Here I detail in exhaustive length ramblings about whatever I'm currently doing.
Kids will be kids--don't ever forget this

I recently found out that Target had made tiny shopping carts for children under the impression that kids get to play adult and parents (Target’s #1 demographic) will feel a bit at ease since their kids are distracted.

We certainly live in a strange age where children are not allowed to be children—parents schedule every little facet of children’s lives, dragging them from this event to another; schools cut down on recess and require kindergartners do homework that involves more than coloring and saying the alphabet, not to mention teaching things a year or two in advance under this weird idea that “it’s what the best schools do” regardless if their own kids are actually capable; children can’t go readily outside because Stranger Danger has been blown up to huge proportions (just because the news reports more of bad things happening doesn’t mean bad things are happening more frequently).

So if Helicopter Mom/Dad goes shopping and forgets kids are kids, what happens?

Well, we’re seeing it now as Target is removing these tiny shopping carts.  Why?  Well, kids are being kids!  They’re smashing them into each other at super high speeds (I remember doing this with BIG carts when I was young and you bet this is the second most fun thing to do with a cart.  The most fun, of course, is taking one home and rolling it down a big ass hill while you’re in it and there’s a bump at the bottom of the hill guaranteeing you’re going to go flying out of it and probably die).  They’re grabbing EVERYTHING off the shelves and just dumping them into the carts.  They’re running around with them at top speed.

“I abandoned purchasing anything and focused on survival” says one mom with three kids who apparently had no clue what happens when all three kids want their own toy and are left to play with said toy in this Yahoo! article.

Guys, no matter what you do with kids, they’re going to be kids.  And if they can’t, they’ll mysteriously find a way just when it’s most inconvenient for you.

Kids are a perfect hive-mind mentality (not to be confused with mob or bandwagon mentality).  No matter what state they’re in, put them around other kids and their collective “reasoning skills” absolutely will converge to “how can I make this boring thing the most amazing thing?”  And you know it’s a hive mind because they all converge to the exact same solution.  In this case, smashing carts into each other and causing chaos.

Good for them.  Kids are great!

Sleep and a good bed

So I recently acquired a new mattress.

Specifically, the queen sized Bed-In-A-Box memory foam mattress, or this bad boy:  https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005CJYQ6S/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o09_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1


I strongly recommend Bed-In-A-Box when it comes to memory foam.  No weird smell, no foam warping from all that heat outside, it’s firm (softness isn’t a good thing for your back).

It’s also pretty cheap, too.

And I’ve had so many great nights of sleep these past few days I’ve had it that I’ve not wanted to get out of bed (which is probably a problem).  But on that same note, all those talks on TV about how a good mattress (well, no, a good night’s sleep, which is incidentally correlated to having a good mattress) giving one energy is true to a point.

I don’t feel my energy reserves increasing, but I feel my desire to be productive increasing.  I’m working a lot more and I have better focus and clarity in what I’m doing.  And I’m enjoying it, too.  I told myself I wasn’t going to work on my two papers until Monday-ish, but I’m now done with one of them and 90% done with the other.  And while I’m a completionist, I have no desire to do that last 10% because of what specifically it is, and I know it’s going to make me want to rip my hair out.

I’ve really just felt a few years younger, ultimately, and this is just from a few nights of sleep.  I can’t wait for my body to adjust to this and say “Yes, this is how it’s supposed to be normally all the time every time.”  My back pains have all but disappeared (they won’t completely until my body fully adjusts), and I wake up feeling more alive.

At $849 + free shipping, you can’t afford NOT to get it.

Well, that’s not true.  If you have bills you’re probably not going to be able to just drop $849 on a whim, and I only got it because my scholarship just vomited all of my money on my right on the get-go.

Wireless Networks and Journals and such

I’ve wrapped up two papers on wireless network security.

One is on jamming an array of wireless access points.  You have a region, like a campus or a military outpost, and there exist some number of access points (like cell towers or routers) with demand points (people and their devices trying to connect to the network) that tend to wander (as people do).  How to jam this in an optimal way so as to minimize the total connection.  I am the primary author.

The other is jamming a sequence of flows.  You connect to a device which “pings” through multiple devices before arriving at a primary access point (think how your cell phone can create a wireless hotspot for others to connect to.  They connect to you, you connect to a tower, this is a “flow&rdquo, and if some jamming occurs, maybe you attach yourself to a different flow.  How to jam this effectively where the jammers have limited power (and thus can’t be left on indefinitely)?  I don’t know if I”m the secondary or tertiary author for this one.

I was brought on to both of these papers without really a clue what was going on.  I started the former paper last summer while it was still in its infancy, so although I didn’t understand the solution methods, I learned to understand the problem.  That was how I became the primary author; I did most of the work of writing and data mining, where my colleague just coded the solution methods (four algorithms).  I also presented this paper at a conference this past May at Disneyland, though I was really screwed over by the system and scheduling so I was presenting at a late time (when everyone’s tired and wants to go back to their hotel rooms) at a different building (so nobody was going to go to it).  There were 6 people in the room, and half of us were presenting papers.  Har.

The former paper was also rejected and for a very good reason.  Rejection in paper submission is frequent because your first draft is never really going to be good enough (unless you submit to a crappy journal; we aimed for the third best journal in our field), and we’re 99.999999% ready to resubmit the 2nd draft, though we’re going to aim for a slightly weaker journal (5th best in our field.  Mind you, every field has about 100 journals in it) that’s also more catered to our paper’s specific goals (we don’t create any new theory, really, so the best journals that demand significant accomplishment in expanding your field are out).

The latter paper, now, I was brought on only recently.  A former student (since graduated) submitted it and it got rejected because it had huge holes in theory, and I was brought on suddenly to modify the paper and try and fill in some holes (which is why I’m only the third author).  I don’t fully understand the paper, but I do understand enough of it to do what I need to do.  We’re about 95% done with the apparently third draft of it, as it’s been rejected twice.

I’m glad to be wrapping them up, too.  We’re aiming to resubmit both next week, and then I can start focusing on my dissertation, which is sort of an extension of the former paper mentioned here.  I’ll be examining mobile wireless access points (pick up your wireless router and move it.  Tada, mobile wireless access point), as well as a stochastic model (wherein the attacker wishing to jam the region doesn’t actually know how many demand points exist in any given location and can only make partial guesses until he can see that most of the network has been eliminated because little power remains).

In fact, both of those ideas are going to be my two major dissertation papers (PhD requires minimum of 2 papers in submission).  I’m pretty excited to do both, but I’m going to have to spend a LOT of time doing some literature review (can’t be solving a problem that’s already been solved, after all, and I know mobile access point jamming is something that’s looked at) and a LOT of time learning to code some solution methodologies before I can formally begin any real work.

Next semester will be when I do it.  The preliminary stuff, I mean.  As in my last entry, this semester is just too demanding.  I’m looking forward to it!

Too much accomplishment amid rampant negativity

Ever since my scholarship money was put into my bank account, I’ve found myself flying high on cloud 9.  I’ve acquired so much crap I’ve wanted but could never reasonably afford (mostly media related things), I’ve updated a lot of my tools and wardrobe, I ordered a new memory foam mattress (that was JUST delivered yesterday when it wasn’t supposed to be here for another week.  Oh, it’s sooooo nice), I paid off one of my unsubsidized loans and 25% of another one (leaving the rest of it and my subsidized loan and that’s it), have a down payment on all my utilities that should cover the next few months, and I’ve got rent covered through January.

This is a legitimate living salary, and having it all at once has allowed me to do so much.  I’ve got a budget set to go travel at the end of the semester, and I can eat the foods I want.

And because my scholarship has removed me from my assistantship, my required work load has decreased by some 80%.  I only need to focus on my dissertation and course work.  Everything else is my own choosing.  Before, I also had to maintain multiple projects (I was the only one maintaining multiple required projects and I found out that it was because I’m both the most competent and trustworthy, which was a nice ego boost that I was kind of needing some one year ago).

I’ve been thankful for the reduced workload, too.  My coursework has been very demanding this semester, reading 2-3 research papers per week and taking without a doubt the most difficult class I’ve ever had in this department (Functional Analysis and Real Analysis from the math department tie for the single most difficult classes I’ve ever taken, and I suffered through two semesters of Functional and just one of Real, and I juggled Real and Functional in the same semester.  Many nights were spent sad and miserable with my nose in books or on the internet trying to figure anything out).

This will be the last semester I take a full load of courses.  I’ll have done it enough times that I can start easing off on classes and start focusing on research, which is good.

In the meanwhile, I’ve been going through almost all of my Netflix nonsense.  “Netflix and chill”, by construction of the phrase, doesn’t really allow for one to actually focus on Netflix.  So once I’m alone I find myself rewatching things so I can figure out what’s going on and what I like.


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