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Human Placebo

[ website | Choo Choo Bear Sightings ]
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[25 Aug 2010|09:08pm]
Hi vestigial livejournal. Have a link!

We won the 2010 Red Green Regatta!
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Got off the plane [10 Apr 2010|08:04pm]
Downtown San Francisco is a fun place to wander around and people-watch. Everyone else is dressed as though it were cold out. People in large stores wander around on their cell phone, insisting that they should be in the exact same place as whoever's on the other end. There were Buddhist monks in women's Macy's. People on the street definitely seem to be maintaining awareness of their surroundings.

There are giant chain bookstores and I passed a few independent bookstores that will need revising when they're open tomorrow.

Time to go back to presentation planning. I hope everyone out there is having a great evening!
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Conference #1 [10 Apr 2010|12:41am]
I think I finished everything I needed to before heading to San Francisco. I still have no plans for when I'm there, other than the conference.

So whatever happens, it's guaranteed to be an adventure!
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Headed to San Francisco [02 Dec 2009|10:39am]
Looks like I'll be in the Bay Area for a conference April 11-14.

Now I have to figure out if there's anything fun I should try to do that requires adding extra time in town, or whether to sneak in a family visit in Monteray.

Any suggestions? (Other than not getting on the plane back?)
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[22 Sep 2009|10:19pm]
From now forward, if using a spell-checker, I will read the correct spelling, then manually correct the word that I have misspelled.Do I have that kind of willpower?
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Wow. [03 Aug 2009|10:18pm]
The first image returned for the last couple mornings when you searched Google News for "Palin" led to this article.

The media may have misinterpreted slightly.
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[22 Jun 2009|09:25pm]
I wonder if it's reasonable to judge our society by the list of search term suggestions Google provides when you type "how to use a" into the search field.
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[14 Jan 2009|10:21am]
I had two reasonably surreal moments yesterday.

I got a massage at the chiropractor and afterwards she asked, "have you been in a car accident recently?" I need to pay more attention to stretching and relaxing.

At the coffee shop, the guy in front of me turned around and told me I did a very good form at the karate tournament. No idea who he was and that was from October. I was surprised enough that I didn't manage much more than a thank you.

Weird day.
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Neat! [11 Jan 2009|04:14pm]
I got to attend the ASGP rocket launch yesterday! (Their programmer flaked out, so I ended up stepping in at the last minute to write some telemetry decoding code.)

Now, after a long night of programming, there's a room full of happy rocket engineers looking at post-processed data. That's pretty cool!
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A post! [02 Nov 2008|11:15am]
Hey there, much-ignored livejournal. Here's a post.

Lots of interesting things have happened, including an awesome hike of the Chilkoot trail. I really should post both a write-up and pictures of that.

Last night I dragged a friend to the Baka Beyond concert, which was also great!

A couple weeks ago I attended a karate tournament. Here's a picture!


(Ugh, at least the hip-flexor had healed enough that my knee is closer to being in the right position.)

I'm taking probably the most fun class I get to take as a grad student, Analysis of Algorithms. (No, seriously, it's fun, really.)

I'm volunteering for a couple interesting campus projects, including a helping with telemetry visualization for the student rocket project and probably doing something with LIDAR data for a prototype rover that is vaguely sponsored by NASA.

Work is sucking tremendously, and I'm trying to think of ways to make it less horrible. At least I have good bosses that understand that I'm dealing with some of the ugliest available jobs.

That's about it for the moment. I should write a lot more detail.
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[16 Aug 2008|08:04pm]
Today I'm attempting to build a heat reflector/wind shield for a camp stove. It's astonishing how easy it is to vaporize aluminum foil. So far the quality of my engineering attempts has been low.
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[04 Aug 2008|09:06pm]
A group of people from the Honors program did a birthday party hike on the Granite Tors trail loop yesterday. It was a lot of fun! I'll start with the good parts, then move on to the less good and moderately scary parts.

There were no cameras along, so this is not a picture post. (I have not yet decided what category of camera person I want to fall in, so haven't even started shopping.)

This area is recently burned, rapidly regrowing. With the exceptionally wet summer, there were a cataclysmic number of ripe blueberries on the first (ridge) half of the trail. You didn't even have to break stride, just reach out and grab them as you walk.

Miraculously, the near-continuous rain of the last month stopped for a day and we didn't see a single drop. The sun was shining but there were enough scattered clouds to keep it cool early in the day. Because of the colder weather, I saw only three mosquitos, which is nearly incomprehensible. It's as though all of the traditional ways that Alaska reminds you that this is wilderness were somehow temporarily suspended. I'm used to Nature trying to eat me, not the other way around by providing such an embarrassment of berries.

We even had amazing wildlife sightings! We saw what I'm pretty sure was a very large wolverine actually climbing one of the tors and perching itself on the highest spire and watching the surroundings. That's the part I wish I had a camera for. A wolverine silhouetted against the sky 100 feet up a giant narrow rock is awesome. Other people saw a porcupine and there was a beaver swimming in the parking lot! (The borough is currently in a state of flood emergency.)

Because it was a disorganized group of college students, (most of whom I barely knew) we got a very late start for a 15 mile strenuous hike with fairly solid altitude gain. Worse, the fire made part of the return trail hard to follow and we ended up losing the trail about five miles out. In our defense, the wrong turn we took both had a rock cairn marking it and was extremely well traveled before petering to a dead end. Still, you're standing on a steep burned out slope by the time it becomes clear that this it definitely isn't a trail anymore.

I was hanging back with the slower part of the group and looking downhill at people deciding to fan out to look for the trail. It took a small amount of shouting to get them to stand still long enough to argue for the idea of sticking more closely together when mildly lost and sunset only a few hours away. We could SEE the road from where we were standing (straight downhill), but without a real trail, it would be a miserable hike with a high risk of injury.

We ended up climbing back up to the trail, but it was a fairly unpleasant half mile of climbing over wet, burned logs hidden under underbrush. We were on the boardwalk by sunset and very happy to be back in the parking lot.

I'm not happy about being in a situation where one more wrong turn or mishap (like an ankle sprain from slipping on a rotten wet log) or change in weather would have put us in real danger. Next time I'm absolutely not going on a hike without a good topo and compass, even if it's a maintained trail and other people in the group have been on it before. I also only packed for a day hike, with no light, firestarting or water purification. It's definitely the kind of experience that forces you to think harder about planning, even if you're just tagging along on someone else's adventure.

One point of this trip was to test new clothes! Since I have finished student loans and am planning on the chilkoot hike late this month, I really wanted to try all the new stuff in a variety of conditions. I was somewhat skeptical that the lightweight stuff would really perform, but I was pleasantly surprised by how well everything worked. I was constantly adding and removing layers as we moved and stopped, but was comfortable from high 60s under direct sunlight to low 40s with wind while soaked up to the knees. I ended up sharing spare clothes with people who were having less fun, so I think I'm pretty well set up for conditions above freezing. It was nice to be able to test that in realistic, but only mildly inclement conditions. I need to go for a long walk in a serious cold rainstorm and then sit still for a few hours to make sure. The way our weather is (right now) I'm sure I'll have an opportunity.

In addition to being stupefyingly comfortable, the wool socks were also badass. As long as I wasn't actively standing in cold water, they stayed completely warm, even while soaked.
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Do Not Touch Lamp [30 Jun 2008|10:46pm]
I failed to find a reasonable mail-order replacement switch module for the touch lamp, so just pulled it out and rewired it as an always-on lamp.

However, since it is amateur electrician work on a touch lamp, I think I'm going to call it the "Do-Not-Touch" Lamp in the future, just to be safe.
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Dream date [19 Jun 2008|05:32pm]
Heather asked me what my ideal dream date would be. After establishing that I was to limit myself to things that are realistic, it was a pretty easy choice:

Definitely a suicide exploration mission to Mars. (Or, even better, a Jovian moon.)
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Hooray! [27 May 2008|02:01pm]
As of Friday May 23rd 2008, my student loans are paid off!

Maybe if I type it a few more times, it will actually sink in.
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Gravel Spaghetti [24 May 2008|12:11am]
I was carrying boxes into my new apartment and while walking across the driveway, the bottom fell out of a box containing mostly spices in glass jars and a jar of spaghetti sauce. Luckily, my finely honed1 reflexes kicked in just in time to watch it all fall to the ground in an explosion of glass and suddenly massively overspiced tomato sauce.

(1utterly worthless)

A not insignificant part of this evening was devoted to picking broken glass out of a mixture of gravel and tomato sauce, then cleaning tomato sauce and dirt off of spice jars. Spice casualties were minimal, thankfully. I'll have to keep an eye on all of them to make sure no moisture got in. Most were tightly closed.

Anyway, this is the sort of lack of adequate planning from which I will presumably learn a lesson and if not, will hopefully serve to amuse my friends. Just like 87.3% of the rest of my waking life.

Also, ravens deserve the occasional impromptu italian meal.
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Best baby story ever! [16 May 2008|11:22am]
polarbee has posted the absolute best baby story I have heard! Read it!

http://polarbee.livejournal.com/435707.html
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[06 May 2008|01:10pm]
A realization: I can post stories that are interesting to me!

Weekend afternoons have been dedicated to weightlifting with Colin and Crystal for the past few months. There are a number of cool things I want to learn to do once I have enough basic strength and flexibility. (A side effect of watching too many circus videos.)

Saturday was a very nice leg day. Halfway through, Crystal announced that we should finish by doing lunges up their driveway and sprinting back. That's a totally ridiculous idea, but it's not safe to show fear in front of Crystal, so my reaction was "Sure, sounds great!"

Unfortunately, an hour later she remembered and started up the driveway, leaving me to hastily put on shoes and try to catch up. The driveway in question had become about 15 degrees steeper than earlier that morning. However, I eventually made it to the top, took two breaths and turned around to run after Crystal, who was taunting me from the inconceivably long distance back to the base of the driveway. (Probably only 60 meters, but inconceivable to me at the time.)

Three steps into running down the driveway (which, in a staggering feat of surreptitious civil engineering, became even steeper while my back was turned) I realized that in order to run, you had to pull an entire leg such that it is in front of you and your foot can make contact with the ground in such a way that prevents you from falling. This requires flexing the quadriceps, which at this point simply weren't acknowledging nerve impulses. However, even without functioning legs, it's possible to stagger a short distance downhill by spasmodically twitching your entire body in a way to drag one leg forward.

Colin described what happened as me sort of staggering downhill sideways towards a birch tree. I remember only a blur of brown and white, but thankfully my blood sugar was low enough that I wasn't forming long-term memories as normal. Crystal doesn't remember anything at all, since she wasn't much better off.

In theory I am going running with a friend today, to kick off the summer trail season. There will definitely be more birch trees. I just wanted to write this down so there's evidence to hold against me in the event that I'm doing something stupid. It's always more fun when there are people laughing with you.
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[25 Apr 2008|11:59pm]
I suppose I need to start researching cell phones. I've been avoiding it for years, on the idea that I already spend enough time connected to a network of some sort and every minute away is valuable. (In reality, I suspect that I just want to limit my mom's ability to make me feel guilty.) (Is that a correct use of apostrophe? Bah.)

I wonder what's up with Android? A cell phone would be a lot more fun if I had access at the OS level. It looks like most cell phones can run programs in Java ME, but require some kind of developer and distribution agreement to create native apps. If I am going to carry around the blasted thing, I want to at least be able to write an application that simulates the sound of interference (or a cell phone dropping into water, etc...) before dropping a call.
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[20 Apr 2008|07:12pm]
I'm back from Los Angeles. I got to visit Disneyland, see the Body Worlds Heart exhibit, train twice at Kuboda's dojo, where I was warmly but violently received, catch a nice theater performance of Little Shop of Horrors and visit Laguna Beach at low tide!



I also attended Sungard Summit, a conference for the enterprise business software that the University uses.

The trip had a surprise happy ending when salmonamanwich flew into LA a few hours before I left and we were able to get together for lunch!
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