The Storybook

analyzing our world with a scientific and philosophical lense


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Basketball, More Than A Game

Growing up, few things inspired me. One series of nights led me to watch the NBA finals in 2001, naturally living in LA, my family cheered for the Lakers. So basketball was introduced into my life. I was too chubby; being slow and nonathletic made the game very difficult for me, but something kept me in the game. Fast forward a dozen years and I love and still play the game except now I’m not that bad. Strong, explosive, and passionate. Basketball has been part of my life. Years spent practicing, shooting by myself, studying professional player, envisioning plays, all made me part of who I am today; an engineer, entrepreneur, and inventor to be. But there was a time I lost my love for basketball. Then, I saw Lebron James’s high school dunk contest.

It was summer time and my good friend called me and told me to turn on Sportscenter. I was in middle school, must have been in the sixth grade. Lebron James was phenomenal. His presents on the court was more than just an athletic player. He belonged on the court; not because of his skills or athleticism, rather, because of his goals. When Lebron was a kid in school he asked his teacher why Akron, Ohio, his home town, was not on the map. The teacher told him it was too small. That is when Lebron knew he wanted to put Akron on the map. So he did.

Our greatest adventures are not those which elevate us, but those which elevate what we believe in. For Lebron, his adventure has been to place Akron, Ohio on the map. A journey he had began and taken to great heights but had not entirely fulfilled. When I saw Lebron play, my love for basketball at that time had nearly diminished, but a spark ignited. Passion, hope, belief, all filled my vanes and pushed my blood. Here was a kid who had a dream as a child and had worked hard his entire life to pursue his dream. My life had changed. I began to not only dream, but believe in myself.

When Lebron left Cleveland, my dreams had slightly shattered. My hero left his dream. But I learned a great lesson, my dreams should, and always will, remain with myself and no one else. My passion for basketball slowly diminished. But, today, Lebron James decided to come back and play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. My hopes and  memories came back to me. I remember when Cleveland battled against Detroit year after year until they were victorious. I remember when Cleveland made it to the NBA finals and the Cavaliers pregame routine of cheering for “Championship!” Among everything I remember believing, not letting others diverge my aspirations.

“I’m coming home” reads Lebrons Instagram post. This is where he belongs, this is where we, as basketball fans, as dreamers, as believers belong.What basketball brings us is more than a game. Basketball brings us hope:  knowing someday our dreams may come true.

Thank you, welcome home.

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(image credit to @kingjames on instagram)


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Morning Jog: Beauty of Listening to your Body


Image by healthonabudget.com

Often I jog at night, a few hours before going to bed. Something about the night vibe gave me a sense of coolness. Since moving to our [me and my family] new home I have not jogged in the morning, in fact I have not jogged in the morning in a long time. When we were in the process of moving I saw one of our neighbors jogging. This lead me to look at our neighborhood from google maps and see if there are any nice running paths. Turns out a run around the block is good enough for me. I measured the distance using google maps and found it to be 2.4 miles. May not be much to an avid runner but this was good enough for me, someone who has never consistently ran.

Keeping time was new to me, but very fun and rewarding. My night time jog’s were anywhere from 18:20 to 19 minutes; an average of  7:71 per mile. My first goal was to beat the 18 minute mark. Now, for some reason I though working out at night would result in me having more energy and performing at a higher level. This I found out is not the case!

This morning I woke up early, for some odd reason. (After the spring semester finished, I have been giving myself the pass of having to wake up early.) I wanted to do some cardio and thought of jump roping, but my body wanted something else. So, I decided to listen to my body and run. The air was much cooler and there was a fair amount of fog. My body felt pretty great, though. Like every other time I run, I pushed myself a bit hard to reach a nice time. Once I was at the finish line, to my surprise, I had beaten the 18 minute mark! And I had beaten it by 25 seconds with a time of 17:35 (average of 7:32 per mile). Yay!!!

Running in the mornings may become more of a norm, as apposed to running in the night time. I truly am glad to reach a goal, always a nice feeling.

(Note, I do not own right to image)

Update(12/9/2013): I’ve been working on myself: improving my diet as well as strength. Last time, shortly after summer, my run was around 15 minutes and 30 seconds. Yes, a big change in time. My average is around 6 minutes and 30 seconds per mile. Not too bad haha.


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Slide Rule: An Autobiography of an Engineer by Nevil Shute

“If I have stood tall it is by standing on the shoulder of giants.” (Sir Isaac Newton)

Slide Rule by Nevil Shute was recommended to me by a friend from the archery range after sharing my desire to becoming an aerospace engineer. It is very important to understand history because from history we can learn, grow wiser, and continue where the path left off on our way to reaching great heights.

These are the notes collected while reading Slide Rule. Some pertain to the industry of aeronautics, others are notes for engineers by an engineer:

When in doubt of an applicant, see if he has initiative to get the job. Therefore, while applying for a job, be persistent and show initiative in willingness to work hard.

Happily married men are the best test pilots. They will look forward to a safe flight in order to see their family later on.

Do not make too many experiments at the same time. Placing your full attention and focus on a single experiment shortens the chance of overlooking errors.

Simplicity is more efficient and stands the test of time.

Aircrafts do not crash by themselves. If everything is done correctly and carefully under accurate calculations, there is no reason for an aircraft to fail.

First rule of safety: Second check the design by an independent party.

Have specific goals for projects. This will help you design the project around what is important.

Never rush. This will always lead to mistakes.

Always do power trials. Your creations must be tested in order to discover their weaknesses.

Competition is bitter. Your competitors will often be sour towards you.

Politicians and civil servants think of image, not performance.

Do not try to do too much at once, you will risk quality. This is why having a great team is important.

Do not put your jo­b before your duty. Your duty is to make sure the project is safe and works properly.

In the early days of a company a banker is the worst chairman. Chairman needs to take risks when a company starts out.

Aircraft payload greater while flight is in cruise then when taking off. This is where refueling in flight helps.

Doing what everyone else is doing will not make you stand out and will not place the company in a strong position in the industry.

Designers analyze machines flying and build one better.

There will be a time to expand the company.

“False statements in the prospects of a limited company are a criminal offence.”

“If my optimism went too far it might well land me in the dock; if it did not go far enough it would land the men out on the streets.”

Managing director handles pricing.

Be prepared sometimes to risk reputation for reaching goals.

Advisors make sure workers do honest business.

Navigation is very important! This is how aircrafts get around.

Two kinds of engineers, starters and runners. Starters are those with creative instinct who can start new ventures. Runners are those who can run it to show profit.

Industry is always changing.

“Industry, which is the life of ordinary people who employ their civil servants and pay their politicians is a game played to a hard code of rules.”

“My gladness is tempered with regret for once a man has spent his time in messing about with airplanes he can never forget their heart aches and their joys, nor is he likely to find another occupation that will satisfy him so well, even writing novels.”

Slide Rule is an amazing book for all engineering majors and for those who wish to understand the engineering industry. I am very glad to have read this book for it will only help me become a  great engineer.

Narek



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Adventures: Maintaining Balance!

Going away from home on a trip, whether for personal or business reasons, always feels like an adventure. A trip to a wonderful little town not many months ago inspired me to create a few guidelines in order to maintain focus on the tasks at hand and have a great time exploring during the adventure. These guidelines originated from personal experience and careful reflection on what worked and what did not.

1. Know your goal. There are certain responsibilities you have to fulfill while on the adventure. Your goal might be to give a presentation, visit a friend, relax, or to discover a new world of adventures. Once you know what your goal is, the entire trip can shape around this activity, helping you focus.

2. Know the location before arriving. Knowing the location beforehand creates a sense of belonging. This way you are not an ignorant outsider but someone who has a right to seek more and learn more of your new surroundings. So make sure to do your research!

3. Take all of the required essentials. The essentials depend on your goal(s) and help assure nothing prevents you from reaching them. This step involves planning ahead of time but pay off in the end. Some of my favorite items to take on any given trip include reading/studying material, nice formal clothing, and a notebook to record my adventures in.

4. Spend some energy. The best way to discover a new location is by using up some of your energy there. This may be bike riding, shopping, taking a tour, or simply walking around without any clear idea of where to go. By spending energy you have given yourself the chance to experience an adventure. But to fully experience an adventure there is one key ingredient that cannot go missing.

5. Be spontaneous! Stir it up and do something you would not normally do. You are away from home so live it up and bring back some wild memories.

Narek


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Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky

Crime and Punishment has been the heaviest book I have read. What Raskolnikov went through and the emotions he brought onto his family, friends and everyone around him showed me how much a single person can do. This I also saw in Sonia, who, in my opinion, is the jewel of this story. In some way Sonia is the opposite of Raskolnikov; where Rodion did not care for life, Sonia prized it.

After reading Crime and Punishment I was left with a few lessons:

First, I realize how young, naive, and unknowledgeable I am of  the world. Not once did I see through the plots of the cruel characters in the story, like Luzhin and Svidrigailov. But Raskolnikov saw through everyone, even Porfiry. This proves to me that I lack experience and do not see nor understand the word for what it is. Perhaps it was Raskolnikov’s despise in everyone that assisted him in seeing through the lies. Sonia on the other hand believed in the good and in everyone with all of her heart. That is why Raskolnikov pointed out it was her heart that allows others to use her.

Second, Crime and Punishment is a tale of many lessons that ultimately point to a single lesson; to every action there is a reaction. (Newton’s third law) Regardless of how brilliant Raskolnikov was, he still had to serve for his actions. Life is shown to be a tale of Karma. To every crime there must be punishment. To hard work and determination there is a reward.

Lastly, great things come to those who work through the difficult times. This concept makes me think of the rising of Lazarus, a tale read by Sonia to Raskolnikov from the Bible. Christ brought back the man who had been dead for four days. This may mean we must work and sometimes suffer before we may truly live.

One of my favorite characters, Razumihin, like Sonia is a full hearted, honest, and hard working person. This lead me to an idea: You must live life with a true heart of passion and honesty. Otherwise you will lose yourself in the world and forget who you are.

Crime and Punishment is a heavy book of life and gives one a taste of the difficulties many people endure in the world due to poverty. I am truly glad I read this book for I have grown quite a bit from seeing life through the eyes of Dostoevsky.

Narek

(image from borders.com.au)


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The Fun of Solving a Rubik’s Cube

Half way through high school most of my friends began playing with the Rubik’s cube. Being a competitive and curious person, I found one 3×3 in my hands in no time. I also happen to be impatient, so after struggling with anything more than a single side solved, I quickly turned to the internet to learn the algorithms used to solve the 3×3. After two days of non-stop solving the algorithms became second nature. Today the 3×3 is a fun, 1 minute (and 20 seconds) of warm up/ distraction.

A month ago my eyes caught on to 4×4 and up Rubik’s cubes. Looked fun. A few days later a 4×4 lay in the palm of my hands. The Rubik’s was a gift from my mom, she noticed my recent interest. Thanks mom!

Now, the algorithms necessary of solving the 4×4 are different. Yes the algorithms are online but what would the fun in that be? The Rubik’s is a grid of my own; this time it will be through my own understanding of the “grid” and only my patience and mind will be used, not another’s. Why? Because there is nothing revolutionary in memorizing algorithms. But there is something very great in understand this new grid.

Give a man a fish, he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will never stave. Same idea! Memorize and you will remember for some time. Understand how to solve and you become the master of your task.

More on my new grid later,

Narek