We're back from our long weekend in the Florida Keys and here are the photos. We had an awesome time in Key West and in addition to visiting the Hemingway House and Butterfly Conservatory, we took an airboat tour in the Everglades and visited Miccosukee Native American village. I'm pretty tired after eight hours of driving and have a pretty busy week ahead so it's time to get off the computer and relax.
This is how you MUST watch the new movie Avatar by diretor James Cameron of the Titanic, Terminator, and Aliens fame: Buy tickets to Avatar in 3D at an IMAX theater and sit in the center, middle section. Anything less will not deliver the true visual experience. While the storyline itself is not completely novel, the presentation and experience is. If movies like The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter talk about magical lands, Avatar takes you to them. All I can say is that at the end of the movie, everyone wants to leave Earth and be in Pandora, the world this movie is set in.
We went to our company's Christmas party tonight and had such a blast. The party began with the company president Eric Dann (my boss) taking the stage and announcing that there were prizes hidden under some of the chairs! A frantic ruckus ensued immediately and only calmed down after the prizes were found. Having grabbed everyone's attention, Eric talked about how Formulated Solutions has grown from just three partners to almost a hundred employees in the past ten years. His joke about how he sees all of us more than his own family made everyone laugh but it rang true for many of us who have spent countless evenings and late nights making things work.
Starting a manufacturing company in the US and growing steadily in the face of economic downturns, outsourcing, and tremendous competition is the very definition of entrepreneurship and perseverance. Having been a part of the company for almost six years, I feel very proud of how far we have come along through all the ups and downs. It has been a constant challenge for me to support this growth and no matter how stressful the work days get, it feels good to be a part of a company that continues to move forward.
After a wonderful dinner, the free "casino" opened and we got fake $1,000 coins each to bet on Black Jack, Craps, Poker, and my favorite, Roulette. Juliet had an amazing streak of luck throughout the night at the Roulette table and in the final round of play, bet on the number 32 and won! This put us into the lead with combined winnings of (fake) $68,300. While we didn't get to cash those coins (alas), we still came home with a nice prize. We have a busy week ahead of us and then we get to vacation in the Keys. I can't wait...
2010 is just two weeks away and life is moving along swimmingly. School is almost over, work is going well, and the pets are healthy and cuddly at home. 2009 was a very stressful year for both Juliet and I because of school, work, travel, and immigration. We hope to end the year with a relaxing weekend down in the Florida Keys. I can't wait.
One of the things occupying my free time these days is independent research. I've been researching about computer vision for some time now and have started to learn about various algorithms that enable computers to detect faces, eyes, cars, and other objects. I've always been fascinated by image recognition and have lately been spending a few hours every other evening reading research papers on the subject. I don't have much to share at the moment but I'm fairly certain that I will be talking more about this topic in the coming months. My goal for 2010 is to dedicate a significant portion of my free time to independent research so that I will be well-prepared when I get into a PhD program.