Sunday, August 26, 2007

First Week Back

So this week I started school for the Fall 2007 semester. Boy am I going to be busy. I have 3 classes, a TA position (~10 hours/week), and an RA position (~10 hours/week). And we all know that the assistantships say 10 hours/week, but both will be pulling at me for more time (especially the RA). So I am stretched thin to say the least. However, I am excited to be back in the throngs of school. I really do enjoy learning new things and applying them (especially since I have cool robots to work with).

Two of my three classes are going to be very tough. They are crazy math-intensive classes. They are creating the fundamentals of my Control Theory pursuits, though. So they are very important. One class is called Control Systems. The other is Linear Estimation, Kalman Filtering. They will help me use math to model the Hovercrafts and Autonomous Vehicles I work with. They will help me to make them move properly and control their internal forces that govern how they operate. Also the classes will help me in my SLAM endeavors. The third class is primarily a lab-driven course about Sensors and Instrumentation. This is a convenient class for me because all my robots employ the use of sensors to help them navigate and control their actions. So it helps to understand how those sensors work on a deeper level. I know, I know, it all sounds very complicated, and tre boring. But, that's my academic life!

Celeste is finally taking a breather from her choreography work in Beauty and the Beast. The show went really well according to reports from friends and acquaintances. We never made it to an official show because we were a little tuckered out, and decided to finally spend a good weekend together as a whole family. Now Celeste is just looking forward to staying home and caring for our cute Brooklyn. She's getting herself involved in tons of home projects, sewing things, and crafting things, and organizing things. It's what she loves doing these days. And I must say her creativity is boundless. She just picks up a new idea and runs with it. Now I can't wait until that puppet idea finally takes off. That will be a fun one!

Brooklyn is cute as can be. She's loving those little feet of hers. She grabs them at every opportunity. I can't believe that she'll be 4 months old soon. Time sure goes by quickly.

This weekend we took a quick trip to the pool because I got off school early. It was really fun. Brooklyn just stared dazedly at the water. I don't know what was running through that little brain, but I think she liked it. We also saw the movie "Stardust". It was one of the best movies we had seen in a long time. Written by Neil Gaiman, I knew the story would be fulfilling, and to top it off, there were plenty of fun special effects to flesh out the magical kingdom of Stormhold. It was a really great action/romance movie.

Another fun thing we did this weekend was go out to lunch with my friend Shu. Here's a back-story. Shu was working in a lab in China during his Master's degree at Peking University. About November 2005, their lab received some free hardware that included some FPGAs. He started tinkering around and realized that you could put an Operating System on them. He tried doing it himself, and quickly figured out that he was in over his head. So he Googled the process and guess name came up from a web page detailing the same work I was doing that previous summer. Linux on FPGA. I was only too intimately familiar with that process. Anyways, he saw that the first name on the page was a professor and figured, "That guy is probably way too busy to bother with my questions." So he googled the next name on the list, Brad Baillio, and realized I was a Gmail user. He added me to his GTalk. He attempted the process we detailed on our web page and he got stuck. A day or two later, I was on GTalk and he started IMing me. Well ever since then we've been keeping in contact. He successfully got Linux on his FPGA and did some amazing stuff with it. He finished his Master's degree, and applied for a PhD program here in the states. He was accepted at UIUC, and so he moved here this Fall. We were finally able to meet after almost 2 years of contact! It was really nice. He took us to a Chinese restaurant and ordered for us. It was really good food, and it was great to talk to him in person. We mostly talked about China.

Anyways, it was an interesting week, and I'm sure the start of a busy yet interesting semester.


mark said...

You don't know how excited I am to hear that Brooklyn loves the water. You have no idea. Your schedule sounds like a killer, especially with all those cerebal classes. It made my eyes hurt just to read the titles. What a fun story about your friend Shu. It is high respect for in China for someone to order meals for you in a restaurant. Ahhh... Celeste and time and creativity...magic happens. You all have fun GTalking your way through applying Linux on your FPGA, just don't hurt anything.
Love you guys.

Tracy Barrand said...

What an awesome connection with Shu. I love the way gmail and google connect people doing amazing things with Linux on his FPGA. Hey you got a great meal out of it.

Kristin said...

Whoa! Slow down there smart boy! You're not speaking my language! But it's cool that you actually know what you're saying. How cool is that about your friend. And what are the chances that he would end up at Illinois. I'm glad Celeste is finding things that she likes. I admire anyone who does crafty things because I just do not have the patience for it. Well, good luck with school and everything else!

Bruce said...

Sounds like some interesting classes, but you do the math (I'll stick with arithmetic). Aaron came home to visit this weekend and so Mom, Aaron and I went to see Stardust. We all really liked it. Good call.

Great story about Shu. (you famous Google celeb) Things happen for a reason. Give Brooklyn a big hug from Grandma & Grandpa Baillio. That looked like fun in the pool. Love to you all.....