Oregon-California Road Trip

Accounts of a week-long road trip with my parents through Oregon and northern/central California, passing through three national parks and the Bay Area.

The beautiful Crater Lake, showing a little bit of its radiant blue color in the middle of the picture.

The beautiful Crater Lake, showing a little bit of its radiant blue color in the middle of the picture.

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Recent Travels

I’ve been busy with graduation recently, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been going to places. Actually, I’ve traveled a fair bit, both near and far, around the time of my graduation, and here’s just a post to summarize where I’ve been recently.

Kaaterskill Falls in full view. Some adventurous people ventured onto the level at the top of the first tier.

Kaaterskill Falls in full view. Some adventurous people ventured onto the level at the top of the first tier.

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Improving performance of the non-iterative direct state estimation method

I’m posting my theses and research papers from the grad school career on this site. This paper is the first paper I wrote that made in into IEEE’s IEEE Xplore digital library. It’s only a conference paper, but I’m happy it was included into IEEE Xplore. I still don’t have a journal paper to show for my grad school career, but hopefully that’ll change soon. Anyways, read below for the abstract and the link to the IEEE Xplore entry for the full paper.

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A Linux-based, Flexible Phasor Data Concentrator Design

Now that I have finished grad school, I am posting my Master thesis on this blog since this blog is a collection of my works, even scholarly ones. At around 45 pages including front and back matter, my thesis is quite short by thesis standards, but it’s still too long to post on this blog, so I’ll only post the abstract and how it can be accessed from my grad school Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. If you don’t know what a phasor data concentrator is, that’s okay. Most people don’t know either. My thesis is a long read that’ll only interest a small number of people in the power systems area. Read on to find out the details.

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You may now call me Dr. TJ

That’s right. After 21 years through the formal education system (not counting kindergarten), I have received my PhD degree in electrical engineering. I received my degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute located in Troy, New York, USA. I’ve spent the better part of four years at RPI working on power systems research, and also got my Master degree from here. I put considerable effort and hard work into earning my PhD, and the last semester had been somewhat hectic with me trying to finish on time. But I did it. I prevailed, and this closes another chapter of my life. I consider myself fortunate to have met my adviser, who is probably the nicest research adviser a grad student can hope for, and also good colleagues and friends through my time at RPI. Of course, I have to thank my family for their love and support as well.

The commencement ceremony I attended for my PhD may mark the last time I’m recognized as a student, but we all know learning is a life-long process, and I’ll strive to learn and apply my knowledge to something beneficial and worthwhile in my career. I’m still looking for a job, but things are looking better now that I have more time to focus on the job search. Hopefully I’ll have some good news to share soon. Other than the job search, I’ll also be taking some vacation time to travel around, as this summer may be the last extended vacation I’ll have for a while.

1 Million Unique Visits!!!

My core websites (this blog, the crabbing guide, and the Smash Bros. guide) surpassed the big 1,000,000 unique visits mark some time during the last week. I haven’t been checking the web counter very often these days, so I’m not sure exactly when the count passed a million. It took almost 10 years to reach this mark, and you can see the stats in the graph below. Most of the hits come from the crabbing guide, and you can easily see the cyclical nature of the traffic where there are more visitors during the summer months than the winter months. I’m proud to get to 1 million and also proud that I kept my websites around for so long. Hopefully it’ll take less than 10 years to reach the the 2 million mark.

TJ web stats 10 years

Visitor count for my core websites since Aug 2004, courtesy of Statcounter. Click to enlarge

PhD Dissertation Approved, Almost Done

Just to share another bit of good news for myself. My PhD dissertation has finally been approved by my university, and that should be the last of the graduation requirements. It took about two weeks to get the dissertation approved since I had submit two revisions. The school has some strict requirements for the formatting and references. Now that the dissertation has been approved, I should be all set to receive my PhD degree later this month. Although I haven’t officially graduated yet, I can probably be referred to as Dr. TJ from now on :lol: . Has a nice ring to it.

I’m of course elated that my graduate school journey is coming to an end, but I’d be happier if I had secured a job. I’m still looking for that elusive first job, so wish me luck.

My Second Car

After passing my PhD dissertation defense, I finally had some time to go car shopping to replace my totaled ML-350. I look around and decided that I’ll still buy a SUV since I’m used to the higher seating position. Even though I liked my ML-350 a lot, at this point of time I didn’t want to bear the cost of a luxury vehicle, whether it’s the purchase price or maintenance costs. In the end, I bought a 2011 Toyota RAV4 from a local dealer. It’s a base model with the 4 cylinder engine and 4-wheel-drive, with a Pyrite Mica exterior and a tan interior. I had to put in a few thousand in addition to the payout from the insurance company for my old car, but I think it’s a decent purchase. The RAV4 is in great shape and only has 20600 miles, and it’s Toyota Certified used vehicle which means it comes with extended warranties which gives me some peace of mind.

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Passed My Defense, PhD Almost Within Reach

I passed my PhD dissertation defense recently, which means I’m about 95% done with my PhD degree. The last two weeks I have been busy preparing for my defense. The whole thing with my car getting totaled was a distraction, but I was focused enough to get my presentation in order. The defense is of course is last big exam in the process of getting a PhD. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous, but on the other hand I have been working on my research for 3 years, and I’m pretty confident about what I have done. And of course my adviser wouldn’t have agreed to let me defend if he didn’t think I could pass.

Passing the dissertation defense is a big milestone, but I have still have things to do before I can graduate, hence the “95%”. I still have to revise my dissertation a little bit at the suggestion of my committee, and also go through the administrative process of submitting the final dissertation to the school. I’m also committed to finishing the projects that I’m working on before I leave and… go into the working world is what I should be writing, but I still have to find a job first. So I have no shortage of things to do in the next while, but at least defense is over and done with.

To celebrate, I went for some spring skiing today. We went to a bigger ski resort this time, and there were enough green trails to last the whole day. The weather was good, but the snow was a little rough so I actually slipped two or three times on the green trails. Overall it was still very fun to go skiing. This is probably my last ski trip for this ski season.

Bye Bye, My First Car

As stated in my previous post, I got into a car accident earlier in the month. My 2006 ML350 received a fair a bit of damage, but I was able to drive it home. I didn’t think the damage was that bad, but unfortunately, being a Mercedes, the replacement parts were really expensive and given the car’s age, the insurance company decided to total the car instead of paying for the repairs. And so I had to say goodbye to my first car.

The 2006 ML was a really nice car, and certainly more than I had hoped for a first car. It was roomy, comfortable, surefooted on the road, and great for cruising on the interstates. It did guzzle gas a bit (averaged 17 mpg, on premium gas), and maintenance was expensive, but that’s what you get with a car like this. I’ll always have the fond memories of driving around on road trips in this car during the last three years. If the car wasn’t totaled, I probably would have kept it for a little while longer until after I secured a job, but accidents happen, and it was fortunate that nobody was hurt and the accident wasn’t worse.

So for now I’m without a vehicle, but it’s just a minor inconvenience. I have other pressing matters to deal with in the next few days, but after that I’ll look around for my next set of wheels. I’ll close this post with the last photo I took together with my car, during last year’s trip to see Vermont’s fall foliage.