Water Polo

Water Polo really was a blast. I have wanted to play water polo since high school, so I joined an intramural team as a free agent. The Sun Gods had their first game last Wednesday. The team and sport are perfect for me. I met the other free agent, who did not know anyone on the team either, in the locker room. He had lots of experience playing water polo and helped me out a lot in the game. We met our new team out at the pool. Everyone was super nice and happy to be there. They made it clear that intramural water polo is all about having fun.

The other team we were playing was amazing. They had really good shooters good skills. I only played a little because I got tired really fast. Luckily my team had three substitutes, unlike the other team who did not have any! We played really well, but not good enough to win. It was such a fun experience and I cannot wait for next week.

would like to talk a little bit about rules and strategy that I picked up. Before the game, the referees checked everyone’s finger nails. During the game there were a couple minor fouls called (which result in a turnover) for roughness. But what I was told is that, on defense when the person you are guarding does not have the ball, put a hand on their shoulder. Once they get the ball take it off. If you push them under with the ball it is bad.

I learned the hard way to watch out if the person you are guarding is a lefty or righty. I got scored on by a lefty. You may only touch the ball with one hand at a time. You can theoretically swim with it, by doing freestyle and it stays in between your arms. I do not think I could pull that off in a game yet.

To start off each quarter, all players on a team have to touch the back wall. The ref blows a whistle and everyone sprints forward. Then the ref drops the ball in the middle of the pool, but along the side, not the exact center. Play is fast, because once a team gets the ball, they have 30 seconds to score or turn it over. There were even a handful of spectators. Hopefully in the future I can get more endurance. It would be cool if my friends came to watch a game and next year we had our own team. Next week will be great, and by the end of the season I want to score a goal.

Insight: A Mars Rover

There have been a few rovers sent to the red planet in the past, but in December 2018 a new robot landed safely on Mars! I was lucky to be able to see a presentation by a retired scientist from the Jet Propulsion laboratories on the new rover, “Insight.” I went to this presentation last week on Jan. 24th. It was set up by the AIAA Club (American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics).

Around 40 people were at the presentation. It was in the lecture hall I had my chemistry for engineers class in last term. I like the room because it has great lefty desks. I got to the presentation a little early and saw some people I have class with this term. The room was already dim and the powerpoint was pulled up on the projector.

The power point had great information about the project, including the process of designing the rover and mission, logistics of getting the rover to Mars, and info about its job once it lands. They took quite a long time to build the robot! They used a lot of simulations and made a prototype. Once Insight landed, Jet Propulsion labs made a sand bed to mimic its surroundings on Mars. They even made a robot that is just a little lighter to match its weight on Mars, and they practice everything they want Insight to do, here on Earth.

Landing on Mars was a big part of the presentation. It sounds like one of the most complicated parts of the operation. There were two videos in the powerpoint explaining what it takes to enter Mars’ atmosphere and actually land correctly on the ground. The first video was an animation of what happens to the rover as it enters the atmosphere. It has to hit at the perfect angle so it doesn’t bounce off, or hit too hard. The heat shield protects it until the air thins, then it pops off and the parachute extends. Eventually the parachute and shell pop off and the rover lands using small booster. They have to click off at exactly the right time so Insight doesn’t flip over when it hits the ground.

An engineer from JPL talked in the second video. Did you know that the rocket carrying Insight launched from California? Most rockets launch from Florida to use the Earth’s momentum as a sling shot because they can go over the ocean. But you can’t use the Earth’s rotation in California because you can risk going over the U.S. They had to launch from California however because there are tons of flights going out of Florida, and they would have to stop them all up for a month. Going to Mars is super time sensitive and the couldn’t risk not being able to leave when they need.

In fact, the first time they were going to launch Insight a couple years ago, they realized that there was a tiny leak in a critical vacuum, and had to fix it. The leak was so small that it would take a tire hundreds of years or something to go flat if it had one. But since they missed the right flight they had to wait two years to launch again. But they got it out and it landed great!

Now Insight is preparing to drill up to 5 meters into the ground to take samples. The drill it uses uses a hammer to hit the drill bit further into the ground hit by hit. Insight also has a seismometer to measure tremors and earth quakes. It is so sensitive is records tiny things from all the way across Mars. Insight also has a shield it is swinging in place over the seismometer right now. It has one arm it uses to take pictures and place instruments. Its kind of crazy to think humans built and sent something so far away and its up there right now, with its solar panels fanned out and it instruments humming away.


Cereal Wars

What is the best cereal and what criteria do we use to determine this? I would argue there are 3 broad categories used to judge cereal by consumers. 1. All consumers are concerned with the quantity and quality of the product they are buying as compared to the price. For cereal this means we look at price per ounce and how good it tastes and is for you. 2. A balance of taste. Nowadays if you walk into the cereal isle, 50 or more sugary blasted colorful boxes jump out at you. I can’t handle the overwhelming explosion of sugar in my mouth, so how the cereal tastes is important to me. And last but not least 3. Texture. How cereal feels is important as well. Are the pieces big and only 1 or 2 fit on the spoon, do they melt in the bottom of the bowl, are they all the same type or does the box have a mixture? These are all things we think about when evaluating what cereal to buy.

Price is a broad category for cereal. Price depends on the quantity and quality of the box you are buying. Quantity is how much per ounce you are buying, but also how big the box is. Larger boxes last longer, and for someone who doesn’t have a car, going to the store can take a while so having larger boxes of cereal is peace of mind because I do not have to worry about running out.

Balance between sugar and savory taste also impacts consumers opinions of cereal. Most breakfast cereal brands are targeted to kids who typically lean towards the hyper sugary types. Cereals on the opposite side of the spectrum, for adults, tend to be marketed as healthy and focus less on taste and more on fiber and nutrition facets. In fact, I have found that cereals rarely have both taste and nutrition on their side, they tend to have one or the other. For this reason, modifiers such as fresh fruit and granola, that can be added to cereals lacking in the taste department, are helpful. However, having really good tasting cereal is a motivator to get up in the morning and can be beneficial. The catch is that the sugariness has to be reasonable and not over the top like many choices out there.

Texture can be interpreted in many different ways, but there are some categories that can be outlined right away. Cereal commonly comes as puffs (little balls), O’s (cheerio shaped), flakes, or shreds (shredded wheat like). Then there are also mixed types, like marshmallow and puffs, or fiber brands with flakes and fiber pieces. Texture comes down to personal preference, but some aspects include how big the bites can be and how many pieces can fit on a spoon. As well as how resistant to sogginess the cereal is. Some like their cereal to be soggy. Other cereals can be too brittle to bite until milk is poured on. Other types of cereal flavor the milk as a little treat at the end of the bowl. There is also the possibility of mixing multiple types of cereal in the same bowl, which gives way the possibility of mixing and matching to find a good balance. The are are many factor in choosing the right cereal, but honestly going for gut instinct is likely good enough for most people.

Swimming Pools

Laps are hard. Swimming is a lot of work. Experienced swimmers make it look so easy because they glide through the water quickly and with perfect form. When I swim it feels like I am thrashing around and trying twice as hard as them but not even going half the speed. Every time I turn my head out of the water to gasp for breath I am really loud. I get desperate for air while I am swimming. Finally I barely make it to the wall and pull myself up on the edge so I can catch my breath before pushing off and swimming back down the pool.

Yesterday the person in the lane next to me was clearly a good swimmer, or I am even worse than I thought. I would start down the pool before her, and by the time I got halfway, she was already coming back in the opposite direction. I felt bad because I had the “medium” speed lane, and she had the “slow” lane. Watching her form while I caught my breath was interesting.

When she was doing freestyle, her arms would come out of the water and then kind of shoot forward before going back in, as opposed to my gangly windmill strokes. Her mouth would barely come above the water and she alternated breathing on her right, then three strokes later she would breath on her left. I wish I knew how to do flip turns for two reasons. 1. they look really cool. 2. I would be able to swim down and back faster.

45 minutes was the longest I could swim laps. I took two water breaks in the middle, and by the time I was done my arms and legs were dead. Not to mention that I was completely out of breath. At the very start I could swim 25 meters in 25-30 seconds. But by the end of my workout I could barely muster 45 seconds. I found that at the end, swimming slowly and methodically felt much better. I gave myself more time to breath and stopped looking at the timer during my laps. At least I was swimming and not just sitting around.

Actually, the pool was pretty empty when I went at noon yesterday. When I got in the lap pool there was one guy in the hot tub, and one other person swimming laps. She stayed for a long time, and eventually two other people got in the lap pool. After I swam laps for 45 minutes I got in the hot tub, and the lap pool filled up. I left shortly after.

like empty swimming pools. They are so peaceful. The still water and clean smell make everything so nice. Sitting in the hot tub by myself was great too. There was calm music playing over the radio and the jets were on half speed. I even could have read if I had had my book. Hopefully I will go swimming again today and I can compare the crowds. I wonder if the life guards get bored sitting there when there is only a couple of people in the pool. Maybe I made their job more interesting because they never knew if I was going to make it all the way across. Anyways, it was fun to swim and in the future I want to improve my form and endurance.

Viral Games

Why was Pokemon Go so popular? What was so appealing about the game play that millions of people downloaded the app over night? Some how the new spin on the Pokemon franchise was enough to get people walking everywhere for a whole summer. But at the same time, the game flared and burned out in August of the same summer it was released. Other hugely popular phone games such as Clash Royale slowly build momentum and have much more stamina in the long run. Fortnite is a console game, but had the same meme level of popularity as Pokemon Go. The difference for Fortnite and the reason it is still so prevalent was the celebrities it created and its impact on its audience. Fortnite was very successful with younger video game players, and they still enjoy it.

Pokemon Go attracted lots of young and middle aged adults. Possibly people that played the video game on Gameboys and appreciated the nostalgia of the new app. Adults are now the primary users of the game. The average user of Pokemon Go now does not have the same impact on social media as Fornite and there is no demand for Pokemon Go streaming, like there is in other games. Streaming helps games remain successful and gain players. Pokemon Go gameplay is more based on long term work, and maybe the level of patience and dedication needed to progress, hurt the game in the long run.

find that the game makes a come back every once in a while however. The creators are good at releasing new updates, and even more Pokemon from the original universe that rekindle interest in the game. My own Pokemon Go usage comes in waves. I started playing the game in July of 2016, and lasted much longer than most, I deleted the app for the first time in December 2016. I re-downloaded the game for a month or so in December 2017, and I re-re-downloaded the app today. The new trading system, friend capabilities, and more Pokemon, were huge draws for me.

There is a very serious fan base still active on the game, and I was surprised by the community aspect of the game. I went out on “Raid Battles,” where a group of people within proximity to a “gym” can battle an extremely high level legendary Pokemon for XP and a chance to catch it, with a group of friends today. The first gym we went to already had 10+ adults battling the Pokemon. The next gym we went to was a bit more remote, but 3 adults still showed up and were happy to battle with us. We chatted about the game and then went our separate ways.

was happy with how the most recent edition is more interactive. There is a big focus on trading with friends and working together. I will enjoy playing the game for a little while longer. It is also nice being on a college campus where the campus wifi will support me playing in different locations. Whenever a big Pokemon is spotted or a good raid battle starts there will be a crowd of people there to work together and catch or defeat it. The premise of the game is unique and in my opinion innovative so hopefully it will continue to be improved and please its fan base.

Infinities, Existence, and Uniqueness

Getting a teacher off track is always fun in class. There is usually a student who is good at convincing the teacher to tell a personal story, or go on a tangent about the subject. Today in differential equations we went on an infinities tangent. We were discussing the “largest” interval a function could be valid on, and we came to the conclusion that the interval was (-2,∞).

Someone from the front of the class asked, “well, wouldn’t (-1,∞) be just as big?” And just like that, the class was wildly derailed. The teacher apologized and said he was using a more intuitive sense of “largest,” but the damage was done. My brain had already started to hurt, because everyone was asking about infinities at the same time. The professor was frantically fielding abstract and esoteric questions that had nothing to do with first order differential equations, and a brave student stepped forward to calm the storm by suggesting that people watch Vsauce video on YouTube, “How to Count Past Infinity.” I watched it right before writing this post.

Aleph Null is the cardinal number that represents all finite numbers. I have never been one to enjoy thinking about infinity, or the universe, or things so big it’s impossible to keep track of them. So I was happy to hear there was a simple solution. This is what Aleph Null looks like א‎0. But unfortunately, there is more after Aleph Null, much more, so much more that mathematicians justify the arbitrary infinities they are making up with axioms, and just say they’re true. I’m not going to try and stop them, but it seems too meta to give themselves that much power. I ultimately found no closure, except in the point that there are “uncountable sets,” such as sets that cannot be reached from the bottom. It kind of limits human’s power, which to me gives the numbers more credibility because mathematicians are relinquishing some control and admitting they cannot count up the number. 

After the barrage of complications with infinite intervals was cleared up, my professor wrote “Existence and Uniqueness” on the paper (he projects his writing on printer paper onto the screen), and said “I know, kind of esoteric.” I thought he was joking, but we learned a fundamental principle about the existence and uniqueness of solutions to differential equations. My math class today turned out to be awesome. Besides the infinite discussion, two other friends and I walked to the top of Waldo hall in the 10 minutes between the recitation and lecture. Waldo hall looks like a castle from the outside, and it was just as fun to walk around inside it. We jiggled a precarious bag of pretzels out of the bottom a vending machine that someone earlier that day had probably been very mad about after spending $1.75 just to get them stuck beneath the M&M’s. And we also solved a fun slope fields packet. I am really starting to enjoy the people and format of the class. My homework is done for the week in math so now I’m just touching up my integrating skills and hoping we don’t have any pop-quizes.

Finance Club

Tonight I went to the first finance club of winter term. I was nervous going at first because I didn’t know anyone else in the club. I looked up where the meeting was being held at 5:50, 10 minutes before it started at 6. It turns out the meeting was in Austin Hall, a business building right next to my dorm I had always wanted to check out! I walked over and up to the second floor. The hall was still buzzing with people, I think there may have been a career development event happening because most of the students were wearing business attire. I was excited to see what I could learn about investing.

Austin 274 where the meeting was held was a medium sized classroom with horizontal rows of tables pointed towards the white boards and projectors. There were maybe 25 guys and 2 girls in the the club. The club officers all introduced themselves and gave a short intro for the club advisor who lives in L.A. but teaches classes online, and will travel back to Corvallis occasionally.

We skyped the club advisor for the rest of the meeting. He originally majored in molecular biology, but ended getting a job in the investing industry and double majored in finance. He worked in Honolulu and Hong Kong, and it sounds like he has had hard jobs and been very dedicated to get where he is. He said a misconception about the finance industry is that everyone is like the Wolf on Wall Street and parties and does drugs. He said it’s actually a very nerdy profession.

Markets and investing seem very interesting me. The club advisor said passive investments are good ways for busy students, and also recommended the book Corporate Finance by Ross, Westerfield, and Jaffe. I may try to read it and see what I can learn. When he was in college he did day trading for fun and that is how he got involved in the industry.

Looking forward with the club, they have a game called Investopedia. The rules are going to be explained next week and I am excited to participate. I think I am the only engineering major, which has never been the case for me at a club before. Hopefully that means I will meet lots of new types of people. There is also a poker night because apparently traders play a lot of poker. I won’t be surprised if I get painfully outplayed because I have to admit I am unexperienced at poker. I can tell already that this club is going to be a great learning experience for me.


How do you procrastinate? There is no point in tiptoeing around the subject, I’m pretty sure we all avoid doing our work right? My roommate and I like to play chess. We mostly play on chess.com, sometimes against each other and sometimes against random opponents. I also have a beaver themed chess board a mentor in high school gave me that we have an occasional bout on.

The thing I love about chess is the unlimited possibilities. Yes, I know there is technically a finite amount of games possible, but in realistic terms, the outcomes are endless. Every game diverges at some point from known theory, and players must rely on their calculation abilities. Even elite players my roommate and I enjoy watching such as Magnus Carlsen and Fabiano Caruana, run out of prepared moves, and delve into pure theory and brain power. Tactics and openings can only get chess players so far.

My uncle is an avid chess player, he is likely a little better than me, and he recommended that I learn end game strategies first and for most. It seems counter intuitive that a new player would study the elements and techniques for the end of a game, before locking down solid opening theory. But by learning the fundamentals of endgame play, chess beginners grasp the motivating factors behind the rest of the game easier. The openings have all been well theorized and fleshed out, but players are on their own at the end of a game.

Blitz mode is the most common game type my roommate and I play on chess.com. We like 3 minute matches. Each player has 3 minutes on the clock, so play moves quickly, but many games still end in resignation or check mate, as opposed to the fastest bullet games where players simply run out of time. In blitz mode there is some time for thinking so the strategy can get interesting. Right now I am working on planning check mates out further in advance so I can motivate smaller moves in the middle stages of the game rather than looking for immediate gratification or inconsequential opportunities. If I make all my moves intentional, I reach my goals more efficiently and effectively.

have found many of the same principles I apply to my chess games work for real life. When I study for school, it is good to have a long term goal, for example working towards a midterm or project, and tackle the assignment is small manageable tasks. I am inseparable from my planner, and religiously write down all my homework. It keeps me motivated to stay on top of my work, or as I have been doing a good job of this year, stay ahead of my work. Of course, it is always good to have a study break and play some chess or go for a walk. I like finding joy in small things because in the end they add up in unexpected ways.


Hello, my name is Marty. My goal for this blog is to have a collection of stories of moments from my day to day life. There may or may not be something interesting or special about them, but I am going to write them down so readers like you can interpret them how you like. It is interesting that I can record my experiences, and share them instantaneously over this platform. You have the choice to read them or not, and I hope you enjoy however much you want to on this blog. Thank you.

little bit about me., I am a first year mechanical engineering major here in Corvallis. I enjoy nature, and reading, and playing sports. I play disc golf and curling. I love doing math and learning about the world around me. My resolution for 2019 is to meet new people and go camping. I also want to go bird watching more so I am looking forward to Spring when the songbirds come out in full force.

My favorite musician is Jose Gonzalez. As I write this introduction I am listening to his song “Stay Alive.” My favorite book is Watership Down by Richard Adams. My favorite movie is A Cat in Paris. I like a lot of TV shows, but my favorite is a tie between The X-Files, and The Detectorists.

Last year I wrote a diary entry everyday. This year I want to live in the moment and not worry about remembering every detail. The beautiful thing is that what I need to remember I will, and what I don’t can’t hurt me. I might as well live each day to the fullest. Hopefully I will be able to share interesting experiences on this blog so that other people can learn from them.