Wednesday, June 27, 2007

But Then I'd Have To Kill You

Hay ciertas cosas de que no quiero hablar aquí. Una de esas es el razón porque no he escrito nada desde 5 Junio. Ella se llama Gricel y nos conocimos en Hersheypark. Solamente voy a decir que recientemente hemos pasado mucho tiempo juntos, y me hace feliz. O sea
(if (pair? '(jamie . gricel)) 'felicidad 'tristeza) => felicidad.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

La Vita È Bella

My life is pretty good right now. In fact, it's very good. I've been happier recently than I had been in a long time.

There is a high likelihood that no one other than myself will ever read this, and I'm perfectly OK with that. I'm writing this for my own personal benefit, so that when I find myself feeling down, I can refer back to this and remember to praise God for being so faithful. (And thanks to the marvel of Teh Intarweb, I don't have to be at home to do the referring back.)

It's actually a very sobering realization, that as much as I try to be faithful to Him, God has been so much more faithful to me. I started thinking about it the other day after I got back from Hershey. On the way back, Lux was talking to me about how she wants to see the young people in her fellowship learn to put God first, rather than money; she doesn't want to see them become workaholics out of a desire to amass wealth at the expense of spending time with other Christians (and, when they get married, their families).

It made me think, because I spend more than 40 hours at work every week. How am I assigning my priorities? I came to the conclusion that I am not, in fact, spending a lot of time at work out of a desire to hoard money; I'm spending a lot of time at work because I love my job. I truly think that right now, I have the ideal job for me. I work with a bunch of great people, I get along with everybody, I'm learning a lot of new things, AND I GET TO PLAY WITH ROBOTS.

Three years ago, when I was getting ready to graduate, I had absolutely no idea what I would be doing after that Commencement ceremony. I had been accepted to the EECS Master of Engineering program, but I wasn't sure if I would be doing it; I didn't want to go any further into debt than I already was, so I prayed about it and decided that I would only go through with it if I found a paid position as a research assistant.

When classes ended, I still had nothing, but I kept praying about it, trusting that God would show me one way or the other what He wanted me to do. And then during the week or two between finals and Commencement, I found out about a position working for a professor in Course I, doing wireless network stuff. After an interview that I didn't personally think too highly of, I found out that the position was mine. Praise God! I get to defer the dreaded job search for another year.

The next year, as I was working on my thesis, my former roommate told me about a company that was looking to hire for work in DC which had contacted him. I sent them my résumé, and after an interview that I didn't personally think too highly of, I found out that I had a job. Praise God! I get to avoid the dreaded job search.

But then the original project I would have been working on for this company fell through, so I had a company but no job. Here I was with two degrees and no idea what I'd be doing with them. (At the time I was spending the summer back home in Florida.) So, I went back to praying about my future, and I started talking to a couple other companies, but then I got a call about a different project in DC, which sounded more interesting than the original one I'd signed up for: I would GET TO PLAY WITH ROBOTS. Could I wait a couple more months? Hmm… more time in Florida, now that's a tough decision. So I ended up taking the position and started working at the end of January 2006.

All seemed to be going okay until last October or November, when my boss told me that, due to several setbacks throughout the year, he intended to shut down his company and move away from DC. So now I had a job but no company. So, I went back to praying about my future again. I liked my work and wanted to stay with the project, but I needed to find somebody willing to give me paychecks for it. I ended up talking to the company of one of the other guys on the project, a smallish private engineering firm called The PTR Group, Inc. After an interview that I didn't personally think too highly of, I found out that I was PTR employee # 26. Praise God! I can go home for Christmas vacation and have a job when I get back. The entire process from first contact with the company to my first day as their employee took one week. I was the fastest hire in the history of the company.

Which brings us back to the present. I'm twenty-four years old, I have two degrees from MIT in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science, I work at a well-thought-of private company which is small enough that I know everybody and everybody knows me, and I GET TO PLAY WITH ROBOTS.

My (civil servant) project supervisor (our resident robotics supergenius) is a terrific guy and we get along very well. We both have a computer science background, we both claim Mac OS X as our operating system of choice, and we have very similar senses of humor. Either of us can make a joke with Biblical allusions or Douglas Adams references and the other will get it. Professionally, I've developed a rapport with him such that I feel free to ask him about robotics stuff and he comes to me about programming. He's been assigning me increasingly important software responsibilities, and I think he's decided that I either know or can quickly figure out how to do pretty much anything he asks of me.

Even in this long exposition, I've glossed over so much about my work (and about how I wound up at MIT in the first place). In the past year and a half, I've learned about network programming, threads, 3D simulation, nonlinear optimization methods, trajectory planning, computer vision… and I GET TO PLAY WITH ROBOTS. I love my job.

On top of all of this, I'm more involved with my church than I've ever been before. I'm in a Bible study with some great guys and I've been doing sound engineering for youth group on Wednesdays and my own service on Sundays. Because of that, I met the people who do sound for the Hispanos en Cristo (Spanish language) service, and through them I've gotten involved with the young Latino group. I finally feel like I belong, and I hadn't been searching for any of it.

It had been years since I had the opportunity or necessity to practice Spanish in earnest, other than conversing with my grandmother, and I did vaguely regret not having a reason to use it, but I wasn't actively seeking to change the status quo. I'm reticent as it is in English; I certainly didn't think my Spanish was good enough to inflict upon a genuine Latin American (at least not one who wasn't a relative with a familial responsibility to tolerate my inability). But God saw fit to meet a need I wasn't asking about, and the end result has been that I've met a bunch of new friends and have been having fun with them. And practicing my Spanish.

When I stop and look back at all the little seemed-insignificant-at-the-time events (and the few big ones) which have led to where I am right now, it's as plain as day how God has been directing my path. Which is totally awesome, but also makes me think about how many times I know I've disappointed Him, even in the past year. It's not that He's been faithful to me because I've been faithful to Him; even while I was screwing up royally, He was engineering things to my benefit. Wow. What an amazing and merciful God He is.

And that makes me happy.