Armen Chakmakjian

Posts Tagged ‘College’

The 2013 Wind Down…

In career, College, Literature, Random, Science Fiction, technology on December 31, 2013 at 3:49 am

With about 26 hours to go in the year 2013, I’m doing what I’ve done every year since 2008 and write about what this year meant to me.  This year started with massive snowstorms.   ImageOn February 9th, I went out there for 4 hours cleaning up the snow.  My Facebook update said it best:

“Spent 4 hrs. with the snow blower that’s just a tad small for 30 inches. First cleared our driveway. Helped clean up a neighbors driveway who was away. Then I cleared a path all the way around the house to expose all the exits Samuel had opened up. The path to the oil is cleared with a small path over the grass. My arms are killing me; my right hand, which held down the augur control, is stuck in that position and my toes are refusing to warm up. So I made myself a meatloaf and Muenster Panini and some Peets coffee.”

Being stuck at home I also did some attic cleanup.  I emptied some boxes of books right above the kitchen whose renovation was about to start.  This proved to be a less than cathartic event.  At the beginning it was fun to see what I had accomplished 25 years ago at RIT.  As I got deeper into the electrical engineering classes homework, I saw some of my toughest classes, the weed-out ones.  It evoked that same emptiness in the pit of the stomach that I had back then.  While none of it was abject failure, B- and C+ were tough to relive.  However there were successes in other places, like anyplace where I had to build a circuit and drive its function from an assembly language.  And the liberal arts classes…well I aced them.  Which in an era of Big Bang Theory nerdiness would sound inverted of course.  ImageHow could an engineer do well in a concentration in Literature? European drama, English Literature, Poetry and even my Seminar class in Constitutional studies?

I also found my status reports as a co-op at Digital Equipment.  It was really funny reading how I solved problems in which I had no clue what I was doing.  I’m about as clueless now as I was then about what I read.

Contemporaneously to this attic clean out, I was enrolled in my final MBA class at Bentley.  I was taking a global business strategy class in which many of the case studies were about, get this, Digital, Xerox, Kodak, Sam Adams, et cetera.  Beer and failed technology companies.  I sent an email to the professor at one point that this class was making me relive the whole early part of my career all over again, evoking the same responses about the failed tech companies.  How to waste patents and miss the movement beneath you…

Anyway, at the same time as I was doing my homework, my younger son was going through his own transitions.  He was a senior in High School, finalizing his choice of College to attend in the fall.

ImageI finally got to my graduation in May.  This coincided with finishing the demo and reconstruction on our 50-year-old kitchen.  We were so excited.  During the week preceding graduation, my wife, a former Bentley grad, had the fun of being escorted by me to several events for the graduates including a reception at the President’s home at Bentley.  That was a great time and when I got my diploma I was floating about 3 inches off the ground.

During this May timeframe my older son was out of the country.  This was a phenomenal opportunity for him.  He was in Rome taking classes just after the new Pope had been installed.   He came back all gaga about what Italy was like and pretty much demanded that my wife and I go there on a vacation at some point.  We’ll see how that goes.

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It was now the point where my younger son had to finish up his schooling.  He was also finishing 15 years of Armenian Saturday School and 16 years of Sunday school.  Yeah we’re tough parents.

He gave a phenomenal speech at his Armenian school graduation in early June.  Teachers who remember him when he was in 2nd or 3rd grade were crying at his words.

A few years before his older brother had the same opportunity to recount his days in Saturday School and for us, Armenian parents first generation on one side and second on the other we did something that few had expected we could do, have both our kids more functional in our ancient tongue than ourselves.

His high school graduation was last on our list of events and was the day after his Saturday school graduation.  What a weekend.

We had a big blow-out party for him and a group of his childhood friends on the grounds of their summer camp.  We waited a little bit to have a party for me near the beginning of August so that we wouldn’t take anything away from my son’s huge accomplishment.  My party was fun, got to drink a lot of good scotch and play the guitar with a group of friends and colleagues from over the years.0

Things then calmed down until it was time to send off the younger one to Brandeis.  Now you may say, that’s 2 towns over, what’s the big deal? Well that also coincided with my older son going back to Northeastern and moving into the dorms to continue his Senior RA duties.  It was a crazy week of back and forth.

capWe knew it was going to be nuts and we had planned a trip for just after we knew we had settled them both into their places.  We took a short hop to the cape and stayed in Falmouth at the Sea Crest.  It was good to unwind and prepare for the fall.  One thing I didn’t have to deal with this year was that after 14 years of teaching Sunday School, I “retired” in May.  That meant that in September I wasn’t rushing around to prepare my lesson plans et cetera.  But there is no lack of busy-ness, in November I was elected to the board of trustees of our church.  I think I officially start to serve in January…back to busy again!

From a career POV this was a tough but good year.  Lots of transitions there also, personnel changes that were tough including the departure of valued colleagues.  I was asked to take on some challenges that were not in my wheelhouse nor necessarily on my finely scripted plan for world domination.  From challenges one becomes philosophical.  In the end you do what needs to be done and learn from every experience.  2014 is going to be a huge year for my current employer and I’m glad that I’ve been a part of the special sauce we provide for small businesses.

IMG_0983As the year wound down my biggest dilemma was the extra 6-8 pounds I couldn’t seem to lose.  I attribute this to my new found interest in scotch which I have blogged about once or twice.   Went to a couple of Glenlivet tastings this year.  Those are fun.

In the fall I tried yoga.  I was getting good and limber, and then one day, I had a back spasm in class on an otherwise simple move.  Funny how you can twist like a pretzel one minute and then do a simple toe touch and things torque.  Better now of course, but it sucked driving a car for about 2 weeks.  Walking around was fine, but driving was a bear.

988796_10152125959423706_583409644_nFrom a technology POV this was also a great year.  Did a couple of trade shows and lots of tweeting and blogging about new technologies I was trying including Google Glass, 5S, AppleTV, Several different bluetooth styli, iPad air, iRobot Looj.  One regret is that I haven’t been able to get back to my Science fiction writing.  I’ve added several chapters to book 2 of my trilogy but it’s only happened on planes. I’ll fix that soon enough.

IMG_1147In the end there’s nothing like family gatherings at the end of the year.  In  November we were honored to take part in our new nephew’s christening in LA.    We did a bunch of very quick site seeing including the Chinese Theater and Hollywood walk of fame.  We had our family from both sides over for Thanksgiving and then did our rounds this week both local and in Connecticut.

I wrote a lot in my 49th  birthday update this year, so I’m not going to go through things again.  I’ve very proud of my sons for their accomplishments and I want to take the opportunity to highlight how much I depend on my wife.  I could not have done this without her.  Not much else I can ask for in the New Year except good health for us and you and world peace for everyone.

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Writing and Reading…

In College, Music, Random, Religion, Science Fiction on August 11, 2012 at 12:52 am

Lately, I’ve had trouble concentrating on my writing.  I’ve gotten a couple of blog posts out, a few pages in my  never-ending attempt to write book 2 in the Urtaru trilogy, some simming as Captain of my starship (the USS Washington B), and lots of research papers for my classes at Bentley.  I was particularly proud of my paper analyzing the intelligence in the Livescribe Pen and how it acts as an extension of cognitive functions humans use.

The dilemma I’m having is that I have a lot of things I want to say and share, but time to concentrate on any one of them is very limited.  Even writing this blog post is taking me away from other writing I could be doing.  Sigh.

In the particular case of school research papers, I’m still confused by the rules of publication.  If there’s an expert out there that can explain to me what the ramifications of this: if I write a paper for a class, can I self publish it here on my blog or will that run me afoul of school rules somehow (for example, if I share a research paper I’ve written, but someone copies it because I made it publicly available, am I out-of-bounds with the academic rules of the school)  So I avoid the whole thing because it’d just make things difficult while I’m still in school.

A while ago, I read Stephen King’s “On Writing” and he spends a good amount of time on the minutia of the writing process.  Have that special place with a door.  He listens to Rock Music loud while writing to block out other things.  He writes every day in the same spot, at the same time, output the same number of words.   Ultimately the dilemma for me is carving out that time for each of the media in which I write.  I think I have to pick one and just do it consistently for a while.

The other thing that takes time is reading.  I need to read more and more deeply.  I’m in the middle of several works and publications right now.  Here’s a sampling:

  • Every day I read the WSJ website,
  • I have a subscription to Reuters news for my Kindle DX that I probably get to 3-4 days a week
  • I’m in the middle of Simon Sinek’s book “Start With Why
  • My sister lent me a book that I’m reading to see if there’s any good material for Sunday School.  Scott Hahn’s “A Father Who Keeps His Promises
  • I’m in the middle of a book that I’ve been trying to get through for a while “The Algebraist” which I can’t get on the Kindle which is a problem since I’ve forsook paper books a while ago.
  • I read the sample of Walter Isaacsons “Einstein” and want to start it (and you can see where this is in the list right now
  • Finally I keep looking at this copy of Umberto Eco’s “Baudolino” that is on my nightstand that I bought several years ago and has yet to have its cover cracked.

There’s just too much stuff to do.  I won’t mention my new guitar, as that has been a massive distraction for the last 2 days.  But a pleasant one nonetheless.  Three weeks till school starts again…5 research papers 20% each and no other grade component.