Monday, December 31, 2007

Squire Holiday Times - Volume II

I planned on posting this earlier, but I had some problems hosting the html file. Anyways, click on the picture below to be taken to Volume II of the Squire Holiday Times (the lame e-mail message that Alison and I send out each year). Most of you hopefully received this, but if you didn't then use the "Forward to a Friend" link at the top of the message, forward it to yourself and it will automatically subscribe you to our mailings. This is a good place to comment on how cute all those pictures of Ada are :>).

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Good Grades

I just finished my second to last semester and I got the best grades of my college career. I finished the semester with a 3.85 GPA. I had more credits than I've ever taken, money was tighter than ever (so I felt like I needed to work more than ever), but that must have been a recipe for success. I'm looking forward to (hopefully) my easiest semester yet. Only 10 credits, 2 classes.
Class key:
CVEEN 5700 - Nuclear Engineering I
ECE 6710 - Digital VLSI Design
ECE 6900 - Graduate Seminar (CR means credit)
ECE 6960 - History of Computer & Engineering Logic
PHYS 6610 - Physics of Electronics
UGS 4800 - Undergraduate Research

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Name That Tune:

You all know this song. How early can you tell what it is? Watch closely - eventually everybody will get it.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas Treat

**Update** - I had forgotten where I had first seen this video. It turns out that I originally saw it on this post from Clark's blog - gotta give credit where credit is due.

Once again, I hope that everybody had a Merry Christmas. Here's a little video treat.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Happy Christmas!



Merry Christmas Everybody!

This is one of my favorite times of the year - and this year has turned out to be especially nice. It's always hard for me to really get into the Christmas spirit because I refuse to think about it until finals are over. This year, however, finals ended a little earlier than usual and I feel like I've made the most of the time that I've had. Alison has done a fantastic job making our house all festive and baking lots of goodies that we've shared with friends and neighbors. She also took care of all of the Christmas shopping and finished most of it a couple of weeks ago (I haven't been to Wal-Mart in months!). This has allowed us to enjoy the time together as a family without a lot of the stressful hustle and bustle of other years.

I love Christmas music (well, most of it at least). If I didn't like non-Christmas music so much as well, then I would gladly listen to it the year round. I love eating all of the junk food and treats that happen to find themselves in my way. I love the traditions that our families have (and the traditions that Alison and I are implementing in our own family). Traditions give us things to look forward to all year long - and I think that they are a big part of the reason why Christmas is so special to everybody.

My favorite part of the holidays, though, is spending time with family and friends. I love reconnecting with people that you may only see or hear from once a year. I wish that I was better at keeping my connections to people from my past open. I usually do a poor job at "keeping in touch". It's so fun to have everybody in town with all of their kids. Ada just loves getting to know all of her cousins.

I also try to take a few moments at this time of year to ponder our Savior's birth. In doing this I always remember how blessed we are to live where we live, when we live and the talents and skills that God has given to us. I (just like many of you, I'm sure) make an extra effort to help other people out, to be a kinder driver (I'll admit, I'm fairly aggressive - although I tend to look at it as being defensive...), and to share a bit of what we have with others.

I hope that everybody has a Merry Christmas, full of peace and love!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Utah 35, Navy 32

Utah's first meeting with Navy went pretty well. They extended their bowl winning streak to 7 games and increased their bowl winning percentage to 77% (both the best in the nation - If BC loses their bowl game, then the Utes will have the longest bowl winning streak when the bowl games end as well).
Brian Johnson started out a little sluggish. The last few games he has been "Airmailing" his passes (thanks Dude) and it looked like he was going to have the same problem this game. He turned out to be the man of the night. While ESPN gave the game ball to Darrell Mack, I think that Johnson deserves it hands down. Johnson only had 7 yards less rushing than Mack - and he did it on half the carries. He ran for a touchdown and passed for another, finishing 20/25 for 226 yards.

When Utah went down 17-7 early in the third quarter, I'll admit that I was pretty nervous. Then Utah railed off 21 straight points and I began feeling a bit more comfortable. Navy (like all armed forces teams) never gave up and was very disciplined throughout the game. The Utes benefited (only slightly) from a botched call by the officials in the 4th quarter. The ball slipped out of Jerome Brooks hand as he stretched for the end zone. The ball hit the pylon and should have been a touchback - but the Utes were given the ball at the 1 yard line (props to the officials for coming out and declaring that they made the wrong call. I wish we could see this more often - both from officials and politicians ;) ). Navy stopped them on 4th and goal and got the ball back at the 1. They would have gotten the ball back on the 20 after the touchback. Not a huge difference but, its still 1/5 of the field.

Utah had a 10 point lead with 1:27 left in the game. Ute fans were feeling pretty comfortable - until, Navy scored on a 58 yard pass after only 30 seconds. This put them down by 3 with 0:57 to go. Of course, they went for an onsides kick, and after a perfect bounce they got the ball back. The win was sealed for the Utes on the second play of the drive when Joe Dale intercepted Navy's final pass of the game. Dale was another candidate for player of the game for the Utes. He had a team-high 12 tackles and made the [possibly] game-saving interception at the end of the game.

This video below is of the voiceover of the game. Lou Holtz, one of the best college coaches of all-time, gives the Utes a little love. This guy knows what he's talking about!

video

9 wins this year, we won't be satisfied with less than 10 next year!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Windows Live

I got an e-mail from Windows Live Messenger yesterday. Does anybody else see a problem with this?
I hope they didn't use Excel to make their chart...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Austin, TX

Alison and I just returned from a quick visit to Austin, TX. We were sponsored by a fantastic company that I interviewed with last Friday. They were kind enough to fly Alison and myself there, give us a rental car, put us up in Embassy Suites and give us a per diem for the days that we were there. We left Ada home with her grandparents and had a great time.
Friday was a stormy day so poor Alison was stuck in the hotel all day. I spent the day interviewing (5 total) with the company. I also had to give a technical presentation. That night we were treated to dinner at The County Line (all-you-can-eat Texas Bar-B-Que). It was fantastic. We had most of Saturday all to ourselves and we used it to get to know Austin a little better. We went down to the Lyndon B. Johnson Library and Museum on the University of Texas campus. Lucky for us, it's the only one of the 13 Presidential Libraries that is free for visitors. It was very interesting. After the library, Alison and I made our way to downtown Austin. We stopped by the capital building and walked down Congress Street to 6th Street where we ate lunch at a sports bar. That night we were once again treated to dinner by the company. This one was at Abuelos.
The best part of the trip was that we actually came home with more money than when we left. With them picking up our tabs on both dinners (at least $100 total), breakfast buffets at the hotel and the per diem we were given things went very nicely. The biggest problem was that almost all of our meals were all-you-can-eat. I gained 6 pounds in 1 week because of this trip. If Alison knew she would kill me...
I think that the interviews went pretty well. They made it a very non-threatening place to interview. I was actually with a group of 20 candidates from across the country. I expected most of them to be electrical engineers but, there was actually a huge variety. There were CS majors, computer engineers, mechanical engineers, mechatronic engineers and chemical engineers among others. I know that I would enjoy working there. We should know if they are going to give us an offer one way or another by Christmas.

On another note, I have an interview for a Park City Field Engineering Position with my current employer on Wednesday. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Browsing my thoughts...

Here's a few things that I've come across the last couple of days:

1. Alison's brother Spencer sent me this link of the breakdown of the final regular season football coach's poll. I've found it fascinating to look out how the votes are distributed (alphabetically, of course, but more so geographically). Rich Rodriguez, West Virginia's coach is obviously a genius. He voted Utah 20th (remember how they have 4 losses?). Take note of where BYU's votes came from as well. Most of their highest votes came from the west (you think these guys get the mtn?). Take note as well of the two coaches that didn't put BYU in the top 25. Indiana's coach and Washington's coach (Ty Willingham). As Spencer asked, do you think BYU will remember this when they play Washington next year? (Not to dive too deeply into the crap we call the BCS, I think everyone should check out these articles linked from the Millar's blog.)

2. I took my Nuclear Engineering Final Exam today. I had the option of taking it today or Monday. I don't think that I will be any smarter come Monday. On that same note, do you realize that you can buy uranium ore on amazon.com? Take note of the section "Customers Who Bought Items Like This Also Bought" and be sure to read the customer reviews. They are very clever. **Update** I forgot to mention that the fuel for the nuclear reactor here at the U arrives via FedEx. Think about that for a minute...

3. Are you looking for somewhere legal to download your music on the cheap? Look no further than grooveshark.com. They are having a sale during the 8 nights of Hanukkah and on Christmas Day. During those days all songs (DRM free or I wouldn't be recommending it) sell for a measly $.29. Do you realize that you can get 17 songs for under $5.00 at this price? I'm not sure if you still need an invitation to join or not. If you do just let me know. I've got tons. Alison and I dropped $9.86 on 34 songs the last time that they had a sale like this. Highly recommended!

4. 363 days of the year I'm an Aggie fan (USU Aggie that is). Tonight was one of the night's that I wasn't a fan. Utah played them at the Huntsman Center and totally destroyed them. They started the game 11-0 and I don't think that the Aggies ever got closer than 9 points. Nevill was getting pushed around in the paint (which is good for him - what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger, right?) and the officials were very, VERY inconsistent in their calls (on both sides of the ball) but it was a great game if you're a Ute fan.

5. My sister Cheryce sent me the following clip. This guy is one creepy singer (On another note [pun intended :)], I saw this similar video on dooce.com):

Monday, December 03, 2007

To Do:

Fall semester ends next week. As always, the stress is increased until all finals, projects and papers have been turned in. Once this semester is over, I will only have 1 left! During the last few weeks of class, I always make a list of everything that I've got to do before the end of the semester (it's coming whether I'm ready or not).

1. Graduate Physics Lab Project
2. Nuclear Engineering HW (1 assignment)
3. Physics Test
4. Nuclear Engineering Final Exam
5. Physics Final Exam
6. Digital VLSI Project
7. Digital VLSI Final Project Report
8. History of Logic Paper

Not a bad list - but I've also got to put time in at work (pay for Christmas) and working on my research (if there's any time left).

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Surprise Ending!

Maybe everyone out there has heard this son already. It's my new favorite Christmas Song (and I don't really even care for cats). I present to you The Cat Carol performed by Meryn Cadell. Be sure to listen to the whole thing. It's a gem.



My brother even found that this song has it's own website. You want a The Cat Carol mug?

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Utes Lose By 7

I usually wait a few days after Utah loses before posting about the game. This allows me to clear my head and get rid of my anger before spouting off and embarrassing myself. This time, I'm going to allow my anger to flow freely...

Neither team played spectacularly. Utah was down 3-0 going into halftime. Utah had major problems stopping Harvey Unga. They always seems to struggle with backs like him. He also dropped a couple balls in the second half that should have been easy catches. In short, Utah was extremely lucky to not be down by 3 touchdowns early in the game. Brian Johnson struggled against the other teams defense. He had a hard time reading the defense and making plays. When he finally began making plays with his legs, the Utes were able to convert on a few key third downs.

The worst part about games like this (including last years game in this generalization) is that you (i.e. Ute fans) think that they've got the game in the bag. This incredible thrill followed a couple minutes later by the realization that your defense choked and the game is actually lost has got to be dangerous on your heart.

Much of the talk after the game centered on two late calls made against the Utes by the officials. While these hurt, the game-winning play was converting on 4th and 18 inside your own 15-yard line on a 49 yard pass play. Why Utah's defense let Austin Collie past them at such a crucial time will never be answered. That should simply never happen.

I will not blame the officials for this loss (I blame the aforementioned play) but I think that "questionable", "iffy" or "game-changing" calls should be made with great care at the end of the game. I thought the officiating wasn't too bad until the last minute. Here's a closer look at the calls in question (you've got to look closely to see my written commentary):
video

I don't think that Utah would have won even if the officials hadn't made the calls shown above (or lack thereof). However, how can the Utes ever win when the officials are even allowing the other team to run the infamous, yet exclusive, 3-point conversion play?

The Utes were dominated in this game and certainly didn't deserve the win. The fact that they were as close as they were speaks volumes. As Austin Collie said after the game, when you're doing what's right, "The Lord steps in and makes good things happen". I'm not sure how I feel about the Lord meddling in football games, but I'll leave that for another post.

Poinsettia Bowl here we come!

Talking Smack


I'm usually not much of a smack-talker (I can hear the yeah-rights coming from every corner), but today I came across a humorous blog post that all of you BYU fans will probably enjoy. I actually thought that the post was quite clever and everything that I planned on posting here on my blog, I ended up posting in the comments. Without further ado, I present Welcome To My Soapbox's take on Talking Smack (Be sure and read my rebuttal comment, that's where the good information is found...). I love commenting on random blogs. When I grow up I want to be creepy.

At least we know where Ada's heart lies:

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Gratitude

I'm thankful for you, my dear readers.

Lilypie Expecting a baby Ticker

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Art of the Flop

I took Ada to the second half of the Utes home basketball game yesterday. It was simply awful. The team had no consistency, toughness or heart during the game and they ended up losing by 15 point to Santa Clara. Somethings got to change if they want a winning record at the end of the year.

And now, you decide 2007: Who's a better flopper, Baron Davis or Robert Horry?


Why does it always have to happen against the Jazz?

Not Elementary?

I'm trying to be accessible to all education levels. Looks like I've got to dumb this thing down a bit.
cash advance

Monday, November 19, 2007

Utah 28, New Mexico 10

Utah needed a bit of help to get by New Mexico on Saturday. Lucky for them, New Mexico began turning the ball over when the Utes needed it most. For the last few years, Utah has struggled against New Mexico's brand of the 3-3-5 defense. New Mexico has always scouted the Utes really well also. The Lobos have consistently played poorly against the Utes in the first half only to come out in the second half and give the Utes a scare (Last year the Lobos erased a large lead by the Utes by throwing short crossing routes the whole second half).

Utah's defense was fantastic. They were lucky that a 50 yard play (the first play of the game) was called back. After that, it took the Lobos a while to get any points. Going into half-time, Utah had gone 12 quarters without letting anybody into the end zone. They had also gone 8 quarters of shutout football. That's some pretty tough defense. New Mexico struggled returning Utah's punts (muffing 2 of them, turning the ball over to Utah). Utah was able to capitalize on these mistakes and put points on the board. Out of the last 6 or 7 games, this was Utah's sloppiest and they should feel pretty lucky to be coming away with a win.

Looking ahead, Utah's got a tough game this week. While BYU has been winning their games during the last month and a half, they didn't look pretty doing it (much like the Utes looked today). Instead, BYU played their best complete game of the year against Wyoming and has to feel pretty good about themselves going into Saturday's match up. This game could easily go either way (home-field advantage means nothing) and your wasting your money if you're betting on either team.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

State Championship Football

As you may recall, Layton High played in the State 5A Championship Football game this last weekend. The game was played at the nicest stadium in the state (not the largest) and there was a huge crowd (almost 20,000 people) on hand. While they weren't able to move the ball with any consistency (credit Alta's speedy defense for that one), they did have one highlight which I will share with you here:



While the Lancers gave it a "nice try", props to them for making it as far as they did this year!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

An Example to Us All...

Now even Paris Hilton is in on the game. Everybody has a cause they're pulling for and I think that Paris' is the best. She's highlighting the plight of drunk elephants in India. Sometimes I wonder why I'm doing what I'm doing, when it's obvious that my help is needed elsewhere in the world. I think that I could really make a difference with those elephants.

Hilton Tries to Help Drunk Elephants (from MSNBC.com)

Monday, November 12, 2007

Monday Photo - Cool Whip

I love Cool Whip and all the fun things that you can do with it... (Click on the picture to enlarge it).

** This photo was taken from Wired Magazine - one of my favorites.

Utah 50, Wyoming 0


I'm not sure where to start with this one... First of all, Wyoming's coach gauranteed a win against Utah while talking to students last Monday. This obviously angered Utah (and Coach Whittingham especially - he should have been happy after the game, but he was on one) and Utah came to pay a bit of revenge. Utah played a fantastic game, but took a few minutes getting started. After Wyoming tried a fake punt in the first quarter (on their own 25 yard line) Utah used a modified version of the old fumblerooski play (watch for it in the video below) to score from 25 yards out.

This game seemed to be a throwback to the Urban Meyer days. Everything was working out, there were a bunch of "trick" plays, the defense was fantastic and Utah could have kept up with anyone in the country playing the way that they were. They were up 40-0 going into the half (and they threw an interception in the end zone in the last minute of the first half - they should have had another TD...). The best play of the game was probably a faked punt by Utah where Louie Sakoda (the punter) faked his kicking motion before tossing the ball (like a girl, I might add) across the line to a defensive lineman who ran the ball down to the 1 yard line (it was actually a touchdown, but the officials had already reviewed three calls and Utah wasn't afraid that they wouldn't score - so it wasn't reviewed).

There's a bit of controversy brewing over the game as well. Utah tried an onsides kick in the third quarter when they were up 43-0. While I don't condone his (Whittingham's) actions, I do think it was a good time to practice an onsides kick, but not a very sportsmanlike thing to do. Utah failed at the attempt (because they retrieved the ball at the 9.5 yard line and a guy was offsides). This gave Wyoming their best field position of the day (on the 34.5 yard line) and they still couldn't convert. This same attempt prompted Wyoming's Coach Joe Glenn to give the Utah bench the one-fingered salute. I've got to agree that the call was inappropriate and I think that Whittingham agrees, stating after the game that he regrets his decision.

The meat of this controversy is actually being fueled more by BYU fans than it is by Wyoming fans (I'm not saying that they aren't mad, but from visiting everybody's fan boards, that's the feeling I get). This is often the case and is something that drives me nuts. It goes both ways, Utah fans are angered more by things BYU does than the teams they are playing against and vice versa. The good news is that this (mainly the one-fingered salute) is giving the conference more attention than they've had all year and it's the first time that I've seen a MWC team featured on ESPN's homepage. Thanks Wyoming.

As for running up the score, I think that Utah's attempt on fourth and 2 in the fourth quarter should be viewed as more an attempt of running up the score than their failed onsides kick (you can't score on an onsides kick). Either way, Utah only scored 10 points in the second half, compared with Boise State's 21 points in the second half against Utah State (where BSU won 52-0) or John [from the comments I learned that I accused the wrong Beck. It should be Jason Beck here] Beck's TD pass to Harline in the latter-half of the fourth quarter against the Aggies last year (where BYU won 38-0 or something). In this game, Utah had pulled their offensive starters for the fourth quarter (although Mack only needed 3 yards to set a Utah record at consecutive 100-yard games). I really don't think that Utah was intentionally running up the score in the second half though (you better believe that they were in the first). I know that there are a lot of people out there who probably disagree, and that's ok. I'm certainly not condoning Utah's actions because I think that there are things that both teams regret.

Utah is easily the best team in the conference right now. They are running the ball, passing the ball and playing defense like its nobody's business. They haven't allowed a team into the end zone in 10 quarters. Wyoming had the 6th ranked defense in the country going into the game with Utah and Utah put up over 500 yards (while limiting the Cowboys to 122 - and 1/3 of those came in the fourth quarter).

You're not going to find me garaunteeing any wins though. As good as Utah is playing right now, they seem to have a knack for having big letdowns under Coach Whit. If they can keep the same intensity that they've had the last few weeks then everybody better watch out!

Yes, I've categorized this post under "rant" because that's exactly what I've done.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Lancer Football!

My alma mater (Layton High School) has had a fantastic season in football. During the three years that I was in High School, the football team won a grand total of 7 games (and 57% of those were my sophomore year). This year they have already won 12 games and they are playing Alta for the state championship next Friday (They last won a state championship in 1978).

This last Friday they played American Fork at Rice-Eccles Stadium. I met my parents and brother there to cheer the Lancers on. They had a great crowd (easily double the size of Am. Fork's crowd - and that's no exaggeration) but had a slow start in the game. I know a couple of the kids on the team and was impressed by them all. Layton simply played a great game. The play of the game was when Layton's quarterback, Gavin Green, broke free from a sack and was able to scramble 49 yards for a touchdown, while crossing the field, breaking free from tackles and getting some great blocks.

Here's some mediocre video highlights from Friday's game:


Go Lancers!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Election Day

I've probably already beaten the dead voucher horse more than I ever should have, so I'm going to make my election day post a little different (see Alison's post from yesterday if you'd like a bit of a voucher recap). In a nutshell, I look forward to voting for a new President in a year from now (now I didn't say anything about President Bush...). As I've thought about this and tried to learn a bit about the candidates, I've felt a bit overwhelmed because of how many rich folk have decided to try their hand at the Presidency.

I went out searching for websites that would match me up with the candidates whose views most closely match my own. I found a couple of different ones that helped me in this endeavor. All of these sites ask you to rate your opinion on key issues and to also assign an importance to them. Using this information, they attempt to match you up with the candidate whose views are nearest to your own. I would urge any other voter who is unsure, as I was, about who to support to take a look at whose views match your own. You may be surprised...

The first site that I visited was a website for Minnesota's Public Radio. The candidates returned from this site were not too surprising to me. I've always been impressed with Mike Huckabee. He seems to be a good role model for children (and for fat people). I was also not surprised to see Barack Obama and John McCain near the top. I didn't appreciate Tom Tancredo showing up so near to the top though. I think he's a bit of a one-issue nut.
The next site that I visited was vajoe.com. I didn't like the way that they profiled the issues as much but I was looking for a variety of recommendations to look for any consistency. As you can see, my top match was Senator Joseph Biden (but Hillary Clinton and John Edwards were both in the top 4). Once again Mike Huckabee and Barack Obame showed up near the top. I don't want to be a supporter of a candidate because they are the most popular or because they appeal incredibly well to a specific demographic (see Mitt Romney/Mormons).
The last (and probably tied with the MPR site for my favorite) site that I visited was selectsmart.com. The questions on this site were very specific and sometimes a little tougher to answer. Once again, Joseph Biden found himself right near the top of my list. Looks like I'll have to try and learn a bit more about him.
It's too bad that Stephen Colbert wasn't listed as a candidate choice on these websites. I think that we would have been a match made in heaven.

***Sidenote: I went through the belief system selector on selectsmart.com curious to find out what religion they would recommend to me. Imagine my surprise (pleasantly surprised, of course) when I matched up 100% with my own chosen religion. Now for everybody else, this is a good quiz to take to see whether or not you actually know your religion's doctrine (or believe everything that your religion professes to teach). If you do, then you should obviously also get 100% rating with your chosen religion.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Break-In

Alison and I were rudely awakened by our neighbor Saturday morning letting us know that our car (my beloved Prizm, i.e. Lurp) had been broken into. Not the best way to start your weekend. During the night, the robber busted the rear passenger vent window (the little triangle-shaped one, on the rear door) and used it to unlock the doors. Once inside, the thief busted open the dash and ripped out our stereo. We were "lucky" because the thief made clean work of the job, not breaking any clips or tearing any wires out (which makes the damage a whole lot more difficult to repair).
The thief in the night also broke into 2 of our neighbors' cars. They broke the passenger side windows in both of them. Alison and I feel that we were "luckier" than our neighbors. One of them sold the car Thursday, removed the insurance from it on Friday and the buyer was going to pick the car up from them Saturday morning. Our other neighbors' stereo wasn't stolen but the girl's purse was, which had her wallet, passport, SS card, etc. Let this be a lesson to you all, don't leave your valuables in your car - although I'm not entirely sure what to do with our stereo when we're not using it.
The other lucky break that Alison and I caught was that we had comprehensive auto insurance with only a $50 deductible on the car. If I had realized that we had such good coverage on the car, then I would have taken it off months ago; now... I'm glad it was there.

The stereo that was stolen was a nice one. I spent between $300-$350 when I bought it 5 years ago. It was one of the first to play mp3s, wma and other digital audio. It was 5 years old though...

This is the third after-market stereo that I've had stolen. The first was from the original Lurp Truck while the car sat in the school parking lot one morning in high school. The second was from Al's dear little friend Sedric (when the whole car was actually stolen as well) and now this is the third in an epic. Looks like we'll be getting a new car stereo for Christmas!

Thieves are slimeballs.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

School Days


As I lie in my bed each night I think about how everybody must be wondering about my semester. Now for all of my imaginary wonderers, I am ready to divulge a bit of information.

This semester has been going fairly well. As you may recall, I've been taking 17 credit hours (along with trying to work 20 hours and fit some research in). The big difference in my classes this semester is that a couple of them are night classes. This has turned out to be very good for me. In the past, most of my wasted time came in the evenings when I would be at home. This semester, I have been forced to give most of that time up and instead spend it in lectures and labs. This has allowed me to work in the mornings, go to class in the early afternoons and then do my homework and research in the afternoons before my night classes. Here's a bit of the nitty-gritty:

ECE 6960 - History of Computer and Engineering Logic
This class has turned out to be just as boring as expected - which I'm more than ok with. The teacher is a former professor (who retired from teaching more than 25 years ago) who wrote his own book. He has a passion for logic and is teaching the class without a salary. The information has been somewhat interesting, but I'm afraid I don't hold the same passion for the material as the teacher does. There have been 5 homework assignments (all extremely easy) and 2 tests (which you could do just fine on with a couple of hours of study). This class will probably take the cake as the easiest graduate course that I will take :).

ECE 6710 - Digital VLSI Design
I'm not a huge fan of the digital world. I'm much more in tune with my analog side. Luckily for me, I've been able to get through this class without too much difficulty so far. Now that we are doing all of our assignments in teams, I conider myself lucky to have teamed up with a few teammates that are much more savvy, experienced and interested in having to program in Verilog. We are just starting our final project - which is a CR16 microprocessor. I'll post more on that later.

PHYS 6610 - Electronics I
You would think that a class titled Electronics I would be a breeze for an Electrical Engineering graduate student. While this is mostly true (I only go to class on exam days), the class (at least the tests) have turned out to be more difficult than expected. I haven't been studying much for the exams and that becomes a slight problem when the teacher writes the test to check your knowledge of the few unusual cases. Aside from the tests, the homework and labs have been pretty easy and I've had no problem finishing them in half the time that it takes most of the students.

CH EN 5756 - Nuclear Engineering I
This has been my most diificult class so far. The homework has been extremely difficult and time-consuming and the labs and lab reports have been really tough as well. I've done pretty good on both tests so far though. The class has really been quite interesting and enjoyable though.

I think that things are going along pretty well. The hardest part of the semester remaining is my class project from my VLSI class. All of my other classes should continue humming along just like they have been, with or without me.

Nuclear Reactor

Yesterday (Halloween) I had a lab for my Nuclear Engineering class. This lab was especially interesting because we were finally able to go in and see the reactor. It's an interesting experience because you can stand right at the edge of the reactor and look down through a deep pool (probably around 20 feet) of water to see the reactors core. The reactor at the University of Utah is a TRIGA reactor, which is a very common installation for research facilities. While the reactor is licensed to run at 100kW, it has no way of actually producing any power and all of the energy is transferred directly into the water as heat. For this lab we were only verifying the effects of control rods in the core, but for the next lab the reactor will be powered up to a level that the core will actually begin to glow with radioactivity (like in the picture above). That will be interesting.

As a side note, students that have recently visited Moab or other areas in Southern Utah are often not allowed in the reactor because they emit too much radioactivity. Just by walking around on the red rock in Southern Utah can cause the Geiger counters to not function properly - and, there are piles of "yellowcake" just sitting around near the old mines as well. The Geiger counters can even detect if you ate bananas for breakfast. Apparently some bananas are a shade radioactive...

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Utah 27, CSU 3

Utah beat Colorado State by... running the ball! They ran for 322 yards against the Rams and threw for 130 yards as well. As I mentioned in my post about their last game, I was prepared to be disappointed with the Utes this game. It turned out that I was far from disappointed and am now looking forward to Utah's next 3 games, all Mountain West Conference showdowns with Wyoming, New Mexico and one other team whose name escapes me right now.

As a friend of mine from the ward pointed out, the Utes had two running backs run for more than 100 yards. Mack led the way with 151 yards on the ground and Stowers (who had a pleasant breakout game, showing impressive speed - especially around the corners). Anybody out there have any idea the last time that the Utes had 2 backs with more than 100 yards each? I have no idea.

Here's some numbers for you. Utah's starting running back averaged 7.6 yards a carry. His backup, Stowers averaged 11.2 yards per carry while Elijah Wesson (who reminded me a lot of Utah's perennial Heisman Trophy candidate Brent Casteel) averaged 8.5 yards per carry. It was exciting to see Utah's run game finally gain some steam. If they can continue to show a balanced attack then their next opponents have their work cut out for them.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Voucher Recap

Although I came across as being in full support of vouchers in my previous posts, I have struggled with my decision to either vote for or against Referendum 1. Everybody that commented on the previous posts, made valid points one way or another and caused me to look closely at my position. Because this issue will finally come down to a vote a week from tomorrow I thought that it would be appropriate to read through the full text of House Bill 148 (referendum 1).

The information for this post was taken from an extremely handy website administrated by Lieutenant Governor Gary Herbert's office. This website includes links to:
  • Arguments for/against Citizen's State Referendum 1 (here)
  • Impartial Analysis - prepared by the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel (here)
  • Full text of House Bill 148 (here)
Before you read any of the above information, forget everything that you've heard in the ads supporting or against vouchers because they are trash and they do not give you the full story. I found the Impartial Analysis and the full text of the bill helpful. A few key points from the bill that I found interesting were:
  • The money to pay for the scholarships is taken directly from the General Fund.
  • The credentials of teachers at the private schools must be disclosed (116).
  • If a private school teacher doesn't have a college degree, they must "have special skills, knowledge, or expertise that qualifies them to provide instruction in the subjects taught (156)."
  • The private school must enroll more than 40 students to be eligible to accept vouchers (184).
  • "The Legislature shall actually appropriate money to the board for the General Fund to make scholarship payments for all students projected to apply for scholarships (203)."
  • Once the money allocated by the Legislature has been used up for that year, then no more scholarships will be awarded. If more people apply than there is money for, then the scholarships will be given by random selection.
Like I've said before, there are interesting arguments on both sides of this issue. For everybody out there that will have an opportunity to vote on referendum 1, please educate yourself on the issue (by reading the bill or the impartial analysis) and by then voting the way that you feel most closely adheres to your values and desires. I'm still weighing my options...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Hello Old Man

Alison and I like to have a bit of fun with our Halloween costumes and this year was no exception. Last year, Alison and I went with the 101 Dalmations theme. This year, we decided to increase our age and go around as an elderly couple. To pull this off, I shaved the top of my head and whitened the hair that was left. Aren't we the cutest old couple?
Here's a little closer view of my shiny noggin. The most surprising thing of all was that Ada didn't seem to mind that we were dressed so strangely and that our hair was different than usual. As you can see from the photos, she was an adorable little leopard. What a doll.
It was a very difficult decision for me - whether to leave my hair cut the way that it was or to get rid of it for church. I ended up shaving the rest of my head (bic'in it, yeah!) in order to "be appropriate" at church. Now if I could only get it to grow back a little quicker (it's cold outside).

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Things That Must Go...

I love cereal. But I find it a little disturbing when cereal that I've been eating my whole life comes out with a "Now Better Tasting" version. I don't remember anything being wrong with the first...

Let the Race Begin

Although I won't graduate until the beginning of May, there was a career fair last week and, as it turned out, there were a few companies that were willing to bet that I may actually graduate. I turned in resumes to a handful of companies and even scored a couple of interviews last Friday (if anybody with whom I've interviewed has googled my name and wound up here, then I offer you the warmest welcome ;>).

The first company that I interviewed with is located in Austin, TX and they have a very prestigious Engineering Leadership Program that is very hard to get into. During the interview they asked 1 hardware based question, 1 software based question (imagine using a pen and paper to "program" a given function), and 2 personality questions. While I needed a bit of help on the technical questions I think that the interview went pretty well overall.

In fact, I just got an e-mail from them inviting me and Alison to Austin for an on-site interview. I'm thrilled to have made the first cut - but I'm obviously a little nervous having to spend a whole day being interviewed.

The other company that I interviewed with is headquartered in Santa Clara, CA, but the people that came to the career fair were from a design center in Boise. I didn't know too much about this company before the career fair, but the more I learn about them, the more interested I become in the products that they design. The interview with them went very well (in my opinion, there's no telling what the interviewer thought). The beginning of the interview was spent with the interviewer telling me about their company and during the rest of the interview, I just talked about the research that I worked on over the summer. Hopefully I'll be able to share more of my skills with them as well.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Utah 27, TCU 20

For as many problems as Utah has, TCU has more. Before the season, this was pegged as one of the most important conference match-ups. Now, it was a battle between two teams hoping to gain some respect and enough wins to deserve a bowl bid. Utah kept their recent success going, bagging a win over TCU and increasing their win-streak to four.

Utah played a pretty good all-around game against the Horned Frogs. They were able to run the ball once again, (when they run, they win, no run = no win) and Johnson had a decent game as well - although the whole team only posted 227 yards in the game. The biggest problems in this game had to do with the special teams and penalties. First off, Utah had a punt blocked and then returned for a touchdown. They also gave up all sorts of long returns - when previously their return coverage had been pretty decent. The other glaring problem was with penalties. They had 10 penalties for 98 yards. Many of these penalties were stupid personal fouls or unnecessary late hits. Some penalties are bound to happen but, when a player intentionally does something cheap, while trying to get away with it, I get frustrated with them.

Utah's next game is the real kicker. It's a well known fact that Utah gets up for the big games (see TCU, UCLA, Louisville) but they struggle against patsies (see UNLV). The Utes play on Saturday against Colorado State in Fort Collins. While Colorado State is only 1-6, they lost to Colorado by 3 and California by 6 earlier in the season. This could easily be a catch-game for the Utes. Lets hope not ;).


Monday, October 22, 2007

Vegas, Baby!

This is old news because we actually were in Vegas over Conference Weekend. The problem is that we then left our camera at my parents house and I was just barely able to upload our pictures to our computer. Everybody ready for a travel log?

We went down to Vegas because I had fall break at school and we were looking for the chance to "get out of town". Lucky for us, my sister Alysia lives in Vegas with her husband and two kids. We drove down on Friday afternoon, and the drive took quite a bit longer than usual because of the crowds on the roads. The St. George marathon was the next morning, so once we got through St. George, the roads cleared up quite a bit.

Our first day in Vegas, Saturday, we went to Bonnie Springs, where there is a little train ride, a petting zoo and an "old town" re-creation. Ada seemed to really enjoy herself in the petting zoo. Here are a couple of pictures of her checking out some roosters and ducks.

Here's a cute picture of Ellie, Ada and Reese sitting in the log saddles. Obviously, Reese is enjoying herself more than anybody else.

Saturday night (after Priesthood Session), we went to downtown Vegas (Fremont Street) and witnessed the true nastiness of Vegas. I wonder how many people, immediately after listening to the prophet speak left to spend time with the go-go girls, the Chippendales and skanky strippers...

The Fremont Street Experience was pretty cool because they have a huge overhead light show that they play at night. The screens are 90 feet above the street and run for 5 blocks, creating the world's largest video screen. It was pretty cool to see, but not something that you need to see more than once.
On Sunday between conference sessions we went on a leisurely drive through Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area. It was a good chance for us to use our National Parks Pass that we purchased on our summer trip in July. It was a bit of a letdown, but it was still nice to have a picnic out in nature. If you look really closely in the picture below, you can see Indian hand prints on the rock (look directly above the white sign, slightly above and to the left of Alison's right shoulder).
For the climax of the trip, Alison and I left Ada with Kevin and Alysia and we spent the night at the MGM Grand. We upgraded to the deluxe room in the new west wing. The hotel (which is the world's largest with 6,852 rooms) was huge. We wandered the Casino and then walked along the strip. We ate dinner at PF Chang's in the Planet Hollywood Casino and did a little shopping both there and at Caesar's Palace.
Every time that I spend time on the strip, I realize how little there is for people like us to do. We aren't exactly out looking for a nightlife experience, we don't gamble (not even a cent on this whole trip), and we avoid most of the people and the shows. We did enjoy watching a little baseball and Monday Night Football in the sports betting areas. We just don't fit in well - but it was nice to have a night without Ada.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

World Series '07


Many of you dear loyal readers will remember the candy bar that I offered to whoever was closest to guessing the score to the Superbowl. Unless you are Ben or Jenn then you will also remember that you did not win. Here is a chance to redeem yourselves. Everybody that would like a chance at winning the candy bar simply needs to guess what team is going to win (Colorado or Boston) and in how many games (this value should range from 4-7 - if you want a realistic chance). As a tiebreaker include what you think the final score to the game will be and then of course, don't forget to let me know what kind of candy bar you would like.

Although, I consider Boston my second favorite team (after the Cincinnati Reds), I would like to see the Rockies win this year. There are a few reasons for this. The first is that the Red Sox are simply to bandwaggony anymore. I'll admit right now that I was more of a bandwagon guy than anything when I started cheering for the Red Sox. When your team (the Reds) stinks it up for a decade and a half, you've got to find another team to cheer for, as an attempt to fill the void. Another reason is that I'm excited to possibly see the 8th team in 8 years win the World Series. Talk about parity. It's also exciting to see our closest major league team make it to the WS. If I wasn't in school, we would really consider trying to get tickets to a game.

If the ALCS would have ended in fewer than 7 games, then I would have chosen the Rockies to win because they were so hot. Because they've been sitting so long (8 days total), I'm a little nervous as to how they'll respond. See my own attempt at the candy bar in the comments.