05 February 2015

Adventures in China: Getting there (2/3-2/4)

For the last 9 months, I've been working on a project at work to open a new center in Beijing. They had lured the opportunity to head over there for a long time. There were times where I wasn't sure I was actually going to go, but I'm hear now. The People's Republic of China. It's more vertical than I thought, at least Beijing is.

I figured it would be a good idea to try and record some of my thoughts about the trip, sprinkle in some photos, and let everyone know that I'm still alive.

So here goes...

Preparing for the Trip

Over the last couple of months, it's been unclear when I was going to be going to China. I knew it was going to be a last minute kinda of trip, but a little over two weeks I was given the green light to go. That's when the craziness ensued.

There were a number of things that needed to be completed: new passport, Chinese visa, plane tickets, packing, repacking, and hotel reservations.

I will say that I was pretty surprised that I was able to get a new passport in two days, and a Chinese visa in just under a week. Let me just say it's really terrifying to drop one's passport into an envelope and mail it off to an unknown location. TERRIFYING.

The exciting thing was that I was allowed to purchase business class tickets for the trip...


One of the joys of this trip thus far has been the fact that Penn let me purchase a business class ticket for my flight to China. It was a strange experience to say the lease.

The good parts of it:
  • Gobs of leg room. I've never had so much leg room on a flight before. It was every where, and what you can see from the photo above, they even have one of those fancy foot rests.
  • The seat turned into a lye flat bet. Reasonably comfortable. There were some height issues, mainly in the fact that I can't sleep on my back. The seat was basically completely adjustable.
  • The 4 course meal that they served was mighty amazing. It was served over 1.5 hours, and included salad, sushi, steak, a cheese course, and an ice cream Sunday. A wonderful soup was served about 10 hours into the flight, and the flight concluded with an omelet and sausage.
  • There was plenty of space to spread around in. I'm one to enjoy spreading out when I'm in a space, so having the space was really nice. Plus there wasn't someone next to me which was even better as it let me get up and walk around without annoying anyone.
  • I was on the second floor of the plane, and it was an absolute delight. It was like I was flying on a small personal jet with only a handful of people. Like I said, absolutely delightful.
  • Let's just way a young looking Christopher Reeves looking gentleman was sitting in my sights the entire flight.  I kept thinking he looked like Clark Kent, and then he removed his glasses and there was Superman. What a delight.
Some of the bad things:
  •  It felt a bit strange being waited on while traveling. Something I'm not use to, and I don't think that I could become accustomed to. I think it all lies in the ringing of the bell for service. Yuck.
  • When I did get up to walk around or such, I was ask one of the flight attendants for something, but would get a strange look from then. It was odd. I kept wanting to be like: just tell me where water and Coke Zero is and I'll just help my self the entire time. Life will just be better all around.

Arriving and getting to the hotel

The arrival, immigration, and customs was pretty straight forward. The lines were pretty long, but they kept moving, and I was through pretty quickly, which was nice.

I ended up talking with a really nice gentleman on the tram to get our bags. He was coming home to visit his sick grandfather, but was a student at Texas A&M. Really nice fellow.

After making my way through customs, the part of night I was a bit anxious about: meeting the driver, and getting to the hotel. I should note I've never met a driver before. I've always had to figure out how to get from the airport to my hotel by what ever means possible, so this was a completely new experience for me.

My driver (strange to say) meet me as I was exiting customs holding a PWCC sign. I connected with him. He took my bags, and gestured for me to follow him. I followed him. He had my bags, I had to. As we I follow him, all that kept going through my head was "I'm in a foreign country. I don't speak the language. I don't really know this person. I COULD BE BEING KIDNAPPED RIGHT NOW!" These thoughts kept going through my head as we drove to the hotel. Luckily I had looked up how to get to the hotel before I left so as we got on to 3rd Ring Street, I knew that everything was going to be reasonably OK.

As the driver drove to keep us from being killed on the road, I started to think about how vertical the city of Beijing was. It was with these thoughts I started to ponder the shear number of people that were here. I would look at an office building and then think: all those people have to live somewhere; all those people need places to buy food, medical care, pharmacies, entertainment. Really it made me think about the complex web formed as you build a community, and support some population. It was possibly too much for my brain to handle in my jet lagged stupor.

Hotel and Bed

The hotel I'm staying at is your typical western hotel. It has all the standard amenities in it. It's got a really cool shower with three shower heads, automated blinds, seating area, desk, tea, gym, spa, pool, and all that fun stuff.

Continuing in my jet lagged stupor, I ate dinner in one of the hotel restaurants. It was mainly what appeared to be standard Chinese fair. I had the sweet and sour pork. Pretty tasty, and better than that which is served in the US. At this point I determined I was going to have a hard time with eating Chinese food back home.

After calling my parents, figuring out the internet situation, and unpacking I called it a night at 9:30pm local time.

I feel that this trip is going to be an adventure in itself. It's going to open many new doors and experiences. I'm going to see things I've never seen or heard about before. And from a work stand point, the reason I'm here, it has already proven to be a different experience and helping to improve a number of skills that aren't up to par, have never used, or I've never wanted to do.


11 March 2012

Oh great, I'm actually an adult...

I have been doing this whole "adult" thing for over 18 months now. It is fine. Nothing exciting. And that is the problem.

Due to a number of frustrations at my current job, I started the process of looking for a new job. It is scary world out there, especially when you don't really know what you want to do. Systems Administration? Network Engineering? Network Architecture? Wireless? Professional bike race planning?

This is the problem. Currently, my feeling is that there is just to much out there that I enjoy doing. It is hard to really grasp what 

I have spent many years in my college days as a systems administration. Some of the best times while I went to Drexel. It was something that I was good at. Something that I enjoyed. Something that I actually considered doing for the rest of my professional life.

Then I graduated, and started doing networking, specifically wireless networking. It has been a pretty awesome experience. Learned a lot of new stuff. Expanding the knowledge base that I already had, which I always enjoy. Something worth exploring more.

But there is a question that has been asked of me recently, the question of 3 and 5 year plans had be posed to me by the early arrivers club the other night. And thanks to them, I really started to think. The last think that I need to be doing this week with the giant bike race coming up. The up in the air state of my life, the next blog entry, I guess.

So, thinking leads to writing, and writing leads to blogging. So here are my actual thoughts:

I don't have a 3, 5 or 7 year plan. I honesty have no desire to really be any where in the next 3, 5, or 7 years. Ten years, probably.

There isn't a place that I want to be. There really isn't a place that I want to work really badly.

Some might say, "But he doesn't have any goals. He doesn't have any desires to go any where with his life!"

And I say "But I do have desires, just none that take me places!!"

At this point in my life, I have only been out of college for a little under two year. Really, I just want to accumulate knowledge and skills. It is fun. It is exciting. I like it. I like trying new things, venturing out in to the unknown, and seeing what it is like.

Now writing this, and pondering options that are currently in front of me. There are two job that are currently positioned in front of me. One is systems job. One is a networking job. Both seem like pretty awesome jobs.

The networking job would be one that would potentially expand on what I'm doing now. Present opportunity for expanding my networking skill set, and taking it to another level.

The systems job would be going back to what I did in college. Nothing wrong with that. It would be a change of pace, something different from what I'm working on at the current moment. Something that I haven't work in a while.

(A tip of my hat to you for reading this far...)

There is a lot to consider. A lot to think about. A lot to talk with other people about. But it really comes down the the scary question:


09 January 2012

Food. ADHD. Eh.

Recently, NPR posted on their Facebook page about the link between diets and ADHD. It was brief article, and the jest of the article is that changing the diet of youngsters will cure all.

As I read through this article, I felt that I should share some thoughts that I had on this, and it was strong enough that I have reopened the blog. It has been almost three years, but everyone knows my thoughts on writing: eh (Really, it goes against my ADHD.)

I know that for some, it is really challenging to understand what having ADHD is like. It is like trying to explain insomnia to someone whose head hits the pillow and they are out. Or restless leg syndrome to someone that can sit still for hours on end.

One of the ways that I can explain it is to grab 5 books. Lay them out on a table, all open. Now start reading. Changing books after each sentence. Oh, did I mention you aren't allow to mark where you left off in each book. Also, turn on the following music: Paul Simon's Graceland, Beethoven's third and fifth, and for good measure Widor's Toccota on repeat. While doing all that, write your PHd thesis. GO. (For extra credit: Call your parents, grade exams, and tutor some in data structures implemented in Python.)

So, the first thought that I have to share is that the brain is a muscle. Deal with it. It is, and if think differently, then well, the rest of this won't make much sense.

For me, most days are the same as a 16 hour endurance ride on a bike, but for the mind. There are points where it is just shear pain. My brain actually hurts. It takes a serious amount of brain power to complete a task, or a set of task. Reading a book is like bench pressing 40x my weight.

I have been dealing with this for years. YEARS I TELL YOU. I have been on a number of meds. I have tried a couple of the diets. But when it all comes down to it: I have ADHD, and I have to deal with it. There is no cure all drug. There is no fancy treatment to make it go away. I know this because I spent most of college thinking there was. Talk about let downs.

With all this, I feel that I have a pretty good system down for dealing with my ADHD. It really all comes down to a number of small things that I have picked up over the years, many of them taught to me my special ed teacher in high school (Thanks Donna!). My work spaces are littered with small scraps of paper covered in nonsensical writing, that means nothing to anyone else, but these are basis for how I move through my day.

But to go with that, I take meds from time to time. I eat decently. I exercise when I can. I have a pretty good social life.

Now you wonder 'where is all of this going?'

I will tell you.

I have heard many stories about the growing number of ADHD kids in schools these days. I contribute this to:

  • the medication nation
  • the need for parents to have an excuse for their apparently poorly performing children
  • teachers not wanting to deal with misbehaving kids
Now you say: "Charles, your crazy for saying this!"

And I say: "Well, I might be, but how many kids are actually ADHD. Medically diagnosed, and not just slapped with a label?"

I don't have time to look into numbers now, but it would be an interesting stat to look at. But with that statement, I can say this:

The research that is covered in the NPR article has some serious merit to it. Diet has defiantly has a place in the treatment of ADHD. For all I know it could 'cure' it and when I say 'cure' it, I'm talking about those that don't really have ADHD, but a screwed up body because of stupid things that are put in their bodies.

But there are many other things that can help with the treatment: controlled environment, structured work, meds, coping mechanisms, and tiny scraps of paper.

Hmm...after writing all this, I guess I'm really responding to all the comments on the article that pissed me off.

ADHD exists people. Deal with it. 

04 August 2009

The War of the Toasting Device.

There is currently a war going on in my house. It is an intense war that has our kitchen divided. The war has caused the creation of allies and along with long conversations related to the pros and cons of the situation.

This war is over:

The use of a toaster oven or a toaster

This is a major issue with in the house and has been an unresolved issued that has festered until my toaster died. This is when the war broke out. First Casey bought a toaster oven. Providing a source for not only making toast but also cooking small meals with out having to heat up the large clunker that it sits next to.

But then Dustin made his move, the purchasing of a toaster. A simple, sleek device that takes up little counter space that provides a simple function: toasting things. That is it. A unitasker.

Now, each device provides excitement to the cooking experience. The toaster, taking a unix approach to the cooking world, provides a single service, and it does it well. The toaster oven, taking what I feel is more of a windows approach to the cooking world, does a lot of things OK. I have only had a couple of experiences with the toaster oven, some of which end every badly.

I'm not sure what the out come of the war will be, but I will say that this point in time is that I will not take sides, until there is some sort of epic battle in the kitchen between the actual toaster and toaster oven.

Day to Day. Task to Task.

From time to time, everyone sits down and looks over recent activities, interactions and events, and reflect on the experiences. Comparing and contrasting the goods and the bads. Find things to improve upon. Things to change. Ways to change the outcomes come to mind, and you start playing the what if game, seeing if there was something that you could have done to change the out come of some event or interaction.

Currently, I find myself sitting here taking a general look over the things that I have done, and the current state of where I am in the world. I ponder if this is where I want to be. Am I heading in a direction that I want to go in? Am I taking in the things that I want to take in? Am I taking time to appreciate the things that I do, and the environment around me? These are things that I currently wonder about. Wonder if they are things that need to change.

The day to day is the day to day. Taking each day just as time in which to fill with tasks. Each days has an emptiness to them that causes one to wonder what they purpose is. To attempt to see where meaning can be injected into the emptiness of the day to do in hopes that something exciting will come out of filling the void.

Scheduling and planning each day only seems to provide for the opportunity to speed past things, fostering the potential for more emptiness because of the changing of activities all the time. From the same point of view, one could obtain more from this changing of activities because of the potential for diversity in the subject matters. But what happens when your schedules tasks and activities don't provide diversity and you seem to continuously tread water. This is where I have found myself.

Forward movement is something that everyone wants to achieve. It provides a way to measure where you have been and the things that one has accomplished. Moving forward, breaking out of the norm is a challenge. Moving forward means change, and change can be a dangerously feared thing. But I find myself wanting to move forward, wanting to expand the horizons and conquer new things. But there is something that sits in the way of doing this. Time.

A friend said that a lack of time shouldn't be an excuse for not completing something, but not the time that it takes complete, but also the time to do background research. There are many different things out there that require a level of background knowledge, and there is also the time to keep up with the information that comes out, but this gets in the way of the other activities that are required, but bring emptiness to the world.

Ther are many different things that are interesting, but there is just no time to get into and get up to speed so that it become second nature.

But at this point in the game, I just want the feeling of moving forward.

Please also note that Google needs to fix it's source code input system. Just because I put a line break in, doesn't mean that I want a actual line break in displayed form. Please fix and let me know.

25 July 2009


his year has provided me with a lot of challenges. Questions have a risen that have brought me to the edge of completely changing my career path or lack of one; how I interact with the people around me; and what constitutes me. I have always had a problem with excepting me for me, and always trying to attempt be someone else just in attempt to fit in with the people around. I have been doing this for so long, that I have lost who I am. Not feeling comfortable to be me, taking medication to normalize myself and get things done. Recently events have brought all of this up again and has shed a new light on the entire thing. I apologize to those that I have hurt during this ordeal, as I have not intentional mented and just trying to figure everything out and to be comfortable in this world.

The concept of self is interesting to one that doesn't know ones self. One that is always attempting to be something else, and not always the most comfortable with himself. The question of it means to comfortable with one self comes to mind. Some might say that it could be dancing in the streets at 2 in the morning. Some might say that is doing what you love even when everyone around you says that it can't be done. Some might say that it is walking up to a girl you like and strike up a conversation in hopes of something exciting coming out of it.

I have never really sat down and examined myself to the fullest extent. Never come to ponder the kind of people that I want to be. I have always just live in the moment, the situation in hopes that some would come out of it. Experiencing new things are said to help with becoming comfortable with one self. I have experienced many different things over the years, but yet I sit here on a bus to Dorney Park in turmoil trying to figure this out.

This isn't something is going to come to me overnight. Something that is going to appear in an "AH HA" moment like every hopes it will. This is going to be something that I will have to continue to write about while evaluating my interactions with the people around, people that I meet in the future, and situations that I find myself in. After I have gathered a collection of thoughts, reflections, and other things I will head off a remote place and figure it all out hopefully while camping or torturing my body on my bike in some remote location.

Interactions with people has never been my forte. I can't always take Sam around with me to translate "Charles" into "everyone else" speak. While this make handling some situations easier because he understand my thought process and how I interact with people, he can't also be there. I have never been able to hold relationship, both love interest and non love interest very well. Before coming to college, the longest standing friend ship that I can thing of was with Jacob for 4 years before his untimely death. Since then, I have not really had many long term friendships with my peers and people around me.

But over the last couple of terms (months for you non-Drexel folk), I had have trouble in the relationship department. Part of it has spawned from me, and I believe part of it has spawned from other people. This has presented a confusing mess for me to be in. I'm not the kind of person that reads between the lines. I'm not the kind of person that picks up on subtle hints of winks and nods. I'm just not that kind of person. I don't play close enough attention to my surrounds to pick up on these things. People have to basically slap me in the face with the ugly truth no matter what happens. While I won't always take it in the best way, I normally end up sitting down and taking it all in, then taking a step back and seeing the bigger picture. While this isn't always the best way to handle situations, it is best way that I have been able to handle things.

I see all of the friendships around me, new friendships form, and wonder. I have seen members of one friend group interacted with another and form deeper friendships than I have with either side. I see people have deep friendships with other people and long to have the same thing with the same people and other people. While attempting to form these deeper relationship, I jump into it quickly. I'm a people pleaser and the expense of my own health and mental stability. And I will bend over backward to become friends with them. Basically what it comes down to is that I just try to hard to form friendships. Guess that it is time to back off and slow down, but I wonder whether that is a good thing. I wonder if people will come to me and start something.

Social situations have always been a problem for me. these situations have always presented a level of awkwardness to me. Not knowing how to interact with people. Say thing the wrong thing. These have always been fears of mine. I have come to cope with them by committing my self to other activities, even it was socially acceptable. This has including making a pie at a halloween party, baking, or reading a research paper on rumor mongering on a network at lunch. I have even left events. It is something that I do to remove myself from the awkwardness.

Also part of the problem is balance. Balance is something that every needs, and I feel that it is something that is needed to maintain mental sanity in life. But you don't have to just balance between a social, personal and work life, one has to balance with in each of the categories. With in a social life, one must balance between all of the people around him/her. Attempting to spend the right amounts of time with everyone proves to be a challagne, because one also balance this with a blending ones own personal interests.

I don't like feeling like a burden. I don't like just going to someones house. I just feel like a burden. I someone has an open event, I don't like to go over. I prefer to have an explicit invite. It is just wait I like. It makes me feel more comfortable.

Other stuff
There are other thing that currently sit in my mind. School work. Post graduation. What for dinner tomorrow? What I am going to do at work from now on? I have always just taken things as they come along with little planning for the future. I have always pondered about the what ifs. What if I had actually applied to different schools? What if I hadn't changed majors? What would it be like if I actually knew what I wanted to with the rest of my life.

Every thing is in an undetermined state in the DFA of life, with no paths that lead to a final state. I just wish that there was a final state. A section that is stable, and you have a the ability to look ahead before taking a step forward. Even to be able to do a depth first search would be great.

I am a computer man. That is just what I am. I mean come on I just related my life to a DFA for goodness sake.

16 July 2009

Down the River

Today, I read an interesting article regarding the affect of technology on humans ability to critically think. It was an interesting read. No conclusions were drawn in the article about the positive or negative affects, but there were some things that got me thinking about myself, and my approach to doing things and how I have gotten by over the years in this world.

The Article
You can read my notes about this article on my wiki. The jest of the article related to how humans have the ability to think out side of the box, and that we cherish it. The article goes into some information regarding how the reading of literature over the years has declined and the explosion of visual media. There is also some discussion related to the act of reading and building an imagination, increasing thinking, and building vocabulary. Also, the explosion of visual media has lead to decline in the reflection and analysis of the content. The end of the article ends with this quote:
"With out CT, we create trivia. We dismantle scientific models and replace them with trendy or wishful ones that are neither transferable or testable."

Staying a Float
As everyone knows, when you are working on your education the material that you learned yesterday is needed today. Today's material will be need tomorrow. Now if you take that idea and stretch it over many different classes, over many different years, you get a cohesive education. As my education has progressed, I have noticed that in previous classes I was just staying a float, and not really absorbing the material in the manner that I needed to use it down the line for future classes and activities. Now, 4 years into college and it is starting to come back to bit me in very subtle ways. It has also become harder to stay float at this point. I have also noticed that I have started to lose my ability to solve problems in an easy effective manner.

Some of this I can contribute to the topic that is discussed in the article mentioned above. Technology and critical thinking. Upon further pondering of this topic manner, I have come to the conclusion that it does affect the critical thinking skills of people. It can affect people in different ways. Some people it as increased their ability to critically think. If you take for example the people behind the development of new technologies that we use on a day to day basis. But there is also there is also technologies that haven't helped with the increase of critical thinking skills. For example, there is a wealth of information online that has enabled people to just pull up the answer with out having to think about it.

Some might argue that because the Internet contains so much information, that people can use it to solve the simple tasks of life, and then move on to bigger and better things. But the question that I pose to those people is are you able to complete the simple tasks? I feel that if you aren't able to complete the simple tasks, then you really shouldn't be moving on to larger tasks.

Things to fix
Given all of this, I have pondered several area that I can work on to hopefully increase my ability to complete tasks, along with hopefully work on my critical thinking skills.

  • Doing one thing at a time - While multitasking can be good, it does provide for a certain lack of depth when working on something. It can probably be said that when you are working a series of small simple tasks, multitasking can probably help with the management of the task. But when a larger task comes a long, need to set a side time to work on them.

  • Reading - Something that I have never really been good at is the whole reading thing. It has always seemed like, while not pointless or meaningless, I could be doing something more exciting with my time. Something that would see more productive. I'm a slow reader. I will admit it. But something that I need to work on it actually reading. Besides that attempt to read for fun, there will also be a collection of papers that I'm going to read and keep notes on using the wiki.

These are things that I hope will help me to "catch" up over time, and become better in my field if any thing. Does any one have a good discreet math book for dummies book that I may barrow?