Category Archives: Life Journal

Hiking La Jolla Canyon – The Backbone Trail

La Jolla Canyon - Backbone Trail LookoutFor Father’s Day, I wanted to do something family oriented that was more than just going out to eat. Since all of us more or less enjoy the outdoors, I thought a hike would be something fun that we would all enjoy. We’ve done family hikes before, both the Tree of Life Trail and Hollyridge Trail in the Hollywood Hills.

I had always wanted to do a hike in Malibu overlooking the beach. Brad suggested the La Jolla Canyon Trail, which he had done before. As it turns out, we actually hiked the Backbone Trail. Even though it wasn’t the trail we thought we were on, it was still an excellent hike. I would categorize it as a hike of moderate difficulty with a significant change in elevation. It wasn’t as challenging as the Tree of Life, but it was definitely more challenging than the Hollyridge Trail.

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UCSB ECE189 Capstone Senior Project Day – 2017

Last week, I once again got the opportunity to be a judge for the UCSB ECE189 Capstone project presentations. It’s the fifth year that I’ve been a judge, and it never gets old. The projects are different every year, and the complexity and quality of the projects improves every year. The improvements do not happen by accident or chance. Professor Dr. John Johnson does a great job taking lessons learned from the previous year(s) and incorporating them into the current crop of projects. Bottom line, the quality of this year’s projects is a direct reflection of the effort put into the Capstone projects by Dr. Johnson and his students over the last five years.

This year, six projects were presented. Three were multi-disciplinary projects where multiple departments within the UCSB College of Engineering collaborated. The remaining three projects were contained within the ECE Department and followed the more traditional Capstone project approach.

Here is this year’s synopsis of the projects, the best project winners, and my general thoughts on the class.

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Sports: Entertainment, not Life

As I sit here watching game 3 of the Stanley Cup, enjoying the Penguins up 2 games and basking in the afterglow of an incredible Game 7 win against Ottawa, something doesn’t feel quite right. Yes, it’s fun watching the Pens in the Cup, and game 7 against Ottawa was an amazing game. The Senators played incredible and pushed the Penguins to the limit. The game was highly entertaining, which I suppose is the point. I was entertained.

Growing up in Pittsburgh during the seventies, it was hard not to be a die-hard sports fan. The city practically came to a standstill on Sundays in the fall. There were the team nicknames like ‘The Steel Curtain’. Songs that defined teams like ‘We Are Family’. Individual plays that live on in time like the ‘The Immaculate Reception’. There were the sports personalities that were practically heroes like “Mean” Joe Greene, Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swan, Jack Lambert, Willie Stargell, Franco Harris, Kent Tekulve, John Candelaria, Rocky Blier, Jack Hamm, and more. Everywhere you looked and went there were sports references. It was impossible to escape.

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Exploring Ann Arbor: Round Three

Since Brad has been attending Eastern Michigan University, I’ve had the opportunity to spend a considerable amount of time in the Ann Arbor – Ypsilanti area. Each time I go there, I do my best to find new places to go and hangout for a bite to eat. I have my usual favorites that I’ve documented here and here. This time around, I managed to discover a few new places.

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Homemade – The best way to eat pasta

Homemade pasta - cooked and drainedA little over a year ago, I made the decision to curb my carb intake significantly. Yes, it was a choice. I was so influenced by the books Grain Brain and Wheat Belly that I decided it was best to cut out breads and grain-based products. It was tough for the first month or two. I like bread, and I missed it.

Fast forward a year later, and I’ve gotten over it. I don’t miss bread. I don’t miss grains either, with one exception. Pasta was one meal I just couldn’t give up. Spaghetti dinners are a staple around our house. With our homemade sauce, I just couldn’t let go. I had to find some way, any way, that I could rationalize and enjoy a good bowl of noodles drenched in marinara and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

How did I rationalize my decision to eat pasta? We make it ourselves. Granted, it’s still eating wheat, but I choose the ingredients.

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Are We Living in a Democracy or Oligarchy?

The first presidential election that I voted in was 1992. George Bush was running for re-election against democratic challenger Bill Clinton and Texas businessman Ross Perot. Nearly 25 years later, our most recent election had another Clinton running for office. Within those 25 years, we’ve also had another Bush as president and yet another Bush who attempted his own presidential bid in 2016.

After thinking about it, it occurred to me that a Bush or Clinton has been involved in every presidential election since 1980 with the exception of 2012. They have either been the Republican or Democratic choice for president, been involved in the primaries, or been on the ticket as vice-president. Put another way, a Bush, a Clinton, or both has been a part of 9 of the past 10 presidential elections.

The prominence of these two families in American politics made me question, are we living in a democracy or an oligarchy?

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The Beard – Never Say Never

Gregg Borodaty and "The Beard"The internal conversation went a little like this:

January 2016 – “OK, so I wasn’t going to grow it again this year, but I did. This time let’s retire the beard for a few years, for real.”

October 2016 – “I guess I should grow it out again. This time I’ll start earlier and keep it trimmed much shorter.”

November 2016 – “Short is good, but I should let it grow out over the end of year holidays.”

December 2016 – “Letting it grow out wasn’t such a good idea. Let’s cut it back for the beginning of the new year.”

January 2017 – “I don’t know why I did this again. This time around, I’m serious about retiring it.”

So yeah, I was a little all over the place this year. The lead-in photo was the longest and thickest it got. That photo was taken around the end of 2016. To be honest, I’m not sure why I let it go, but I did. After that, I cut it back and wore the look below for the first two weeks of this year.

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My 2017 reading list

I just finished organizing my book wish list. It’s grown to nearly 180 books. if you look at my reading pace, around 25 books a year over the last three years, I have seven years worth of books in my queue. Given the pace at which I add books to my list, there are books I will never get to. Therefore, I have to have a system for creating and prioritizing my annual reading list.

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Books to read – the 2017 edition

After coming up woefully short of my reading goal of 36 books in 2015, I set a goal of 30 for last year. I managed to get in 25. It’s the same number I completed in 2015, and just shy of the 27 I read in 2014. Out of the 25 books I read last year, the good news is that 21 of them came from my 2016 reading list. It’s good sign that I managed to stay true to my plan for the year. I attribute it to having goals, reading themes, and trusted sources that I use to populate the list. I’m going to use the same process for my 2017 reading list, which I will be publishing in the next few days.

Even though the number of books read in 2016 were the same as 2015, it felt like 2016 was a more productive year for reading. I read quite a few good books. Here’s the best of the bunch that I would recommend you add to your reading list for the upcoming year. As in the past, I’ve broken the list into General Recommendations, Business Books, and Fun Reads.

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2017 fitness goals

For 2016 I had three main fitness goals around working out, walking and diet. I’m pretty pleased at how I did for the year, but there is always room for improvement. For 2017, I’m not planning any major changes in my routine, just some refinements. I’m also going to put a stretch goal or two in place to challenge myself a bit more.

Here’s a more detailed look at the results of 2016 and my goals for the next year.

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