My Personal Profile
At JHU Commencement, May 27, 1999
This is the house I grew up in.
I was born in January,
1968 in the half-rural, half-suburban, sleepy little town of
which is south of the James River not too far from Norfolk and
Virginia Beach. Most people within a several hundred mile
radius know that Smithfield is where Smithfield hams come
from. This is a fine distinction, unless you happen to live
downwind from the packing plants.
Recently Smithfield has, much to my surprise, gone both touristy
(trying to compete with nearby Colonial Williamsburg) and high-tech.
Like everything else in the universe, it's on the web now. So you
can check out
Also places like the seafood restaurant and inn
Smithfield Station . The
Hallwood Enterprises page on Smithfield web page features
my pen-and-ink drawing of the Isle of Wight County Museum,
adapted from an etching circa 1910 or so, when the building
was the relatively new Bank of Smithfield.
Smithfield seems to be attempting
to make itself into the antiques shopping mecca of southern
Virginia. I don't know whether this is a good thing or not,
though it certainly is a change from the Smithfield where I
grew up. Another change is that Smithfield Foods has become
a Fortune 500 company, which has certainly had its impact
upon the town; in particular, CEO Joe Luter has practically
razed the orginal Pagan River waterfront along Commerce Street
(not that there was much of anything there worth preserving or
even mentioning, within my lifetime) and replaced it with a
huge brick corporate headquarters, town municiple government
buildings, theater, fishing pier, etc. Oh, and hurricane
Isabel had a particularly nasty impact on the area in 2003,
removing a large number of trees, piers, and a number of
entire houses as well.
- The picture at left was taken in August, 1996.
In late July, 1996, hurricane Bertha came directly overtop this
house. Around 10:00pm at night, three hours or more before the
eye of the storm passed overhead, the hurricane was preceded by
a largish tornado which did a 30-second landscaping job on our
yard, bringing down over a dozen ceder trees which ones formed
an unbroken line from one end of the house to the other.
Fortunately the house was scarcely damaged, also the Jeep which
was outside and had trees lying all around it but suffered only
a bent antenna and broken windshield wiper. My parents said that
the whole house was ``humming'' when the tornado hit; my father
was standing in the hallway near the front door and was rained
on through the sealed windows because the glass was
bowed under the wind pressure and water was being forced around
the weatherstripping and into the house.
Hurricane Floyd in September, 1999, dumped over 15 inches of
rain on the area and did heavy erosion damage to the cliff
behind the house. Smithfield was better off than Franklin,
Virginia, where my father works one day a week in district
court, which was drowned under 12 feet of water, covering
much of the downtown area. Nothing like that ever happened
while I was living there!
Hurricane Isabel in 2003 (do you see a pattern here?) once again
ripped up the area. As the hurricane made landfall in North
Carolina and moved northward (later causing considerable amounts
of damage way up into central Maryland where I live), much of the
bulk of the hurricane was still in the Atlantic. Its
counterclockwise movement brought it pretty much unchecked
across the lower Chesapeake bay, so that it hit areas along
the James River with devastating force. The riverside community
of Burwell's Bay simply disappeared. Trees were down in just
about every single yard, and my parents lost all but the last
two of the original cedars.
- I did my undergraduate work at
Duke University, Durham, North
Carolina, with a double major in electrical engineering and physics.
Duke's a great place for undergraduates (I admit Durham can be
a bit dull for the graduate crowd), and can make a college
basketball fan out of even a hardcore geek like me. Go Blue
Devils (only applies to basketball, of course).
I was an early member of the
Duke Chapel Choral Vespers group directed by
which helped shape my love and appreciation for Renaissance and Baroque
choral music (see below). In spite of my participation in choral
groups all over the country, including such notable ones as the
Baltimore Symphony Chorus, Duke Vespers ever remains my favorite.
- I got my Master's degree from
of electrical engineering, Information Systems Laboratory (ISL).
Truly one of the greatest institutions of the face of the Earth.
A Master's degree from Stanford EE is a free ticket to Silicon
Valley. Which may make you wonder what I'm doing here in
- My wife,
Linglan, received her
Ph.D. from the computer
science department at the
University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Linglan is from
Nanjing, China. If you want to know more, then you might as well
go look at her home page.
- I was a senior staff engineer at the Johns Hopkins University
Applied Physics Laboratory
in the Space Department,
Space Instrumentation Group (SRI), from November 16, 1998 to
June 4, 2004. From there, I could maintain ties to the ECE department
at JHU and the Adaptive Microsystems Laboratory.
My main research
interest at APL was in
Analog VLSI adaptive systems, though I also dabbled in optics,
acoustics, field-programmable array architectures, and MEMS.
- In 2002, I started working part-time for MultiGiG, Inc., then in
Wellingborough, England. In 2003, they moved from England to
the vicinity of Santa Cruz, California. In May, 2004, I accepted
an offer to work for them full-time, continuing my development of
open-source software tools for electronic design automation, but
also ramping up work on circuit theory, invention, and design.
- I'm tired of getting emails and calls from corporate head-hunters who
don't really know squat about what I do, but for those who have made
it this far, I've hidden my resume in "resume.html". I don't really
need a resume, so there's no longer even a convenient link to it.
- At home I keep busy with art and music (piano/synthesizer and vocal/choral).
I like art in all kinds of media. Pencil is my favorite for doodling
in the margins of my notebooks. I have an extensive portfolio of
works done in ink pen (see above), primarily for the Smithfield
Calendar, and a much smaller portfolio of oil paintings (see the
- My wife and I and our sons, William
and Michael, live in Montgomery
County, Maryland, in a town called Clarksburg.
William was born on October 30, 2000 (a ``golden dragon'' baby, by
the Chinese Zodiac calendar), and Michael was born on January 29,
2003 (Year of the Horse).
List of favorites:
- Favorite composers of orchestral music (and works):
- Aram Khachaturian (Gayne Ballet, Spartacus)
- Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (Sheherazade,
Russian Easter Overture)
- Igor Stravinsky (Firebird)
- Favorite composers of organ music (and works):
- Olivier Messiain (Apparition de l'Eglise Eternelle)
- Charles-Marie Widor (Toccatta from Symphony V)
- Favorite composers of choral music:
- Maurice Duruflé (Quatre Motets, Requiem)
- William Byrd (various)
- Tomas Luis da Vittoria (various)
- Orlando Gibbons (various)
- Giovanni Perluigi da Palestrina (various)
- Favorite rock groups:
- Tears for Fears
- Depeche Mode
- Favorite restaurants:
- Michael's Noodles, Travilah Square Center, Potomac, MD
A recent addition to the finest area restaurants. The
noodles, as you might guess, are superb, as is just about
- Dragon Chinese Restaurant, Festival Shopping Center,
Muddy Branch Road, Gaithersburg, MD
Northern-Chinese Dian Xin (Dim Sum) offerings, very
heavy on the dough but top-notch and very tasty. A lot
of the offerings can't be found elsewhere.
- China Star, Contour Road (off Lost Knife, behind
Lakeforest Mall), Gaithersburg, MD
Offerings from western China, such as Xi'an and Guanxi
provinces, not to be found anywhere else in the area.
The cold noodles are the best!
- Peking Village, Gallows Road, Fairfax, VA
Ignore the name. This place has the best, hottest,
and most authentic Sichuan food in the United States.
- Joe's Noodle House, Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD
Recently changed management and it's Chinese name, which
now refers to a mountain in Sichuan known for its
monkeys. This restaurant's Sichuan fare is competitive
with Peking Village but it's a lot closer to us.
- Peking Eastern House, Frederick Road, Gaithersburg, MD
(Recently closed at this location, and expected to reopen
elsewhere, although I don't yet know where)
Northern Chinese Dian Xin (Dim Sum) in the
Muslim style; lamb stews, homemade noodle soups, and
fish dumplings steamed on a bed of pine needles.
- Pho 75, Frederick Road, Gaithersburg, MD
Vietnamese Beef Noodle Soup restaurant serving
variations on one dish. Excellent Vietnamese coffee.
- A & J, Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD
Northern style Dian Xin dishes and homemade noodle soups.
- Mango Cafe, University Ave., Palo Alto, CA
Caribbean food; excellent tropical fruit drinks
served in an oversize snifter (last time I was in Palo
Alto I had difficulty finding it; fortunately, it only
moved a short distance, and I believe it's now on Hamilton
- José's, El Camino Real, Palo Alto, CA
Tasty Cuban cuisine
- Purim Oak, York Road, Towson, MD
Korean restaurant serving a delicious Dolshot Bi Bim Bab
served sizzling in a clay pot.
- (also see Linglan's compilation of
Good Food in Montgomery County [Maryland])
- Favorite food:
- Dark Chocolate
- White Chocolate
- Milk Chocolate
- Ben & Jerry's White Russian ice cream
- Favorite fiction:
- Catch-22 (Joseph Heller)
- Atlas Shrugged (Ayn Rand) (ignoring the 50-page
tretise on egoism at the end)
- To Kill a Mockingbird (Harper Lee)
- On the Beach (Nevil Shute)
- Favorite nonfiction:
- Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
( Douglas R. Hofstadter)
- Surely You Must Be Joking, Mr. Feynmann (Richard
Feynmann and Ralph Leighton) (nonfiction but rather
- Consciousness Explained
( Daniel Dennett) (also awarded Most
- At Home in the Universe
( Stuart Kauffman)
- Favorite science fiction:
- Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson)
- The Hyperion quartology (Dan Simmons)
- The The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
trilogy in four (or was it five?) parts
(the late, great Douglas Adams)
- Favorite esoteric bumper stickers:
- ``Visualize Whirled Peas''
- ``STOP Continental Drift''
- ``Doing my part to piss off the religious right''
- ``If you're not part of the SOLUTION then you're part of
- ``There are 10 kinds of people in the world: Those who
understand binary and those who don't''
Last updated: April 9, 2012 at 2:20pm