Friday, September 28, 2007

Double Minor

As many of you regular readers know, I've been planning on getting a Russian minor when I graduate for quite a few years. This entailed taking 5 Russian classes after my mission and I took the last required class last semester. After looking through all of the classes that I've taken, I realized that I probably had enough credits to also get a physics minor (and all of these classes also counted as technical electives or were required for my major). The only thing that I was unsure of was whether or not the lab requirements for the physics minor were set in stone. I had plenty of physics credits (and even other physics labs) but I had not taken the 2 lab courses that coincided with Calculus Physics I and II. After speaking with the adviser yesterday, I found out that I qualified without any problem. Great news and a second minor without any additional work!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Whistlin' Ada

Every month Alison and I post a little bit about Ada on our family space. I wanted to refer everybody to our latest post because if you haven't read it yet then you wouldn't know that Ada is a little whistler. She's always liked it when Alison and I whistle and a couple of days ago she started whistling herself. It's really cute - but probably not loud enough for us to capture on camera. Next time you see her maybe you can hear it too - if you can get her hands out of her mouth.

UNLV 27, Utah 0

Utah Sucks.

I'm going to agree with Al on this one. Utah's win last week over UCLA was a fluke. Utah was just shut out by a team that hasn't won more than one conference game since 2003. They haven't even finished anywhere but last in the conference since 2001. Now, they have the upper hand on the Utes.

Against UCLA everything that the Utes did worked out very well in their favor. Against the Rebels, it was obviously the opposite. Utah struggled to contain the [sarcasm]high-powered[/sarcasm] Mike Sanford offense. Utah was able to move the ball relatively well. They only ended the game with 40 yards less offense than the Rebels, but the only stat the matters is the one from the scoreboard.

Once again Utah could not stop the running game. UNLV's running back Frank Summers had a fantastic game running for 190 yards. I'd guesstimate that 3/4 of those yards came after contact. Utah simply could not tackle him. Everybody except LB Stevenson Sylvester must have bet against Utah at Caesar's Palace before heading over to the game.

At church on Sunday I found it funny how angry everybody was about the loss. Sure it was the first time that Utah has been shut out in 14 years, and the last time they were shut out it was to a top-10 team. Sure it was only Utah's second loss to UNLV ever, and their first since 1979. My feelings were far beyond anger and had reached the point that I actually found Utah's lost kind of funny.

Utah State better watch out - I still expect Saturday's game to be a real nail-biter...

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Maggot Dreams

I rarely remember my dreams. Last night though, I had one that was unforgettable. I've had a bit of a sinus infection, which just drains all of my energy. In this dream, I still had the sinus infection and I was going to take some Dimetapp (why Dimetapp? I'm not sure, I haven't had the stuff in years - but I love its grape flavor). I took a couple of teaspoons of Dimetapp and then I looked into the bottle and it was full of maggots swimming inside (they actually might have been mealworms. Is there really a difference though?). I had already swallowed one of the teaspoonfuls but the second was still in my mouth. I then proceeded to pull four maggots out of my mouth, carefully in order to not let any of the delicious grape Dimetapp spill out and I threw them, one-by-one, out the door. I have no idea what I did with the rest of the medicine but I sure hope that I threw it out. Gross, eh?

On another note, here are a couple of interesting websites that I've found recently:

Vote what Marc Ecko should do with Bonds' home run ball #756. He paid more than $750,000 for it and now he's leaving it up to the public to decide what should be done with the thing.

I'm thinking of signing Ada up for this service when she turns 13. What do you think? (Of course I would have to ask for $65,000 at the least).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Utah 44, #11 UCLA 6

I think that I need to be a little quicker in posting these game reviews. In each of the last two weeks I've had people tell me that they are waiting (and looking) for my reviews. I'll try and be quicker, but cut me some slack - this week I have 3 tests! For some reason, they think that my opinion on the game is actually worth something. I think that's funny because I'm usually just faking what I know and making half the stuff up. BUT, after the way the Utes played the first two weeks, who would have thought that they were going to have the Mountain West Conference's biggest win so far this season - and arguably the second biggest upset in the nation so far.

It's pretty well agreed upon that UCLA was horribly overrated. The last two weeks (against BYU and then Utah), they played awful. They were lucky to get the win against BYU and I think that it was more a result of the Cougars poor play (penalties!) than the Bruins good play. Against Utah, it was more of the same. UCLA just looked awful. They turned the ball over every chance they got and they were penalized more than any team the Utes have played in a long time. It was a nice change, it seems that usually the Utes are the ones with the stupid penalties, but on Saturday they looked very well disciplined (at least in comparison to UCLA).

It's amazing how the unexpected can be so fun and excited. Before the game I had convinced myself that I would be satisfied if Utah was able to get into the end zone once. When Utah scored their first touchdown after less than 3 minutes had gone off the clock, I knew that I wouldn't be satisfied with only one touchdown... Little did the stadium know that that was simply a preview of what would be an exciting game (for Ute fans that is). It seemed as if Utah could do no wrong. They moved the ball at will and played an incredibly exciting game. For the first time this season they were able to run the ball, which in turn opened up their passing game. For the first two weeks, Grady mainly ran the option. This week, in a stroke of genius I may add, Grady didn't run the option a single time. If the Utes wanted an option play, they brought in their small, backup, freshman QB, Louks (pronounced Lukes) to run the play. He looked great and is obviously a better fit for that type of offense. One of my favorite plays was a touchdown pass from Louks to Rogers from the 12 yard line. It was a misdirection play to the right and Rogers cut across behind the line and was wide open on the far side where Louks hit him, throwing on the run. Grady would have had some real trouble trying to make that play.

UCLA looked far worse than Air Force or Oregon State. I'd be tempted to say that they may be only the 5th best team in the PAC-10 (behind USC, Cal, Oregon, ASU and possibly even Washington and Oregon State). Time may validate my claim. Utah's defense was fantastic. They came away with 5 takeaways and were relentless with their pressure. They kept UCLA out of the end zone for the entire game. I was surprised that Ben Olsen was coming in for more in the fourth quarter. He was getting beaten as badly as Bush in the polls (I'm not one to come up with any good metaphors - but credit me for trying...). If Utah had played the whole game at the intensity that they showed in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd quarters, they would have had at least 2 more touchdowns. UCLA owes the team a thank you card for only embarrassing them lots and lots and lots rather than lots and lots and lots and lots and - you get the picture.

The big question is whether or not this win was a fluke. I think that it was in some aspects because UCLA should not have been ranked where they were. For the Utes sake, I wish that Ben Olsen was quarterbacking at BYU, rather than at UCLA (Max Hall has way more potential). On the other hand, Utah played awesome defense (only giving up 83 yards on the ground, when they gave up 575 yards in the first 2 weeks!). Utah's play calling was a blast from the Urban Meyer era. Did Kyle call Urban this last week begging for his playbook? After seeing the game, I wouldn't be too surprised. I toyed with bringing my Fire Kyle sign to the game, now I'm glad that it stayed home and he's just bought himself a couple more weeks off the hot seat. If Utah loses to UNLV and/or Utah State, then yes, this game was a fluke. Regardless, Appalachian State would have beaten UCLA by far more than the Utes did.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Good News

Every Week I am required to attend a "Graduate Seminar" as part of my degree program. Two weeks ago the professor in charge of the program told us that they had added 2 credit hours to the graduation requirements (increasing the total from 30 to 32). While this isn't a large number, most of us have had our programs of study mapped out for quite some time already and making room for this change would be difficult. I asked if this change applied to students in the combined degree program as well. I was told that it did and I left the seminar a little disappointed (and glad that I was taking 17 credit hours this semester, because I'll need more than I planned on in the spring as well).

Yesterday we all received an e-mail from the same professor stating that he had misinformed us and that because we had signed up for the program last year, we would only be held to the standards that were in place last year. Needless to say, I was extremely pleased. I will only need 10 credit hours in the spring. 4 of them are undergraduate credits and I'll only need 6 graduate credits in order to graduate. Woohoo!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


***Forgive me for being a little technical (but I don't think I'm giving away any secrets...).

I mentioned a little while back that I would try and post a little bit about the research that I was doing all summer. As I've mentioned previously, I spent much of the summer doing research with a professor here in my department. Me and another fellow designed, simulated and laid out a PLL. I'm not going to go into detail much about what a PLL is, but I will try and explain some of the photos in the slide show below.

The first picture is the schematic of the buffered charge pump. It is made up of 3 op-amps and then maybe 15 other transistors. The second picture is of the layout of the buffered charge pump. The layout is a file that we send off to a fabrication company and they use it to make the chip according to our specifications. We have designed our chip in a 0.5 micron, 3-metal AMI process. The colorful layout file designates where all of the different poly-silicon layers, metal layers, diffusion layers, etc. are to be located. The big green areas in the buffered-charge pump picture above are capacitors.

The next picture is the schematic for a divider circuit. This circuit takes a high frequency wave (designed for 900 MHz) and divides it by 180, effectively taking the frequency down to a much slower 5 MHz. The circuit is pretty simply in that it is made up of a D-latch, a bunch of J/K flip-flops and a few inverters. The picture after the schematic is once again the layout for the divider circuit.

The next schematic is for the op-amp that we used throughout the design. The layout for the op-amp is also shown. The yellow squares that you can see speckling the layout are contacts between metal layers and the substrate. Every other circuit also has a ton of these contacts (placed mainly by hand) but the photos are zoomed too far out to be able to see them.

The next two circuits are of phase-frequency detectors (PFD). There are two different ones. The first one is a regular PFD and the second one is part of the original design of this PLL. We are having three chips manufactured. The first one has our unique design that we are testing, the second one has a basic PLL that we can use to compare against and the third chip is made up of individual components that we will be able to test individually once the chips are manufactured.

The next layout is of a voltage-controlled oscillator (VCO). This circuit also has a large inductor that is not shown. The layout of the VCO buffer is also shown. The area on the left of this picture is a 20 k-ohm resistor. The schematic following the the buffer is of the full chip. As a nod to the peaceful co-habitation of world religions, the different circuit symbols are religious symbols (i.e. the VCO is the yin yang, the divider is an ankh, the charge pump is a star and crescent and the PFD is a cross).

The final three pictures are photos of the full chips that were sent away for fabrication.. The big yellow and green spiral is a 9 nH inductor for the VCO (the yellow layer is the uppermost metal layer). The pad-ring which circles around the outside of the chip is also shown. This is where microscopic gold wires will connect to the circuit. Just for measurement purposes, the full chip shown is only 1.5 mm x 1.5 mm. You might be able to pick out some of the other circuit components that were shown earlier - most of the full circuits are less than 100 microns squared.

We sent the chips off for fabrication (we'll be getting 5 copies of each chip for a total worth of more than $15,000) and we should be getting them back in mid-November. Then we will test them and see whether or not our design successfully does what our simulations showed us it would.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Air Force 20, Utah 12

At least Michigan and BYU lost. Doesn't that make you feel better? It sure helps me. The Utes took part in another ugly contest being flogged by the Falcons 20-12 at home. Air Force exploited all of Utah's weaknesses that appeared last week in the game against Oregon State. Utah, on the other hand, was lucky to only be down by 8 at the end of the game. As this was the first home game, it was the first time that I was able to sit in the MUSS this year. Our seats are about on the goal line and 21 rows up - which is 6 rows closer than last year. It would be nice to be further up the field. I like the height though.

Enough about the game (it was just too ugly discuss), the pre-game meal was fantastic. We were served huge cheeseburgers from Red Robin. The tail-gate food alone justifies the cost of joining the MUSS each year.

This was another bad week for Utah on the injury front. Their only Heisman Candidate and best remaining playmaker, Brent Casteel went down with a knee injury. He was taken down by a dirty chop-block tackle that is virtually a guaranteed knee injury (It's illegal unless you are making the hit on the guy with the ball). Tommy Grady struggled again as quarterback. He had great protection from the offensive line (I think they added another blocker or two for most plays) but he was still unable to complete many throws. Last week I blamed his problems on the offensive line, this week they are his alone.

Utah's running-game was anemic as was their running defense - although the defense looked pretty darn good in the first half (playing to a 3-3 tie). In the second half, Air Force played with a lot more emotion and every big play that Utah's defense made, the offense made sure to screw it up. If I had written this review on Saturday I would surely have included a link to Luckily, after a couple of days, my anger has cooled somewhat. As it stands, I will only tell you that it exists,... barely.

You can always complain about the officiating but I think that they actually weren't too bad. They ended up reviewing 5 or 6 calls in the booth and none of them went the Utes way. It's hard to argue with their calls when they are using video review (unless they are PAC-10 officials, see Oregon vs. Oklahoma 2006).

Although Air Force didn't play incredibly well, I was impressed with them. Their offense seemed to mesh well and they were able to make the plays that they needed to. I predict that they will finish at or above .500 in the conference and play in a bowl game. Those are pretty lofty predictions for the AFA.

Utah has their work cut out for them this week. They host UCLA at Rice-Eccles Stadium for the 2nd annual Bruin-Ute showdown. Unless Utah has an Appalachain State moment in the works, they will struggle mightily against the Bruins. I only hope that they are able to score. A good day will be if they even get into the end zone. Hopefully by lowering my expectations as far as I possibly can I am not setting myself up for disappointment. Only time will tell.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Free CD!

I saw this on a friend's blog and I just had to pass it along. There was an obituary in The Salt Lake Tribune that promises a “a free CD to the first 100 mourners, per the request of the deceased.” Wow. What lucky mourners.

Really though, I have 2 Aerosmith disks that I bought in Russia that I will send to the first person that wants them - no strings attached. They're like 2 greatest hits cds that you won't be able to find here in the states... Who wants them?
**Update - I'm feeling generous and I've also got these disks that anybody can have (Once again purchased in Russia - maybe not entirely legal for resale here in the States...):
-- Era - Best of?
-- Green Day - Shenanigans
-- Creed - Best of?
-- Creed - Human Clay
-- Sting - Hit Collection
-- Garbage - Best of?
-- Christina Aguilera - Best! New & Remix
-- Celine Dion - Golden Ballads (2 cd)
-- Madonna - Best of (2cd)
-- Ennio Morricone - Hit Collection 2000 (I don't know who that is, where this cd came from or why I have it)
-- Melanie C (one of the best original Spice Girls)
-- Bruce Springsteen - mp3 disk (14 cds on one, lots of pictures)
-- Britney Spears - Oops!...I did it again
-- Britney Spears - I Love Rock'n' Roll
-- Britney Spears - Britney
-- LeAnn Rimes - I Need You
-- Red Hot Chili Peppers - mp3 disk (10 cds on one, lots of pics)
-- Modern Talking - Disco Collection (2 cds)
-- Pink Floyd - Dark Side of the Moon (I think it's missing a song)
-- Poison - Best of?

Yes. I am extremely embarrassed that I own (soon to be owned) many of these cds. I won't make fun of anybody that requests any of the aforementioned, except for the Britney Spears cds. If you would like any of the listed cds, then just say so in the comments and I will make every effort to hook you up.

ps. Apologies for making light of somebody's loss. I don't think Aerosmith cds were what he had in mind anyhow.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


Here are a few random videos from YouTube. A strange collection to excite all types.

Here's some crazy Russian car racing.

This video shows all of the flights over Europe.

This one is too long, but the first minute or two are interesting (and the only ones worth watching)...

A Russian lady with way too many cats.

**Update** I forgot to add these next two. Here they are:
The knack:

Government Employees:

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Oregon State 24, Utah 7

Oh dear. Where do I start? First off, I was in class for most of the first half. I thought that I had it recording at home but [luckily?] it wasn't actually recording. First off, I didn't expect Utah to actually win this game. I was hoping they would and I thought that their chances were maybe 30%. After watching the game, this is what I came up with.

Matt Asiata was exactly what Utah was looking for. In his 4 carries, he looked way better than any of Utah's other options. Unfortunately, he is out (hopefully with a medical redshirt) due to a broken leg. Utah's 2nd, 3rd and 4th options at runningback wouldn't even start at Utah State... Utah's running game is going to be a lot like it was last year - mostly nonexistent.

Brian Johnson looked pretty good as well. Unfortunately, Utah's weak offensive line wasn't allowing him (or Grady) much time to throw. He completed only one less throw than Grady, while attempting 11 fewer passes, before leaving the game for 3-5 weeks with a separated shoulder. Grady looked better than he did last year. His mobility was much improved. Last year he looked afraid to run, while this year he was moving on almost every play. He'll be good enough to win against Air Force, UNLV and Utah State, but Utah's run defense will probably struggle against Air Force. Overall Utah looked soft. They looked like they could have used another 3-weeks of fall camp. The whole football team has become as soft as Luke Nevill.

I'm now pulling for Oregon State to win the PAC-10. They have very strong offensive and defensive lines and their quarterback switcherooing didn't seem to hamper their momentum much. It was fun to watch Yvenson Benson (their runningback, pronounced Evenson). He was rarely (if ever) tackled by a single player. He's got speed (although he was caught from behind a couple of times) and knack for finding the holes. He's got a real shot at the Doak Walker award.

The first game of the season is always an eye-opener. My expectations of the season have been drastically reduced. As long as the Utes can beat BYU...