INTERESTS

READING

Puzzles and mysteries have always intrigued me; there's just something about the complex that captivates me.  Maybe it's the way that the simple and mundane have a way of becoming the catalysts for grand and significant events.  The majority of what I've been reading delves into the mysteries of math, science, and the world around us that continue to puzzle and exhibit new wonders.  Honestly, I've never been really good at at math or science, yet I love it and strive to understand its logic.  Truly, it has been the pursuit of grasping the basic concepts that makes me realize there's power in their derivation.

Chaos: Making a New Science

Chaos

Chaos: Making a New Science

Img Source: Amazon.com

By James Gleick
The topic of Chaos Theory has been a strong interest of mine for some time, despite not being very eloquent in physics and mathematics.  What really fascinated about this book and the topic was the history of how Chaos Theory emerged and a comprehensible explanation of its application.  Essentially, it's about understanding complex systems that might be construed as random or distorted.  By simplifying the components, one can makes sense of the chaos as originating under initial conditions.  And it's through the sensitive nature of these initial conditions that allow for disturbances that give the impression of randomization and chaos.  Ultimately, there is a logic stemming from chaos, and this book clearly depicts many of these instances in applications that range from weather analysis to cartography and many others.

Chaos: Making a New Science

First, Break All The Rules

First, Break All The Rules

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By Marcus Buckingham & Curt Coffman
This book was recommended by the leadership program that I participated in through HOK.  It outlined a series of metrics for identifying how employees function and relate to there role.  One concept really stood out to me: "Focus on your best performers and keep pushing them toward the right-hand edge of the bell curve."  It expanded by investing time and effort on the most talented to exchange mutual learning and teaching.  To this end, weakness and poor performance can sometimes be refactored, but when it cannot, then it's not worth the investment anymore.  At first I had mixed feelings in response to this approach, but after further thought, I can see the value of surrounding oneself with the organic motivation and progress of talent.  This book really made me think about being different, which is a characteristic that I aim to personify.

Chaos: Making a New Science

Paradox

Paradox

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By Jim Al-Khalili
The word Paradox seems to encapsulate my personality so I was taken by this particular book and the puzzles that it analyzes.  It did not involve much math or high-level topics, and it explained the logic thoroughly.  Some of the popular paradoxes were analyzed including the Monty Hall Paradox and Maxwell's Demon, but the one that really captivated me was the way that relativity is depicted in the Pole in the Barn Paradox, which I was not familiar with previously.

Chaos: Making a New Science

The Book Of Numbers

The Book Of Numbers

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By Peter Bentley
This book spans the history of numbers from what could be considered their inception to the mysteries that continue to puzzle the mathematicians and other scholars of today.  The historical figures who have contributed to the history of numbers are showcased and presented in a way that does not require a highly technical mind.  In all reality, it was a bit reminiscent of learning math topics in grade and secondary school, but with a more thorough explanation of how many of these topics were derived or challenged.  The latter topics that emerged included the application of numbers in computer programming, special relativity, as well as the realm of chaos theory.

Chaos: Making a New Science

The Laws Of Simplicity

The Laws Of Simplicity

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By John Maeda
This quick read was very insightful about the value of simplicity, particularly in a world full of technology and the natural tendency to move towards complexity.  Simplicity isn't about whittling away until one gets to the basic elements without any context; it's about clearing the clutter that masks the substance.  This book resonated with me partially because I had heard about the popular John Maeda throughout my years at MIT but also because of how it classified organization as a supporting factor for understanding simplicity.  I don't see myself as a "neat freak" but I do appreciate organization and simplicity as a way for me to learn and comprehend complex ideas.

Chaos: Making a New Science

The Puzzler's Dilemma

The Puzzler's Dilemma

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By Derrick Niederman
As a book on puzzles, I couldn't resist reading this.  Of course, there were some familiar ones like the Monty Hall Paradox, but some of the other ones were new to me and really great to learn about.  What I really liked about the way this book was written was how it presented the puzzle, gave the reader a chance to solve it, but then walked the reader through the steps, still not giving away the surprise until the end of each section.  At times I found it difficult not jump to the end of the section to get a glimpse of the solution and explanation.  Overall, the book did not require a lot of intense math and it was very logical in dissecting the elements of each puzzle.

Chaos: Making a New Science

The Golden Ratio

The Golden Ratio

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By Mario Livio
The concept of the golden ratio has been a topic in many of the design and architecture courses that I've taken over the years, so I thought this was a most suitable book to explore.  The entire book's focus is on the way that the number phi (Φ), which is ~1.61803, seems to find it's way into many of the mysteries of math, nature, and even philosophical topics.  I was familiar with its application of proportion in design as an aesthetic attribute, but to see it almost spontaneously appear in nature makes one really wonder about the marvels of this world.

Chaos: Making a New Science

The Call Of The Primes

The Call Of The Primes

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By Owen O'Shea
In reading this book, the complexities of understanding mathematics took its toll on me.  I found that it was well written and presented in a very logical way, but it took me some time to get through it.  At some point, I will more than likely make my way through the book at a slower pace.  There were some mathematical concepts that I had not seen since taking differential equations, so I needed a refresher.  Still, the book worked out some fascinating problems and mysterious logic revolving around the basic prime numbers.

Chaos: Making a New Science

Fabricated

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By Hod Lipson & Melba Kurman
3D printing was a fairly popular topic during my undergraduate studies and continued over the years as I pursued independent research projects.  This book was a strong resource in showcasing the variety of approaches to fabrication, not only in the discipline of design, but also as it applied to culinary arts, medicine, fashion, and many others.  The transition from digital concepts to reality, even as prototypes, has facilitated the evolution of processes.  To realize that this technology has bridged disciplines in such ways is simply exciting.  No need to imagine anymore; this is reality: 3D printed food with messages embedded within; self-driven, generative elements spawning at the nano scale; and synthetic and organic bio-printing.

Chaos: Making a New Science

Code

Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software

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By Charles Petzold
Tough, but enlightening.  The first few chapters presented a concise, yet thorough, overview of the history of codes applied for communication.  The latter part of the book took me a few times to read but the binary logic used to explain concepts such as memory and automation came together for me eventually.  I will probably find my way to read this one again.

Tinkering with a Commodore 64 as a kid and learning to play chess in elementary school spawned my interest in games and strategy.  Since then I've continued to enjoy exploring a variety of games, most notably: Magic: The Gathering, Call of Duty, Gran Turismo, Counter-Strike, and League of Legends. Most recently, virtual and augmented reality have captivated my attention with titles like EVE: Valkyrie and The Climb, as well as development through Unity Pro.

Crackdown 3

Crackdown 3 [Launches Nov 2017]

Image Source: www.crackdown.com
It's back! and coming to the PC, in addition to the Xbox. The trailer from E3 2017 features Terry Crews and boasts multiplayer gameplay, new abilities, and of course, an updated arsenal.  The first 2 were great and the Keys To The City were particularly memorable.  I'm counting down the days for this one!

EVE: Valkyrie

EVE: Valkyrie

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I first encountered this while browsing through the Steam Store. Using an HTC Vive, this game was simply exhilarating.  The graphics, effects, and experience was pretty immersive for a VR game.  It took me a bit to gain my bearings while navigating through the dogfights in space and at times I felt a bit nauseous, but not so much that it kept me from continuing to play.  Overall, great game and a worthy VR experience.

The Climb

The Climb

Image Source: www.theclimbgame.com
As an avid climber, I just had to check this one out.  It was the first time I had used the Touch for the Oculus Rift; previous tests were with the Xbox controller.  I felt that the controllers were much more intuitive than the HTC Vive controllers, but I've gotten used to the Vive.  The virtual climbing doesn't compare to real climbing because of how one interacts with the environment.  For the most part, the act of climbing seemed to react well, but it was the very technical holds with crimps that just didn't feel natural.  However, the environment scenery and audio was really phenomenal.  I'm really anxious to see more virtual environments built to this level of detail.  As for the interactivity, maybe an evolution of controllers or use of one's one hands (maybe Leap Motion) might get it to the level of immersion a climber expects.

Eldritch Moon

MTG: Eldritch Moon

Image Source: magic.wizards.com
If the continuation of the double-sided card mechanic wasn't enough, the potential for Meld takes this to a new level with the likes of Brisela, Voice of Nightmares (9/10).  I tried an aggro-control approach for this set, but I had to revert back to a pure control deck to capitalize on Meld.  At the same time, the control allowed for a strategic use of Coax from the Blind Eternities to draw out Eldrazi like Emrakul.

Aether Revolt

MTG: Aether Revolt

Image Source: magic.wizards.com
I finally got some booster packs and will be testing this set out.

Kaladesh

MTG: Kaladesh

Image Source: magic.wizards.com
Without a doubt, this set has one of the most vibrant color themes in the artwork that I've ever seen in MTG; it's really amazing.  The Fabricate mechanic comes in handy in crewing the vehicles, which I found to be a pretty cool concept.  The decks I built tended to be control-combo in anticipation of the big vehicles.

Shadows Over Innistrad

MTG: Shadows Over Innistrad

Image Source: magic.wizards.com
It's been a few years since I last played MTG, but the double-sided cards mechanic in Shadows drew my interest.  Back in the days of Arabian Nights through Mirage, I leaned more towards control decks, but Shadows inspired me to refresh my approach with aggro decks to activate behemoths like Thing In The Ice/Awoken Horror and Westvale Abbey/Ormendahl, Profane Prince.

PHOTOGRAPHY

Being different is relative.  It's the anomalies of the environment around us that's captivating.  The following are some of the unique perspectives that I have managed to capture through photography, another hobby of mine.