Friday, March 28, 2008

the quest for greatness

thinking about it briefly, the difficulty in blazing new trails is trying to make the most of now with the future you envision in mind---how do you optimize current situations for unknown outcomes? to be a bit more clear, if my purpose in life is to be a dentist, how do i keep myself from not feeling down when i get rejected from engineering school? how can i say with true confidence that i am doing all that i need to be doing right now? how do i know that my phd progress is not a waste of time in the grand scheme of things?

making the most of current situations and learning from every experience help make sense of the questions, but i do think there is much room for thought along these lines. regardless, the fact remains that we must be cognisant of where we are in our lives. success is not an accident, and it takes a great deal of work. this means planning as well. you don't just wake up and decide to run the ny marathon. but, how many of us really do sit down and plan out our lives? have we taken the time to write our goals down (short and long-term) since 5th grade? when is the last time you dreamed? these are all crucial pieces to the puzzle that we get "too busy" for---forgetting the importance of it all. what would your response be to me asking you "what is your dream?" ..........good question.....i'll let that one sit for a minute (because it's friday @ 7:30 pm and i am just now leaving work, FOOD and the ncaa tourney are calling)

Thursday, March 27, 2008


that's how i have been feeling for a couple of weeks now. i have been able to ignore it for the most part because i have been so immersed in my work, but as things quiet a bit, i can't ignore it with much success. the last two days were very unproductive as i found it very difficult to focus and think through my next steps. i hope these days that i have let slip through my fingers do not come back to haunt me come may 6th. ANYWAY, gotta shake that off and stay on the grind.

today was a more productive day, and i hope to keep the work ethic and motivation up until i leave for the summer. the paper is in its final stages and is looking pretty good. the feedback has been pretty positive in my opinion, but there are some minor changes that need to be made to make it better. i really hope the paper gets accepted. i am looking at spending the next few days, yes.....including the weekend, polishing the document for submission monday. my reward for submitting this paper is IMMEDIATELY shifting gears to bang out another paper in a month. i know this is insane, but it's gotta be done. how does the saying go, shoot for the moon and if you miss you will land among the stars...

Monday, March 24, 2008

research is hard

i ran full-speed into a wall today. it's too early at this point to know if this derails my progress over the past couple of weeks, but i am definitely investigating the matter thoroughly to ensure my conclusions are still correct and all other possibilities are ruled out. coming up with accurate conclusions that are scientifically sound is extremely difficult. i guess that is where the expert knowledge creeps in unknowingly; during the process of making sure everything is correct and no other possibilities exist.

it was really hard to focus today. my mind was wondering all over the place. i cannot afford to waste any days. i hope tomorrow proves to be more productive and efficient.

Friday, March 21, 2008

good friday

came in to the office for a few hours today to stay on top of my work and progress. the time was productive, and monday should be more of the same hard work i have been used to since january.

hard work is a habit. goals don't satisfy themselves. and i am a creature of habit with more goals than excuses. let's get get get it!!!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

beginning to see some reward

so for the last couple of months, i have really been busting it to get a couple of publications before i leave for the summer. the underlying purpose of this goal was to force myself to make substantial progress this academic year and put me closer to finishing my degree. the first deadline is approaching (April 1), and i am putting the finishing touches on my submission. looking back at the self-imposed stress and pressure to make this happen, i cannot help but to feel a sense of amazement and enjoyment at my productivity in such a "short" (2 months) period of time. the work is enough to be proud of, but the paper that i have produced is looking pretty darn good as well. i am in the process of getting feedback from my colleagues before submitting. this will be my first full-paper submission of my phd, another milestone along my maturation into a research scientist. as soon as this submission chapter is closed, i immediately have to shift gears and prepare for the next deadline. this switch will be a true test as i need to both conduct the research and write it up in about a month's time. it's possible, but it will take a lot of efficient work and planning.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

right before our eyes

i oftentimes listen to dr. martin luther king, jr. or brother malcolm speeches an am just so moved by the passion and awe inspired by merely hearing their voices. effective does not even begin to describe how special these individuals were in conveying messages that needed to be heard. the dynamics of their their presence and conviction to the cause coupled with oratory skills second to none solidified these men's places in the history books forever.

listening to sen. obama's speech from yesterday gave me a similar chill to hearing martin and malcolm. i heard a passion that america so desperately needs at the reigns. i heard a man ready to deal with issues that no one else has dared to speak in public. i heard a man that is determined to affect the change we have so long needed in this country. i am sure i speak for everyone that watched the video when i say that i was moved beyond belief. if any of us have questioned "who will be the next martin or malcolm," i think it's safe to say that he is right in front of our eyes and stands a damn good chance of becoming our next leader. i had no idea sen. obama that you had that type of conviction in you. i thought i was behind you 100% before, but it is clear that i wasn't. HOWEVER, i am with you 100% to the end most definitely now!!!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

300 posts in

i definitely didn't imagine i would still be blogging strong when i first began way back in my first year. saying that time flies is an understatement. i am not sure what it is about growing older and having more concerns/worries that makes you more aware of how fast time passes. in any case, we must remember to maximize our time and use it most efficiently as it is one of the most precious things we have total ownership and control over. everybody has the same twenty-four in each day, so why should anyone be more productive than you?

ok, now on to school stuff......

after a hectic day yesterday, i got back on track today with my paper, and things are really starting to come full circle. i am feeling more and more confident in my work each day. however, the writing process is DIFFICULT. i cannot stress that enough. scientific writing is truly a gift like public speaking. some people just have a knack for it i guess. hopefully my next paper will be a bit easier. speaking of my next paper, i need to begin working on it as well because it's deadline is in may. and, i still need to map out what i want to do, run the experiments, and write it up. when i set out with these goals back in january, i knew it would be tough. i almost have one objective complete. this next paper though will require even more work than i am putting in on this paper. if i can get both papers finished and ACCEPTED, this will have been an awesome year and put me right where i want to be coming off my internship and entering my fourth and final year (fingers-crossed).

Monday, March 17, 2008

absolutely AMAZING

had an awesome time skiing over the past 4 days. it's a must that i go again. check the pictures out on my website.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

getting things together

the last couple days have been very hectic as i was trying to get this paper into a state where i can begin to get feedback from my colleagues. it's crazy how difficult it is to write a complete, clear, and concise document. language is a very powerful tool, and it is amazing how clear something may be to you but totally confusing to someone else. it's definitely an art and a great skill to be able to write in a very simple and clear manner without being too elementary. i guess this is another one of those skills that one learns during a phd, or any research process. as to the status of the paper, i am one draft away from being able to give it to a couple of people for feedback (I THINK...fingers-crossed).

i am heading to france (by way of geneva) to go skiing in the alps tomorrow morning (VERY early). i hope this small vacation helps me clear my mind and finish this rough draft early next week. i am really looking forward to skiing for the first time and having a wonderful time with my awesome friends i have met here in the uk. pictures and a full recap of the long weekend to come upon my return. later

in the meantime, check out these POWERFUL exerts from dick gregory at tavis smiley's state of the black union 2008 a few weeks back in new orleans, la. check out pts. 1,2, & 4 if you have time. this guy is a SUPER DYNAMIC speaker

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

getting back on the horse

it took a while to get going today, but i finished the day pretty productive. tomorrow is a big day as it is the last day before i go skiing, and i have a lot of work to get done between now and the end of tomorrow.

Monday, March 10, 2008

impossible to focus

i'm not sure if it was because today is my birthday or not, and subconsciously, i felt like i was supposed to have an easy day, but, i found it almost impossible to concentrate and be productive today. i got all of about 30 minutes worth of work done. i purposely did not come into work over the weekend because i needed the rest as i worked so hard the latter part of last week. i guess that pseudo-vacation spilled over into today. i have got to get back on the horse quick and fast because i am off skiing in france thursday morning through sunday. anyway, it's still my birthday so i am gonna enjoy the rest of the day.

Friday, March 07, 2008

i had forgot what stress felt like

whew.....the last couple of days have been very intense and stressful. i guess that can be attributed to the amount of pressure i tend to put on myself when it is time to produce. to help put this into better perspective, this is a NO STRESS environment. i do not feel any stress or pressure from my advisor or my peers. this paper is not mandatory for anything. i have just put my mind to completing this work and writing it up in order to submit to this conference. obviously, this progress relates to my degree as well, but again, there is no formal time limit or timeline for me to complete my degree (only the time limit until i burn out). i have time. i have been working on this paper for over a month now, and everything is finally beginning to come full circle. but, it has not come about without many long hours and hard work. yesterday, i felt that my paper was pretty crappy, but after reading it again this morning, i realized that it was pretty d*mn good after all. there are minor changes/additions that will need to be made in the next week or so. the content is pretty solid as well, and there are only a few weak spots in the paper. i plan to begin addressing these issues first thing monday (or over the weekend if i am feeling extra ambitious). these additions should make my argument very strong and round out a nice paper submission.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

a wasted day

everything after 2 pm today was a waste of time, and i definitely do not have the time to waste. let's hope things can get back on track first thing in the morning.

on another note, this article (it may require registration) is amazing for its content AND the technology used to generate the actual text. if you double click on any word in the article, a dictionary or encyclopedia entry pops up in a new window. i am at a loss for words. this is scary cool!!!

p. s. - interesting article regarding qualities of service and our expectations as technology advances

EFFECTIVE communication

effective communication is one of the most powerful skills needed to succeed in life. whether it is in its most natural form as a true and honest means of imparting information (facts/ideas/thoughts/emotions), or it is used in a more persuasive (brainwashing was too strong a word) context, effective communication is POWERFUL. we learn how to communicate at an early age, but we are not taught how to effectively communicate until college (and that is if you actively pursue the skill---communications majors, etc.). the few courses i had as an undergraduate that even touched the subject of effective communication did not emphasize the subject as much as it needed to be. georgia tech tried to implement the necessary changes in its engineering departments to help its engineers communicate better. however, this plan seemed to be implemented with the assumption that we would be more aggressive in learning how to communicate effectively on our own time. it seemed as if only communication assignments were given as opposed to actually TEACHING us effective communication.

why is this skill not taught in high schools (among the many other important things secondary education omits)? from my experience, describing difficult problems and teaching others is great practice in learning the skill of communication. the key once you begin to understand what to say is how to convey the entire message in the fewest possible words (and in turn, in the shortest amount of time). being clear, concise, and detailed are very difficult things to do, and it takes practice.

check this article out from the NYTimes about customer service and communication (sorry, but it may require registration but it's free and quick)

Monday, March 03, 2008

a productive but inefficient monday

i managed to get a lot of work done and organize some thoughts in my head and on paper, but there was a lot of "downtime" in between. maybe i am too hard on myself? maybe that is the beauty of academic research, the fact that i have the freedom to prevent myself from going 100 mph from the morning till afternoon? maybe i am seeing more passive progress as "unproductive" or "inefficient" even though it is staring me in the face? maybe this whole phd thing is supposed to take a while or else people would be completing the degree overnight?

whatever the answers maybe, i am determined to press on and meet my deadlines as they so RAPIDLY are approaching. this week is crucial for my first deadline. AND my first deadline in essential for my second. no pressure right?!?! this is where the superstars rise to the occasion and the timid shy away. i know i can make it happen. i just need to make sure i am ready to do whatever it takes to make sure i get everything completed in time for my submission deadline in a couple of weeks.