SYNOPSIS OF THE NOVEL I'M WRITING
LEVI McPHERSON, a graduate student of analytical chemistry at the University of North Central Florida, is approached by agents of the Homeland Security’s Counter-terrorism Unit. The agency is recruiting Lee to study and expose the loopholes of screening instruments in airports. Struggling financially, he accepted the offer, making him a paid, benevolent hacker of the nation’s gateway. Yet Levi is horrified when an Airbus from Los Angeles disintegrated in mid-air.
At 40, when everybody’s career trajectory is going up, Levi’s still a poor graduate student, struggling financially. His research projects however, are worth million dollars. Researching the highly classified and heavily guarded secrets of detecting traces of explosives, what Lee know was a goldmine. The agency's offer is his financial break . So Levi tackles the problem like a scientist, detailing the loopholes of the aviation security and turning what he knew into a big time money machine.
JIM and JONATHAN of the counter-terrorism unit, where nowhere to be found after Charlotte International Airport, a hub of Delta Airlines closed abruptly because of instrument malfunctions in their security lines. And in a post-Osama Bin Laden’s era, the biggest blow to the United Stated after the 9/11 disaster comes unexpectedly when a passenger plane blew up in the skies of Washington D.C., in the heart of the nation.
Levi knew it was only the start of more troubles, so he recruits his fellow graduate students to counter the future attacks. They have to think like criminals—and scientists too. With the help of FBI counter-terrorism experts, Homeland Security and Transportation Security Agency, the team races to close and plug the loopholes Lee identified.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Friday, March 28, 2008
The saying "For all the things I lost, I missed my mind the most" came from Ozzy Osbourne, the typical rebel-rocker of the 70's from the band "Black Sabbath". I'm not a Sabbath fan, I'm just amused by his saying, implying "sex, drugs and rock n roll" kind of lifestyle.
Hackers are viewed by people as rebel too. But in this case, they are the aloft and genius rebels that are anti-social. They are the ghost of the Internet, literally. They don't sleep. The walking zombies of our society, powered up by caffeine.
As life goes on, we as a society evolved to battle bad hackers: those kind of geniuses for the money, stealing identities. On the other side of the coin, there are good hackers. These are the kind of people who are curious.
Eventually though, hackers of the planet will grow-up, just like Ozzy Osbourne. They will settle and have families, and think about what have they done to the society.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Anyway, every time I'm here, I order Chimichangas and the "Smack my ass.." hot sauce. As I was eating the food, I read the history of the establishment posted in the table napkin holder. It said that the founders were from UCF (University of Central Florida, my Alma mater, in Orlando Florida ). I finished my masters degree at that place, the only school who accepted me in the U.S. with financial support (currently though I'm finishing my PhD at the University of Florida).
After reading the history of the restaurant, I read the signs printed in the walls. It said "Mexican is a culture, not a theme" and "Hot is the new cool" ( I learned later it was part of their manifesto). Then I turned to my friend sitting next to me. I asked him what chimichangas are, since he was born in Mexico. He didn't know. I didn't care, I just savored the hotness of the food.
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Monday, March 24, 2008
Thursday, March 20, 2008
I assumed before that allergies are for the weak (weak immune system, that is), and when I came here in the U.S. five years ago, I never had allergies from pollen. I told myself, pollution from the streets of Manila made my immune system strong. No need for anti-histamines, such as Claritin.
My immune system grew weak or the pollen counts in Florida increased, because about 2 years ago, I developed symptoms of allergies. It's either my system became weaker or pollen increased, I really don't know. It's probably not the two reasons I stated, much more a combination of both.
As long as it doesn't interfere with my work, I stay away from Claritin. So far, my strategy works. I just increase my tissue paper consumption and my travel to the restrooms.
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
As I was scanning the channels, I came upon a show called "Keeping up with the Kardashios" (or something). As I was watching, I concluded, the show was clearly under the supervision of a director. It wasn't smooth flowing just like any other real life.
Better watch March Madness even without Florida.
Monday, March 17, 2008
My frustration started early morning when I was expecting good results but never came. Afternoon passed by and nothing good happened. So, I just shake the day off, work again probably wednesday.
Patience. Infinite patience. It's a virtue you should have if you embark on a career in science.
Friday, March 14, 2008
What's "Blink"? It's a premise that people think without really thinking. Call it gut feelings or instincts. I haven't finished the book yet, but the story line goes that experts can tell something before testing things in the laboratory.
I remembered asking my adviser if my data was real or not, and by looking at the figure, he concluded it's not real and only a noise. He was right. That's blink in action.
May, a long time acquaintance, emailed me an article, asking me if I still remember what I wrote. If blogging existed 7 years ago, the article will be in my blog. The unpolished article was about love and trying to explain love through science (and that explains why I'm in graduate school, I like science but I'm not geeky). After reading and examining my long lost article (thanks May), I realized how 7 years made a difference in how I write and how I presented my ideas.
Anyway, in the span of 7 years, I still wonder why May is still loveless. She's cute, hot, easy to get along with and some other superlatives you can think of. If I was betting money on among my friends, gambling on who will tie the knot in 7 years, May is one of my friends I'll put money into. If I did, I lost.
At the rate life is going, I think she's not frustrated and will soon find one. Love moves in a mysterious ways, just read on the link (this one's for you May, Divine or Mayang, whichever you want me to call you). I got it from the Reader's Digest Feb Edition.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
He still remembered my advice ever since, that "there are no problems in this world, only temporary inconvenience". I told him to stick around and work the relationship out. The moment he saw me, he remembered the temporary inconvenience thing, what he cannot remember is his counter argument to my advice.
I can't remember also his counter argument, however; he stuck around with her wife with some conditions. Now, that's not love anymore if there are conditions. My car was ok though.
The conference is about Mass Spectrometry, the tool I used to detect and analyze chemicals. I wish I could be there and visit Denver, but I'm just tired of travel. I've been to the Philippines for a vacation and the travel beat me down bad.
I'm looking forward though for the next conference or conferences. For now, I'll gather more data and collaborate with other researchers. Who knows, I'll be going to Netherlands for special research at the FELIX (free electron laser for infrared experiments) institute (cross fingers), one of the few institutes with free electron laser.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
What if technology offers you a quality life past 100 yrs, will you be willing to accept it? Imagine, you were born 100 years ago, you can proudly say "Yap, I experienced World War I, World War II, the Cold War, the Iraq War, the Beatles, Michael Jordan, Cell Phones and the Internet".
What technologies are coming next? "Jumper's" teleportation? I don't know. Most likely, the breakthrough in genetic engineering. We may live past 100 years . If you are under 40 years old today, computational models are spitting out data that you may. Technology is becoming more and more sophisticated. Whether you are prepared or not, it will still continue to grow. Were you prepared of technologies like cell phones and the internet before? Many more are coming.
Losing 3 lbs. is within the range of your hydration. You can increase your weight by a glass of water. I know somebody, a professional triathlete, loses 10 lbs. in a hard training of running and biking. I'm not a professional triathlete, I only lose 3 lbs the most in a hard run.
Nevertheless, 3 lbs is 3 lbs.
As I was closing in near the waiting shed, I heard a hush from one student, to signal the group somebody is approaching. They didn't realized that I heard the conversation loud and clear even before they spotted me. The calm winds have ears.
I'm blogging this because CNN reported 1 out of 4 teenage girls has STD. How can the government counter these problems? Education and awareness? probably. Or is it high time now to revamp the educational system? Middle school was separated from elementary school and high school, because middle school students experience rapid sex hormone increase.
What can we do? Good parenting, education and awareness. The most important: administrator in education should do something revolutionary and clever ways to decrease the statistic.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Because the high price of eating only organic food made me snob the idea of healthy living by drinking only spring water and organic food. But it dawned to me why my friend (who was a personal trainer) acted that way. My question is, what's the effect of these chemicals in our body in the long run? Will the data become clear only after I'm old and the damages are irreversible?
I can't afford the organic lifestyle, but I stopped eating burgers after watching "Fast Food Nation". I been trying to eat organic food such as carrots (taste sweet), squash and coffee:), but I'm not totally organic.
I'm an analytical chemist, and I saw data of milk contaminated with artificial growth hormones. Did the water contamination hoopla scared me? A bit, that's why I'm more vigilant on what food I put in my mouth. In addition, I wash my hands frequently after working with chemicals in my laboratory.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Our lifestyle, and not our body, evolved so fast to computers, cars, grocery stores and the internet. We are not running away anymore from predators and hunt in order to live, instead, we work to pay the bills. Unfortunately, our body is still in the active, primitive mode, that's why we need to exercise.
There are a lot of things to do in order to increase your caloriec expenditure: use the stairs instead of the elevator, park your car away from your office in order to walk and all of those good things you've heard before. Mine is simple, I use the bike going to my laboratory and if i use the bus, I walk two blocks to the next bus stop.
My preciuos bike in the middle
of high tech research instruments
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Weight loss is tricky. Even so, follow my journey as I plan to lose weight this year, 20-lbs to be exact. That will be my goal. Currently, the weighing scale measures 170 lbs. In the end of this year, it will be 148-150 lbs. If my calculations are correct, that's 10% body fat. (Compare that to Lance Armstrong of only 5%).
I'm not an elite athlete, I'm a regular mortal like you. My weight has always been my concern.
To achieve my goals, I'm using my tools and gizmos; motivation, technology, science, calorie counting and dealing with frustrations. I'll be losing weight in my busiest year ever, because of a baby coming in June and an oral examination, a requirement to become a Ph.D. candidate. Top that with frustrating (but exciting) research.
At this stage of the battle, my knees are not yet ready for the pounding of running so I'll be using the fitness first elliptical machine at my apartment complex's fitness room (pix on above left). It is a small room but it serves the purpose of burning calories. Don't get me wrong, I like big gyms, but the fitness room in my complex is a little bit convenient.
It's just the start. I lost weight before, I will be doing it again. Next year, I'll be running the Disney Marathon then.
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
But using the cap doesn't free you from strangers asking "Are you still in the Navy?"or "Were you in the Navy?". I just say no to those questions. One time, in a public library, one person asked me the question, and he said he served in the Navy and very proud of his services.
Sometimes though, just for fun, those questions teased me to respond, "yeah, I served in the Navy". But what if there were follow-up questions, such as what ship were you stationed to and what rank. USS Wisconsin and just a cook will be my answers (USS stands for United States Ship).
To tell you the truth, I won't do that. If I want to serve the army, I'll go for the Air Force, and not in the field of battle, but probably a researcher.
Nowadays, you can't wear a Chicago Bulls cap without being asked if you are a Bulls fan.