Monday, July 30, 2007

In Loving Memory

Today we lost the lives of two influential teachers, Rabbi Carole Meyers and Coach Bill Walsh.

Rabbi Meyers lead my childhood congregation at Temple Sinai in Glendale, CA between 1986 and 2001. She died of bone cancer at the age of 50, ten weeks after doctors discovered a rapidly growing tumor in her back. I will always remember when Rabbi Meyers would invite all the children of the congregation to sit at the front stage steps while she entertained us with stories from the Old Testament. I will remember her for being a very patient listener and excellent communicator who connected to people of all ages and viewpoints. My father informed me that she was instrumental to helping my mother and aunt cope with the losses of their parents. Honestly, I never liked synagogue and was never very religious, but I could listen to Rabbi Meyers forever. In her obituary I learned that she was the first female rabbi in the Los Angeles area. Nice! I wish the best for her family and want them to know how she truly made a positive impact during the time she was here.

Bill Walsh, former coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Stanfurd Cardinal, and Cal Football defensive assistant under Marv Levy lost his bout with leukemia today. Bill Walsh is credited with inventing the so-called West Coast Offense, which he used to guide the 49ers from a gutter team into a premier NFL franchise while winning three Super Bowls in six years. Although he is a huge symbol in Stanford football history, I can't ignore his significance to the Bay Area. Moreover, a ridiculously large number of coaches trace their lineage back to Walsh on his coaching "tree".

In other, infinitely scarier news, my grandma broke her arm while walking to the bathroom last night. Thank goodness she's okay and won't require any surgery. However, she'll be in even more pain than usual for the next couple months. We always joke that our dog Teddy's bones are practically dust, but that phrase may apply better for Grandma Moura. She's too proud to ask for help, but at her age broken arms don't heal quickly. I hope she gets through this okay and feels better soon.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Simpsonize Me

As most of you are probably aware, Fox is releasing "The Simpsons Movie" this Friday, July 27. I will spare you with my opinion about the degradation of the greatest TV series that ever existed. Instead I'll point out that, as part of their marketing campaign, Fox has collaborated with Burger King to create a website in which you can "Simpsonize" yourself. The idea is that you can upload a picture of yourself (needs to be a headshot) and the website will convert your picture into a Simpsons-style character. When I first heard about this, I thought it was genius. Who doesn't want to know what they'd look like as a Simpson? Also, how in the world are they able to analyze a photo and convert it? I was intrigued to find out more.

I immediately tried to log on to the site: only to find out that it doesn't work. After 24 hours of checking back and receiving errors that say something like "The doo-hi-ki isn't reading the watcha-ma call it," I was ready to throw the computer monitor out the window. However, I finally got it to work at 2am EST. The picture at the above right is me, Simpsonized. Wow, I don't ride a skateboard, but that's pretty accurate. He's got spiky hair, he's short, and a slightly evil grin. Okay, so I'm just kidding. But my aunt (former HR VP at Fox) always told me they modeled Bart after me. Anyways, I Simpsonized myself and Jovauna. The results are at the right. That's sorta close, I guess. They give you the option of modifying the picture but I didn't do too much. Go try it for yourself, if you can get it to work.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Medical School Applications

Yesterday, Monday July 16, Jovauna's AMCAS medical school application was officially processed. Now the secondary applications are flooding her e-mail box. This is both exciting and intimidating. It's exciting because it appears many schools are going to give Jo serious consideration (even though most, if not all, these secondaries are automatic). It's intimidating because Jo has to turn back these secondary applications within two weeks, at the most. That's a lot of work. The good news is that most applications feature similar question prompts, so Jo can recycle essays. However, many schools also have essay questions to the effect of "Describe your interest in our University," which requires individual research into each school. That's lots of work, but I'm sure she'll pump them out quickly once she gets into a groove.

Given that Jo applied to 38 schools, I created a so-called "application matrix" to track her progress and keep friends and family up to date. Check it out here.

By the way, she received a secondary from the University of Michigan today.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Google Never Ceases to Amaze Me: RechargeIT

So here I am diligently reading the latest V2G research for my lit review when I come across the intellectual equivalent of finding Carmen Electra naked in my bed. Google's philanthropic arm,, has launched a program called RechargeIT, a plug-in hybrid car initiative working in collaboration with PG&E, EPRI, CalCars, and Prof. Willett Kempton, among others. Press release here.

This pleasantly shocked me for many reasons:
  1. Those that know me well are aware that I have a passion for website technologies. As such, Google is one of my favorite resources. Now I stumble across Google investing millions of dollars into my very own research topic: vehicle to grid hybrid vehicles. I love Google! Yes, that's right! I'm not afraid to admit that I LOVE the company founded by two Stanford PhD students.
  2. Besides providing basic information about the RechargeIT project, the website ( displays nearly live data about their hybrid fleet, including vehicle speed, engine RPM, battery charge, current, and temp. To help present this data, Google has clearly utilized their very own API's. They combined my two passions into one comprehensive marketing/engineering tool. Wow! Do they have jobs available?
  3. Google's list of collaborators is extremeley impressive. They have all the big names in plug-in hybrid / V2G technology. Moreover, they have pledged to invest $10 million in companies and organizations doing related work. Sometime later this summer they will publish a request for proposals. Why can't I submit a proposal? They gave Kempton $150K, which approximately funds one PhD student for 5 years. Maybe if they grant it to me, they will offer a job when I graduate. What a dream scenario that would be.
This is unquestionably the most awesome collaborative project I have ever come across. Let me know what you all think. In the mean time, check out this cool video:


Vehicle-to-Grid Support for BART

While working on my literature review, I came across the most intriguing technical publication. Eugene Nishinaga, Manager of Research & Development at BART, is proposing the use of vehicle-to-grid (V2G) to support the electric power demands of the BART system. For those not hip to the V2G concept, it's the idea of using a plug-in hybrid vehicle to charge your car's batteries AND using the car to send power back to the grid.

With that background in mind, here's the essence of Nishinaga's idea: BART buys bulk amounts of electricity in advance at a wholesale price. Sometimes BART has unused electricity and other times it doesn't have enough. In the latter case BART pays over three times as much for short-term demand power. Maybe this is why BART tickets are so expensive.

Nishinaga's solution is to send the unused electricity to charge V2G-capable vehicles in the BART parking lots and request backup power from these vehicles when demand exceeds supply. His calculations state consumers will achieve a $1,000 savings in gas and BART saves $260,000 per year. Those two factors combined effectively mean most V2G car owners ride BART for free. That's phenomenal, not to mention the environmental advantages! Maybe I should apply for a research position at BART after graduation.

If this ever becomes reality, Jo can stop complaining about the crowded BART parking lots and spend the extra dough on Starbucks.

Interested readers can refer to Nishinaga's presentation here.


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

High Def Heaven

It finally came! After extensive research, numerous phone calls to the bank, and 3 (that's no typo) botched orders, my Vizio 37" HDTV arrived today. When I flipped the TV around to view the plethora of HDMI and color component connections, I felt inadequate hooking up a simple coaxial cable. Oh well, I still get Fox HD, NBC HD, ABC HD (which is AMAZING by the way) and a few others. Sadly, no ESPN HD. That costs an extra $8/month from Crapcast, not to mention the additional HDTV tuner and installation fees they probably slap on. I might have to wait on that until college football season starts.

To inaugurate my new toy, I watched "So You Think You Can Dance" in HD. I must say, with complete confidence in my sexuality, that "So You Think You Can Dance" is awesome! I wouldn't call myself a dance aficionado by any stretch, but watching dance performed at such a high level is good entertainment. Also, has anybody else noticed how HOT the girls in the audience are? Not to mention the female dancers and that 7-foot Australian chick. Yes... good entertainment.

Monday, July 9, 2007

THA1 for Heisman

It's Official! Desean Jackson (aka THA1) has thrown his hat into the Heisman trophy competition. The Berkeley publicity machine has put together an impressive website to advertise our superstar.

After watching the highlight videos, I'm absolutely stoked for Cal Football 2007 and watching THA1 take it to the house! However, I seriously doubt THA1 will have as much success on punt returns this year. Unless you're mentally retarded or outrageously daring, why would you punt to him? Tedford will most likely be content with allowing the other team to punt out of bounds and take the field position. However, how sweet would it be if they put THA1 AND Jahvid Best both back on punt returns, Ginn Jr and Holmes/Gonzalez style? That would force the ball into the hands of either one of two sub 4.3 guys. Money in the bank baby!

Speaking of money, there should be NO DOUBT in the minds of Cal football fans that THA1 bolts to the big leagues after this year. There is NO wideout more explosive, and that includes Super Mario here in Ann Arbor. Furthermore, watch the one-on-one videos on THA1's Heisman site and the writing on the wall becomes clear.

Despite THA1's big play potential, he MUST have a good game against Tennessee on Sept 1. Recall that Marshawn's Heisman pub dwindled after posting a modest performance against the Vols last year. Even more so, THA1 will have an uphill battle against East Coast Bias and U$C's hype train. His chief competition will likely be JD Booty, Mike Hart, Colt Brennan, Steve Slaton, and Pat White. Overall, I think THA1 might have a better shot than Marshawn, but let's recognize that many of our big games occur at 5pm PST / 8pm EST. If THA1 shows up big on Sept 1 and then puts on a show for Corso and Herbstriet against U$C, Berkeley will boast their first Heisman Trophy winner ever!


Hello Blogosphere

Hello, Blogosphere! I'm excited to announce the introduction of my new blog.