Releases happen here at simplemachines, and the sourcecode is housed here on my own subversion server.

I’m really quite happy with how it turned out. I hadn’t written anything worthwhile since late 2003, and this was my first real attempt at getting back “into it”. In addition to porting this to the next major release of SMF, I’m working on another small project with the help of a couple of friends, and hope to make it more public in the near future.

The Clarity of Mind?
Me 2016
akale
While reviewing code this afternoon, for a personal project that I’m working on, I realized that I had already solved a problem that I had been struggling with for a couple of weeks. The reason I felt compelled to write about it here is because I occasionally encounter moments like these, especially when working on a technical problem.

Ever since I was young, I would wear headphones and listen to music without lyrics when working on technical problems. It helped focus my busy state of mind on the issue at hand, and I would find myself taking them off hours later completely unaware of how much time had passed. Even now, I really can’t focus without having a pair of headphones on. I understand the concept of learned response, and I can bet that wearing headphones every time I embarked on a mentally strenuous exercise definitely affixed the association in my head.

The strangest part about all of this is that when I look at solutions that I devised while wearing headphones when not wearing them, it takes me quite a while to figure it out. There have been times where I couldn’t believe that I had solved a problem so elegantly.

The solution that I was reviewing minutes before I posted was not as elegant as others, but what impressed me was at how complete it was. For weeks now, I had thought the problem was left to be solved from scratch without even a ‘back of napkin’ solution.

It’s nice to surprise yourself sometimes. :)

Weekend Photography
Random Beach Chair
akale
As mentioned in my previous post about Photography, I was finally able to process and edit the pictures from a couple of weekends ago. Compared to pictures from the past, between composure, exposure, and post-processing, these are the best I’ve ever taken.

In the 4+ years that I’ve owned the XTi (I know I mentioned this in the previous post), I’ve learned an incredible amount, and I realized that a lot of it is becoming comfortable with your own equipment. Naturally, most cameras have the shutter release in the same general area, and the procedure to zoom is the same on most SLRs, but the nuances of each rig (body+lens) are completely different. You only start to realize them as you shoot more frequently, and you analyze the result. I was really impressed by the results from this set, and I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

Update: I've moved my hosted photos from my own server to Flickr. I haven't had yet an opportunity to synchronize the sets, but once I do, I'll update the links below.

Choice cuts from the set...Collapse )

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