Alfredo Velasco II

Day 23: We chose our deeper dives

Today, we learned more about Unity and we had to make light switches. We also had to put a photo and button in for user interaction. However, I left a little early because I decided to go to a psychology talk. She said that if you give people buttons, the top one means to move right. Honestly, I couldn’t concentrate. The good news is that they served pizza! It was Papa John’s, but I still like to eat it. I just wish I had pineapples on it. Pineapples go great on pizza! I also ate lunch at UDCC, but it wasn’t as much food as normal since I already ate at that point. When we got back, we had to put a picture in our Unity script and put buttons to make a ball move around. Not much happened.

Yes, I did make sure to read my article for my research stuff.

Day 22: How to change your DNA

I thought I woke up late, but it turns out I woke up super early because my phone gave me the wrong time. I actually came to VRAC really early. I don’t know why life throws random challenges at me, but I don’t like it.

Seriously, what time is it?

Today, I read articles for our research. We had to meet with our mentors and go over the paper, plus we discussed even more of our experiment and the details. We were even told that we could start designing our virtual environment. Unfortunately, I have to use GitHub and I still don’t know how to use it. It’s very confusing. Hopefully, I’ll figure everything out before it’s too late.

For our luncheon, we had someone come in who studies how real world effects can permanently change our DNA and how we develop. Basically, stress kills you. Also, Romanian orphans can not stand on one foot because they were tied to chairs when they were young(this is the dictator that did this). It was a little confusing and I’m not still not sure why she was using saliva when she admitted that it wildly varies for no reason, but I’m pretty sure that I learned something today. The good news was that we got Jeff’s Pizza and it’s delicious. Pizza is a gift to humanity and nothing could ever live up to its legacy.

After work I went to the gym, but I lost my bike lock. When I arrived, I told my brain to make sure I didn’t lock the other bike, but to make sure my bike got locked. When I got out of the gym, my lock was cut. Turns out, my brain locked the other person’s bike and missed my bike completely. How did I even do that? Every scientist thinks that brains are the most amazing piece of engineering in the world, but stuff like this makes me really skeptical. After working out, I had to do more exercise as I biked to get a new lock. I made it twenty minutes before the store closed and got a new lock. I also stopped at HyVee’s to get some protein, energy, or granola bars(Wikipedia won’t tell me). Today sucked and I hate my brain. At least I got home.

Day 21: Unity’s linear algebra simulator 3000?

Today, we had to learn Unity. I didn’t think it would be hard since I have already used it before, and it wasn’t. I made a cool version of the roll-a-ball game. I essentially turned it into a linear algebra simulator. I’m so proud of it that I made a GitHub account just so I could share it with everybody. Yeah, I know, “How can you call yourself a real programmer if you don’t even have a GitHub account?” My excuseThe reason is that I just didn’t know the purpose of it. I’m still not sure what it does exactly. I heard you put your code there and companies look at it and determine if you’re a good programmer, so you would guess I should put some of my old projects in there, but I’m also not sure if my professors would be happy with the idea of me putting my answers to their problems online. It’s funny how schools teach you all of this knowledge and miss huge gaps like creating a GitHub account. I mean, do I put my GitHub account on my resume? I really wish I had someone to tell me things like this. Maybe one day, I’ll find someone to tell me what I need to know or I’ll crash and burn and figure it out all on my own. BTW, it’s called a linear algebra simulator because it looks like this picture. Linear algebra pic

Anyways, enough about how I’m realizing how tough life it. Here’s the link: Fun Game!!!

Don’t worry, the game was so I could understand Unity more because we’re probably going to need it for our research. It’s probably how we’ll set up our experiment. In fact, one of my team members actually found out how to make VR work with Unity. Also, I read an article that we’ll discuss tommorow.

After work, I went to the gym and worked on my arms. I’m gonna look like Arnold Schwarzenegger soon. I didn’t really do much, so I’ll end my blog here.

Day 20: lasagna

Guess who got their bike fixed? Freddy Mercury? Lance Armstrong? Chef Ramsay? I don’t know about them, but I got my bike fixed. Now, I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, however I want, whoever I want, whichever I want. Honestly, I’ll probably go to work, the gym, home, and Walmart. I decided to repay my debt by helping and changing a tire. I did well and only had to ask for help once.

Eventually, I had to return for an assignment; I had to find an article to discuss for our research. I found one, but had to take an inter-library loan, so I found another one instead. I think it’ll be perfect for our research. Even our project mentor said the articles our team found look great.

I did a whole bunch of nothing for the day until I went to the gym. I found out that I can do a pull up if I weight 110 lbs. Hopefully, I’ll be able to do a pull up with my entire body weight by the end of the summer. I also got to try lasagna for the first time and it was good. I mean, something told me not to eat it, but I did and I’m glad I got to try it. Also, I cannot believe that nobody made a Garfield joke during the gathering! Seriously, I it was on my mind the whole time. Good news; I got my spaghetti sauce that I thought I lost yesterday.

Delicious lasagna

Back in my arms again


Anyways, I went home soon after since everyone was going to watch the new Wonder Woman movie. I’m not really a DC fan and I wasn’t excited for this movie like everybody else. Plus, I needed sleep since I wasn’t getting enough during the week. I called my dad(because it’s father’s day) and my girlfriend before I finally went to sleep.

Day 19: Farmer’s market

Despite staying up last night, I managed to wake myself up for the farmer’s market to look for some apples. How did they not have any apples? Seriously, there were all of these vegetables, but not any fruits. I guess I don’t understand farmers markets. At least I got these sweet tacos that were somewhat authentic. I mean, they used a tortilla instead of a shell and they used two tortillas, but I don’t see tomatoes on tacos. Whatever, I miss tacos. Before we left, we went to the music store and played around with the instruments.

Statue of someone

Dovahkiin statue

My delicious and somewhat authentic tacos. I wish I could remember the name of the taco truck that sold them.

That’s right ladies. Who wants to date a six-foot tall man? I’m making this my Tinder profile picture. Source: probably me

You know what they say; be a creep to your talented friends every chance you get and always take their pictures without consent. It’s just a good habit. Fun fact; I’m somewhat sure she still doesn’t know.


Immediately after getting back, I check the mail center for my letter. It wasn’t there.


Soon after, I had to go to Walmart and get some groceries because I was starving and running out of food, and I didn’t know how much longer I can last(sorry if I sound like Bear Grylls while writing that). Plus, I had to get some apples since a certain farmers market, which I won’t name because I’m really nice, didn’t have any. The good news is that a nice lady, who had apparently been making apple crumbles for twenty years, told me what to buy. Whether it’s mom, my girlfriend, or a random lady in Walmart, it’s nice to know that someone in my life will always tell me what to buy. I bought way too many items and almost broke my arms trying to carry my items back. All of us may have bought too many items, but we made it. Also, our bus drive came from Canada, moved to Texas, then moved to Ames. He was pretty cool.

It wasn’t long before we had a cookout! We ate burgers, played Frisbee catch, and played Fibbage (where I won again because I’m a genius). We all had a great day again and I’m not sure how many good days we can have. Do good days run out? I sure hope that they don’t.

Day 18: Late Night Walmart trip

I woke up late today. I know and I’m sorry, but I got really tired yesterday. Making spaghetti is not easy at all. Don’t worry, I still got to work on time. I don’t show up late. Also, I’m getting better at Solidworks. I still think that Maya is better, but it’s good to know that I’m building stuff. I’m understanding all of the constraints and how to define everything. You know what, I’m going to be a mechanical engineer! I’m kidding, I’m going to stay with programming.

For lunch, we went to the other building. I had Chester’s Chicken (sorry, but it’s delicious and I don’t have one around me). We also had a discussion about all of the way to make chicken and I found out it’s really difficult to list them all. I don’t know how to make chicken because of all the ways, but I’ll cross that bridge when I see it.

Game night was really fun tonight. We played Fibbage all night (and I won a few rounds). I had lots of fun with everybody. Eventually, the few of us who were still awake went to Walmart. I was starting to wonder what I was doing with my life since I should have been sleeping because I had to go to the farmer’s market, but then I thought it was getting better along with everybody, so I’ll take it as a win. Fun fact: the Walmart near Aldi’s has a McDonald’s in it!

Fun fact: this Walmart has a McDonald’s in it! I haven’t seen one in years because all McDonald’s have been replaced by Subway. As you can see, Emma was just as excited as me.

Day 17: Revenge of the Spaghetti

I went to work early today after buying some pens(I lost my first one after light painting) and read lots of papers needed for research. Eventually, we had a luncheon with MY professor. Also, it was held in the same room where we usually meet him, so it was like home. He talked about his earlier experience in VR and told us about how early VR headsets used to cost $40,000! The tracking system would also cost $10,000-20,000! He’s really happy since VR technology is cheaper and more available. He’s actually able to buy back-up headsets because they’re $800.00 today. I really like working with my project mentors. They’re nice and super chill about the project. Don’t worry, we’ll get the project done (just because they’re chill doesn’t mean they’re lazy).

For lunch, I had a salad. It’s nothing to impressive and I really wanted Caesar salad, but it was a good lunch. I even got to eat bread sticks. I also called to see if I could find my letter, but that won’t work since letters don’t have tracking numbers. My mentor told me it’s normal to wait a week for letters, but I still wish that I at least knew where it was. It’s been ten days and I wish I didn’t have to wait so long. Fun fact: US postal service was really bad until companies like FedEx and UPS were allowed to make money off the the service, which shows that you can’t always trust the government to do everything. I’ll just have to pray that life comes through for me.

Anyways, we met up with my project mentors to discuss our research and we’re getting close to writing our experiment. I’m really proud of the work that my team is putting in and the results that we are getting out. Also, we’re getting better at SolidWorks. I’m getting better, even though some of the instructions don’t make sense and don’t always explain enough. Our instructor even saw people working on it and he went around and helped everybody with the tutorial. He even said that it’s okay if we only finish part of the first tutorial because we’ll learn a lot anyways (plus, there wasn’t really enough time to do everything in one day, unless you could install the software at home and have a PC strong enough to run SolidWorks). We stayed a little after work, but we eventually had to go rock climbing.

I’m going to tell you that rock climbing is hard, but really fun. My shoulders were feeling it, my fingers were crying, and I wanted to give up, so I did. However, I went to the wall that didn’t have any ropes and I climbed one of the paths, so I can say that I accomplished something today.

Later, I made spaghetti for EVERYONE! You may not know this, but I love spaghetti. Spaghetti is a delicious delicacy that reminds me why we’re alive and still living. I had some help in the kitchen and was able to make beautiful bowls for everyone who came over and they watched The Eric Andre Show. Side note, I eventually showed my roommate the Oklahoma state song, and he agreed that it was a good state song which proves my point that Oklahoma has (one of) the best state song in America.

A beautiful bowl. I’ll be happier holding it than I will be holding my son.

Day 16: Seriously? Where’s my letter?

I like rain. I really do. Rain is one of the reasons I wanted to move to the coast. One of my favorite Pixar shorts is called The Blue Umbrella and it’s about these umbrellas in the rain on a busy street. I thought it was set in New York, but I found out it’s actually a fictional city that’s also based off Paris, San Francisco, and Chicago(Wikipedia, 2017). It just looks really pretty and it made me wish I got to see a city in the rain(I did, however, see New York with snow). Plus, I like the music. As you can tell by the fact that I wrote a whole paragraph on rain, I like rain. That being said, why did it have to rain today?

When we got our emails, we were told to bring an umbrella, but I didn’t believe them. It was nice weather everyday, so I thought “Psh, I don’t need an umbrella.” It’s nice to see my confidence failed me today. I’m not going to go ahead and say that this is the worst rainstorm that I’ve ever seen (after all, I am from Oklahoma where we get pretty bad storms). That being said, it wasn’t fun to get soaked. It’s all because I didn’t get to the bus a few minutes earlier since I was trying to see how I could check for my letter. Anyways, we did more Maya stuff. I made my future apartment( it was supposed to be a generic skyscraper, then The Twin Towers, then The Trump Tower, then The Empire State Building, then I gave up and made it my apartment). I don’t know why, but I’m ready to give up my comfy home in Oklahoma for a small apartment. I guess that when I’m with my girl, I’m okay. Anyways, we also started to learn SolidWorks and we didn’t really get to use it. We mostly learned about constraints and defining everything. I was pretty confused, but I think I’ll understand everything tomorrow. Somewhat serious rant, I don’t know where my letter is. My girlfriend sent it to me a week ago and I don’t know where it is. Seriously, why can’t I my letter? Everyone else gets their letter, so why can’t I? I don’t know, I’ve just been waiting forever and I really hope that I get my letter.  I’m just going to pray that I get my letter.

Here’s some humor based off of something someone else said. I will forever remember this.


Day 15: Recreating the human heart

Today, I read the paper that my mentors told me to read and did an annotated bibliography. I’m glad that I was able to get through so much material! I think I’m getting the hang of reading papers.

Anyways, we had a luncheon where a professor discussed his research of making SolidWorks not suck as much. What happens is that SolidWorks doesn’t always take advantage of your GPU (which is pretty much a mini supercomputer) and relies on your CPU, which is slow at graphics. He his algorithms to model the hearts of patients with heart arrhythmia(I think that’s what it is. He said that both sides of the heart beat at different times) and he had these fancy simulations. I don’t have any pictures since I don’t have the slideshow, but you can trust me when I said they look cool.

First time eating Jimmy John’s. Their commercials are funny and don’t make sense, so at lease I got the chance to try it out.

If you look closely, you can see a bag of BBQ chips. I don’t know about you, but BBQ is gooooooood. Seriously, I really like the BBQ chips that I had for lunch. It makes me sad because I don’t have anymore, but maybe one day I can go get some more. There’s a Jimmy John’s on the same street as my campus.

After work, we got to do light painting, which you’ll see below. The room was dark and I felt that I didn’t have my balance. I could have sworn that the stairs were tilted, but someone said the darkness messes with your vestibular(thank my research that I learned that word) senses.

Mario landscape

I went to the gym(by walking because my bike is broken)  and when I came back, my letter was missing?!?! Seriously, where’s my letter?! For those who don’t know, my girlfriend sent me a letter a week ago and I don’t know where it is. She said she put a lot of work into it and I’m scared that I’m not going to get it. Sorry for the depressing stories, so here’s a picture that I think is funny.


Day 14: Why do bikes suck so much?

I’m confident now that I can wake up early. I got up early again and it seems that as long as I push myself a little bit, I can wake up with a reasonable time to get ready for work. Anyways, I got to work and we learned how to use Maya, which is 3-D modeling software. We had to make a house with a lawn and stuff. I don’t know about everybody else, but I made myself a million dollar mansion.

Got a sweet swimming pool.

You may be asking yourself “Is that diving board 80% of the height of The Washington Monument?” The answer to that is HECK YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I also had to chance to meet with my graduate adviser and we discussed our research a little more.

After work, I went to the gym and someone told me that I look like I lost weight. I don’t know if they mean that (I heard it takes weeks to actually lose weight) or if they were lying to me to make sure I didn’t get discouraged, but I’m glad they told me. You know, I’m really liking my time here in Iowa. Everybody is so friendly. I was scared that I wouldn’t make any friends, but I see now that it’s just an irrational fear. I guess I just have to accept the fact that some people do like me. Anyways, I worked out, then I went home and FUDGE!

My bike chain broke and now I’m sad. Why does everything good in my life always go to crap? Well, I guess I’m out of a bike for this week. I’d be more okay with it, but I don’t know the bus schedule anymore because of the detour. Is it still the same? I don’t know, I have chain grease all over my hands, and I’m not sure what I’ll do now.

Day 12 and 13: Climbing the ropes and baking pancakes

Despite going to sleep late last night, I was one of the first people to get ready for ropes stuff. It was a long drive and we almost got lost, but we finally got there after 45 minutes of driving. We started off by chaining ourselves together and trying to pass a hula hoop around our circle. Then, we tried to get a tire off and on a pole without actually touching the pole. We completed both tasks very quickly. I guess that’s why we spend so much time doing activities that don’t really seem to do research; teams that are more connected do better. We were also told that the activities make us less homesick, but I now believe that their main purpose is team building.

The next task was to cross a “river” with “blind” people. What pretty much happened was I got blindfolded while I had to balance on beams across a surface. It was boring when I was blindfolded since I had no idea what was actually happening. Luckily, all three of us blind people were able to cross without falling. After that ordeal, we had a chance to go on this rope line where we would be lifted and swung around. The good news is you chose how high to go and you got to let go of the rope, which would dictate when you start swinging. I accidentally let go to early and didn’t have a chance to count down, but I was glad that I made it through. After you got over the shock of being suspended in the air, it was a fun swing.

Me in my harness

Swinging rope line

After swinging, we got to eat lunch. It was a sandwich, chips, cookies, and a fruit. I got and apple and turkey sandwich.

This next part was the hard part. The main challenge was to climb a HUGE tower. It doesn’t look that big from the ground, but it’s nerve wracking when you climb. I waited a little bit before attempting to climb and I failed. If you look at the picture, you’ll see a triangular platform at the bottom. I only got up to there before I had enough and decided to come down.

50 foot behemoth

That being said, I felt like a failure. Everybody was climbing the tower and I was stuck at the ground, but and I didn’t like that. After listening to Lose Yourself, I decided to tackle the challenge again. I told myself that I wouldn’t quit and I would climb this colossus. I mean, I’m supposed to be the next Wolf of Wall Street (I think, I’m starting to get excited again but I’m not quite sure) and I can’t even get over a fear of heights? I climbed and it was embarrassing. I started yelling when I got to my previous stopping point. I was so scared and I don’t know how most people stayed so quiet. It was really scary! I mean, things were shaking and it was windy. I thought Oklahoma was where the wind comes sweeping down the plain, but I’m starting to think that Iowa’s getting jealous and trying to beat us. Anyways, I eventually made it all the way up to the top (like how I will when I work at a company). It was also intimidating trying to come down (especially when I was pretty sure my belayer was trying to pull me off). When I finally reached the ground, I was glad that I had pushed myself and did something really uncomfortable. Also, one of the people who ran the event joked that nobody hear me on the ground. I think this experience perfectly represents how I handle certain situations. I will do it. I may be screaming and kicking along the way, but I’ll do it.

Swinging the ropes

For day 13, I got hungry and decided to cook pancakes when I noticed a major problem; my milk was going to expire. I didn’t account for the fact that I’m not a family and thus bought a gallon of milk. It was two days expired, so I knew it wouldn’t last long. I decided to cook pancakes for my roommates, but they had fried chicken and rotisserie chicken and simply couldn’t eat the number of pancakes that would be made by me, so I told everyone to come over if they wanted pancakes. Soon after, everybody came over to hang out and have dinner. I made numerous pancakes without burning them. That being said, one pancake was under-cooked. Anyways, I was really glad with how far I’ve come with cooking. I didn’t even know pancake mix and flour were the same thing! I even made a mess in the kitchen from all of my cooking. I treat my kitchen like a dry aquifer; not very well. My roommate’s fried chicken was delicious! Thanks Sushi. I had a great time with everybody and I hope everyone enjoyed my cooking.

Day 11: It’s my birthday

Today, I started reading this 31-page paper that my project mentors sent us. The bad news is that only two pages are citations, but the good news is that the font size is a little big, so it shouldn’t take TOO much time to read everything. Plus, it’s the only paper I have to read. Also, there are lots of figures, so it’s not a full 31 pages I have to read.

To start my day off, I went to the farm. It was mostly full of little kids, but it was still a fun experience to see the cows. The wife of one of the workers was there, which must have been fun for their kid. Fun fact: sand is used instead of hay sometimes because sand is cooler than hay. Another fun fact: the farm composts manure for bedding because hay is expensive ($100,000.00 worth of hay was used last year). They had doughnuts for visitors and it reminded me of home (If you’re ever in Tulsa, go to QuikTrip! It’s better than 7/11). They were HyVee brand, but they look exactly like QT. Along the trip, I listened to the Hamilton soundtrack and I’ll admit it; Hamilton is pretty cool.

Nice chocolate milk


When I walked into the lab, I was surprised to see that someone had taped a balloon to my chair and that others were drawing a decoration to wish me a happy birthday. Honestly, I’m not sure how anybody knew since I never told them. I guess I have a stalker on my team.

A little drawing for me. The design is obviously a reference to Route 66, which runs in my city. Fun fact, my high school and university both border the famous street.

Anyways, we learned about class and objects in c++, which is okay except for the fact that they have have colons to indicate visibility. Colons make me uncomfortable because it’s never obvious when they end.

Journal Club was cool. Nobody liked the article and we all agreed that it was too technical for the average reader to comprehend, even if they’re working in a technology related field. The whole point of the article is to show us how we shouldn’t write a paper and which papers to avoid reading for our literature review. At the end, I got a birthday card and a cake was brought out that we ate after lunch. It was something called “marble” and it meant that it was two types of cake (which is good because I prefer chocolate). Before you ask, I didn’t get my head shoved into the cake.I wanted to, but other people have to eat that cake (I guess they don’t, but I wanted to be nice). We did eventually eat it and learned c++.

After work, we had celebration for my birthday. Just played games, ate pizza (because you all know I LOVE pizza. I mean, I love my girlfriend, but I LOVE pizza). It was fun and I’m glad it happened. Thank you, everybody who came.

Day 10: I blur reality and computers

Today, I read the papers I had to read for Journal Club and my project mentors. No offense, but some of these papers are super BORING!!!! It’s really hard, but I wasn’t going to give up, so I read through the papers. At least I won’t disappoint my professors! My group also got our problem statement done! No offense, but my group gets stuff done. For lunch, we had a PhD candidate talk to us about videos that look very close to reality. It’s pretty much Trompe-l’œil, but with computers instead of painting. It was interesting because the speaker said that her study involves in seeing whether or not people can differentiate between fake photos and real photos. She even told us a story where her husband and someone else were watching a video game and believed that it was an actual football game! Lunch was good and it came from HyVee.

Pretty good lunch

Unlike regular lemonade, pink lemonade is sweet and delicious!

The Craft and Research topic was focused on IRB and plagiarism. Fun fact: many people plagiarize, so don’t feel to bad if you do it(that being said, don’t plagiarize). After that, we had to discuss the t-shirt design and it was difficult to cooperate the opinions of twelve unique individuals

After work, I ran, biked, ate a salad, then went to sleep.

Albino squirrel. Turns out, Iowa State has a few articles on it.

Day 8: Taking pictures

The good news is that I woke up early today! That means that I’m not tired; I’m just tired in the morning.We learned more about c++. Fun fact: the first assignment that we were given was REALLY hard! We had to error check user input and it’s not as easy as in Java. I had to the input as a string and put it in a try-catch statement, but errors could be thrown as strings, ints, or something else. Why are there so many ways to throw errors? At least c++ has the decency to have a built-in method to convert strings to numbers. Also, why doesn’t c++ have a length method for arrays? Apparently, you can take the size of the array, but I’m pretty sure a length method would make everything easier. There’s probably a reason for everything, but it’s not as intuitive as how other languages take care of things. I guess that’s the price that you pay for speed. At least the second one was easier; I just had to figure out the Fibonacci sequence.

I implemented a solution that uses dynamic programming (Here’s a link because I can’t seem to explain to people what it is). I know, I’m a nerd and I tried WAY too hard for an assignment that’s built for beginners, but I don’t care. I always try to hard (except when something’s too hard).

Coming back from lunch, we had to take pictures with our red polos. It was a little hot, but not too bad. My favorite part was when we tried to take a picture next to the geese and they got super aggressive and territorial with us. Remember kids: geese are like bears with wings. After taking pictures, we learned more c++ and had to read a file. I’m going to tell you now that I HATE taking in files in c++. It took forever (some people didn’t even finish) and it took a while until I figured out how to figure out if you’ve reached the end of the file. At least I got it to work, but I don’t know why it’s not as intuitive. I think I’m starting to not like c++ because I’m so focused on the way Java does things that I see why c++ would implement their solutions the way they are.

Working out was fine. I did arms and yoga mat exercises. No offense, but planks are hard as fudge! They kill you and your entire essence, but it’s worth it when you realize that it’ll improve you. I went back home, worked on a little side project, pushed off the urge to eat my salad, then went to sleep. I’m going to be honest, I think I’m alienating my group a little. Everyone already knows that I have difficulty dealing with people and I think I’m starting to have difficulties again. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, I know my personality is a bit pushy, but am I really that bad? I thought we were all joking around. Maybe if I can’t keep people from hating me, I can just keep them from hating me for another nine weeks. If that doesn’t work, I’ll find a way to manage. Many people don’t like me and if I can get through that then, I can do it again. Besides, tomorrow’s always another day to improve.

Day 8: First working day

I still got up and was still late, but at least I got to work on time. I am SUPER sleepy and I’m sad that I need so much sleep. Maybe I’ll push myself force myself early one day. I wasn’t sure if I would get to work on time by going on the bus, so I took my bike. Biking is still hard, but I am still glad that I’m forcing myself to do it. Anyways, today was a working day, so I just read the journal club article, worked on c++, etc.

We actually had a chance to meet the director of VRAC. His name is James Oliver and he is really cool! He said that he’s like me; he didn’t know anything about grad school and wished that more people told him all about it. I learned so much about getting a graduate degree. Did you know that being “overqualified” isn’t a thing? Many tech companies are willing to hire higher-level graduates. He also told us that most of his PhD students (he’s also a professor) have gone off to work industry jobs; only one became a professor. I’m still not sure if I want to go to grad school, but he makes it sound so cool! No offense to my mentors who made it sound scary, but I think it’s because I was very uncertain,new, and they wanted to tell us the truth so that there are no surprises. Anyways, he told us all about how you could get a degree and have a great career and I’m not sure what my career will be. I do have some ideas of how everything will play out.

Option 1: Get a bachelor’s and become a programmer. Maybe Google is hiring, or maybe Microsoft. All I know is that I would move to the Northeast (unless I find a good reason to move to California). I figured I’d live out a good life, possibly start my own company after getting industry experience. Actually, I’d stay with my company if I get promoted.

Option 2: Get a master’s in financial engineering, become The Wolf of Wall Street, and be a multi-millionaire! I would all all of the rich people stuff: wear suits, drive a cool car, have both a Netflix and Hulu account, and now that I think of it, this should totally be a list.

If I had a million dollars

  • Insert Eminem song here
  • Apparently, The Barenaked Ladies also did a song, so you can also insert the song here
  • Buy a lamborghini
  • Buy a mansion (or pay rent for a 500 sq apartment in New York)
  • Buy a suit
  • Get a Netflix and Hulu account
  • Buy a boat (and I don’t know what to do with it)
  • Buy a supercomputer
  • Start a scholarship for minorities like me
  • Start a scholarship for everyone
  • Get a building named after me
  • Build something in Tulsa and get it named after me
  • Buy my wife a dress
  • Take my wife to Red Lobster (because I’ll be fancy as fudge!)
  • BribeLobby Congress to use solar power
  • Fly around in a helicopter to work
  • Buy stupid crap for no reason
  • Travel the worldUS
  • Travel outside of the US the world
  • Order McDonald’s stuff that’s NOT the dollar menu
  • Run a summer music camp for non-college kids
  • Pay to see The Beatles live
  • Build better subways for cities
  • Build a better Hyper loop than Elon Musk
  • Join The Avengers

Option 3: Drop out and live a normal life

Option 4: Drop out and become the next Bill Gates and Steve Jobs

After the conversation, we had lunch that almost killed me! It was a pretty good sandwich, but I put on honey mustard that was REALLY spicy. I started coughing on some bites and eventually had to spit out my sandwich. The good news is we had a HUGE cookie to eat.

After lunch, I met with my research mentors and our group has a better idea of what our problem statement is. The rest of the time was spent reading papers. Eventually, I played Gin Rummy. I lost, but I had a good time. I worked out my arms, walked back with some people and that ended my day.

Day 7: Learning C++

I woke up a little later than usual which makes me sad because it might mean I’m getting to the point where I’m not waking up early :(. Then again, I did stay up somewhat late last night, so that may not be the case. Anyways,  we learned c++ and it was SUPER BORING!!! Don’t worry to anybody reading this and thinking that I’m trashing on the instructor or lesson or anything else. This is a me problem and I’m not really making a serious complaint. The only reason I thought this way is because I’m a computer programming genius going to be a Junior next year whose taken many programming courses, plus another course specifically on programming in different languages. They said that some people may think this course would be easy, but I didn’t think it would be me and I think that’s kind of cool. To anyone else who is reading this and doesn’t quite have my background, you’ll do well as long as you keep trying. I believe in you. Anyways, I went to lunch, which was good, and came back to meet with my project and grad mentor. We just went over a paper and they even played a game where you’re stuck on a desert island and it looks like Myst (I can’t remember what it’s called and I hate myself for it). After that, my group went back for more c++. It was still easy, so I did my annotated bibliography for a paper tomorrow and worked on this blog. I’m impressed that everyone already did their blog. I wish I did have time to work on it after lunch, but I wouldn’t have finished anyways.

After work, I worked on my arms since they weren’t as sore (so expect me to be really whiny tomorrow) and did the elliptical machine. I did have sore abs, and it kind of sucked. Fun fact! In Rocky IV, Sylvester Stallone asked that the punches be real, which landed him in the hospital; I still think I have it worse.

Coming back, I finished my laundry and no; I’m not posting pictures because I don’t think people want to see my dirty underwear (and if they do, I really don’t want to show them). But enough boring talk, I made spaghetti today and it was great! Actually, it wasn’t as good as my mom’s, but I’m proud for cooking.

You might be saying to yourself “Alfredo, how are you going to put onions powder if you’ve never eaten onions before?” The truth is that I don’t know, my mom always uses onions and it made me feel like I was at home.

Hey look! I’m a data scientist!

Thank people for strainers

Final product


Day 6: Finally getting a bike

Unlike some people, not everybody can simply hop on over to the bike place at 8:00 AM. Most people, like me, need sleep to function. That being said, I still managed to be the second person to get my bicycle. It was weird because I thought that I would help for a bit to pay off my bike, but I mostly stood there and barely did any work. I really wanted to help and asked what I could do, but not much was sent my way. The good news is I got my bike! The bad news is that I found out that biking is REALLY hard. REALLY hard. I pedeled for not even five minutes before I thought I was going to die. I was out of breath from a little bit of biking. I eventually got home (way quicker than if I had to wait for the bus) and got home to get ready to return my SD card and get a bike lock. Riding my bike was a HUGE mistake. I was really, really tired and I didn’t know if I could continue. Everything was burning and I felt sick. My head hurt and my stomach felt weird. I couldn’t tell if I was hungry, I was full (which I shouldn’t have been), or if the water made me sick. I was told that the water was fine and someone told me they drink it, but I didn’t know why I felt so bad. By the way, I hate hills that go up. It’s SO MUCH work to pedal and I just walked up the hills. You’d think that I would have been fine since I use the cycling machines for thirty minutes without a break, but it didn’t seem to help. It may be because of the leg day exercises I did yesterday. When I finally came back, I lied on the grass for a bit because I was going to die. Eventually, I went to my room to relax before the picnic.

Cool glittery statue in City Hall


The picnic was nice. We played card games and I got to eat a burger that had turkey instead of beef ( I don’t know what it would be called). I put BBQ and it was delicious!!! It was a nice time and we were one of the last REUs to leave. Today was hard as fudge, but it got good.

EC Cardinals! Nah, Ames also has cardinals.

Awesome sandwich. I wish I remembered the name of the company.

Day 5: My phone sucks (and so does exercise)


You know, my life is really hard sometimes and I don’t know why. I wish life was easy and everything didn’t break for no reason. Anyways, I had to get ready to go to this place called Perfect Games. We played laser tag and it was really awesome. I got first place!!!!

Seriously!? Taco pizza? Where do people come up with this crap?

First A is me and yes. I am awesome at bowling (even with a broken arm).

After that round, I got to bowl. I should mention again that my arm was REALLY sore. I looked like a velociraptor all morning. I struggled to close my window because of how sore I was. Because of my injury, I couldn’t bowl well. Eventually, I was convinced to straighten my arm and bowl; it hurt like heck, but I bowled a strike. I never did as well after that because I don’t really know much about bowling. Anyways, the rest of the time wasn’t as fun. I mostly walked around figuring out what I should do. I had a few moments with others, but I found out pinball is a great single-player game. Going back was long since I had to go to the store and buy stuff. It took up a huge chunk of time and I didn’t get to return a product ( they were closed and I left it in another bag). At least I’ll make spaghetti and I got a new SD car, so I can take pictures again. Also, some people had Chic-fil-a for the first time. It’s funny, I had to walk all the way to another bus station and still got home BEFORE my mini-group, who got home later. BTW, the AC works again. Thank you, Jesus and the AC repair people. Shortly after, I went to the gym and did some muscle building exercises. The people who went with me taught me how to do some workouts. They hurt, but at least I’ll get in shape. The rest of the night was spent hanging out and watching people(I was getting behind on these blogs) play Sushi Go.

Day 4: (Not quite yet)Working with the team

Today I walked back to the lab again  yo, this whole rhapsody he better go capture this moment and hope it don’t pass him and we learned how to find articles that we’ll need for our projects. It was REALLY tough because I didn’t know what search terms to use, but I think I may have found some result. Afterwords, we took a personality test and it says that I am an INTP personality. I found out one of one of my team members makes plans and follows them, but I tend to go with the flow. The good news is we made a compromise; they’ll make a plan, and I’ll make one when that one fails. The cool part after that is that we got a tour of some of the technology used at ISU and it’s amazing! They have a super computer with 96 $4000.00 graphics cards! They’re connected to projectors and the whole set-up was $8 million! I couldn’t believe the environment that we were allowed to access. Lunch and blog time were good (except I didn’t get to finish my blog. Why do I have to write so much? ) .

We then had to discuss a difficult topic for me; what are my flaws. Actually, I was able to list off twelve, but nobody is perfect. I’m pretty sure my team with keep me in check. It was all a discussion of what are flaws are and how we can deal with them. The good news is that unlike some people, I am VERY aware of my flaws and wish to fix them (even when I’m not always sure how to fix them). We also had a presentation on research. We even got to draw up a plan for our research (and it’s great! We’re going to get so much done). The only problem was that I can’t make my teammates spelling and grammar checkers because they think it’s a demeaning position. Honestly, I think it’s a very important position because I’m bad at English. It’s difficult and you can tell as I’m writing this blog that I make lots of mistakes. I guess it’s not important to some people when it’s simple for them. Anyways, We also wrote a letter to our future selves, and I’m pretty proud of mine.

After work, we went to the art walk. I looked around and it was pretty cool. I really like some of the art. There was even a public piano that will be there for the summer. I had fun, bought some stuff from this store called HyVee, then went home to go to the gym. On the way there, it turns out that the others were waiting for me. I didn’t see them, so I assumed that they had gone home. I heard that the event had ended, so it was a natural assumption to make. Anyways, I worked out and we had another VR night. I didn’t go, but it sounded like fun. Besides, I had to exercise; no excuses. The cool thing was that I got my SD card adapter, but I still couldn’t delete my files, so I reset my phone and IT DIDN’T FREAKING WORK!!!!!!!!!!! HOW DID THIS NOW WORK? WHY DOESN’T IT WORK???? MY PHOTOS WERE THERE!!!!! MY PANCAKE VIDEO AND ART VIDEOS ARE GONE!!!!! MY SONG THAT I RECORDED IS GONE!!!!! NONE OF THIS WAS WORTH IT AND I HATE MY LIFE!!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Day 3: Finally meeting our research professors

Today, I also woke up early. I don’t know why I’m doing this, but I think my body’s used to waking up early. Don’t worry, this doesn’t last forever. When I was a freshman in high school, I would start the beginning of the year by waking up at five in the morning until I got so tired that I’d wake up at the absolute latest time. Anyways, despite the fact that I woke up early, I didn’t get out of bed. I’m super lazy, but hey! At least I got out of bed. Anyways, I got to work where we finally got to work on these awesome blogs. Finally! I’ve been waiting to write about my days! Well, you all can probably see that already. This being said, it’s only because there are so many events occurring everyday. Eventually, my blogs will be something like

I woke up and didn’t die from work. #ThanksIGuess


I did decent progress. Adding pictures was a little pain and weird to figure out, but I did it. Anyways, we also got to see some presentations about all of the projects. Some of you guys have cool projects, but there not as good as mine. No, I’m not apologizing for that. Anyways, I got the chance to meet up with my project mentors and one again, the professor introduced himself by his first name (yeah, I still haven’t out what to call people). My grad mentor seemed nice as well. Anyways, we discussed the research and I’m pretty sure I can solve the problem. They weren’t sure when we’ll be able to meet because of our schedule, but we found out that we will have time. Soon afterwords, we had lunch and I ate pasta(besides spaghetti) for the first time. I don’t know what it’s called because I don’t eat pasta and Wikipedia gives way too many names for the shape that looks like a pipe that was cut in half, but slanted. It may be rigatoni, but I’m not sure.

After lunch, we came back and played Heads-Up. It was pretty chaotic and loud, but it was still fun. I said something bad about a city and forgot that somebody was from that city. Yes, it was very embarrassing, but I apologized and found out they didn’t really care. I don’t know, I always find bad things to say about everyplace, but I never think to think about the people around me and the fact that they may get offended. Actually, during lunch, I was talking to someone and they said a certain town was boring, unaware that the person next to them was from that city. It’s good that I work with a diverse group of people because I can now think about what I say and make sure to consider other people’s feelings more. I remember my brother told me this story:

At his high school, every class has to choose a design for their flag and this one class chose a skull that looks like the ones used for Dia de Los Muertos (like the one shown above). Some of the Mexican students were upset because a symbol used for a day of remember those who passed away was being used to a silly design. My brother’s teacher was discussing this in a class when one kid said he didn’t understand why the choice was offensive. He asked if the kid was Christian(which he was) and how he would feel if a crucifix was chosen and placed on the hallway walls. He said “that would be kind of messed up.” The teacher asked how this is any different and he replied “cause it’s not that important.”

I’ll forgive the kid because he’s a freshman and he doesn’t know any better, but it really teaches an important lesson about how not having a diverse circle can make you say really offensive things. The whole point of this section is to learn from my mistake. I screwed up and apologized, but I’ll be sure to be more careful when I word what I say. Anyways, let’s forget all I wrote( but NOT the lesson itself) and hope I can try again tomorrow.




After playing the game, we went to the gym which took ages to do. After waiting for an eternity, we finally got a tour and it looks like a pretty cool gym. It has a pool (which we won’t be able to use often because of our schedules) and lots of equipment. When we got back, we learned a little about how to formulate a research question. It was REALLY hard because my group look at the project differently than I did. I don’t know why, but I never have the same interpretation of something as anybody else does. No wonder English classes were hard for me. The good news was my sentence got used for the last part of the question, so I can say I contributed. Eventually, I got back to my dorm and tried to fix my phone (and failed) before getting ready to go to the gym. I happened to leave for the gym at the same time as someone else, so we went together. I played with the dumbbells for a little bit. Actually, since I’m an adult, I EXERCISED with the dumbbells. I’m going to go ahead and guess I did 100 bicep curls (what? I didn’t say it would be a good guess) before getting tired bored and moving on to cycling again. I brought headphones and listened to The Slim Shady LP, which was nice and help distract me(but not enough). I was difficult, but I made it through and I was proud. Plus, the seats were 1000000x more comfortable than the one I used yesterday. I went back and showered and talked to my girlfriend before deciding to cook pancakes. Here are the results.

Since it’s no secret Mashashi helped me, I’ll go ahead and mention him. Anyways, he told me that I MIGHT be able to cook the pancakes since my pan was non-stick. I like to be optimistic and not waste pancakes, so I went ahead and cooked my pancakes and it didn’t go well. I somehow set off the fire alarm, but my second batch was good.

Day 2: An Introduction

Today, I woke up early and went walking around the campus. I found out there are lots of rabbits on campus, and it’s awesome!

Seriously!?!? Why are there so many rabbits?

We started out our day with some little get-to-know-each-other games. I tricked everybody with my two truths and lie. A common pattern was someone would say something that involves a number, then say that number was a little off and thus making it a lie. I said I liked New York (which I did and also loved. Yes, you can like and love something. People may argue with with me and say that I’m wrong, but I think I’m write. Besides, like and love are used interchangeably, unless you’re talking about a person). We also had a presentation that was pretty cool. We also had to build a tower out of spaghetti and marshmallows. Our team won because of a technicality; the top of the tower had to be marshmallow and the “winning” team had a little spaghetti sticking out of the top. We also went through a little campus tour and played with a Frisbee and why is Frisbee capital? Seriously, that was the suggested spelling and I don’t know why. Sorry, rant over. Anyways, I did Hollywood style catches; they look cool, but didn’t actually work in the real world. In my defense, catching a plate that changes directions every five seconds is WAY harder than you would think. Despite the difficulties of catching, I had lots of fun and I hope we can do it again.

I don’t know how they got TJ Miller to come here and I’m impressed that they did

We also ate at the food court, and I liked it. The only disappointing part was a got a hot dog that wasn’t a hot dog. It was a polish/cheddar/cheese/sausage or something. It had cheese inside of it and honestly, I have no idea how they get it in there. Anyways, lunch was good and I talked to a graduate student and learned a little more about graduate school. After lunch, we went back and did more stuff at the lab (where other people and I got horribly lost. It was embarrassing, but at least I learned how NOT to get to the lab). After all of the work was done, we learned about the buses and learned how to take them to out apartments. I felt like I was taking a subway and it was really cool!

Guess who’s back in New York, baby! PSYCH! It’s just my first bus ride in Iowa.

After going back, I went to the gym with others and went on the biking machine for a whole 30 minutes! It hurt and I couldn’t walk correctly, so I’m pretty proud of myself. I even walked back to my dorm and I hope to be healthy this summer. Lastly, my roommate set up his VR system. It was really cool! We played this game where this robot, that looks a lot like WALL-E, gave you disks that would 3-D print objects you could grab. They also played an iRobot style shooter game. Anyways, today was a good day and I hope I find out what I’ll do for research. May God guide me through these tough times.

Day 1: Arriving

Today was my first REU day (technically). I woke up, told my parents to drive me to the airport, checked in my bags (one was really light since it only had a laptop and I had to take it out since it couldn’t be checked in). I had to a little trouble at security since I forgot to pack my razor in my check-in bags (this is why you don’t pack late, kids). I helped the TSA agent find it and told him to throw the blades away. I got to my terminal and it was delayed, which was actually a good thing. It turns out that you’re supposed to show up at least ten minutes before the plane leaves, otherwise they don’t let you in. If that flight wasn’t delayed, I would have shown up late. It’s times like these that remind me that someone is watching over me. I boarded upon my plane to Chicago where I watched The Founder. It’s about the guy who made McDonald’s the huge company it is today. I only watched half of it, but I like the half I saw. Also, I saw this beautiful lake as I headed into Chicago!!!

Beautiful blue lake

Must be nice for these people to live next to the water.

I should mention that this plane ride was bumpy. Like, really bumpy. I got motion sick and I’m not afraid to admit that I threw up. Luckily, the girl next to me gave me this mini-toothbrush. I don’t know what it is or how the technology behind it works, but it actually leaves your mouth with a minty feeling. She also gave me some pills which I assumed stopped motion sickness (that’s what she told me. I don’t normally take pills from strangers, but I didn’t care at that point). We finally landed in Chicago and I just thanked God that part of my flight was over. I asked one of the flight attendants where I was supposed to throw away my bag since the instructions (yes, vomit bags have instructions on them) said not to flush them in the toilet, but instead put them in the proper waste receptacle. He asked if I used it, then asked if I threw up, which really has me wondering what else he thought I did with it. Anyways, he told me to set it down on one of the seats (everybody was leaving at this point). I actually felt bad because that meant someone had to throw away somebody’s used bag, and I assume they don’t get paid enough for those tasks. Anyways, I thanked the stranger again and went to claim my baggage. Fun fact; you don’t claim luggage at every stop! Another fun fact; this is my first flight alone, which explains why I did so poorly. Anyways, I was told my luggage would be sent directly to Des Moines. They also told me which gate to head to, which was great since I thought I would go to another terminal! Again, somebody was watching over. Anyways, I had to go back through security, which slowed me down because of the razor (and the TSA agent didn’t let me point out where it was), which caused me to race towards my terminal. I was actually the last passenger to board and I know this because as soon as I got to the gate, they called me by name. I was hot and sweaty, and it didn’t help that the plane was super hot. They turned off the AC because of inspection. I actually fell asleep during this flight, so it wasn’t long before I was in Iowa. I went to the baggage claim area when I realized I didn’t see my mentor. I called him and he said he would arrive in a blue collared golf shirt. We met, along with my lab partner, and ate at a deli named Parmer’s. I’ve never gone to one before, and I liked it. The food was good and my mentor even picked up the tab!

Delicious roast beef sandwich

I don’t know if I was homesick, but Des Moines felt very much like Tulsa. If you’re curious, there’s a street in Tulsa with a Hideaway’s Pizza and Andolini’s Pizza; the street where the deli was located felt exactly like that street. My mentor said he would often come to Des Moines to run errands, which reminds of a town outside Tulsa named Claremore. It’s also a college town and it’s very common for people to commute to Tulsa. Sorry for bringing up my hometown when nobody reading this will understand what I mean. I don’t care, my heritage is important to me and I refuse to dismiss it. Anyways, I moved in and my roommates were pretty chillax. My brother called and I found out I took my car keys! I really wished I hadn’t taken it, but I guess it’s too late. Also, we went to a restaurant named Wallaby’s. I had a bacon cheeseburger and I actually thought there was a perfume bottle on the table! It was the salt and pepper shaker. Actually, I thought it was full of cumin.I don’t know, everything was new to me.

Seriously! Does this not look like perfume/cumin?

At least my burger was delicious

I meet my other mentor and the program coordinator. They all introduced themselves by their first name and I have to say, that is really weird. I mean, the mentors are professors with PhDs and they didn’t call themselves doctors! I once called my professor “professor” and he told me not to do that. Honestly, I’m still not sure what to call them and I was too afraid to ask again at that point. Also, I found out that the whole point of this program is to get me into graduate school. I’ll be honest, graduate school is not my top priority. Honestly, my current plan is to get my bachelor’s in computer science, move to New York, then get a job as a programmer. I thought about graduate school, but I am just so uncertain about it. Luckily, it was explained that this program would tell us if we want to go to graduate school. My professor at my school tells me I could get into the world of finance and use machine learning to pick stocks. I gave up on that dream once I graduated high school, but I’m starting to get excited of being a hotshot stockbroker on Wall Street! Anyways, this program will help me decide what to do. After eating, we went to Walmart where I made bought all of my stuff like a real adult. I’m kidding, I had to call my girlfriend and she told me what to buy. I bought everything and I told the cashier this was my first time buying stuff alone. We laughed because she was correct in assuming my mom bought everything. I went home and took everything in one trip! I made a heck of a racket as a went up the stairs, but I didn’t get caught. I put some stuff away, then went to sleep.