Tag pictures (127)

Hawaii trip pictures and recap (finally!)
Mood: tired
Posted on 2014-10-26 18:15:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 3899

It's been more than a month since we got back from our two week vacation in Hawaii, and things have been so busy I just now finished posting our pictures. So - here they are!

<- click for full album

We got legally married while in Hawaii! Here are some pictures of the ceremony:
<- click for album

(all of the embedded pictures are links - click on them to see the full picture!)

Saturday 9/6
The flight from Dallas to Honolulu was pretty long, and honestly the plane (a 767) wasn't that nice - there were only a few TVs and the whole plane vibrated quite a bit on takeoff. It was in a 2-3-2 configuration, so at least I got a window seat (and took some pictures). When we got to our seats there was someone sitting in one of them, so we had to kick him out, so he moved to the seat in front of us and then was kind of a jerk the rest of the flight. The plane was quite full so I don't know what he was expecting, but oh well. Also, somehow there were no/few meals available on the flight (even to buy!), which is suboptimal for an 8 hour flight. Thankfully they told us this before we boarded so we bought some meals in the airport...

On the plane I read a bunch and watched Spike Jonze's movie "Her" which was pretty good!

After getting off the plane, we stopped at a Starbucks and then made our way down to baggage claim. I forgot how big the Honolulu airport was - it was a solid 10 minutes of walking to get there. Then our luggage took 20 more minutes to show up, although we were thankful to see it hadn't been lost!

We had a shuttle take us to our hotel, the Aston Waikiki Beach, which is on the very east end of Waikiki Beach. We got settled in and took the requisite pictures of Waikiki Beach from our room, then walked around for a bit, then came back to the room and collapsed, having stayed up long enough to get on a semi-reasonable schedule. Since activities tend to start early here we decided that getting up early and going to bed early would be our schedule... we'll see if we can stick to it.
<- view from our hotel room
<- David on Waikiki Beach at night

Sunday 9/7
This morning was the Pleasant Holidays orientation thing where you can schedule events for the rest of your trip. It's helpful to do this all at once (and they have everything pretty well organized), but sitting through the presentation I can see why we overscheduled ourselves last time we were here. There's not pressure, exactly, but the guy kept going on and on about how much amazing stuff there is to do here. Which is true! But trying to fill every minute of every day with tours and museums and shopping is not the way to have a vacation, or at least it isn't for us.

Anyway, we booked a few things (and got a sweet tote bag!) and then walked back to our hotel. The orientation was early enough (we got picked up at our hotel at 7:30) so we read down by the hotel pool for a bit, then walked down to a beachside café we had seen and after reading some more, ate lunch there. Then back to the room and we went downstairs to get picked up by a shuttle to go to our Atlantis Submarine tour, which I was really excited about! Then we got there, walked to the boat that would take us to the submarine, and after 15 minutes or so they came out and announced it was cancelled due to poor visibility. (something about ocean currents). I was fairly bummed out by this, especially since we didn't have a free slot to reschedule to. So, back on the shuttle to the hotel.
<- looking out over Waikiki Beach

We considered scheduling something else for the evening, but decided instead to read on the beach for a bit and then walk to Eggs 'n Things, which was delicious when we ate there 5 years ago. Spoiler alert: it is still delicious! Now we're relaxing in the room taking advantage of the movies the hotel lets us rent. (we're watching "Hugo", although the disc is skipping quite a bit)
<- reading on the beach
<- David at Eggs n' Things

It's actually pretty hot here - the highs are supposedly around 90 but in the sun it's really quite warm. I drank a lot today but suspect I didn't drink enough. I think we're going to try to limit outdoor activity between noon and 4 pm, or at least try to do things in the shade!

Monday 9/8
This morning we had "Breakfast on the Beach" at our hotel, which is not actually on the beach but by the hotel's pool, which is across the street from the beach. Close enough, I guess? Afterwards we went out on our top-secret errand to get a marriage license! We were going to take a cab to the Department of Health but decided instead to take the bus. This ended up working well (thanks HERE Transit!) and we made it over there fine and got the paperwork done. Afterwards we took the bus over to Chinatown and browsed around for a while before heading to Golden Palace to have lunch. (they have good dumplings!)
<- an old smallpox quarantine order, as seen at the Department of Health

Afterwards we took another bus over to Hilo Hattie, which is a pretty famous souvenir store. They're very friendly there and only somewhat pushy :-) I bought a nice Hawaiian shirt and a few other odds and ends, and then we took their shuttle back to our hotel to crash for a while.

We had dinner reservations at a show called The Magic of Polynesia. Whilst there, I ordered "The Magic", which is a drink served in a volcano cup that comes out on fire. Our waitress said that the top was 151 (it was in a hollowed-out lime half), and I could drink it as a shot or pour it in the drink. I guess I don't understand how fire works, because I blew on it a few times and it didn't go out. So I decided that that was just how it worked, and I'm not brave enough to drink a flaming drink, so I picked up the lime half and poured the fire into my cup. Unfortunately I spilled a bit and then the tablecloth and my napkin were on fire. _Then_ I figured out that the secret is: blow harder and the fire will disappear, although not before leaving a hole in my napkin and burning my finger. The Japanese tourists sitting next to us were quite amused. Lesson learned!

The food and show were pretty good... as our guidebook said, the magic was somewhat repetitive, but there was one trick that honest-to-goodness made me gasp. (he levitated a woman, raised her up to the ceiling, and then she disappeared and a bunch of paper exploded outwards. It was impressive!). Interestingly, one of the early things he did was ask where everyone was from, and there was a good chunk of people from the US, Japan, China, Korea, and Australia. (and two people from Canada, who got made fun of, because Canada!). Later in the show he picked an older Japanese guy to be his assistant and verify that the wooden box was solid, etc. Unfortunately, the guy didn't really speak English, and after a few questions the magician started leading him on to say "OK" to everything. At one point he tried to get in the box with someone else, which was definitely not part of the trick! Then after it was done he walked behind the curtain to follow someone, also not intended. The guy did seem to be a good sport about it, though.

Tuesday 9/9
Today started auspiciously - our ride to the Polynesian Cultural Center wasn't until 10:30, so we slept in a tiny bit, grabbed breakfast by the pool (it even rained for a few minutes!), and then read by the beach for a bit before heading over to the Marriott where we were supposed to be picked up. Right around 10:30 a bus marked PCC showed up, but the driver looked at our ticket and said we were supposed to be on another bus. 10:30 became 10:40 became 10:50, and we were the only one left waiting - never a good sign! So I called Pleasant Holidays and after waiting on hold a while, someone confirmed we had indeed missed it somehow, and booked us on the next bus leaving at 12:30. I asked for a confirmation number and then something happened and she basically hung up, I guess. Since we knew we had extra time we decided to go to the Pleasant Holidays booth at our hotel to try to get firmer info. Luckily Nancy at the booth took very good care of us and we even got a partial refund, which was nice because this new plan significantly cut down on the time we're we'd have at the Center.

So we had lunch and then did in fact get picked up and rode the bus the hour or so it takes to get to the Center. Our bus guide was about 20% interesting information and 80% stupid jokes and crowd games and such I just wasn't interested in...

The PCC itself is pretty cool, though - we walked through all 6 islands it covers (although we couldn't stay long at any of them; supposedly it would take 16 hours to see everything), had delicious luau food, then saw a pretty impressive show they call Ha: The Breath of Life. The show was very high-energy with lots of running around, yelling, and intense dancing. (the fire dancers were the coolest!) Many of the people that work at the Center are students at BYU Hawaii, and while they're limited to working 19 hours a week, I can't imagine performing in that show 4 nights a week for months on top of schoolwork!
<- fresh coconut water!
<- Samoan tree climber
<- dancing at the Tahitian village

Wednesday 9/10
Today we had a tour of the Dole Pineapple Plantation and north Shore and a few other random things. We were supposed to be picked up at 8:15 - when 8:20 rolled around I nervously called the company (fool me once, shame on you...) but the bus was just running behind. Our driver this time was friendly, funny, but also very knowledgeable. She also earned a bunch of points in my book by making fun of the other drivers (like the one yesterday!) who make you say "aloooohaa!" (to the cadence of "Helllloooooooo nurse!") The tour was a lot of fun - we saw some cool stuff at the Dole Plantation, including the world's largest maze! David and I ran a little short on time but we did manage to hit 5 of the 8 hidden stations. I also tried some "Dole Whip" which is kinda like soft-serve pineapple, and was delicious!
<- "breakfast on the beach"
<- David in a coffee garden
<- David in the hedge maze!

We drove by a lot of pretty places and I took pictures of varying quality. The trip ran a little late so we only had time for a short nap before dinner. We walked to a Japanese udon noodle place, which was pretty good, then walked along Waikiki beach for a bit after dark.
<- Hale'iwa, where all the buildings have to look like they would in plantation times
<- Kualoa Ranch, where Jurassic Park (among other films) was filmed!

This is our last night on Oahu - it's been nice here but I'm also looking forward to a quieter island; Waikiki is quite crowded!

Our hotel has been pretty nice - one particularly cool feature is the newfangled elevators. In the elevator lobby, you have to tap your room key to the panel and then type in the floor you want to go to, and then it tells you which elevator (A-E) to go to. The elevator then has no floor buttons, although it does indicate which floors it's going to. I've heard of this idea before - it lets the elevator group trips more efficiently - but never gotten to use it in practice. I never saw anyone being confused (although walking into an elevator and not pressing a button is still weird!), probably because there were signs everywhere and it was carefully explained to us when we checked in.

Thursday 9/11
Breakfast, then reading by the beach, then leaving for the airport was our morning. The Honolulu airport was a bit crowded but we got through security with plenty of time before our flight. It's a nice place to spend time since it's open-air in parts, and the weather was nice like it usually is :-). There's even a garden we went down to explore! Had lunch and took the absurdly short flight to Kauai, got our rental car, and drove up to our condo - the Outrigger Waipouli Beach Resort. Our condo is really nice! Lots of space and a full kitchen. We lollygagged around for too long to take pictures before nightfall, but we'll take some tomorrow. Met up with Jonathan and Sarah (who did _not_ die!) and we went out to a Benihana-style place for dinner, which was excellent. Then we stopped by the local Goodland to buy breakfast food and laundry detergent (and chocolate-covered macadamia nuts!), and back here to relax for the evening.
<- Our hotel room in Honolulu
<- garden at the Honolulu Airport
<- very pretty old map of Hawaii, on a wall at the Honolulu Airport
<- on the runway at the Honolulu Airport
<- the view from our condo in Kauai!

Friday 9/12
We had breakfast on our lanai this morning, which was very nice! After lounging around a bit we headed back to the airport for our helicopter tour with Blue Hawaiian. We enjoyed our flight with them on Maui, so we decided to use them again. This time we got to ride in the front seats (I got to be next to the emergency exit!), which gave us even nicer views. We saw lots of cool stuff including Manawaiopuna Falls (the waterfall seen in Jurassic Park!), the Kalalau Beach (which Jonathan and Sarah had hiked to), and the Na Pali coast. Hopefully some of my pictures will turn out OK! Afterwards we drove up to Kapaa for lunch at a local burger place, which was good, then back to the condo for rest time. Later the four of us went down to Hanapepe for an art night they have every Friday evening. There were food trucks and people playing music and a surprising number of art galleries open for such a small town! The nicest art gallery we saw was Giorgio's...unfortunately it was all pretty expensive. Someday! Tomorrow we're planning to hike part of Waimea Canyon, which should be fun but possibly exhausting.
<- in the front seats of the helicopter!
<- a bay in Lihue?
<- the waterfall in Jurassic Park!
<- Waimea Canyon
<- Kalalau Beach, where Jonathan and Sarah hiked to!
<- the Na Pali Coast
<- us in front of the westernmost bookstore in the US!

Saturday 9/13
Today was "hike Waimea Canyon day" and by gum that's what we did! David and I hiked around 2 miles and then headed back while Jonathan and Sarah continued on to the overlook they were hoping to get to - unfortunately it was cloudy by then so apparently you couldn't see much :-/. The hike was pretty rough - lots of up and down (I got my first 100 floor climbing day on my Fitbit!) but nothing was too scary. Afterwards we went to Poipu for dinner at Keoki's Paradise and then back home to collapse (and launder our red dirt-stained clothing!)
<- David at Waimea Canyon overlook
<- looking down over Kalalau Valley
<- me on the Waimea Canyon hike
<- David in front of creepy fog!

Sunday 9/14
Well, something happened last night and my allergies started acting up. (not sure if I was allergic to something on the hike or what?). Apparently I snored (sorry David!) which I rarely do unless I'm seriously congested, so I woke up feeling fairy crappy this morning. Luckily Tylenol+real Sudafed+caffeine+cough drops have been helping a bunch.

Today was set aside as a beach day so we went up to Hanalei for lunch and then to Hideaways Beach in Princeville. The hike down to the beach was surprisingly tough/scary, but the beach itself was beautiful, albeit small. I took a bunch of pictures and we hung out and read for hours. It was great! Afterwards we came back to the condo and enjoyed the salt-water pool - it has two water slides, a lazy river part, three waterfalls, and two spas!
<- David at Hideaways Beach
<- the beach part of Hideaways Beach

Monday 9/15
Thankfully feeling somewhat better today. We didn't have anything scheduled in the morning so after taking care of a few odds and ends we went down to the beach by our hotel. It's nice because there are some trees around so there was shade we could follow. There was a guy sunbathing near us who was friendly but, once he surmised we were a couple, proceeded to go waaaaay beyond the limits of oversharing. Way beyond!

We went into Kapaa for lunch and then down to Lihue to pick up two flower leis. Then we came back to the condo, cleaned ourselves up, and went down to get officially married at the courthouse! (Jonathan and Sarah were our witnesses) Judge Watanabe was very friendly and helpful (she performed the first same-sex marriage in the county!) and helped soothe my nerves a bit. The ceremony was short but nice. Afterwards we celebrated by, well, going back to the condo and relaxing for a bit before going to the luau at Smith's Tropical Paradise. The grounds there were very nicely kept up and we wandered around a bit before dinner. The open bar was also a nice touch, and the food was quite good. The show afterwards was impressive in parts but I felt it kinda dragged on. (I was also tired, so maybe this isn't fair...)
<- click for wedding ceremony pictures if you missed them above!
<- Peacock at Smith's Tropical Paradise
<- Japanese fan dance

Tuesday 9/16
This morning we toured the Allerton Gardens at the National Tropical Botanical Gardens. The tour started out in a not-promising fashion, as our guide seemed knowledgeable but also kind of weirdly goofy and rambly. Luckily once we actually got into the garden itself things picked up, and the tour was pleasant, if a bit hot by the end. The story of how the garden was founded is pretty weird. Samuel Allerton made his wealth, apparently, by getting an inside tip that there was going to be a meat shortage, so he bought a bunch of cattle for 1 cent a pound and later sold it to the government for 60 cents a pound. (so, you know, profiteering!). Apparently he also founded a bank that became JP Morgan Chase? Anyway, his son Robert Allerton wanted to be an artist, so he went to art school, but then didn't like it and was contemplating suicide. So instead his father bought him some land and he designed the gardens there, which I guess he really liked. I guess the lesson is: money is useful?

(what the guide didn't tell us, but Wikipedia does, was that Robert Allerton had a same-sex partner and they were in fact one of the most prominent same-sex couples of their day! Crazy...)

So the gardens were nice and we did get to see where they found the raptor eggs in Jurassic Park, so that's something! Afterwards we came back to the condo for a bit and then went up to Kauai Mini Golf, which doubles as a botanical garden. (and was apparently started by the founder of E*Trade!). It was a good time.
<- David next to tall trees in the Allerton Garden
<- a nice water feature
<- where they found the raptor eggs in Jurassic Park!
<- me at Kauai Mini Golf
<- David at Kauai Mini Golf

Driving on Kauai is a little stressful - even the major roads are typically 2 lanes (i.e. 1 each way) with brief stretches of 3 lanes, and the speed limits are absurdly low to the point where no one follows them. Traffic gets pretty bad especially near where our condo is. I did let a car in front of me at one point yesterday and the driver flashed me the "hang loose" hand sign, which was pretty cool :-)

Wednesday 9/17
This morning we slept in (yaaaay!) and then had brunch at Kountry Kitchen, which I thought >was pretty good, although David was less impressed with his meal. We later met up with Jonathan and Sarah and got some shaved ice and then went over to the Kilohana Plantation. We looked at some shops and then did a rum tasting of Koloa Rum, which is made nearby. It's good rum, especially the coconut rum! Afterwards we popped over to do some more shopping (where I saw a $750 map of Hawaii I liked, but didn't buy) and then back to Gaylord's Restaurant at Kilohana Plantation.
<- rum tasting!

Today was the first day we didn't have to put on sunscreen, and I have to say it was pretty awesome. I'm getting tired of having the sun being our sworn enemy and having to lather on sunscreen every time we go outside. To its credit, I have been mostly free of sunburns this trip, but it's a pain!

Thursday 9/18
Quiet morning, although we did manage to squeeze in some beach time, then it was off to the North Shore for a Na Pali Coast boat ride and snorkel! We went with the Sea Breeze tour, and the boat was nice if a wee bit crowded. We saw some dolphins early on which was nice, and then some magnificent views of the Na Pali Coast, including some of the Kalalau Trail that Jonathan and Sarah recognized. Unfortunately I can't wear my glasses while snorkeling (it messes up the seal on the mask), but I did come almost face-to-face with a turtle! The water was a bit choppy and I started to feel a little sick on the way back, luckily nothing came of it. Afterwards we came back to shower and ate dinner at the restaurant at the condo, which was quite nice. Then David and I looked at stars on the beach :-) before coming back to pack up and whatnot.
<- dolphins!
<- us in front of a neat cave
<- Na Pali Coast
<- me at dinner
<- everyone else at dinner

Friday 9/19
Last day in Hawaii! :-( Our flight didn't leave until the evening, so after reading on the beach by our condo for a bit, we checked out and went to the coffee place we liked in Kalaheo for lunch, then went by a few waterfalls, played another round of mini golf, and went back to Lihue for dinner. The airport was kind of warm and they had some live music which was nice but a bit loud.
<- living room of the condo
<- monk seal on the beach!
<- Wailua Falls


We got married!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2014-09-20 21:01:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 200

We just got back from our vacation in Hawaii (pictures, etc. coming soon), and we got legally married while we were there! See:

What does this mean? - right now it's a little confusing. Twenty some-odd states recognize our marriage, as does the federal government (after the Supreme Court overturned DOMA last year), but twenty some-odd other states, including Texas, don't recognize us as married. Fun times ahead!
Why wasn't I invited? - since we had a ceremony with our family and friends five years ago, this was just a quick civil ceremony. (although Jonathan and Sarah were there, but they were in Hawaii already :-) )
Are you changing your names? - Nope!
Are you changing your email addresses? - Umm, nope!
Where are the real pictures? - coming sometime once we settle back into Austin life. If you like pictures of us with varying proportions of happiness to nervousness, you will not be disappointed!
So...not to be rude, but is this a big deal? - Good question! Sort of yes and sort of no. We already considered ourselves married after our previous ceremony, but "making it legal" does have some meaning to it. And of course this means we get to file taxes together, etc.


pictures from our quick New Orleans trip
Mood: tired
Posted on 2014-07-27 22:59:00
Tags: health pictures travel
Words: 223

<- click for full album!

The short version is - we had a good time! Got to wander the French Quarter a bit, take a steamboat up and down the Mississippi, and even have afternoon tea. Foodwise, I managed to have red beans and rice, jambalaya, beignets, and something like "Creole sausage" (is that a thing?), so I feel like I did pretty well.

Oh, and I had a root canal last week which I have apparently survived. I would like to dedicate the trip to David (it's our 5 year anniversary!) and Advil.

<- We stayed at the Windsor Court Hotel, which was extremely nice. Here's a view of (one of) their restaurants, which is where we ate breakfast every morning.

<- Colorful coral (at the aquarium)

<- David in front of the Steamboat Natchez after our trip. It was fun and informative!

<- This artwork at Copeland's Cheesecake Bistro felt very New Orleanian to me.

<- David and me in our carriage.

<- Our hotel was fancy enough to serve afternoon tea with ample tea sandwiches and scones! (sidenote: there were 20 other women there and no other men...)

<- Before we left we stopped by the National WWII Museum. Honestly, this picture looks a bit creepier than I had anticipated.

<- A sobering picture of the relative sizes of the military forces of Japan, the US, and Germany in 1939.

<- Recruitment posters from WWII.

<- Rationing, etc. posters from WWII.

<- More miscellaneous posters from WWII.


Pictures from random things
Mood: okay
Posted on 2014-07-23 22:01:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 78

(click for full pictures!)

<- For our World Cup final watching party, we had soccer-themed snacks! (don't miss that the soccer ball chocolates are themselves in a soccer ball!)

<- This totally legitimate ad for vinegar was in the morning paper. I think my favorite "article" is "Vinegar, Better than Prescription Drugs?" I will say: no...no it is not.

<- Carrie and her friends Jenna and Malika came to visit us, and we played a rousing game of Star Trek Catan!


Pictures from Matt and Jaci's wedding
Mood: happy
Posted on 2014-06-30 23:22:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 28

(click for the full picture!)

<- Table 10 was an NI table!

<- The other NI table had nicer flowers :-)

<- Matt's groom cake was an inside-out TARDIS!

<- Matt and Jaci!


a few random pictures from Austin and Houston
Mood: relaxed
Posted on 2014-06-20 20:52:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 108

<- David pointing at a cactus in a tree! This was taken in the Austin airport's cell phone lot, which is surprisingly nice.

<- Another impressive cake from the folks at Rustika in Houston. We were there for cake tasting, which was of course tasty.

<- We ate at 100% Taquito while Mexico played Cameroon in the World Cup. It was tied at 0-0 when we got there, but soon after Mexico scored and the place went nuts! One guy ran out from the kitchen and waved the Mexican flag around for a bit :-)

<- More nice looking cakes at The Pie Factory.

<- We went to an Astros game during Carrie's wedding shower. We had great seats close behind home plate! In fact, we sat two rows behind Arian Foster, who was a good sport about signing a lot of autographs throughout the game.

<- Chris and my dad at the Astros game.


a few pictures from the Gelato World Tour
Mood: relaxed
Posted on 2014-05-11 15:26:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 66

<- The Gelato World Tour came to Austin (its only US stop), and it was delicious! 16 gelato chefs competed with different flavors.

<- There were also gelato demonstrations and such. Apparently a key ingredient of gelato is air!

<- A list of all the flavors. I liked Maple Brown Butter Pecan the best (from a gelateria in Alaska!), although Bananas Foster was a close second.


pictures from SXSW
Mood: tired
Posted on 2014-03-12 22:19:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 33

<- click for full album!

I worked at part of Microsoft Studio for a few days at SXSW.

<- look, I'm Doctor Who!

<- me with my Kinect Sports Rivals avatar!

<- an "art guitar" transplanted downtown


pictures from Oklahoma State (and snow)
Posted on 2014-02-02 15:22:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 35

<- click for full album!

I was at Oklahoma State last week for recruiting.

<- David out in the snow/sleet!

<- money grab!

<- the Rancher's Club

<- a giant drop of blood

<- Pistol Pete (the mascot of Oklahoma State)


Las Vegas pictures: AT&T Developer Summit and CES
Mood: busy
Posted on 2014-01-11 16:00:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 199

<- click for full album!

I went a bit easier on pictures this year since Vegas wasn't new to me this time.
<- a big ol' turtle in the Las Vegas airport.
<- Lucky Penguin slot machine!
<- Macklemore on stage
<- incredibly large screen showing a FIFA game
<- Samsung curved TVs
<- Family Guy and Ferris Bueller's Day Off slot machines??

I had a good time although I shorted myself on sleep most nights, which was a bad idea. Hanging out with my fellow ambassadors is always good fun!

Casinowise, I spent a bit more time at slot machines this year. I hardly ever won and they went by very quickly, so I didn't really see the point. I did have a nice conversation with a roulette "dealer" (there's a real word for that, right? the guy who throws the ball?) on Sunday night where things were quiet, and ended up a little bit to boot. Played some craps although as I mentioned I still didn't understand all the crazy side bets. Skipped blackjack this time because of my bad experience last time.

If I go back maybe I'll try to figure out what baccarat's all about, or play a little poker or something.


Dixie Dude Ranch trip recap and pictures
Mood: relaxed
Posted on 2013-10-27 20:01:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 248

<- click for full album

We went to Dixie Dude Ranch for a long weekend and had a good time! Our room was nice:
(click pictures for full versions)

We arrived late Friday night. All of the meals were provided, but breakfast was at 8 AM every morning, so we slept in. Friday afternoon we rode horses for the first time:

We also did a lot of reading. One of the places we hung out was the main lodge:

There were some trails to walk on, although they were longer than they looked. They also weren't marked terribly well so we got a little lost a few times.

But mostly we hung around the ranch and did a lot of reading and such. There was no cell service on the ranch, although there was (slow) WiFi in the main lodge. After a day of adjusting to this, I found that my attention span got much longer, which was nice. We also played washers and horseshoes and such.

Sunday evening the ranch doesn't server dinner, so we went into Bandera for a bit of shopping and food.

No other guests were staying Sunday night, so things got a little spooky. Luckily a few more people were around Monday and Tuesday before we left.

Anyway, it was a very relaxing vacation and the staff was very friendly. (they even started bringing breakfast to our room when we woke up!) If you're looking for a dude ranch type place I'd recommend it!


a few pictures from Houston, Battlehack and Rose-Hulman
Mood: content
Posted on 2013-10-05 16:18:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 120

Click for full images!

<- RIP Astrodome

<- The most amazing Buc-ees ever. (in Waller) The first thing I've come across that the Lumia 1020 can't capture all of it's awesomeness :-)

<- I thought "hmm, I actually didn't know waterjets could cause injury!" And then...

<- The waterjets are punching out lines in the metal! It eventually made the shape of an axe. Then I stayed away from the waterjets.

<- The "What would you make?" board at TechShop. (that might not be its official name, but it's kinda catchy, no?)

<- I went to Rose-Hulman for recruiting. The career fair was held on a track!

<- In the Chicago airport, I saw this penguin tie (at the Field Museum gift shop) that I had to get :-)


a few pictures from Rice
Mood: tired
Posted on 2013-09-20 22:51:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 44

Click for full images!

<- The Gibbs rec center has these...weird things hanging from the ceiling. I didn't see any explanation, although I didn't look too hard.

<- This amazing store called Rocket Fizz is now in Rice Village! I had to stop in.

<- Rice gets a Texas historical marker!


Pictures from Mike and Catherine's wedding
Mood: content
Posted on 2013-09-15 22:14:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 48

Here are a few - see the gallery for the rest!

(click for full picture) <- David and I all dressed up before Mike and Catherine's wedding.

<- People hanging out outside before dinner started.

<- Our table had a giant bouquet of flowers!

<- Jonathan and Sarah tearing up the dance floor!


David and I with George Takei! with pictures!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2013-09-02 20:41:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 62

We waited in line for quite a while (some of it in the heat), but we got an autograph and picture with George Takei!

(click the thumbnails for the full images)

<- David and I with George Takei! We chatted briefly - he was a nice guy even after signing autographs for hours!

<- his autograph

<- someone made a balloon Enterprise!

<- waiting outside

<- waiting inside


A few pictures from my new Lumia 1020!
Mood: happy
Posted on 2013-08-15 20:54:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 58

I splurged and got a yellow Lumia 1020, and it takes great pictures! Here are a few I took around NI (click for full version)

<- in the full 34 MP version you can read the license plate on the truck! (but what I posted is a downsampled 5 MP version which still looks great!)

<- playing with manual focus


The summer musical is over! (and pictures!)
Mood: tired
Posted on 2013-08-15 20:50:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 53

The summer musical finished its run last weekend! The show was Peter Pan, and it was very successful - over 1300 people saw the free show! I'm still recovering a bit from it - it seems to get a little more exhausting every year...

Here are a few pictures from the show:
<- click for album


Hello new Prius! (2013-)
Mood: relieved
Posted on 2013-07-06 15:07:00
Tags: pictures car
Words: 383

We bought a new Prius this morning! It is blue. See?

Yesterday we learned that the car was totaled. I had been doing some research, and I was pretty much down to either a Chevy Volt or another Prius. So we test-drove both yesterday afternoon. The Volt, while being technologically awesome and all, had a few big problems:
- The front seats were just not comfortable. It felt like there was zero padding between you and a board or something. This sounds trivial, but considering how much I drive my car it was a big minus.
- The back seats were extremely small and tight. I understand there have to be compromises given the huge battery in the car, but I felt squished at my average size. (David, being taller, had even less kind things to say about it)
- The trunk room was OK but not great.

Anyway, I just felt that we'd be spending substantially more for a car that would be less comfortable. I was hoping my next car would be a Volt, and I'm still hoping that :-)

- Service King - A+ We had our car towed to a towing company lot, and then USAA recommended we have it towed to the Service King in Round Rock. They were extremely responsive, and both emailed and texted me to get in touch with me. They determined that it was totaled very quickly and let me know that, and we were able to come in that day and pick up our stuff.

- USAA - Incomplete, but probably A USAA, as always, has taken good care of us, and explained very clearly what was covered and what wasn't. We'll hear on Monday or Tuesday how the car-totaling process works.

- Charles Maund Toyota - B They were running a pretty good Fourth of July promotions, so I think we got an OK deal. Negotiation is not my strong suit, but at least they didn't try to hard sell us the warranty/rustproofing/all that other stuff. (we said "no" and the guy moved on) Interestingly, the woman who sold us the car said she had just moved in with her girlfriend! So we sort of bonded over that. But it's hard (impossible?) to buy a car without feeling like you're getting screwed at least a little, and today was no exception.


A few pictures from //build/
Mood: relaxed
Posted on 2013-07-04 14:37:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 39

I added a few pictures from //build/ to my gallery:
<- click here for the album!

Here are a few of my favorites:
<- the Nokia wall of phones!
<- it's Miguel de Icaza!
<- a tea bag that looks like a Pikmin!


Boston trip recap and pictures
Mood: productive
Posted on 2013-06-16 15:02:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 1450

<- click for full album

Monday 6/3/2013 8:30 PM
Whew - we arrived Friday but I haven't written anything until now. I do have some reasonable excuses, as you'll see...

On Friday, our flight was scheduled to get in just before midnight, but it was delayed 90 minutes. Luckily it didn't get cancelled, and our car rental place was open 24 hours (unlike some of them) so I didn't stress much. We were on JetBlue so I got to watch some international soccer (Mexico was playing!) and various old sitcoms. We arrived at 1:45 AM to a mostly deserted airport. Got our bags and our car then drove out to the hotel (at least there was no traffic!), arriving at 3 AM.

The next day we hung out with my relatives, and went to the Winchester Town Day. Saw some cool stuff and picked up a cute mariachi penguin. Unfortunately it was in the 90s and most places don't have A/C so it was pretty tiring. Afterwards, we relaxed and cooled off (including a few rounds of bocce!) and then prepared for my Grandma's 90th birthday party. A few other people came over for the party and we had a good time.

Unfortunately I started to feel sick that night - still not sure whether it was a cold or allergies or what, but it knocked me down.

Sunday we headed down to watch a Pawtucket Red Sox game. Minor league baseball is always fun to watch, and there was even a Rice alum (Anthony Rendon, who was called up to the Nationals shortly after the game!) playing for the other team (the Syracuse Chiefs). Rendon had a good game but the Paw Sox one, so hooray all around! Unfortunately after we got back to Winchester I started feeling worse so we said our goodbytes and turned in early.

This morning we drove into Boston, had breakfast, then dropped my sister at the airport. We checked out the MIT Museum which had some interesting exhibits as well as a small but nerdy gift shop - definitely recommended! The afternoon we spent wandering around Harvard Square with my remaining family, then said goodbye and back to the airport to return the rental car. Very happy to be done driving in Boston!

We then slowly made our way to our hotel in town that we'll be staying at the rest of the week. The first leg was on the Silver Line, which starts as a regular bus but then swaps over to being electric-powered. Interestingly, after that it acts like a subway (the stations look like subway stations) except there are no tracks - it just drives. I wondered why cities don't do that normally - surely buses are cheaper than trains, and then you wouldn't have to lay tracks. But I guess trains can be bigger than buses, and you don't have to steer trains...

Sadly, when I was climbing up the stairs of a subway car while carrying my suitcase I fell and banged up my knee. Aside from the embarrassment I think my knee is mostly OK although it still hurts a bit.

Made it to our hotel (the Boston Park Plaza Hotel) which was surprisingly upscale - I felt underdressed which doesn't happen often, and not because I dress well! Wandered around a bit and saw a few places with Marathon bombing memorials - it happened close to our hotel. There have also been a lot of people wearing "Boston Strong" shirts, which makes sense given that the bombing was less than two months ago.

Tuesday 6/4 6 PM
Had a nice time walking most of the Freedom Trail - lots of very old and famous sights! We bought an audio tour which was nice to have. We also stumbled across a "Panera Cares" store where all the food is donation-based. The Freedom Trail was supposed to be 2.5 miles but according to my fitbit we've already walked 7 miles today, and we even bailed a bit early. We did walk around inside a few museums (Old South Meeting House and the Old State House), but yikes. I was impressed that the museums didn't shy away from topics like slavery and free speech - it was less of a hagiography of the Founding Fathers than I expected, and kudos for that.

Tonight we're seeing the Red Sox play at Fenway!

11:30 PM
Red Sox game was a lot of fun! We walked down Yawkey Way, bought a pair of Red Sox socks, and found our seats. The game was "exciting" in the sense of "outcome never seriously being in doubt" as the Red Sox were up 8-0 by the end of the second inning. But there was a high fly ball turned into a double by the Green Monster, a homer run over the Green Monster, David Ortiz managing to hit a triple, and "Sweet Caroline". The Sox won 17-5.

Wednesday 6/5 2:30 PM
We saw the New England Aquarium today, which was fine except most of the penguins were gone due to renovations :-( Both of our feet hurt a bit so we returned to eat lunch at Pret a Manger (delicious!) and rest in the hotel.

8 PM
We hit a lot of short activities this afternoon. First up was the Mary Baker Eddy Library, which was on our list because it contains a three-story stained-glass globe that you walk into (the Mapparium) which was seriously impressive. Mary Baker Eddy (as I learned) was the founder of the Christian Scientist religion, as well as the Christian Science Monitor. The Mapparium was constructed in 1935 and they decided not to update it, so you see all sorts of fun things like "Siam" and "French Indochina". Since you're inside a sphere it's extremely acoustically live. It was awesome!

Next up was Ward's Map Store (sensing a theme?) which had a lot of reproductions of old maps. It was cool to browse around. Then we stopped by a gay bookstore before heading to the Gourmet Dumpling House - there was a 20 minute wait but the dumplings were delicious. Tonight we're relaxing and figuring out what to do on Friday.

Thursday 6/6 10:30 PM
We spent a lot of time at the Boston Museum of Science today. We were planning to come back to the hotel between that and the 4 PM Duck Tour (which left from the museum) but there was so much to see we didn't pull it off. There was a ton of cool stuff to see, even a few good math exhibits! The museum had an odd collection of exhibits: the nanotechnology one was right next to a bunch of old wooden ship models. Anyway, science!

The duck tour was a lot of fun (we "quacked" at random passersby a lot), and although we had walked by a lot of the sights already when we did the Freedom Trail, we did see some new neighborhoods including Beacon Hill, which still has gas streetlamps. Driving into the water and navigating the Charles River was pretty cool.

Afterwards we had dinner and went to see "Shear Madness", where we had a gay old time. (pun intended)

Tomorrow is our last real day here. We had considered taking the commute rrail out to Salem, but it's supposed to be cold and very rainy. I'm also feeling a bit less well than yesterday, so the plan is to just relax. We'll see if we get bored, but I doubt it as I still have plenty of books to read!

Friday 6/7 11:30 PM

It did rain (and was a little chilly although not too bad) so staying in was nice. Did a lot of reading and packed up our stuff. There was a brief moment of excitement when the fire alarm went off - we just made it down to the lobby (from the 12th floor!) before it stopped. (and we saw a fire truck driving away) I went out to an Irish pub to watch the Bruins game - sadly the satellite signal went out after the first period because of the rain. People seemed remarkably indifferent, and the Bruins won and are headed to the Stanley Cup Finals!

We have a bit of an early morning tomorrow, but nothing too terrible. It will be nice to be home!

Saturday 6/8 8 PM
Well, our first flight to Orlando was delayed, and then our second flight was as well - we actually waited on the runway for 30 minutes or so waiting for a storm to pass. But, we got to watch TV (I watched a lot of the Rice baseball game - they were ahead in the 9th but ended up losing :-( ) and were in no particular hurry so it wasn't too bad.


SimCity screenshots: mostly destruction
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2013-03-11 21:20:00
Tags: pictures simcity
Words: 102

(click for full size)
My city got hit by a meteor attack, which is pretty destructive!

Lots of people seem to get sick. I'm not exactly sure what to do about this, although I did build a better sewage system, which might help?

To make the neighborhood happy, I built a soccer field! I love being able to zoom in and watch people playing.

...and then, another meteor attack. This one managed to take out the nearby fire station, which was especially bad. But, as the citizens of Linesville are used to hearing: we will rebuild!

(I'm gregstoll on Origin - friend me!)


India, week 2 (the final week!)
Mood: sick
Posted on 2013-02-22 21:21:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 1064

<- click for full album

Monday 2/11 late evening

Pretty uninteresting day. I got home a bit late and didn't feel like going out, but hopefully I will tomorrow, at least to the park or something. I am planning on meeting people for breakfast at a small café - here's hoping I don't get sick!

Random India topic: (well, random India building topic) The elevators in the NI building are crazy. On one side of the room are two elevators, and on the other side is another one, but they operate independently! So whenever anyone wants to go up, they press "up" on both sides and whichever shows up first they get on, thus guaranteeing that almost half of all elevator stops are wasted. ("almost" because it's possible someone else enters the lobby in between and catches the second one) This is somewhat mitigated by the fact that the "close door" buttons actually work, and work quickly!

(I was told that they operate independently because the one elevator is the service elevator, while the other two are regular ones. But no one seems to treat the service elevator as special in any way...)

It's also possible there's some sort of crazy elevator algorithm going on. This evening as I was leaving, my driver pressed down on both sides. Both "regular" elevators were above us, and proceeded to go all the way down to the ground floor without stopping for us. The service elevator started at the ground floor and eventually made its way up to our floor and picked us up. So...I don't know?

Wednesday 2/13 morning

Not having a good 12 hours or so. Last night I got the inevitable case of traveler's diarrhea (taking meds for it now), and then I tried to download movies for the trip home but I can't because I'm in the wrong country (gonna try on VPN, I guess?). Then this morning I got locked out of my Nokia account, the lights in the bathroom didn't work, forgot my water bottle when I went up to breakfast, had a frustrating conversation with a hotel worker about the bathroom lights, finished my last Kindle book while waiting for the car so I bought a few new ones only to have trouble downloading them (which I did eventually fix), and now my laptop can't get on the WiFi here.

Traveling, especially to a foreign country, requires a lot of patience - you have to be very flexible. Usually I'm good at that, but I think I've used up my patience for the day already and it's only 10:30 AM...

Thursday 2/14 evening

OK, things are better now. Went out to lunch and dinner yesterday with work folks, which was fun, although I think I way overate. (and the antibiotic I'm still on bothers my stomach some) Today I did my last presentation-type thing at work, which went better than I expected. This evening I had the driver drop me off at Bangalore Central, and ate at the food court there. (grilled paneer for dinner and gelato for dessert!) Then I walked home. I think one of the big mistakes I made the first week was not getting out of the hotel more - to be fair, I was worried about traffic, but it's really not that big a deal if you cross at lights and are extremely careful :-)

I also got to play some table tennis today at work (in the table tennis room!) - unsurprisingly I'm pretty rusty, but I had a good time!

Hard to believe tomorrow is my last day here (my flight leaves at 8 AM Saturday morning = getting up super-early :-/ ) - I've gotten to know people here and generally had a good time, despite days like yesterday. It's going to be weird readjusting myself to "normal" life and not having someone drive me around everywhere!

(still irritated I can't rent movies for the plane rides home, though...)

Saturday 2/16 morningish

On my way back to Austin! Got up crazy early, checked out, and rode to the airport. I remember just two weeks ago thinking the drive from the airport to the hotel was crazy. Now I think "Lane markers! Nice!" even if they aren't universally respected. Although I did learn that instead of stopping at a red light, another option is to lay on the horn and just drive through.

At the airport there were two security lines separated by sex - it looks like the women's one (which was empty, incidentally) had more privacy for pat-downs. And I guess it's a good thing, because the metal detector beeped for every single person, so everyone got pat-downs. Did a little duty-free shopping to try to spend my last rupees, and then we boarded where my backpack was inspected again.

Been alternately watching movies and napping - seen "Looper" and "The Candidate" so far, and there's still 6 hours to go! Movie selection is pretty good, and we're flying close to Iran - maybe I should watch "Argo" :-) (Ed: I did, in fact, watch Argo!)

Random bits:
- While we were waiting to board, a British Airways person went around and gave candy to the kids that were around. (I wanted candy!)
- I was served breakfast by a flight attendant named Jean Luc! Awesome.
- When I checked in I was offered an upgrade for the equivalent of $250. I was briefly tempted (it is an 11 hour flight!), but that's still $22/hour, and all I seemed to get was a few extra inches of legroom.


I wandered around Heathrow for a while and had some sort of meal. (I think that was my fourth or fifth of the day...) I was starting to feel kind of crappy near the end of the flight, but getting up and off the plane helped a lot. (I think the smells were getting to me)

I'm on the Chicago flight now, and I hit the seating jackpot - window seat with an empty seat next to me! Really digging the extra legroom. Entertainment system isn't on-demand, but they still have a good selection of movies - watching "Arbitrage" now and about to eat another meal...


I made it home. I don't mean to be overdramatic, but maaaaaaan I felt pretty terrible afterwards. I'm getting old! And then jet lag, etc., etc. But that notwithstanding, it was a good trip, and I know some things to do differently next time!


India, weekend 2
Mood: okay
Posted on 2013-02-12 23:30:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 756

<- click for full album

Saturday 2/9 late evening

Whew, what a day! Kevin and I went to Mysore, which is only around 90 miles away, but took 3 hours to get there. On the way we stopped in Shrirangapattana and saw a temple there.

As soon as we got out of the car in front the temple, there were a bunch of very pushy street vendors that bugged us. Check out my bargaining skills: first I got this pair of elephants for Rs 1000 (~$20), down from 1200:

Then I inadvertently learned if you say "no" twenty times, you can get all this stuff for the same price!

Then I had to say no fifty times to get this one guy to leave us alone.

We walked through the temple and then walked around the city some - it felt very much like a small town (once we got away from the temple). Kevin had a Flat Stanley with him, and he was very successful at getting adults and kids to hold him. Actually, a lot of kids weren't shy and would wave at us. Eventually I started waving at them and they'd wave back, which was fun :-)

After that, we went into Mysore and saw the railway museum (which took about 10 minutes :-) )

And then on to the main event - Mysore Palace, which was the seat of power for the Kingdom of Mysore until 1947. It's breathtakingly beautiful inside, but unfortunately no pictures :-(

Then we walked around a bit to the city market which was fun but crowded. (and somewhat pushy vendors, although having survived the temple in Shrirangapattana I was an old pro at saying "no" dozens of times) We also discovered the latest scam: a kid would walk up to me, say hi, and ask what my name was and where I was from. Then they'd ask for a coin from my country "for a school project" :-) I did happen to have a dime on me, so I gave in one time...

Finally we went up to Chamundi Hill which overlooks the city. Unfortunately by the time we found a good view of the city it was getting dark and the pictures weren't that exciting.

Headed back to Bangalore and I got some evening tea at Café Coffee Day right next to the hotel (which is apparently the Starbucks of India...based on what I've seen, this seems accurate) and now I'm collapsed in bed. I got 21K steps today, and...ow! Going to sleep in a bit tomorrow.

Sunday 2/10 evening

Slept in a bit! I had breakfast at Café Coffee Day just to shake things up (and because I slept past breakfast time in the hotel), and had my laundry picked up. After that I spent some time relaxing, posting pictures/blog entry for the week, and watched the last hour of "The Dark Knight" on TV. (in English!)

After playing a bit of WoW, it was high time to leave the hotel room as I was going a bit stir-crazy. One unfortunate part of this hotel ishere's nowhere to go (other than the two hotel restaurants) if you want to stay in the hotel but not in your room. So I walked to the east, where I thought I had seen some places to shop while driving by. It was a little further away than I thought, but I did find a kind of mini-mall - it had a department-like store on the bottom two floors, then some other random stores, then a food court, arcade, and cinema. I got some gelato as a snack, and then took a look at the cinema to see if there was a movie I could watch. Unfortunately, the thing that displayed what played at what times was kinda broken, and the website was hard to use, in that I couldn't even figure out what location I was in. Apparently Lincoln and Life of Pi were playing at some theatres in English, but I don't think they were at that one. Oh well!

Café Coffee Day also lived up to "the Starbucks of India": there were two of them in the mall, and it really wasn't that big...

I also realized after the fact that there was a McDonald's there and I totally missed a chance to check out the price of a Big Mac. Nooo!

Walked back, and the rest of the day was pretty uneventful except for room service. I did get to watch some cricket and English Premier League soccer, which was fun. Now, to bed!


India, week 1
Mood: relaxed
Posted on 2013-02-10 17:54:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 1080

<- click for full album

Monday 2/4 evening

First day of work here! I had breakfast at the hotel and the owner came over and chatted with me a bit, which was neat. Then it was time to drive to work during what I can only hope was rush hour, because...wow. The office is less than 2 miles away and it took 20 minutes to get there and it seemed like we nearly got in 5 accidents. At tricky intersections you basically have to almost cause an accident to get anywhere. I was talking about this with people at work some - it sounds like it's mostly because Bangalore has grown so much in the past 7-10 years (there was very little SW industry here even in the 1990's) and the infrastructure hasn't scaled with it. Apparently the traffic is less crazy other places in India.

The NI office is nice - it's less than two floors of one building, but there are neat dance-related things on the walls, and the conference rooms are named after famous Indians, including Ramanujan! The power blipped out a few times during the day, but all the computers are on a UPS.

I had some problems with my work computer, but I did manage to get some work done. Unfortunately I haven't totally beaten jet lag and got pretty tired in the afternoon...

Now I'm back in the hotel room and in addition to the usual honking there's some seriously thumping bass that's been going on for an hour or so. Not sure what that's about. (Ed: I think there was a banquet going on downstairs or something. It stopped before I went to bed...)

Wednesday 2/6 evening

Yesterday was fairly boring: get up, have breakfast, nearly get in accidents on the way to work, do work, nearly get in accidents on the way to the hotel, eat, relax, sleep. I did give a talk at work which I think went decently, although I realized afterwards I omitted a key point. Oh well!

Today was mostly the same. After work, though, I walked to a nearby park. I've been planning to do that for a few days now, but my plan had been to wait until the traffic died down so crossing the street would be less scary. Of course, by the time that happened I would be tired and not excited about leaving the hotel. So, today I went out right after getting back. The traffic was heavy, but the only street I had to cross has a traffic light that is mostly obeyed, and I crossed with a crowd of people.

It took less than 10 minutes to get there (although I walked around three-quarters of it looking for the entrance), and it's a nice little park! I walked around it a bit and sat on a bench and read (on my phone Kindle, the best thing ever for reading on the go) for a bit. It's well-lit and there were lots of people walking and sitting down.

Today's random India topic: ever since I got here, everyone in the service industry (hotel, car, restaurant) has been extremely friendly, sometimes to the point of making me uncomfortable. The first time the driver met me at work to drive me back to the hotel, he took my backpack and carried it for me. All of the drivers I've had open the door for me when I enter and exit the car. The security guard at the hotel opens the door for me. After bringing me a bottle of water, the waiter at the restaurant pours some into my glass (and refreshes it when it gets low).

I'm not sure what to make of this. Is this a cultural thing? Am I getting special treatment because I'm American? (or, at least, clearly not Indian) I'd rather open my own car door, but I don't want to give offense and I'm new here and when in Rome, etc., etc.

Friday 2/8 late evening

Let's see: work over the last two days has been good. I feel pretty settled in now, and I was actually able to fix a bug this morning! (although the lag on remote desktop is somewhat painful) I gave a presentation today that went pretty well, and I had something that wasn't Pizza Hut for lunch. (ordered from a local Indian place, although it's possible I'm starting to get tired of Indian food...) Yesterday was their version of Snack Thursday, at which everyone had some Taco Bell.

Thursday evening I went out walking a different direction (south!) and almost had to turn back - I was waiting to cross the street to come back, but there was 0 chance I was going to do that at anything but a bonafide stoplight. Luckily I eventually encountered one and crossed, and my reward was eating at a KFC on the way. It was...well, a lot like American KFC's. Except the drink I got was tiny (which was fine!), and the menu seemed to have some vegetarian options.

Tonight I went out with Rakesh and played some pool, then went out to a nice restaurant. To get to these places I rode on the back of Rakesh's motorcycle. I was a bit hesitant about this, but the places weren't far away and he gave me a smooth ride!

Random: there's a mosque near to work, so we hear the calls to prayer around lunchtime and early evening. The sound is quite beautiful - reminds me of music from Battlestar Galactica.

Random India topic: I happened to see the new version of the Big Mac Index...and look, India's at the very bottom! According to the index, things should be around 60% cheaper here, and that seems about right. Entrees at the hotel restaurant are around $4. I can get a Coke from the minibar in my room for $1. Tomorrow we're going to Mysore, and we're renting a taxi to drive us around all day for a total of $60. I guess the price of travel and difference in GDP can keep things this way, but it's still surprising.

Somewhat related: apparently it's not uncommon for bachelors to have a part-time cook service, where someone comes and delivers you home-cooked food every day. One person even has a full-time cook who lives at his apartment (although he does live with several other people), and the cook does laundry, cleaning, etc. I'm guessing this is related to the Big Mac Index...


India, weekend 1
Mood: tired
Posted on 2013-02-06 23:20:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 1014

<- click for full album

I thought for this trip I'd try posting pictures and entries as I went. I'm already a bit behind, though, so I doubt I'll really keep up. But, here's my first Bangalorian weekend!

Friday 2/1/2013 afternoon

I'm on my way to India! I arrived at the Austin airport obscenely early for my Dallas flight, which was uneventful. In DFW I realized that some of my Nokia friends were on their way to an event, so I walked from Terminal D to C to say hi. Then I had to quickly walk back, as it was a longer walk than I had expected and it was getting close to departure time. But I did sneak in a cup of Ben & Jerry's - tasty!

The flight to London was long but fine. I rented four movies on my Surface before I left and watched "The Cabin In The Woods" ("Joss Whedon horror movie" sums it up perfectly) and "There Will Be Blood" which was also good. I'm glad I had those to watch - the 777 entertainment system had movies but the selection was small and none of them tempted me even a little. In between, I chatted with the woman next to me, who was also heading to Bangalore, randomly enough! I also read some, including a book about airplane crashes; fate - consider yourself tempted! Tried to sleep but was mostly unsuccessful, so I was feeling blah when we landed. Walking around Heathrow helped a lot. Terminal 5 is very nice, after having to go through security again (blah) I got some souvenirs and lunch at Pret a Manger, my favorite place ever. The sandwich was only OK (my fault for getting one with avocado as the main ingredient - I love me some avocado but it's a bit much on its own) but the yogurt and fruit parfait was excellent. Mealtimes are so weird on multi-time zone trips, but my stomach's doing OK so far.

Tea at lunch helped, but I'm clearly out of it - while browsing shops I saw a Kindle for a very good price...until I realized it was in pounds. Not two minutes later, I thought that the currency exchange place was offering a terrible deal on rupees...until I realized that was in pounds as well. Going to take some melatonin on this next flight in the hopes it will help me sleep...

Saturday 2/2 evening

Not sure if it was the melatonin or being really tired, but I managed to sleep 5-6 hours on the Bangalore flight, which is easily a personal best. So I felt OK but disoriented (and tired of plane flights!) when we arrived. I did my best at filling out the immigration form, then picked up my luggage and went outside to find my driver.

As it turns out, our flight was quite early so I had to wait a bit for the driver, who drove me to my hotel. Even though it was 5:30 AM, the drive in was still terrifying. We would be on a road with lanes, and then there would be a sign about construction and everyone had to swerve to the left and drive on a part of the road without lanes. Honking was applied liberally. I also did see a cow on the side of the road!

I spent most of the day in the hotel room, getting my stuff set up and trying not to fall asleep. The room is nice, but unfortunately it faces the corner of two rather large roads, which means there is lots of honking all day long. I suppose I'll get used to it in a few days, but I'm glad I brought earplugs for sleeping. I did a tiny bit of walking around, but I'm planning to hang out with NI folk and do some sightseeing tomorrow. After a full night's sleep, of course!

Sunday 2/3 early evening

Ahh sleep. I felt so much better this morning! Unfortunately I seem to have lost my melatonin (left it on the last plane, I guess?) but I didn't need it - went to bed at 10:30 and quickly fell asleep. After showering and a short video chat with David (the WiFi in the hotel is barely good enough for this to work), I had breakfast and met Rakesh downstairs. We planned out where to go for the day, and then got on our way!

First stop was Big Bull Temple, which is a Hindu temple which has a giant statue of Nandi, a bull. After that we went to a big ISKCON temple. It was interesting - there was a long path to walk that went through the main temple but then you ended up at a market downstairs with souvenirs and food and whatnots. Our next stop was Bangalore Palace, where I got a lot of good pictures.

Afterwards we met Kanika and had a delicious Indian lunch, where I got my first taste of paneer here. (it was excellent!) Then we went to a shopping center where I got an Indian shirt and a few snacks, then we had tea and chatted for a good while. It was already 5 PM by the time we were done, so I just headed back to the hotel. I'm doing remarkably well for only my second day - I'm a little tired from walking around, but nothing like the jet lag I went through in Germany. Adjusting times quickly and getting a good night's sleep seems to be a winning combination. My stomach's also been holding up decently.

I've already adjusted to honking all the time on the roads - at first I had a visceral reaction to it, because I'm used to it meaning "something bad is about to happen", as opposed to "just FYI, I'm here" or "drive faster!", etc. Driving is still kinda scary but I just don't look too much. I saw some signs reminding people not to drink and drive, and all I could think was that there would be no way you could drive drunk in this traffic without getting in an accident!


Las Vegas recap: AT&T Developer Summit, CES
Posted on 2013-01-12 22:55:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 702

- click for the full album!

Note: the trip was jam-packed with activities, so I didn't actually write in my journal that much

Friday Jan 4 after midnight
Long day! The parts of Vegas I've seen have been, by and large, crazy. Getting a lot of good pictures of famous casinos and such.

After dinner at Texas de Brazil (a Brazilian steakhouse that was good, although not quite as good as Fogo de Chao), we got to hang out in a Skyloft at the MGM Grand.

The curtains and lights are remote controlled and we played foosball. It was over the top, in a good way.

Saturday Jan 5
Today was the hackathon, so I was either coding (working on Know Your States) or helping people all day. Exhausting! In the casino, I did see someone playing computerized roulette (although the ball/wheel were real) and graphing out the results. I (mentally) wished him well - it's theoretically possible that the wheel is misshapen in some way, right?

Sunday Jan 6
Today was the hackathon part 2. I helped a few people out and managed to finished (enough of) Know Your States, an app to help you learn state capitals/birds/trees/etc. Not terribly exciting (and not related to AT&T at all), but I like it. After the 2PM deadline, the 70+ teams(!) got to demo their app for 90 seconds. I think my demo went pretty well. Around 18 teams developed Windows Phone apps and 10 won prizes, myself not included. I can't really disagree but I'll admit to being a little disappointed. Oh well!

Afterwards, we had drinks at Rain (our favorite hotel bar), and some folks went up to a club. I was a little tempted, but instead tried my hand at blackjack. Two fine-looking women were my dealers (they seem to change shifts/tables often!) and helped me figure out what I was doing. I mistakenly chose an empty table, which meant that hands happened very fast. I was briefly up but then I ordered a (free!) drink, so I felt obliged to stay until the drink came and by then I was down a lot. More people came to the table, which slowed down my descent but the dealer was on fire. Vegas!

Monday Jan 7
The AT&T Developer Summit proper was today, and I ended up working the Nokia booth for a long while. It was fun to talk to people about Nokia/Windows Phone, but tiring. Went to see a session that was held in one of the casino movie theaters - neat!

After that was the Nokia party, which was awesome. 8-bit games, and artists making 8-bit versions of people - it was a nice theme!

After that was The Killers concert where I paid for a drink for the first time in quite a while.

In the meantime, I got to try out two new table games. Roulette was OK but I was the only one playing most of the time. Also I kept betting on black and it kept coming up red, so...yeah. Craps was fun, though - a lot of people were betting so there was a lot of camaraderie. Also, I ended up a bit, which was nice! You don't get the same one-on-one interaction you do in blackjack, but between the camaraderie and the fact that it can take a long time to know whether your bet wins or not (read: you lose money slower), I think craps wins. There were a lot of complicated bets people were making, but I stuck to betting on "Pass".

Tomorrow is CES! It occurred to me today that I haven't been outside in three days, and that doesn't see weird, which in itself seems weird.

Tuesday Jan 8
CES was pretty neat, although I spent all day just walking from booth to booth and my feet ache like nobody's business. (glad I got new shoes recently!) Saw a lot of cool stuff, though.

Afterwards I took the monorail and walked to Caesar's Palace instead of taking a shuttle back. This sounded like a great idea last night, but I was tired and my feet hurt so it was less appealing at the time. Did get a few other random casino pictures, though.


Italy recap: Day 12 (bus tour, Bardini Gardens)
Mood: relaxed
Posted on 2012-10-13 18:33:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 200

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Thursday 9 PM
Our last (real) day in Italy! Today was beautiful with no rain, so we went on the bus tour. It was nice and relaxing and I took a bunch of pictures. [Ed: see above!] We also drove through Fiesole, a nearby older town of 15K people, and by the Soccer Museum, both of which would have been nice to visit. I'm not sure whether our guide books or ourselves were at fault, but we definitely picked out too many art museums and not enough other stuff. Oh well! Lesson learned.

In between bus tour we walked to the Bardini Gardens - unfortunately there were few flowers (this is not a good time of year for them) but it was still pretty and a nice change of pace.

After a nap break, we went to our last Italian dinner where I had a bit too much wine. (which I'm shaking off now :-) ) Our last Italian gelato is later, which is sad, but I think we're both looking forward to being home. I plan on having plenty of caffeine tomorrow so I can stay up and go to bed on Austin time; we'll see how that goes!


Italy recap: Day 11 (Uffizi Gallery, movie theater)
Mood: tired
Posted on 2012-10-12 20:32:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 412

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Wednesday 10 PM
The plan was to go to the science museum (really more of a geology/biology museum) this morning, but it was raining and neither of us were that excited about it - we assumed that most things wouldn't be labeled in English. So we stayed in and read and napped and then went out to lunch before going to the Uffizi museum.

The ticketing for the museum was a bit nonsensical. We had made reservations for 2:15, but we weren't sure where to go so we waited in a line, the culmination of which was being told to wait in a different line to exchange our reservation for tickets. But, in the line we had just waited in (which was quite short) you could buy "reservation" tickets for...right now. I'm not really sure what "reserved" means in this context, I guess. Anyway, we waited in line to get our tickets, then we waited in line to get in with our tickets.

The Uffizi museum is big - like really big. We went through at least 60 rooms of art, and probably more because some weren't numbered. There was some good art there (like Botticelli's "Birth of Venus") but I'm just not a person that can enjoy 3 hours of art, especially after all the other hours of art.

Afterwards we had a quick dinner and went to a 6:30 showing of "The Dark Knight Returns". The theater was very posh - it looked like an old one with a stage. Also, in the movie Alfred talks about vacationing in Florence and that's totally where we are!

That's about it exactly for our nightly gelato/tea where I saw that Juventus was playing Chelsea and by some miracle it was showing on one of the few channels we get in our hotel, so I watched the end of that game. Even saw a few familiar faces from the Italian national team on Juventus - Buffon and Chiellini (smiley guy)!

Florence is famous for its leather, and street vendors sell a ton of it - it can smell quite strong! David got a new wallet and a leather-bound notebook, and I'm considering a belt...

Hard to believe that tomorrow's our last full day here. Like any good vacation I had a great time but I'll also be excited to be back home. Tomorrow we have a pretty light day - taking a bus tour and spending some time in some gardens, assuming it doesn't rain again.


Italy recap: Day 10 (Archaelogical Museum, Accademia)
Mood: hopeful
Posted on 2012-10-11 19:22:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 263

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Tuesday 9 PM
David's allergies were pretty bad today so we hung around the hotel this morning for a bit before going to the Archaelogical Museum. It was pretty meh - few things were labeled in English and the museum itself didn't seem terribly well kept up. Afterwards we had a late lunch and sat for a while - we had tickets to the Galleria Accademia at 3 so we had time to burn (why did I make those so late? Oh well...) then got in line for the Accademia. (which houses Michaelangelo's David)

The street outside the Accademia is pretty crazy - long lines to get in (although the line with tickets is much shorter!) and a ton of street vendors selling art and whatnots. The gallery itself is pretty good (and not too big - a plus!) but of course the highlight is the David statue. One thing that pictures don't convey is how big it is - I believe it's around 15 feet tall, and so it's very imposing. It's an amazing piece of art and I'm glad I was able to see it again.

Not much else today - had a late dinner because tonight is Fashion Night in Florence, so a lot of restaurants are full or have weird menus. Tomorrow we're going to see The Dark Knight Returns which should be fun.

Oh, and apparently Mitt Romney said something about the 47% of Americans that don't pay federal income taxes. I feel like I've written about this before, but if not: write about it, future me! [Ed: Done, past me!]


Italy recap: Day 9 (Il Duomo, Santa Croce)
Mood: accomplished
Posted on 2012-10-10 21:53:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 323

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Monday 5:30 PM
OK, I'll admit it - I'm starting to suffer from art fatigue. I feel bad thinking "Ho hum, another beautiful 15th century piece" or "Yup, there's a majestic cathedral built 400 years ago; I wonder if there's a cafe nearby?" (actually, that one doesn't happen - there's always a cafe nearby!) Breakfast at this hotel is quite good - nice selection of teas and delicious muesli cereal with low-fat milk (I'm really not used to whole milk). We walked to il Duomo, the giant dome on the church of Santa Maria del Fiore and looked inside but didn't climb up the 200+ steps to get to the top.

Then we saw the Bargello museum which was decent - had some nice ivory pieces as well as some beautiful ceramic plates. (sadly, this was where art fatigue started to set in) After lunch we walked out to Santa Croce, a big cathedral with memorials to famous Florentinias, I'm guessing. Michaelangelo and Dante made sense, but I was surprised to see Galileo (I wonder if it was constructed after the church pardoned him?) and Macchiavelli(!).

On the way in, we saw a painting at an art stand that matched our living room nicely, but it turned out to be quite pricey. Oh well.

Did a lot of walking today so we've been reading and relaxing at the hotel - we're out on the terrace right now.

Something happened to my Kindle and the screen doesn't seem to work - not a big deal now as I can use my phone, but I'd really like to have it for the plane trips. Will do some research when I have WiFi later...

11:30 PM
Kindle's fine, just needed to reset it. I may have been a little grumpy before, but - one thing I will never tire of is pizza/pasta for dinner and lingering at meals and reading because we have nowhere in particular to be. Good times!


Italy recap: Day 8 (Arrive in Florence, Galileo Museum)
Mood: happy
Posted on 2012-10-09 22:23:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 365

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Sunday 9:30 PM
We're in Florence! This morning we ate breakfast, checked out of the hotel, and made our way to Termini (the train station) with all of our luggage. Luckily David had packed an extra duffel bag - we've already gotten a lot of souveniers! - but it's a bit of a pain to move it all around. We had plenty of time to walk around and get lunch, then we got on our train. It was a little crowded but the ride was very smooth, and it was an express so we got to Florence in an hour and a half. We walked to our hotel and after a few tense moments where they couldn't find our reservation (ack!), we got our room. The room is very nice (there's a fresco above the bed!) but sadly the TV channels are still poor and there's no WiFi in the room (although there is in the lobby).

We were also planning to do laundry here, but instead of a laundry room they have a laundry service with the ridiculous prices you would expect of such a thing. So, we will *ahem* make do.

After unpacking for a bit we decided to walk over to the Galileo Museum. The center of Florence is very compact, so I think we're going to get by without using the bus, except for maybe some gardens that are south of the river. The museum is about as far away as anything from our hotel and it's only around a mile. (although: walking a mile, then walking around a museum, then walking a mile back can still be tiring!) We had around an hour before the museum closed and spent it all - there were a lot of cool old instruments and informative video demonstrations of how they worked. Definitely worth the trip!

Afterwards we had dinner nearby, walked back to our hotel and are now on our nightly tea run. Florence is definitely a smaller city (around 450K compared to Rome's 4.5 million) and a lot of stuff seems to close earlier, although that could also be because it's Sunday night. So we got gelato earlier, just to be safe!


Italy recap: Day 7 (Museo della Civilta Romana, Catacombs)
Mood: okay
Posted on 2012-10-08 23:02:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 264

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Saturday 7:30 PM
Our last full day in Rome! Kind of sad, but I'll admit I'm looking forward to a nicer hotel. I'm writing this on the rooftop garden which is pretty beautiful tonight - no rain today which was handy. Our morning was free, so we took the subway to near the end of the line to EUR, which is a "permanent exhibition" built by Mussolini. Aside from the streets having interesting names (Europe, Africa, Art, Architecture, Shakespeare) it looked like a typical suburb to us. We walked to the Museo della Civilta Romana and saw some good exhibits about the history of Rome. It really cleared up some timeline issues I had, and there were some cool scale models.

Afterwards we went to the main train station and got lunch nearby, next to where our Catacombs tour began. We took a bus out to the Catacombs of Domitilla and got to walk through a small part of them. The whole catacombs under this church are over 10 miles; the original discoverer got lost for 3 days trying to find his way out! (and there are more than 60 different catacombs in Rome!)

We then saw two other churches (with no catacombs) and that was it. Had dinner and afterwards firmed up our plans for Florence a bit. Luckily our train doesn't leave until 12:45 tomorrow so we have plenty of time to pack, etc.

Oh, and we used the compass on my phone! Between that and the Kindle and the data plan, the my Lumia 900 has been very helpful :-)


Italy recap: Day 6 (Pantheon, Spanish Steps)
Mood: tired
Posted on 2012-10-07 22:08:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 370

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Friday 11 AM
The plan was to go to the Pantheon this morning, but when we woke up it was raining pretty hard, so we decided to wait out the rain. So, here are some general travel tips for Rome:
- The subway system is crowded but fast - we've never waited more than 4 minutes for a train. It goes a lot of places but there is an old part of town it doesn't go to (just east of the Tiber river), so you may want to get a bus map too.
- A Roma Pass is an excellent investment! You get unlimited public transportation for 3 days plus 2 free museum entries.
- Things are expensive - possibly even more expensive than in New York City.
- Meals, especially dinner, take a long time.
- Everywhere we've gone people have spoken at least a little English. I'm trying to work on my Italian but most of the time it's not necessary.
- People park wherever they want. Traffic is kind of terrifying!

3 PM
The rain stopped so we made our way to the Pantheon - very pretty!

It didn't take as long as we thought to see it (it's pretty small compared to museums), so we wandered over to Piazza Navona and then over to an Irish pub (with WiFi!) for lunch. It seemed authentic - I had a Guinness and there was rugby on the TV. Afterwards we came back to the hotel to play a game and rest.

9:30 PM
We walked over to the Spanish Steps and sat and read for a bit, then headed over to a bar for dinner.

There's a TV showing news in Italian at our nearby subway station, and the text at the bottom said "Texas" and the images were pictures of UT! Later we read there was a bomb threat. I was surprised it made the news all the way over here...
We were going to go see a movie again but apparently it's dubbed in Italian so no dice. But, gelato later!

We stopped by a nearby video poker place and played a few rounds - it was a little confusing but we got the hang of it in time to lose 5 Euros.


Italy recap: Day 5 (Colosseum)
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2012-09-30 21:58:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 381

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Thursday 5 PM
We slept in a bit and made our way down to the Colosseum, which is a pretty impressive building. Spent a bit walking around inside - there were a lot of informative displays, which was nice. (Fun fact: for a while they would flood the floor and conduct naval battles!) Afterwards with our newly-acquired bus map we took a bus to the Campo di Fiori, which is an outdoor market. After doing a little shopping, including a Balotelli jersey and turning down some "Bunga Bunga" sauce max, we sat down for some lunch just as it started to rain. Score! The lunch place had a TV showing a soccer match, which I eventually deduced was Inter Milan vs. AS Roma. The channel that was broadcasting the game had literally no information on screen - no score, no "who scored that goal", no "who got that yellow card", no "who is being substituted in". They didn't even show the final score when the game was over, although it was clear AS Roma had lost.

The WiFi at our hotel occasionally works now, but only occasionally, so I was using my international data plan when I saw I had a voicemail. Turns out it was from ADT saying our burglar alarm had been set off! I tried to call them but I wasn't able to make international calling work - luckily some friends checked out the house and it looks fine. (thanks friends!) [Ed: after a few more false alarms this past week we had someone come out and fix the system. Yay!]

We took the bus back to the hotel and then went out for some wandering - it started to rain harder so we ducked into a cafe and got some hot tea, from where I write these words. [Ed: and as I type these words I'm drinking hot tea! Although not in a cafe.]

Aside - we've seen a few places now a calendar called "The Vatican", but would be more accurately called "Attractive young priests doing things around the Vatican". Weird.

Aside - I swear, we were offered umbrellas by fifteen people on the mile walk back to our hotel!


Walked around the corner for dinner, but it's been a quiet night other than that - resting and relaxing.


Italy recap: Day 4 (Borghese Gallery, opera)
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2012-09-30 21:01:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 391

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Wednesday 2:30 PM
Today was the Borghese Gallery (you make reservations for a timeslot - ours was 11 to 1). It was a bit of a walk to get there but was saw some nice parts of Rome, including the US embassy. We arrived early, which was good because first we had to wait in line for our (already bought) tickets, then in a line for an audio tour, then in a line to check our bag/cameras/phone. They seem very protective of the Gallery (although there were no metal detectors like in the Vatican), and after we entered we could see why - the place is absolutely stunning. Not terribly big as museums go, but many beautiful sculptures, paintings, and mosaics. My favorite sculpture was "Apollo e Dafne" by Bernini - Apollo has just caught Daphne, who is being transformed into a tree. David's favorite was "Paolina Borghese" by Antonio Canova, a sculpture of a member of the Borghese family reclining on a couch. And we got a kick out of the painting Danae by Correggio, which is so dirty in subject matter (according to the audio tour) that I won't describe it here (but ask me if you're interested!) Jupiter was a tricky god...

So the organization of the museum was a bit of a mess (it was unclear which line you had to wait in first) and the museum is on the small side, but I enjoyed it a lot. Afterwards we walked back, had lunch (and gelato!) and are resting for a bit before deciding what to do next - we have tickets to the opera (La Traviata) but nothing planned until then.

6:30 PM

We decided to walk down to the Time Elevator, which was a short movie about Rome with moving seats, "special effects" (i.e. wind blowing at you), etc. It was cheesy but fun. We also read the plot to La Traviata so hopefully we'll be able to follow along tonight, since it's presumably in Italian!

9:30 PM

La Traviata was good but we bailed early because it was in Italian, but also the theater was miserably hot with no A/C or fans. It was a nice little theater, though, with a bar inside so you could drink wine at your seat!

Then we had delicious gelato. (I should really end every day with that sentence!)


Italy recap: Day 3 (bus tour, Museo Capitolini)
Posted on 2012-09-27 20:24:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 283

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Tuesday 9 PM
Not having any particular plans today (and being somewhat tired from staying up for the movie last night) we decided to take it easy today, sort of. Slept as late as the hotel breakfast would allow, relaxed a bit (I'm getting a ton of reading done!) then decided to take a hop-on hop-off bus tour that the hotel recommended. We've gotten in the habit of taking these when we travel places - it's a great way to see the city with no stress about walking or finding our way around. It also stopped near the Museo Capitolini, which isn't too close to any subway stops. So we took the bus there and ate lunch, then went to the museum. It is (by some measure) the oldest operating museum in the world, and so the audio tour we got would talk not only about the art, but about the museum itself. The museum covers a lot of ground, and I fear I'm beginning to reach my limit with respect to art/history museums. (The Borghese Gallery is tomorrow, so I guess we'll see!)

After a few hours at the museum we were both fairly tired, so we got some more tea, sat down for a bit, then took the bus back near the hotel and had dinner. This evening has been reading and relaxing and writing and hopefully gelato later! The hotel WiFi has been down since we got here, so I used a bit of my international data plan (thanks AT&T!) so we could both check email.

After getting a good view of traffic from the top of a double-decker bus, I'm even more excited not to be driving!


Italy recap: Day 2 (Vatican tour)
Mood: okay
Posted on 2012-09-23 15:08:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 691

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Monday 5 PM

Ahh sleep. I feel much better than yesterday, and the dizziness is almost entirely gone!

This morning we had breakfast in the hotel - the breakfast area is small but good enough, and I got a cup of tea to start my day which is always pleasant. (caffeine was a major reason I was able to stay up until bedtime yesterday!) We took the Metro over to the Vatican for our four hour(!) guided tour, and got there way early. Luckily we've been using our phones as portable Kindles - even in airplane mode it's wonderful having a bunch of books to read when we're out and about; it makes planning for things less necessary and stressful. I also got a cappucino at a nearby cafe; here the generaly way this seems to work is you order at the cashier, pay, then bring the barista your receipt. Hovering over the barista without a receipt accomplishes nothing (especially if you don't speak Italian!) as I've forgotten a few times now.

The tour was decent but long. (and we never stopped for any sort of break) The tour guide had a CB-like radio that he talked into and we all had earphones so we could hear, which is necessary since the Vatican is the most-visited museum in the world. An average of 20K people per day visit, and today seemed like no exception.

I had forgotten that there's a lot of ancient art in the Vatican, even (to my slight amusement) statues to Greek and Roman gods!

Unfortunately, the tour guide talked both too much and too little, so it was hard to figure out what was important/interesting about each room. But of course the art is amazing, so it was fine. After the tour was done at 2:30 we quickly found a lunch place and ate and rested for a bit, then came back to the hotel for a nap.

Aside - I was reading "Be Good" (a book about ethics) while we waited for the tour to start. Then on the tour, a woman with three kids, two of which rode in a stroller most of the time, was in our group. After a while of being on the tour I began to wonder whether it was ethical to bring the kids along. (and I swear I'm trying not to be a stereotypical kid-hating gay man - hear me out!) Firstly, there are a lot of stairs on the tour, so people had to help here carry the stroller around. The museum was also crowded, so it took longer for the group to get anywhere because of the stroller. The kids (who ranged from ages...umm, 4 to 9 maybe? I'm terrible at kid age estimation) were relatively well-behaved, but by the end they were getting loud and cranky. (not that I blame them - I was getting cranky too!) So, I dunno. I just hope that when she bought tickets she knew that there were a bunch of steps. And I'm not sure how much the kids got out of it anyway...

Aside - There are two rules in the Sistene Chapel - no pictures and no talking. (although I guess tour guides are allowed) These seem like reasonable rules - the no-picture one is not terribly common but not unheard of, and it is a chapel so I'm fine with the church making the rules. But - visiting the Chapel is a great way to lower your opinion of humanity - there is lots of noise (to the point where every few minutes the guards say shhh and "Silenzio!"), and lots of people taking pictures. Sigh.

Aside - I saw more than a handful of people taking pictures with iPads/other tablets. What's up with that? Cameras on tablets are generally terrible, right?

After a bit, we walked over to the Trevi Fountain, which was crowded but pretty. Then we ate dinner at a nearby restaurant where they presumably forgot about us, so it took an hour and a half. (dinners are slow here but usually not that slow!) Then we went and saw The Bourne Legacy with Italian subtitles - fun times! Now it is late.


Italy recap: Day 1 (travel, arrival in Rome)
Mood: tired
Location: home!
Posted on 2012-09-22 19:38:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 482

We're back from Italy! There will be many posts about the trip. This is one of them.


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Saturday, somewhere over NYC, 5:30 PM Austin time

We're on our way to Italy! The first flight to Atlanta was pretty uneventful, and we had a bit of time in the airport to eat lunch (Arby's!) and walk around some. That is one big airport!

Unfortunately, we didn't get assigned seats on this flight - I tried to choose them last week but Orbitz's website errored out and wouldn't let me. So I'm sitting right behind a bulkhead, which means I don't get to put my backpack at my feet, which I hate. Also, David's sitting way in the back of the plane and we couldn't get people to switch. Oh well. I thought I didn't have a personal TV at first (since there's no seat in front of me), but it turns out I do.

The plan was to be tired today so we could sleep on the plane. Unfortunately, I don't sleep well on planes and now that I'm here I'm kind of excited, so I'm pretty sure I'm going to be exhausted "tomorrow". Also, I bought a ton of Kindle books so I feel like I should be reading, but instead of that or sleeping I'm watching "Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol". Oh well - vacation!

Sunday, 9 PM

Yup - exhausted today. But things generally went well. We landed in Rome, and after waiting half an hour for our bags we stopped in the airport for some breakfast - one of the nice parts of not having a schedule today is we didn't have to rush to our hotel. We took the express train to Termini (the main train station) and then the subway to our hotel. Sadly, Termini is under construction and it took a ludicrous amount of walking to get down to the Metro. Pretty sure six distinct escalators were involved. All told we walked more than two miles by the time we got to our hotel, which is small but nice.

Took a short nap and then I realized I was feeling pretty bad, probably because I was tired, hungry, and thirsty. Got lunch at a place right around the corner - I guess this is a touristy area (Piazza Barberini) because there are tons of restaurants around. Walked to an ancient art museum, but it was mostly closed. So we decided to make the trek out to a modern art museum, which involved a lot more walking than we had anticipated - hopefully the four hour Vatican museum tour tomorrow goes OK! Also, apparently in Rome "modern art" means 1800 and later. Came back and had a pizza and wine and gelato for dinner. Now: bed!

I'm been dizzy on and off today, which happened the last time I took an overseas trip (Germany in 2010). Hopefully sleep will cure it...


David at the circus
Mood: happy
Posted on 2012-08-26 13:44:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 0


Pictures from the summer musical
Mood: tired
Posted on 2012-08-14 23:35:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 9

I put a few up - click to see them!


a few pictures: the rocks in front of the house, and a Starry Night typewriter cake
Mood: busy
Posted on 2012-07-22 22:52:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 14

Here are just a few new pictures:

and the aforementioned Starry Night typewriter cake:


Penguin pictures!
Mood: happy
Posted on 2012-05-14 13:55:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 15

We saw a penguin at SeaWorld! Here is proof:

(and yes, the penguin is adorable!)

1 comment

Pictures from Utah
Mood: content
Posted on 2012-02-11 21:49:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 14

I finally got around to posting pictures from last week's trip to Utah. Enjoy!


a few holiday pictures
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2011-12-17 12:59:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 18

Taken over the past few weeks:

Also: a perler bead LabVIEW icon! (now on my desk at work)


New Mexico vacation
Mood: content
Posted on 2011-10-16 21:36:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 709

David and I took a mini-vacation this week to New Mexico. Here's all about it!

We left Saturday morning and drove through to Carlsbad. The drive was fairly uneventful, except that I had forgotten that the speed limit on I-10 in West Texas is 80! That made things go faster than planned, and made the 55 mph limit on some roads in New Mexico feel ludicrously slow.

We arrived in Carlsbad around 6, so we had time to check in to our hotel before heading to dinner. Based on advice in the AAA guidebook, we went to The Flume for dinner, which we never would have done otherwise since it was (we discovered) located in the Best Western down the road. It was nice, though, and we relaxed and shook off the drive while being served by a rookie waiter. After dinner we spent the evening in the hotel room and read and watched TV. For food timing reasons, we decided to stay on Central time (after discovering NM is on Mountain time by seeing the alarm clock in the hotel room!) so we went to bed on the early side.

Sunday morning we got up earlyish, checked out of the hotel, and headed to Carlsbad Caverns. The drive down there was slow (darn 55 mph roads for no reason), and we saw mention of "cherry cider" which sounded intriguing. After getting in the park we drove the 7 miles up to the visitor center, stopping at a few sights along the way. Unfortunately, it was pretty clear there had been a recent fire of some sort, as a lot of the vegetation was heavily burned.

At the visitor center, we had a bit of time before our Left Hand Tunnel tour started, and we learned about White nose syndrome, which luckily hasn't spread as far west as Carlsbad yet.

The tour was neat - there were only 11 of us plus the ranger guide, and we got to carry candle lanterns to light the way. The caverns are very impressive in terms of scope, although in terms of formations we had seen more elaborate ones at Natural Bridge Caverns.

After the tour, we went back up to the surface, had lunch, and then went back down to the aptly-named Big Room. It's 1.25 miles around the outside of the cavern, and it's easy to get blown away by the sheer size of everything. The path around the room ends back at the underground visitor center, so we took the elevator back up, did a little souvenir shopping, walked along a nature trail and called it a day after trying a cherry cider. Which tasted good in small amounts.

We drove to Roswell and made pretty good time again, so we did the usual have dinner and relax in the hotel room thing. We've been bad on previous vacations about not taking enough time off to relax, but I think we did well this time. (especially since my feet were killing me after Carlsbad...)

Monday morning we toured the International UFO Museum. It was pretty well done - lots of eyewitness accounts about the infamous Roswell incident with some competing theories about what happened. It seemed clear to me that the Army covered up something, but what that was we may never know. (although one recent theory is that it was an experimental Soviet craft with a midget pilot!)

We looked at some gift shops, then went to the very small Walker Aviation Museum at the old base (now the Roswell Airport) where the "alien" debris was brought.

Honestly, at this point we were mostly out of things to do in Roswell. We read in a coffeeshop in the local Hastings, and after dinner tried to go bowling but it was a league night. The next morning we had planned to spend the whole day in Roswell, but decided to head back early. We did see two interesting art museums before we left, though. Spent the night in Fort Stockton (after cancelling our last night's reservation at the hotel in Roswell) and then drove back to Austin on Wednesday.

All in all it was a quick trip, but we got a lot of reading time in and it was quite relaxing!


cave pictures!
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2011-05-12 23:29:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 40

During our staycation last week we went to Natural Bridge Caverns right outside of San Antonio. It was fun! We took pictures; here are some:
- David in front of the Natural Bridge
- creepy me
- a cave!
- a very big room


Palm developer session
Mood: happy
Posted on 2011-05-03 11:12:00
Tags: pictures palm travel
Words: 399

I just got back from a Palm developer session and had a blast! Details below...

Pictures from the trip and from Easter are here:

I arrived Wednesday night late and took a cab to the hotel (the Best Western Silicon Valley) which was a little plain but comfortable enough. Except they had a coffee maker in the room with no tea bags! Should have brought along my own like David suggested...

The hotel was under a mile from Palm HQ, so the next morning I packed up my laptop (which has since died - thank goodness it survived the trip!) and walked. The morning was a few sessions and the afternoon was just a time to work on your app with a bunch of Palm people around and available to help. Oh, and I got to play with a TouchPad, which (I believe this is all I can say) is awesome!

As with last year I forced myself to be sociable and was pretty successful - met a few folks I had only chatted with online and some other fellow developers. Going from the outside world to a place where everyone is excited about webOS feels like culture shock, and there's a real sense of camaraderie among we developers.

Thursday afternoon and Friday was all coding time, so I got a lot of stuff done. I also learned about censored, and I might be censored and censored!

Saturday I decided to find a better way back to the airport, which meant walking 1.3 miles (with luggage) to the Sunnyvale Caltrain station. Had some extra time so I walked around the Sunnyvale farmer's market and bought a book (since the trip cost to the airport was $4.50 vs. $40 for the cab, I felt I had earned it!) I stopped in two shops and both people asked about my Scottish Rite shirt, leading me to conclude that residents of Sunnyvale (Sunnyvalians?) are big fans of children's theatre!

Made it to the airport way early and walked around a lot. The airport is big, but my reward was a neat gizmo-like machine at the end of Terminal A:

Also got a blueberry muffin (at Pai's recommendation) and finally got to try airport sushi, which was actually in this case quite good! I also stopped in a store, idly looking for headphones, which ranged in price from $15 to (I kid you not) $500!

1 comment

Awesome things we got at the Sherwood Forest Faire
Mood: excited
Posted on 2011-03-27 22:08:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 30

An adorable steampunk penguin! Look at him:
Also, Firefly-themed teas from the Austin Browncoats - specifically Simon and Hands of Blue.

Also, unrelated: a few more random pictures from this month.


motley links
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2011-01-14 16:46:00
Tags: pictures worldofwarcraft links
Words: 358

IBM's been working on a system that can play Jeopardy! called Watson. It had its first practice match against champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter, and it won the brief game they played! Here's a liveblog with Q&A afterwards. You can clearly see in the video that Ken Jennings was trying to buzz in for questions that Watson got - I wonder how much the precision timing for hitting the button helps it? But still, being able to answer questions that quickly is dramatically impressive to me, even if it takes 10 racks of servers, 15 TB of RAM, and 2800 processors operating at a combined 70 teraflops. You can learn more about Watson at IBM's site.

One advantage to having to stay up late because of medicine: getting things done! Here are pictures from December, as well as socks:

I thought Obama's speech at the memorial in Tucson was very touching.

Comprehensive post about which states may take up same-sex marriage legislation this year - some good, some bad. Happy to see that my old state Maryland may at least get civil unions!

An interesting response from Senator Akaka (D-HI) about making election day a federal holiday - apparently it doesn't increase turnout in states that do it now, which I found surprising.

Neato Google Translate for Android into which you can speak English and it will say the corresponding Spanish (and vice versa). Universal Translator, here we come!

I found this post about working in an ICBM missile silo pretty fascinating. Also, the title is "Death Wears a Snuggie", which is a play on an actual patch they had, both of which are awesome.

Now that we're playing WoW again (and I hit level 85 last night!), I read this article about quitting WoW with interest. I don't think it's entirely fair, though - certainly people can get addicted to WoW and spent far too much time there, but if you use it as a source of entertainment I don't think it's any worse than watching TV or whatever. Not every waking moment has to be spent improving your life in some way...

The Dow Piano - data presentation through music!


Germany trip recap
Mood: tired
Posted on 2010-11-16 23:28:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 2932

Pictures here:

Full recap behind the cut:

Monday 11-8 11:40 AM (local) Frankfurt
I'm officially 2/3 of the way to Hamburg! Flight from Austin to Charlotte was unventful other than it being on a tiny cramped plane. The Charlotte airport was a nice surprise (since I had 4.5 hours to spend there). I walked the whole thing (no small feat), enjoyed a fresh yogurt parfait, read for a long time, then had dinner at a Cuban place where I saw the NY Giants (my weekly football pick) were dominating. Ordered a steak sandwich, which was heavy on the steak and gave me some stomach issues...

The plane to Frankfurt was a little disappointing. The video entertainment options were pretty good, but you needed a $5 headset or your own pair of the two-pronged headphones (where I swear are designed to be incompatible with every other headphones). Since it was getting late anyway, I just read for a while and tried to sleep, mostly unsuccessfully due to the ridiculously small legroom (after I put my backpack there) and the aforementioned stomach issues. By the time we landed I had already gotten through 2.75 books "today" which is pretty good!

I knew I had a tightish connection (1 hr 20 mins on paper), so I rushed through the airport as best I could. In Austin, the checkin agent said my bag was checked all the way to Hamburg, so I skipped it, stopped to get gouged at a currency exchange booth (Google said 1 USD was around .7 EUR and I got .57...) and went through Immigration. The guy asked a total of zero questions (I guess I don't look suspicious!) and I had nothing to declare so that all went pretty fast.

Then I realized I was out in the main airport and would have to go back through security. Also, I didn't yet have a boarding pass. So I walked all the way to my terminal, cursing my hurriedness and uncomfortableness at taking picture in a foreign airport (giant railroad-style display with >100 flights! A checkin booth for Iran Air!), found a kiosk and got a boarding pass. Then I wondered whether I did need to recheck my luggage to Hamburg or what, but I asked a Lufthansa checkin person and she assuaged my fears.

Made it to the gate with time to spare, although not much. Frankfurt is a huge airport!
I feel a little bad for not brushing up on German more than the very basics. Totally wasn't a problem so far (even the inflight magazine is in German & English!) but I do feel a bit the ugly American, so at least I try to act ashamed!
Although, later when the guy with the food cart comes by:
Me: Water Him: <something that sounds a lot like German>
Me: <Gesture helplessly> I don't speak German (in halting German) Him: OK, what language do you speak?
Me: ...English <confused> Him: <acting offended> We are an international airline
Me: <feeling bad, making excuses that it's hard to hear> Water Him: Ice or no ice?
Me: No ice.

And then, with God as my witness he pours me a Coke. I'm not sure what lesson to take away from this...

3:00 PM
Part of what I like about traveling is the unfamiliarity and disorientation of being somewhere new. However, when I've had three flights already and am pretty jet lagged, these become more intimidating than fun. Managed to make it to the hotel, though, so that's something.

soo tired, write tomorrow

Tuesday 9:00 AM
Yesterday I managed to find the NI folks at the hotel. Not having cellphone access is very debilitating! I had hoped to stay up and then go bed early (to beat jet lag), but I found out we had dinner reservations at 8. So I had some time instead to roam around Hamburg while it was still light.

The hotel has WiFi, but you have to sign in and for some reason I couldn't get my phone to work with it. So I decided to go on a mission - find tea, find WiFi so I could check email/let David know I had arrived, and some Rolaids.

I'll spare you the gory details, but this mission was a miserable failure. WiFi was everywhere but it was all protected, and I didn't see any coffee shops that said "Internet" on them. At one point I could see nine different protected networks! After a long time I gave up and did at least get some hot tea and sat inside to warm up - it's in the 40s after the sun goes down.

Stumbled back to the hotel after getting a little lost, and lugged my laptop downstairs (no WiFi in the room :-( ). Thankfully I was able to chat with David and check email. When I went back to the room I noticed that the voltage converter I bought only has two prongs so I can't plug my laptop into it. Not quite sure what to do about this since I have very little free time until Friday. Hopefully the next hotel's WiFi will work on my phone.

Dinner was nice - everyone was very friendly and we chatted a lot. Also, everyone's English is very good, which reinforces the "ugly American" feeling. Oh well. For Tuesday-Thursday the plan is to check out of the hotel, give the presentation (which is roughly 9-4 - my part is 11-11:20), then pack up and go to the airport - hence the lack of free time. Hamburg does seem like a nice city - wish I had more time!

Afterwards we walked back and went up to the hotel bar, which was very nice but I was dead tired by this point. Collapsed in my room at midnight for 7 hours of sleep, which is still a big upgrade!

This morning I dragged myself out of bed, checked out and went up to the presentation room, which is very nice:
I do get three nice LabVIEW shirts out of this. The theme of LabVIEW 2010 is "It's about time", so right now they're having an audience quiz and rewarding correct answers with LabVIEW-branded alarm clocks! Unfortunately it's all in German, so not only do I not understand but it makes me feel more awkward about my English presentation. Hopefuly it goes well!
I just got introduced (with everyone else). I hope he said nice things!
My presentation went pretty well. That was the most relaxed I've ever been giving it in front of people. I got a lot of good questions which is usually a good sign. Apparently I need to talk slower, though.
Knocking on table=applause!
Whoa, this plane has a row 13! I'm surprised we didn't crash.

Wednesday 9:00 AM

We arrived in Düsseldorf (the most German of the cities I'll be in because it has an umlaut! München doesn't count because it's Munich in English) and got a minivan taxi to the hotel which managed to fit all 8 of us with luggage. Arrived at the hotel at 7:30 and started setting up, which unfortunately took until 9 or so, not that I was able to help much. By that point I was hungry, and we went to dinner at the hotel. I had been doing well sleepwise up to that point, but I started to crash hard during dinner, and even got a bit of dizziness which I hope is just a jet lag thing (it happened Monday night as well). I bugged out around 10:30 and went up to the room, was able to connect to the internet and chat with David and check email. I then wanted to charge my phone (used it to work some crossword puzzles yesterday!) but had misplaced part of my voltage converter which took me twenty minutes to find since I was so tired. Went to bed watching the same UEFA Champion's League highlights (soccer) I had watched Monday night.

I did not sleep well - the room was too hot (the thermostat was...confusing) and the pillows too soft and the bed too hard. I guess I'm kind of a picky sleeper. But I felt decent when I woke up, made myself a cup of tea and headed downstairs.

The breakfast buffet was amazing - I took pictures!

Meats, cheeses, yogurts, mueslis, pastries, and (most importantly) tea! I held myself to two bowls of yogurt with various mueslis and fruit on top. Sooo good.

- I had a dream last night that someone walked into my room, smoked a cigarette, and left. About half of the NI folks here smoke, and at least one used to but quit.
- Voltage converter has been working great, except the American side of the plug has no ground, and my laptop has a grounded plug. Today I'm going to borrow a plug to charge it, but it would be nice to have a more permanent solution.
- My allergies have been quite bad - tea in the morning helps (I quickly learned the German for "tea" is << tee >>), but today I have a headache. Also, I'm tired again...
- Getting through security 10 minutes before boarding = "just enough time for a beer!" Excellent.
- Speaking of which, Lufthansa has free beer and wine!

Thursday 9:00 AM

Another late night - after setting up and dinner we walked to a local Berlin biergarten and had three pitchers of a local beer (Berliner Kindl = very good!)
It was nice to at least see a little of the city, as opposed to Düsseldorf of which I only saw the airport and hotel.

Looking forward to arriving in Munich tonight - already have at least one meeting set up on Friday to talk about work stuff.

Hopefully the jet lag is done - yesterday I crashed in the early afternoon. Probably getting more sleep would have helped, but when am I going to be in Berline again?

Apparently 21 years after the Berlin wall fell, you can still tell the difference between East and West Berlin.

Yesterday's presentation went well - I tried to speak slower and pause more, which took concentration, but hopefully people understand better. People seem to feel comfortable asking questions/talking to me during breaks, which is good.
It's kind of intimidating when everyone else's introduction is a name and position, and then they get to me and I get a minute of quickly spoken German, during which the audience smiles knowingly at me. Still don't really know what was being said...

Friday 7:30 AM

Boy, I finally get to sleep in and I'm unable to sleep past 6. My jet lag seems to bounce around randomly...not sure if this will make it easier or harder to adjust back.

Session went well yesterday - people seemed to understand my part better and I got a lot of good questions. Funny story: someone set one of the alarm clocks we gave away to go off at 11:11, which apparently is the official start of Carnival, it being Nov. 11 (which lasts until Ash Wednesday...weird). They had discussed doing this to all the alarm clocks when we were at the biergarten, so I was surprised it actually happened!

At the Berlin airport I had a currywurst for dinner, which is a sausage covered in curry powder served in a tomato-y sauce. It was delicious! And now I've had beer and sausage here, so I feel like I've "done" Germany :-)

After breakfast I'm going to head into the office - I was going to walk there but it's a bit far so they recommended I take a taxi. But it looks like it's close to an S-Bahn station, and so is the hotel, so I think I'll try that.

I'm in Munich now, which I guess I didn't mention. Very glad to be done traveling for a day or two.

Saturday 10:00 AM

Yay I slept in today! Feeling much better with the timezone, just in time to leave.

Yesterday I did take the S-Bahn in to the NI office, which is very nice. Spent most of the day working and being surprisingly productive. At lunchtime I gave my presentation again for a group of ~15 AEs, which seemed to go well. I also threw in some stuff about how we test LabVIEW at Andreas's request - apparently some of them grumble we don't test at all, which is so not true. Not sure how this part went over exactly...

Came back to the hotel and hung around all evening - was feeling pretty tired and blah. Had Thai food at the restaurant next door to the hotel which turned out to be connected to the hotel, but it was still pretty good.

Today I'm going to hit the Deutches Museum which is very large and and takes two days to go through, so I'll just pick the neat stuff. Then maybe the city center or something.

7:00 PM

Kind of a weird day.

I took the S-Bahn to the Deutches Museum and when I got out there were a lot of police just standing around. Nothing was going on as far as I could tell, and I first thought maybe this was normal, but I could see at least 50 officers stationed on corners, etc. Anyway, I couldn't figure it out (and was unsure about taking a picture), so I walked to the museum.

As soon as I got in (after I had bought a ticket) I realized that I had been here before when my family visited Europe right after college. Dang it! So I walked around to the stuff I wanted to see, but fairly quickly, especially since only 25% of the displays were translated into English. Oh well...

So I left the museum much earlier than planned, and when I walked back towards the S-Bahn suddenly there were a lot of police cars blocking the road, and even more police.
There was a group of people between the cars, and police in front of them. But the street was empty, except for more police down the street. At first I thought they were blocking off the street, but someone asked if he could cross and they let him. So I hung around and eventually some people walked down the street heavily flanked by police, and the crowd around me started whistling and chanting "Nazis out!" (or maybe "Nazis auf!") So I think it was a Neo-Nazi rally or something - crazy! I left pretty quickly since it seemed things might get ugly.

Then I decided to visit the Allianz Arena which is where Bayern Munich and TSV 1860 München play soccer. They have some shops that are open even when there are no games, although it turns out there weren't that many, but I got some nice Bayern Munich memorabilia. :-) It also led me to think about an interesting math problem...details to follow. (update: here's the problem with solution)

After that I decided to randomly explore the city - I've had mixed success with this in the past, but being well-rested and having some idea of where stuff is seems like a recipe for success, which today was. I went to the main train station, sat down for a bit and had a snack and read (the Kindle was awesome for this - very light in the backpack and easy to hold food in one hand (far away!) and "turn pages" with the other). After walking around the stores there some more I decided to head back to the hotel for a break before supper.

For supper I headed to the central bus stations, which had some shops but nothing particularly appealing, so I found a local place, which is where I am now. The all-day pass on the S-Bahn really paid off!

Sunday "midday"

Well, I'm finally on my way home. Between the jet lag and lack of sleep and constant plane flights, it feels a little surreal to be headed home. Just finished Machine of Death: A Collection of Stories About People Who Know How They Will Die which was good but creepy and not helping with the surreal feeling.

Pretty impressed with this plane - this time there's only one headphone jack so I can actually use the entertainment system. Watched a Simpsons episode during lunch, and they also have a music section so I'm listening to some Glee and some Gaga which are good reading music. Plus you can see where the plane is/how long until arrival which is very convenient since I don't have a watch.

Right now is supposed to be a "rest period" which confuses me since we left at 11:55 AM Munich time and are arriving at 3:25 PM Philadelphia time. Think I'm going to stay up when I can and sleep if I get tired. Switching time zones confuses me.

The woman sitting next to me said I was in her husband's seat - apparently his passport was stolen and the embassy doesn't have an appointment until Thursday. One of the flight attendants has been sneaking her free headphones, etc. I feel a little justified in being paranoid about my passport all week - I carried it around with me because I wasn't sure if I needed it if stopped by the police, but I've had bad luck with losing things from my pockets (see: San Francisco trip)
The plane to Charlotte also has a row #13 - what happened to the proper respect for dangerous numbers?? The flight attendant announced the flight time as "1 hour, 19 minutes and 32 seconds", and no one else giggled. Pretty sure that's 3 significant digits too many.

Wow, that was more words than I thought.


San Francisco trip
Mood: happy
Posted on 2010-10-13 23:37:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 653

We had a great trip to San Francisco! Here are pictures:

This time, I didn't write up every single thing we did, just when I had something to say. So:

Monday, we drove out to Fairfield to visit the Jelly Belly factory. The tour was pretty interesting - we got to walk around the factory and saw a bunch of videos about the company's history and how they make Jelly Bellies. Along the way we got to try new flavors of Jelly Bellies (honey is good!) and sample beans that had only gone through part of the process. The scale of the place was pretty impressive. Also, one of the steps is putting the beans through a "sugar shower" which sounds really tasty! The store had free samples and a ton of Jelly Belly paraphernalia. I went a little overboard...

Afterwards we played Putt-Putt. I was a little ashamed because we were very hot, but the high was only in the 80s. Later I found out the high where we were was actually 97, so we hadn't transformed into California wimps. Yay!

The cable cars were neat but a little frightening - it looked like the driver had to grip very tight on hills to keep the car moving. Also, the brakes often took two or three taps to actually stop.

The Alcatraz audio tour was very interesting - the site is still relatively well preserved. There is a very nice view of San Francisco (it's only 1.25 miles away); apparently some nights inmates could hear chatter from parties there.

Pier 39 but had a lot of neat stuff, like an amazing sock store! I got a hot tea and then spent an hour on a ridiculously overcrowded and unventilated streetcar getting home...honestly was a little afraid of fainting. (lesson learned: hot tea is a "sometimes drink")

The Muni system is...interesting. Muni is the public transit system for the city of San Francisco (i.e. not BART, not CalTrain, not any of the 10 other mass-transit options) There are four(!) types of vehicles - cable cars which run a very limited set of routes, buses, streetcars that run on rails and attach to overhead power lines, and streetcars that also go underground like a subway. This was all extremely confusing for a day or so until we mostly got the hang of it. Stops were sometimes hard to see, and the payment system is kind of arcane. For street-level things, you pay at the front when getting on, unless you have a 1/3/7-day pass. (we bought a seven-day one...and then bought me another one when I left it on a bus our first full day here. Whoops!) The passes aren't electronic, so the driver's supposed to verify that it's still valid, which of course rarely happened. In the subway, however, you have to pay cash to get into the station, unless you have a pass, in which case you just...walk through the gates. The linchpin to the system is you can be stopped at any time by a Muni cop to show proof of payment (including a timed transfer if you paid cash), but we rode a lot and never saw one.

The California Academy of Sciences was pricey, but it had a good planetarium and enclosed rainforest environment. And a good museum shop :-)

We saw a fun show called Beach Blanket Babylon. It's a musical revue of, um, pop culture and stuff. Some of their jokes were fairly groan-inducing (bordered on the whole "referencing someone in pop culture=joke" philosophy), but usually either a joke or the music was good in each scene, so that's fine. Rule of thumb: the show isn't over until the big hat comes out. No, the really big hat. Seriously - biggest hat I've ever seen. Oh, and the plot of the 100 minute show could be described in 60 seconds. Just think of it as "Family Guy with music" and you'll be fine.


minnesota, civ 5, bridge
Mood: busy
Posted on 2010-09-20 12:07:00
Tags: pictures bridge projects programming
Words: 208

I went to Minnesota last week on a recruiting trip and took a few pictures:

Civilization 5 is releasing tomorrow! The full manual is available online (warning: 233 page .pdf) and it look spretty good. I do miss having a paper manual, though.

I've been working on the bridge program for webOS. It's coming along nicely - the framework is all in place to bid and play, and I've done some of the graphical stuff so you can almost actually play a hand on the webOS emulator. The next big thing to do is the AI for bidding and playing, which will probably be big tasks. We're going to be fairly busy over the next month or two so I'm not expecting much progress for a while. (also, Civ 5 coming out certainly doesn't help :-) )

Happily, since webOS is Javascript-based it was pretty easy to make a webpage version of the game, which will make testing out AI algorithms, etc. much easier.

Eric Fischer took census data on race and mapped where people live in major cities. (here's Houston, Austin, and San Antonio) Some patterns definitely jump out at you, but if you zoom in you can see there's nowhere that's exclusively one race, which is a good thing.

1 comment

catching up
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2010-08-02 14:18:00
Tags: pictures asmc projects
Words: 93

The summer musical went well this weekend, although I was losing my voice by the end on account of doing the pirate accent. Happily, today begins 3 days of no rehearsals/performances, which hasn't happened since we started rehearsals just under a month ago. So, I've been catching up on a few things:

- Pictures from Jonathan and Sarah's wedding are finally up:

- My PasswordHash thing now has a Google Chrome version. Unfortunately right now there's no support for adding things to the right-click context menu, so it just copies the password to the clipboard.

1 comment

weekend pictures, my first ad!
Mood: nervous
Posted on 2010-06-07 10:52:00
Tags: pictures palmpre projects
Words: 146

We went down to Houston this weekend to see the Young Frankenstein musical (verdict: entertaining but not as good as the movie), and ended up seeing a nice backyard with some bees. Also: back in Austin we saw the original Batman movie at the Paramount with Adam West. Pictures of all the above:

The Palm Hot Apps competition will award cash prizes to the 221 most popular free and paid apps on June 30. I think FlightPredictor has a (very) outside shot at winning, so I bought an ad for it on webOSroundup. (it's one of the boxes on the right - doesn't show up every time so you might have to reload) Thanks to destroyerj and skimmerduk for design help!

One year and one day ago, the Palm Pre went on sale - PreCentral has a a good retrospective on what went wrong and what went right.


MetroRail and links
Mood: stressed
Posted on 2010-05-04 11:53:00
Tags: pictures links
Words: 205

On Saturday, we took the MetroRail downtown to the Pecan Street Festival. It was quite crowded, but apparently that doesn't mean there will be Saturday service in the future. The single track problem is really a big obstacle at this point. I took some pictures:

while we were there, we walked by a booth for the Austin Planetarium, which doesn't exist yet. Did you know that Austin is the biggest city in the US with no planetarium? Or that Dallas has 12 of them? So we joined, mostly to stick it to Dallas. Jerks!

At the Palm Developer Day, I had my picture taken with my app. Nerdy, I know!

The Alamo Drafthouse is looking at eliminating lines at the South Lamar theatre and moving to a Southwest-style system. (with a followup post) They're also looking at more healthy food items.

Why do we root for underdogs?

A visualization of what color cultures associate with ideas - interesting that ones like heat, anger, truce, success are relatively uniform but death, peace, love are not.

Amazon is releasing a little bit of data about what people are reading on the Kindle, specifically the most highlighted passage - I mentioned the possibility earlier, but now I want more data!


Palm Developer Day trip: Day 3
Mood: accomplished
Posted on 2010-04-27 22:53:00
Tags: pictures palm travel
Words: 450

The plan was to wake up at 8:15, which would give me enough time to get ready, check out, eat breakfast, and walk the .8 miles to the Caltrain station to catch the 9:34 to San Jose.

Everything was going well - I was out the door at 9, which should have been just enough time. I took a few wrong turns but still manager to arrive at around 9:31, figured out how to buy a ticket, and then saw there were two tracks. I saw a sign that seemed to imply the first set was for express trains, so I crossed to the other side behind some other people and looked around a little. Just then a train started to arrive, and the little pedestrian gates closed so I couldn't get back to the other side, and lo and behold I was on the wrong side. (later confirmed by an actual sign) So I had to wait an hour for the next one. And just a few minutes later the limo from my hotel pulled up and (presumably) dropped someone off. That would have saved a lot of walking.

Caught the next Caltrain (which was very loud and big) to San Jose, and then had to wait for the light rain to downtown, which wasn't too far but I wasn't sure I could walk under the freeway. The Caltrain runs every hour on weekends and the light rain runs every half hour, so I had a lot less time than I planned in the city.

Which turned out OK because I was tired of walking around. I checked out the Tech Museum of Innovation (pretty neat museum, especially for kids) and had a nice lunch at a local cafe, with tea even! It was still an hour until I had to catch the light rain but I convinced myself to at least walk along an island to the art museum, which was nice. It was still early but I didn't want to tire myself out before having to walk back to the hotel, so I went to the light rail station and promptly got on the wrong train. Easy enough to get off and take one the other direction, but I just missed the real train so I had to burn another half an hour sitting and reading. Arrived back at the hotel uneventfully but thirstily (was a little chilly in the morning with no sweatshirt, was a little warm in the afternoon) - and what kind of hotel doesn't have a water fountain in the lobby? The desk clerk helpfully informed me that there were water bottles in the minibars.

Thus ends the trip wrapup; pictures are all up now:


Palm Developer Day trip: Day 2
Mood: happy
Posted on 2010-04-27 21:48:00
Tags: pictures palm travel
Words: 470

I woke up excited and nervous about interacting with people. After getting ready and seeing a few fellow attendees eating breakfast downstairs, I got in the hotel limo with two other people to go to Palm HQ. Chatted with them a bit about the kind of stuff they worked on. When we arrived Palm had breakfast available in their cafe - I grabbed some fruit and sat down with some people and joined their conversation. (Hooray for being somewhat sociable!) Even got one guy interested in FlightPredictor (coming very very soon!)

The keynote started at 9 and talked about a new things coming to WebOS in the fall timeframe - access to the microphone and camera, better file I/O access (yay!), a new database system, etc. After that the company store was open (all items 30% off!) so I got a nice Moleskine notebook with the Palm logo and a new headset. The rest of the day was a blur of sessions - interestingly they had both hour long and 30 minute sessions, but generally the hour long ones were good and the 30 minute ones were less so. I was proud of myself for asking a few questions and going to the Apps Lab to report a bug which we spent 20 minutes examining. Later I got a picture taken with my app (link coming soon!)

After all the sessions were done, Palm had an offsite mixer with free beer and food, so I took the shuttle they provided there. I was feeling pretty socialized out, though, so I joined a group talking with a Palm guy for a bit, got a beer and food from the buffet and then sat alone, thinking someone might join me, and they might not. As it turned out, no one did, and after a while I pulled out my book and read for a while, then just felt like going home.

This was a little tricky logistically - one option was to wait for the Palm shuttle to take me back to Palm and then call the hotel and wait for them, but I wasn't sure if the Palm shuttle was even running since I was leaving so early. The other option was to walk the 3.1 miles back to the hotel, which I decided to do. It worked out OK, but it was a long walk and I took a few wrong turns. Hooray for Google Maps with walking directions on my Palm Pre, though!

When I finally made it back to the hotel, I collapsed for a bit, then ordered a dessert as a reward, and prepared my plan for the next day. My flight wasn't until 5:50 PM so I was planning on taking the Caltrain to San Jose to explore the city...

Here are the pictures (more being posted as I type!):


official wedding pictures up! and yogurt
Mood: accomplished
Posted on 2010-04-13 10:58:00
Tags: pictures wedding food
Words: 229

Our official wedding pictures are finally up! Thanks again to Eric Hegwer, who did a great job photographing the event. I went a little crazy posting pictures (119 in total) because so many of them were so good, so don't feel obligated to look at all of them :-) If you're interested in a DVD with all 400+ pictures, let me know.

Yesterday I tried Sushi Zushi in the Domain for lunch. They had a wide selection of "real" sushi, but I just went for a Bento Box as I'm very inexperienced (I like California rolls but I've tried very little else). The meal was decent - (the miso soup was particularly good) but some of the stuff in the box was a little too weird to me. And it was fairly pricey - $14. But if you're a big sushi fan, they have a good selection and it's a nice place...

Anyway, on the way there I walked by Yogurt Planet, which is one of those "dispense your own yogurt and add toppings and pay by the ounce" type places. It looked like fun so I got one on my way out. It was amazingly delicious! I had fat-free mango yogurt with fresh blueberry, blackberry, mango and pineapple on top, as well as cookie dough bits and caramel. Seriously, check out the toppings on their site - it will make you hungry!


weekend at the park
Mood: tired
Posted on 2010-03-28 23:10:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 97

We went down to Houston for my Grandpa's 85th birthday party, which was fun. On Saturday we spent some time in Hermann Park, which was a good opportunity to put my new camera through its paces. I think the pictures turned out relatively well.

In the Japanese Garden we saw what really looked like a marriage proposal - on a blanket, a guy holding a girl's hand while she excitedly talked on the phone (and we overheard at least the word "wedding"). Would have taken a picture but I felt weird invading their privacy. They looked happy, though :-)

1 comment

Our planted tree!
Mood: hopeful
Posted on 2010-03-25 19:55:00
Tags: pictures house
Words: 0


First picture with new camera!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2010-03-23 10:42:00
Tags: pictures house
Words: 42

...and it's of our new tree! I just set the camera to auto and it did a pretty good job in the darkness:

There are more new pictures in that gallery, too. Coming soon - a picture of the tree after being planted :-)


Picture of our solar screens
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2010-03-13 12:38:00
Tags: pictures house
Words: 15

Here's a picture of the solar screens we got put up on our bedroom windows:


More snow pics
Mood: cold
Posted on 2010-02-23 12:32:00
Tags: pictures snow
Words: 5

Posted via LJ for WebOS.


The snow is sticking!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2010-02-23 10:06:00
Tags: pictures snow
Words: 5

Posted via LJ for WebOS.


first links of 2010!
Mood: tired
Posted on 2010-01-04 10:52:00
Tags: pictures gay links
Words: 165

More Christmas pictures and pictures from Jess & Wong's wedding:

A nice article about newly elected mayor and Rice graduate Annise Parker - contains this surprising bit:

Chandler Davidson, professor emeritus of sociology, recalled Parker recruiting him to serve as faculty sponsor for the Gay and Lesbian Support Group that she founded at Rice in 1979 -- a year after she graduated. When the members of the group later posed for their first Campanile photo a few years later, Davidson said, almost all wore paper bags over their heads to guard their anonymity.
The article includes the picture - Parker was one of two people who didn't wear a bag over her head. Craziness!

2010 entertainments to look forward to, like the return of Chuck and the final season of Lost!

A graph of health-care costs versus life expectancy split up by country. Guess how the US does!

Don't forget, now driving while texting is illegal in Austin. The Department of Transportation recently launched distraction.gov to combat distracted driving.


thanksgiving pictures
Mood: bouncy
Posted on 2009-12-07 18:02:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 4

can be found here:


a few new pictures
Mood: energetic
Posted on 2009-10-31 13:36:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 13

Only two months late! Including cute nephew pictures and a few camping ones.


Rice pictures
Mood: determined
Posted on 2009-10-01 10:20:00
Tags: pictures programming
Words: 388

I visited Rice for some recruiting this week, and tried to document all the things that have changed since I graduated. The result is here:

This has been, for various reasons, a crazy few weeks. I'm hoping things have settled down a bit now.

One of the things I've been doing is competing in the Google Code Jam, an online programming contest. The structure is interesting - each problem has a small set and a large set of data to solve. The small set you can usually get by doing a straightforward program/algorithm (although not always!), and you have 4 minutes to download and submit your solution. If it's incorrect you get notified right away and you can try again on a different data set. The large set is much, well, larger, and you usually have to do something pretty clever to solve it. You get 8 minutes to download and submit it, but you only get one shot and you don't know whether you succeeded or not until the contest is over.

The first round was the qualification round (you had to get one small set and one large set to advance) and after that was Round 1A. There were also rounds 1B and 1C, you could compete in any/all of them, and the top 1000 from each round advanced to round 2. I did well enough to advance, so I started doing more practice rounds from previous years with varying levels of success. This culminated in trying round 2 from last year the day before the contest and getting 0 points. I was kinda frustrated at this but it sorta worked out well because I was resigned to probably not advancing. In the actual round 2 I got 2 small sets and 1 large set, which I considered respectable - it put me in 1078/3000 people, but only the top 500 advance (and get a T-shirt :-) ). So I'll probably do it again next year but without a lot of practice or something I'm not sure I'd ever see the ways to do most of these; Google publishes a contest analysis of each round after the fact, and those round 2 problems are doozies.

The upside is that it made me want to jump back in to my other programming projects, so hopefully I'll get to do that soon!


Rochester pictures, Obama's health care speech
Mood: resigned
Posted on 2009-09-10 10:26:00
Tags: pictures politics
Words: 117

Finally put pictures up from our Rochester trip this weekend:

Obama's big health care speech was last night - I caught a bit of it on the radio, but reading the remarks this morning it seems like a good speech and hopefully something will get done. (here's the plan in bullet point style) I'm glad he addressed some of the more ridiculous rumors like "death panels".

During the speech, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) yelled "You lie!" to Obama, which got some boos. Here's a video - the look on Nancy Pelosi's face is priceless :-) Apparently he called afterwards to apologize to Obama.

I got my copy of Alien Hand Syndrome (i.e. the Damn Interesting book) yesterday. It is good!


spilling links
Mood: nervous
Posted on 2009-08-17 09:52:00
Tags: pictures palmpre projects links
Words: 128

Pictures from New Mexico and Barbara & Alex's wedding are up. Note that the pictures from the wedding itself aren't that great...I did my best!

Published a Pre version of PasswordHash - it was relatively easy to port. A new feature (in the web and Firefox versions as well) lets you force a special character to appear in the password.

Apparently men who "strongly endorsed old-school notions of masculinity" were half as likely to get flu shots and other preventative medicine. Can't say I'm surprised.

Also, "for men, sexual boredom was correlated with variety in partners (or lack thereof), while for women, it was more related to variety in activity." Good to know? (the Coolidge effect description at Wikipedia is pretty funny)

Finally, an Obama protest I can get behind.


Honeymoon quick wrapup
Mood: accomplished
Posted on 2009-08-08 18:24:00
Tags: pictures honeymoon travel
Words: 114

We had a very nice honeymoon. Hawaii is a really beautiful place. Maui is great for relaxing and sightseeing, and Oahu seems nice for shopping and whatnot.

We kept too busy on Maui. I don't regret anything in particular that we did, but we should have scheduled fewer activities and had more relaxing/recovery time. It's been a while since we had a vacation that we planned for ourselves, so hopefully we'll remember it for next time.

Amazingly, I didn't get seriously sunburned!

Stuff we didn't do this time but I'd like to do next time:
Maui: Surfing lessons, parasailing
Oahu: Polynesian Cultural Center, swimming with the dolphins at Sea Life Park

Full honeymoon pictures:


anyone want a camera?
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2009-03-16 11:12:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 118

So I got a new camera for Christmas (it's great!), but my old camera works fine - anyone want it? It's a Canon PowerShot A510, 3.2 megapixels, 3x optical zoom, flash, etc. I'll even throw in a spare pair of batteries and battery charger, and a little carrying case. I just realized that I don't have the extra mini USB to USB connector, but they're like $8 at Fry's. Here's a picture:

Let me know if you want it!
The trip to see our new cousin Eli last weekend was good - here's David holding him:

(does linking pictures in LJ posts like this piss people off?)

Taking the day off today, hopefully will get lots of wedding stuff done!


ThumbnailCopy firefox extension
Mood: happy
Posted on 2009-01-03 12:19:00
Tags: pictures projects programming
Words: 38

So I wrote this ThumbnailCopy extension (see Kurt's post) and in order for it to go public people have to register for an account there and review it. So...anyone mind doing that? :-)

Also, Texas Bowl pictures are up.


Texas Bowl was awesome!
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-12-31 14:13:00
Tags: pictures travel essay
Words: 477


That was a lot of fun! We got to the game early and walked to the stadium (avoiding the $20 parking), got some food and sat in our seats. We were literally four rows away from the field, at the 35 yard line. Visibility would have been better had we been a bit higher up, but being that close to the field was pretty fun. Reliant Stadium is huge!

I haven't watched a Rice football game since I graduated, as far as I can remember, so the team was very different. When I was there it was a lot of running, and a pass play almost qualified as a trick play because they happened so rarely. Rice ended up running a decent amount, but their passing game was stellar. Chase Clement (their senior QB) is quite good - he ran for Rice's first touchdown and threw for a few as well. He was good at avoiding the pass rush too - on one particularly nice touchdown throw he did a neat little turn to throw off the rusher and had plenty of time to step and throw.

Jarrett Dillard (Rice's All-American WR) was pretty amazing too - he made some nice catches (my dad says he has a 42" vertical leap!). James Casey sometimes lined up at tight end, sometimes at fullback, and he returned punts and was the holder for the field goal kicker :-)

Rice tried a few trick plays including a flea flicker (QB hands off to the fullback who takes a few steps, tosses it back to the QB who then throws a long pass) which didn't work, and a reverse followed by an attempted pass which would have worked but it was a bad throw. One that did work was with four wide receivers lined up on the left, Clement quickly threw to Dillard and then took off to the right. Dillard took a few steps, stopped and threw it to Clement who waltzed in to the end zone. It was awesome :-)

Here's the game recap - it was never close at all (Rice won 38-14 but went up 38-0 and then started taking out first-string players). The downside was that it wasn't that exciting per se, but it was nice the coach got to take out Clement and Dillard to a standing ovation.

The stadium was reasonably full and there were unsurprisingly a lot of Rice fans, including NI's former VP of R&D who I ran into. We got some good cheers going and stuff :-) I went with my dad and sister (not wonderjess, the other one who refuses to get a LJ account...) and had a lot of fun! Got to use my new camera for the first time and it performed well - took a lot of good pictures that I'll post when I figure out how to download them...

Edit: pictures now up!


back from Maine
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2008-08-17 15:20:00
Tags: pictures travel
Words: 325

Well, we're back from Maine! Here are pictures, and trip recap is behind the cut:

Left on Wednesday and, after the plane stopped in Baltimore (thought the flight was non-stop but apparently not), made it to Manchester, NH. The Southwest gate agent in Baltimore was nice enough to let us off the plane for a few minutes so we could grab some dinner. It was weird being in an airport that we were so familiar with!

My family picked us up and we drove back to Old Orchard Beach, ME. The cottage we were staying in was small (and the stairs were creaky!) but nice enough. The next day we walked down to the beach and walked along the beach for a while. We walked around town and picked up some souvenirs, including a half-pound of fudge and almost three pounds of Jelly Bellys. (this is too many Jelly Bellys, by the way)

I tried lobster for the first time - it was...OK, but nothing spectacular.

Thursday afternoon we walked around Portland and saw something about a renewable feast being put on by Cultivating Community. Of course, the whole eating local thing was offset by the fact that we flew up there, but whatever. The food was pretty good, although the meal lasted for a while and it was quite chilly by the end.

Friday we walked around the beach some more and almost played a game of mini-golf before Aunt Rebecca, Uncle Barrett and company arrived. Walked around some more with them and had a nice dinner at a local place.

Saturday morning we walked down to play some mini-golf before dropping wonderjess off at the train station and driving back to Manchester for our flights. We barely took off before a thunderstorm rolled in, and in fact we barely landed in Austin before thunderstorms came in (or at least the rest of the flights were delayed).

It was nice to have some time off!


the usual
Mood: busy
Music: Peter Gabriel - "Down to Earth" (from Wall-E soundtrack)
Posted on 2008-08-12 14:31:00
Tags: pictures programming links
Words: 90

Since we're leaving tomorrow, I put up the pictures I had built up. Here are a few more ASMC pictures (check out my awesome chart!), here are a few recent random ones, and the most recent puzzle we did.

Strong Bad's Cool Game for Attractive People, Episode 1: Homestar Ruiner is out!

Barack Roll - memes upon memes...

I downloaded the iPhone SDK and may play around with it some, although I don't have a great idea for an app.

My throat gets tired talking for hour-long chunks at a time!


probably not worth a whole post
Mood: amused
Posted on 2008-08-09 20:53:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 8

I like my new userpic! (taken from here)


not in a talkative mood
Mood: non-talkative
Posted on 2008-06-24 10:32:00
Tags: pictures whereslunch projects
Words: 19

Pictures from weekend before last

Making progress on whereslunch. Writing Django code to write javascript gets confusing at times!


really close to unpacked!
Mood: happy
Posted on 2008-05-26 17:08:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 8

Pictures and a video tour of the house.


weekend at Wash U
Mood: annoyed
Posted on 2008-05-19 14:03:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 104

Carrie's graduation went well. Pictures of graduation are up, as well as pictures of last weekend.

The ceremony was good. Chris Matthews made a surprisingly good commencement speaker. The protest of Phyllis Schlafly happened as planned. (see pictures for more information) My back is pain-free despite sleeping on a foldout bed for two nights so I think I'm officially not a bed snob. I did manage to tweak my knee and ankle but they're on the mend. Also read some good books and did some more math on my Target project.

Game night tomorrow night and a three day weekend ahead. Life is good.


Mario Kart friend code
Mood: happy
Posted on 2008-05-05 21:39:00
Tags: pictures worldofwarcraft wii
Words: 18


Unrelatedly, a few new pictures.

Two-shot Mag on our first time!

(highest tag to word ratio? maybe)


short post
Mood: stressed
Posted on 2008-04-30 16:26:00
Tags: pictures worldofwarcraft
Words: 33

Put some weekend pictures up.

We downed Gruul's Lair for the first time last night! Things went rather smoothly - the whole run took under two hours. Recruited a lot of new guildies too.


Mood: irritated
Posted on 2008-02-10 14:36:00
Tags: phone pictures camerapics house politics
Words: 447

Yesterday djedi's parents were around and we got a lot of stuff taken care of with the house. One of the more annoying things was countertops. Long story short: I don't recommend buying countertops from Home Depot. So we went back and forth looking at different materials at Lowe's (like this one) and Home Depot. Really, they were about comparable in quality and price, but Home Depot's were $300 off, so we measured the countertops (as seen in this crappy cameraphone picture) and took it to Home Depot.

Well, they charge by the square foot, but what they don't say is that they charge for the waste material too - so we get charged for all the extra runoff in the crazy corners and stuff, and you pay for the space the sink takes up even though no countertops go there. That alone increased the cost around 50%. Then, you get charged for them to take away the existing countertops, which is I guess reasonable but they didn't say anything when we were there the first time so we had no idea. Also, we're leaving the nice tile backsplash in but I guess it's more work for the installers to work around it, so that's an extra $150. And the guy said that sometimes they have problems and it may be unavoidable that they damage it, so I thought that $150 covered the "expected cost" of fixing it. As it turns out, no, if they mess it up they don't fix it at all. Lovely.

On top of that, it's our responsibility to disconnect and remove the sink before installation and put it back and replace and reconnect it afterwards. And, as if spending $4K on countertops wasn't enough, they charged us $1 per "rounded corner" for a total of $7. Seriously.

Compared with this, buying carpet from Lowe's was easy easy easy and I would totally recommend that over Home Depot. Blargh.

Since countertops were way more expensive than we thought we're going to pack our stuff ourselves. We'll set a date when we hear about carpet but if you have boxes and/or a free evening to help us pack, we would be very grateful!

I'm liking having a cameraphone, although the quality of the pictures isn't great: a sign seen at closing (I guess the point is they don't get paid if you don't close so they make you comfortable - we were repeatedly offered drinks, they had plenty of pens, etc.), a sign in the wire aisle of Home Depot.

Tomorrow I leave for Houston for work. Whee!

Obama cleaned up yesterday, winning with 68% in Washington and Nebraska and 57% in Louisiana. Woohoo!


laptop debate
Mood: confused
Posted on 2008-02-04 14:39:00
Tags: pictures guildwars worldofwarcraft mac computer politics
Words: 244

The Mac continues to get better. Three days after spilling a ton of tea on it the screen is all better, the fan no longer spins crazily, and the battery charges normally. (which may have been happening all along but I was suspicious for a while) Unfortunately, the only problem is that the "v" key (and maybe the Control key) don't work at all. So I guess I'll have to take it in and see if they can fix it, which honestly is pretty doubtful.

Assuming it can't be fixed, I'm leaning towards not replacing it since we don't play WoW much anymore (we picked up Guild Wars over the weekend...we'll see if we continue playing or not) and I just bought the damn thing. I am getting back a big ol' tax refund since I deducted a bunch of moving expenses, although the Maryland state tax situation is a little more unclear. (if there online calculator is right, which I don't think it is, I owe $500 and will be very miffed)

The cover of a romance novel I saw at HEB - thanks, cameraphone!

A work friend has an imported version of Smash Bros and I get to play it tomorrow night. I am extremely excited.

Super Tuesday is tomorrow! Some polls look really good for Obama, others look less good, so who knows. Not sure how I'll keep up with results while playing Smash Bros tomorrow night, but I'll think of something!


puzzle pictures
Mood: excited
Posted on 2008-01-23 14:55:00
Tags: phone pictures projects work
Words: 266

I took pictures of the latest puzzles we've completed, whereby "we" I mean "David, Miriam, and sometimes me". The last two were taken with my new phone, which is why the color is pretty messed up. (I tried to fix it in iPhoto but I may have just made things worse) So: having a camera with me at all times: pretty neat, but I'll stick to the real camera when it's available.

Speaking of the new phone, it's pretty neat! The screen is much nicer than my old one, and it's my first clamshell phone, which I think I like. It has pretty good web access, although my one big complaint is that it doesn't let apps access the network, which means that I have to use the kinda crappy web version of Google Maps instead of the super awesome one(*) that runs on the phone.

I got my car's oil changed today, which revealed that the rat that used to live(**) in our garage was gnawing on my air filter. Luckily it didn't gnaw all the way through; I don't know what implications that would have, but I can't imagine they're good.

Work is going really well today - between that and a new project at home(***), I am really peppy!

(*) - I've never seen or used said version so it may not be super awesome.
(**) - "used to" because we haven't seen any signs of it in a while, so it seems likely it's gone. We're moving out soon anyway. Whee!
(***) - which I will post of the results of hopefully tomorrow. Thanks to destroyerj for the idea...


check, check, check
Mood: tired
Posted on 2008-01-21 09:19:00
Tags: movies pictures music house
Words: 325

Stuff we did this weekend that's worth mentioning:

- Saw "Juno". Good movie - the first scene had me worried that the whole thing was going to be very snappy and sound like it was written by writers who thought they were awesome, but it calmed down after that. Also, Michael Cera + Jason Bateman == win.

- Saw "Cloverfield". Also a good movie. I will avoid spoilers but I'd recommend it if you like horrorish movies. Kept me awake for a little while last night :-)

- Bought new music! In order of how much I expect to like them:
- Radiohead - "In Rainbows". Yeah, I should have gotten this a while ago but I was busy or something. Anyway, I've only heard the one track but it was pretty good and, come on, it's Radiohead!
- Arcade Fire - "Neon Bible". I listened to this on mediator and looved it.
- Nine Inch Nails - "Year Zero". I heard some samples and wasn't terribly impressed, but I like the concept so I'll give it a shot.
- White Stripes - "Icky Thump". I liked the samples I heard, so who knows.
- The Magnetic Fields - "Distortion". "California Girls" is a really catchy song but I dunno about the rest of the album. We'll see...

- Took down the Christmas tree in 10 minutes.

- Gave notice to our apartment that we're leaving.

- Went to the NI-sponsored hockey game, which was fun. The Ice Bats won!

- Bought a hot tub! We just stopped by to look at them but the '07 models were on clearance and the guy sold us the floor model for substantially cheaper than the "regular price". Anyway, we spent about what we wanted to spend so it's fine.

- Put pictures and videos of David's brother's wedding up. This was the first event that I used my Flip Video at (besides house-hunting) and let me tell you - editing the videos and such is a real pain. I gotta find a better way...(and fix the thumbnails at some point)


one christmas down, one to go!
Mood: optimistic
Posted on 2007-12-28 10:57:00
Tags: pictures links
Words: 66

Here are pictures from the first Christmas. (not the first Christmas ever, mind you...)

From Daring Fireball, why 6 megapixels is the sweet spot for compact digital cameras and anything more than that just creates noise.

Why Starbucks actually helps mom and pop coffeehouses - that's kinda cool!

Why having a new programming language created every week for the last 50 years isn't necessarily a good thing.

1 comment

Christmas is nigh
Mood: indescribable
Posted on 2007-12-10 10:09:00
Tags: pictures itunesanalysis worldofwarcraft
Words: 151

I finished my WoW arena rating graph. The neat part is being able to see statistics (we are much worse against teams with 1 mage than teams with no mages, etc.) and select criteria to get specific results.

I put some Christmas pictures up (getting the tree for my parents house and our tree), as well as a puzzle David and Miriam did. (penguins!)

Sunday we went Christmas shopping for 3.5 hours, hitting 8 stores plus the mall. It was crazy. I'm beginning to understand feeling overwhelmed at the holidays. We did get gifts for a good chunk of the people we need to, though.

I added an iTunes playlist containing the first song from every album. It turns out I rate the first song on each album an average of .4 higher (see the analysis - "First tracks" average rating is 3.86, "Music" average rating is 3.47), which I found interesting!


iTunes rating analysis! Portal, TexRenFest.
Mood: uncomfortable
Posted on 2007-11-19 09:58:00
Tags: pictures music itunesanalysis projects links
Words: 322

I'm "officially" releasing the iTunes Rating Analysis after making a few last minute tweaks. Unfortunately you have to be at your home computer (or whatever computer your iPod is synced to) to use it, but you can at least see see my analysis, complete with fancy charts! Not being able to use it at work means it'll probably be significantly less popular than the WoW Frost Mage DPS calculator (currently the most popular page on my site by a factor of 2 or 3 or so), but that is OK.

We bought and played through Portal this weekend, which is a first person puzzle game and pretty darn fun (and pretty short). The end credits song is extremely cute and catchy, and it's sung by the passive-aggressive computer who's talking to you for the whole game. The song was written by Jonathan Coulton (here's his blog post about writing the song) who happens to have lots of music available for download! So I'll probably check that out this week. Edit: live version of Jonathan Coulton performing "Still Alive" - there's cake!

wildrice13, abstractseaweed, quijax, djedi and I went to the Renaissance Festival on Saturday. David and I were going to see the Bolton's renewal of vows (here are the few pictures that I took - we participated in the ceremony so I didn't want to interrupt too much :-) ) which went well except for their not letting us do it at the festival proper (the words used were "unauthorized wedding" which I found amusing), so we went out to the parking lot and had a nice ceremony. The trip back wasn't so great - we got stuck in the parking lot as everyone else was leaving and then there was an accident 10-15 cars in front of us just as we were about to get to 290, so we didn't moved for half an hour or so. Ugh.

I slept on my neck funny. It hurts.


iTunes ratings analysis - what looks nicer?
Mood: loved
Posted on 2007-11-05 10:37:00
Tags: pictures itunesanalysis projects poll
Words: 81

quijax and Todd and djedi and I went to Enchanted Rock on Saturday - here are pictures. I am sore and out of shape, but it was a fun hike.

My next project will be smallish - sprucing up my iTunes ratings analysis and letting people do it on their iTunes libraries. I'm starting with the sprucing up part - here's version 1 and version 2 (for reference, here's version 3 which is the same as version 1 except with darker alternating background colors):


Halloween pictures, etc.
Mood: busy
Posted on 2007-11-01 11:20:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 251

I put pictures from the Halloween party up. (they start at the bottom of that page)

So we bought a new router after suspecting problems with the old one. So far the wired connections don't drop, and it had the bonus of now I can access my website from my computer at a normal speed! (so the pictures took like 5 seconds to upload instead of the usual 10 minutes (no exaggeration!)) That makes me happy.

Making me less happy is that every 90 minutes or so the wireless will cut out and take a few minutes to come back. (the router is a Linksys WRT300N) At Fry's yesterday (when destroyerj was looking for a router) the sales guy said that Linksys's 802.11g routers are good, but he's gotten a fair amount of returns on the 802.11n ones. (like mine) I played with some wireless settings and it might have fixed the problem though - we'll have to see. Meanwhile I'm lusting over this Belkin N1 Vision which looks awesome. Luckily I'm not crazy enough to buy a extra router even if I'm infatuated with it :-)

When I was walking in this morning, I didn't see anyone around and thought about LJing how sometimes when that happens I think that I'm missing a meeting when that's almost certainly not the case. Lo and behold, when I got to my cube I had a note that everyone was in a meeting. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you...


segway tour!
Mood: tired
Posted on 2007-10-14 21:37:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 20

My mom's in town and we went on a Segway tour of Austin. Here are my pictures of said event.

1 comment

cluesolver, pictures
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2007-10-08 15:35:00
Tags: pictures cluesolver
Words: 106

Look, the subject is the same as the tags!

After my last post about putting the clue solver on hiatus, I couldn't get to sleep Saturday night so I got up, played a little WoW, and, in a flurry of inspiration, sketched out a clue solver GUI. It's not beautiful, but it seems relatively functional and easy to do with the GWT parts. I've coded up most of it and I'm on to writing the script interface functions and hooking it all together. This makes me a happy man!

I (at long last) have put up pictures from the trip down and a few random ones.


weekend, pictures, etc.
Mood: sick
Posted on 2007-09-05 11:45:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 132

djedi and I spent the weekend in New Hampshire with my family, some of whom he hadn't met yet. The weather was pretty nice, especially with nice cool breezes. Had maple syrup, went to a few arts & crafts fairs, did a lot of hanging out. Here are a few pictures, and if anyone could tell me what that pie chart represents, I would be grateful :-)

I picked up either a cold or allergies on Monday, because I was fairly miserable Monday and Tuesday. Feeling betterish today, but gonna stay home sick again and feel better and take care of some of the moving stuff. If all goes well, two weeks from today the movers will come to pack up our stuff - frightening!

Apple announces new stuff today. Will be following on engadget!


NYC pictures
Mood: calm
Posted on 2007-08-29 09:19:00
Tags: dreams pictures
Words: 165

Pictures from our NYC trip are now up. If you like strange and interesting street signs, this gallery is for you!

djedi had to get up earlier than I did, so when his alarm went off we cuddled for a minute then he got up. I was trying to go back to sleep, but he kept making noise in the bathroom and living room, and occasionally coming back in the bedroom and making more noise so I couldn't. I eventually got irritated and started yelling at him and we got in a nasty fight when it was time for me to get up. Eventually he was ready to go, and he walked out the door while we were still fighting...

...and then I woke up for real. (everything after the first sentence above was a dream) My subconscious loses points for a) having us fighting 2) being very uncreative when it comes to dreaming. A dream about not being able to sleep, how original! Jerk.


new glasses
Mood: okay
Posted on 2007-08-17 16:48:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 23

Old glasses:
New glasses:

Really, not a lot of difference. (except they don't fall off of my face and I can see better)


Mood: relaxed
Posted on 2007-08-13 12:56:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 14

I put up pictures from Jessica's visit and a few from this weekend. Enjoy!


atypical weekend
Mood: pleased
Posted on 2007-07-23 09:26:00
Tags: pictures work
Words: 292

I had a really nice weekend. Saturday we had a DC-touristy day as we crossed off a few spots on the "places to see" list (pictures from the weekend). First up was the Kwik-E-Mart where we procured a Squishee and a sprinkled donut (both eaten quickly) and a Buzz Cola and box of Krusty O's (still at home). Even the employees were dressed up in Apu-like clothes (lime green!), although I felt a little weird about taking their picture. The place was pretty busy.

Library of Congress was up next - we took a tour led by a very knowledgeable woman with a delightful British accent. It's a beautiful building with lots and lots of authors and leading scientists, etc. of the day on the walls and such. After that was the National Botanic Garden which had a lot of neat-looking flowers and plants and such. Then we went to an art gallery which was sufficiently underwhelming that I don't remember its name.

We were pretty tired by this point so we went to Dupont Circle and had dinner at a trendy-looking place. Top Gun was playing on a big TV (although no sound), oddly enough.

Sunday we stayed at home, played a little WoW but mostly relaxed and read. I bought Man in the Middle by John Amaechi (the first NBA player to come out, albeit after his career was over), which was pretty interesting, and we both managed to get through it yesterday. We're saving the new Harry Potter for the big trip in September but I've mostly forgotten what happened in book 6 so we're listening to that again, which makes car trips more fun :-)

I just got a time off award at work (24 hours!), so yay for that!


camping pictures
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2007-06-13 10:59:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 41

The aforementioned camping pictures are up.

Yay day off! It's nice to know that, despite our general unhappiness with not having friends and work and such, we're not so bad off that we can't enjoy a nice summer day to ourselves :-)


where's my burrito? where's my burrito?
Mood: okay
Posted on 2007-06-01 09:19:00
Tags: pictures links
Words: 177

I posted a few pictures - nothing earth-shattering, as I haven't been in the mood much to take pictures lately. With people visiting and our visiting people during June, hopefully that'll change :-)

I have a plan: rewrite the hat problem solver in Haskell. Maybe I'll get to it this weekend? I'd be interested in running timing tests to see the speed difference...

Wil Shipley argues for smaller, less flexible code. Yay!

Bush calls for global warming summit. Why do I get the feeling this is like Ronald Reagan not talking about AIDS until well after it was a problem?

I didn't watch the game, but LeBron James took over the Cavs' playoff game last night, leading them to victory in double overtime by scoring 29 out of their last 30 points. That sounds Jordanesque to me!

Blizzard's suing peons4hire, the most prolific in-game gold spammer that I've experienced. Yaaaaay! Although I played a lot last night and don't remember a single gold spam, which would be unheard of before the 2.1.0 patch...

Hope everyone has a nice weekend.


hangin' on
Mood: high-strung
Posted on 2007-04-11 14:26:00
Tags: pictures music links
Words: 94

Pictures from Easter are up.

The author of the Joshua Bell street performer article I linked to earlier took part in an online discussion with Washington Post readers. Good stuff!

Now that "The Show with ze Frank" is over, you can buy an album of songs from the show, including the very catchy "Where the Fuck Do Ideas Come From?"

Recent developments have left me a bit jittery.

American Airlines just launched a website for women who travel. Umm, what? Someone please explain to me how this isn't horribly insulting and stereotypical and stupid.


home sick
Mood: sick
Posted on 2007-03-28 14:31:00
Tags: pictures links
Words: 108

I'm not sure what happened, I felt perfectly fine Monday going to bed, and yesterday I woke up with bad allergies/congestion. I stuck it out at work but after a night of waking up a lot (I hate trying to sleep when my nose is all messed up!) I gave up. Hopefully I'll be back to normal tomorrow.

Anyway, it gives me a chance to catch up on stuff. Like put up pictures! And link to some random things!

- To promote their new book, zug.com staged a prank at the Super Bowl - unfortunately the intended message didn't show up as well as hoped.

- damninteresting.com is making a book!


Look what we can do!
Mood: accomplished
Posted on 2007-03-09 09:07:00
Tags: pictures worldofwarcraft programming
Words: 242

Last night, I accomplished the following things:

- grocery shopping
- mole check
- wrote a script to download data from the World of Warcraft Armory, and set it up to download every guild member's stats nightly. At some point I'll do something neat with the data. (to do this I used the new Python XML library elementtree, which is better than the builtin stuff, but not nearly as nice as e4x) I had to solve a bit of a mystery - when I would fetch the URL http://armory.worldofwarcraft.com/character-sheet.xml?r=Maiev&n=Tsouzer in Firefox and the HTML page would show up, but I could view source and see the raw XML data that I wanted. When I fetched it with wget or curl, I would always get the HTML page, not the XML data. The key is to fake out the user-agent: I guess if it thinks you support the fancy XML processing it does (with XSLT, I think?) it will give you the data, otherwise it gives you standard HTML any browser can handle. Neat idea, I guess.
- fixed my automatic del.icio.us bookmark backup script (the API had changed a little).
- seemingly fixed the problems with sending email from my computer, although it still complains that it can't write to the log file.
- put up a (very) few pictures.
- updated my backup script to back up some more databases

A lot of this stuff had been hanging over my head for a while, so I feel great today!


Christmas pictures finally up
Mood: okay
Posted on 2007-01-24 23:31:00
Tags: movies pictures
Words: 157

Subject says it all - check them out! I also put up a few snow pictures, snow still being novel and all. Actually, it's supposed to snow tomorrow; hopefully it won't delay our flight!

On a random note, I saw that "Little Miss Sunshine" was nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. Apparently the field is fairly weak - the movie was cute and neat and indieish, but definitely not Best Picture caliber in a normal year. I saw a reasonable number of movies this year, but I haven't seen any of the other four.

You know you're a geek when you consider getting a safe deposit box not because of birth certificates or passports, but for your computer backup DVDs!

Also, my SMTP server is borked, so if you're expecting emails from the guild website, you're not going to get any. I'll try to fix this next week. (as it sends me > 100 emails a day on my computer...)

1 comment

Pictures from DC
Mood: busy
Posted on 2006-12-14 10:57:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 47

I posted my latest pictures - here's a hoodie picture, and here are the DC ones. (I think my favorites are David and me in front of the Capitol and the Washington Monument reflecting on the Reflecting Pool)

Whoa, this new LJ posting page is weird. Neat, though!


Mood: tired
Posted on 2006-11-08 23:15:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 14

Here, pictures: This gallery feels very fall foliage-y, while this one is more Baltimore-y.


pictures, actually
Mood: accomplished
Posted on 2006-09-25 22:50:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 18

Yay pictures! My humblest apologies for the long delay. Here are apartment pictures, sightseeing-ish pictures, and Philadelphia pictures.


world o' stuff
Mood: excited
Posted on 2006-08-31 21:21:00
Tags: moving pictures
Words: 103

As djedi mentioned, our stuff is here! I'm sitting in a chair now, which is very exciting!

Anyway, I took some time while the movers were hauling in our stuff to put up pictures from our move.

We bought an S-Video cable today. On the package, it says

For hook-up of a DVD player with an S-Video connection; carries video signal over two discreet paths

So, the misspelling of "discrete" is pretty funny in and of itself. But what does it mean, even without the misspelling? "Discrete" is the opposite of "continuous" (right?), so...what? It carries a signal over one path...anyway, I'm confused.


(no subject)
Mood: calm
Posted on 2006-08-15 10:01:00
Tags: pictures rant terrorism
Words: 206

Pictures from this weekend are up. There are some good ones of the nephews :-)

No! Liquids!

I have a great link at home that I don't have in front of me about how the goal of terrorism is to terrorize. If we get worried and upset and scared and stop flying every time a terrorist plot is revealed, isn't that what they want? If this is really a "war on terror" (yeah, yeah, I know), we can't be surprised when plots are revealead and so forth.

Other things that make me mad: people who have no concept of risk. In 2004, 42636 people died in car accidents. Right now you're 10-200 times safer (depending on what metric you use) flying than driving. And yet people will get panicy about flying (to be fair, it can be a little scary) but then speed in their car, not pay attention to the road, drive while buzzed/drunk, etc. Really, this is even worse because you could hurt/kill not only yourself but others if you're in a car crash.

So I guess my point is - drive safely! (and I mean this as a directive, not a "hope nothing happens"-type statement) Don't talk on your cell phone too much, etc., etc.


Apparently, left to my own devices...
Mood: happy
Posted on 2006-08-03 11:48:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 46

...I watch all the "House" episodes (three) on the TiVo. That's probably not a good sign.

Summer musical pictures are up!

The pilot to Aaron Sorkin's new show, Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, is up on YouTube. Good stuff! I will be watching come fall.


Maryland pictures up
Mood: meh
Posted on 2006-06-29 10:07:00
Tags: pictures palmtogooglecalendar
Words: 48

Here are the Maryland pictures - didn't get too many that turned out decently.

Yesterday Google released their authentication for Web-based clients (although it seems to have disappeared at the moment - weird!), so I hope to get a working version of the palm to google calendar thing up soon.


na nanana nana na na...
Mood: pensive
Posted on 2006-05-31 09:35:00
Tags: movies pictures ruby palmtogooglecalendar
Words: 451

...Katamari Damacy! djedi bought WeKatamari yesterday before he left (thanks!) so I played last night. Goood stuff. I love doing the flower level (collecting as many flowers as you can) - very relaxing. Quitting without saving and losing my data was somewhat less relaxing, but if you think I'm not going to redo those levels tonight, you'd be sadly mistaken.

I have the top Google result for "pic6"! Unfortunately it goes to this picture, but you can't win them all.

Speaking of pictures, I put pictures from Jessica's graduation up last night.

Speaking of things I did last night, the palm to google calendar thing is basically done. I have a few tweaks to do, but I'm going to link to it soon. fairydust1, want to test it?

So last time I talked about getting the ruby script to return that it was done while forking a new process. I was almost correct, but instead of doing this in the new thread:

# Create session and return session id to browser
pid = fork do
# Do long-running stuff

you instead just need to do this:

# Create session and return session id to browser
pid = fork do
# Do long-running stuff

Closing $stdin and $stderr just leads to problems (which was why passing parameters weren't working before).

Speaking of...umm...lj-cuts, I saw X-Men 3 this past weekend.
I liked it, all in all. The parallel between mutants and gays was extremely striking in some parts. I also liked the shift of power that the vaccine gave the humans - now they had a weapon against the mutants so it wasn't just a case of "watch the mutants kill the humans, who have no hope of ever retaliating". I like Storm the character (especially with the white hair!), but I didn't think Halle Berry did a good job acting this time around, especially during the scene where they're debating whether to keep the school open. It felt very fake to me.

Also, I loooove Ian McKellen. Maybe it's the white hair talking, but I like the obvious mutual respect he and Professor X have for each other. When Magneto lost his power, even though he was clearly a bad guy, I felt very bad for him since his identity was so wrapped up in his power.
If you go and see it, be sure to stay until after the credits end! There's a final scene that's actually very significant.

I'm looking forward to a number of summer movies - at some point I'll post the ones I want to see and y'all can make fun of me. Oh, there was a trailer for Snakes on a Plane, and it was good.


warning: good weekend ahead
Mood: happy! not sick!
Music: Lordi - "Hard Rock Hallelujah"
Posted on 2006-05-26 09:37:00
Tags: pictures music ruby palmtogooglecalendar links
Words: 500

Already this weekend (starts on Thursday!) has been good - we finished Maraudon last night in WoW, which was fun (despite an infuriating part where Dextra and I (the two people who can rez) died and had to spirit rez and fight our way back. Scary!), and I got a shiny new dagger and orb.

Another good thing - I'm not sure yet, but I think I've solved my work problem...but not in a great way. It's like finally arriving at Disney World in Georgia (the country, not the state), and you're tired but happy you finally got there, and then getting out and realizing that Tennessee (where you started) is really right across the street from Georgia (the country, not the state). And you think everyone is mocking you for taking such a roundabout journey when you were right there, except they presumably aren't. Whee. I think I'll put this analogy to rest :-)

I have a problem...I cannot stop listening to "Hard Rock Hallelujah"! Seriously. Sometimes songs stick in my head so long, it actually makes my stomach hurt (and can keep me up at night). This song isn't there yet, but it's headed that way...

I put up pictures of Stephen's graduation. Next up - pictures from wonderjess's graduation! And then the pictures I will have acquired in the intervening time. Yikes.

Had a breakthrough in the palm to google calendar thing last night.

So the problem I had been having was that, when you connected to start the syncing process, it wouldn't return until it was done, which means that you couldn't poll for status updates. (actually, I guess you could, but then you'd have two connections open at once unnecessarily) So, I tried something like this:

# Create session and return session id to browser
pid = fork do
# Do long-running stuff

Interestingly, this works when you run the script from the command line, but not when you're doing a POST to it! I'm not sure if this is an Apacheism or something. After digging around for a while, I found the solution is to do something like this instead:

# Create session and return session id to browser
pid = fork do
# Do long-running stuff

(Note: this is incorrect. See update here) and this makes everything work well. Except that I'm having some difficulty access variables declared in the pre-fork section inside the forked process. I bet they're getting destroyed or something when the parent finishes. But, on the whole, I'm closer to getting it to work. Yay!

"How to cheat good" (by a college professor). Tip number 8 is hilarious!

Top 50 Places to Have a Beer in America - I was a little disappointed/surprised there were no Texas places in there. (although this is just the places with highest scores on BeerFly - maybe there's some geographic bias there?)

DeLay campaign cites Colbert bit as evidence of innocence...um, wow. After the White House Correspondents Dinner thing, I thought everyone had figured it out!


aww yeah
Music: Pink Floyd- "Hey you"
Posted on 2006-05-10 09:51:00
Tags: pictures weight links
Words: 128

So after the weekend where I ate lots of bad stuff, I was sure I was going to gain at least a pound. Flash forward to Tuesday morning....I step on the scale...plus .2 pounds! Awesome. So my goal this week is to lose weight, and next week to get below my low since I started in December (I'm only .8 pounds away, so this is very doable). Woohoo!

Some fun Daily Show videos: Hayden/Goss and "Oh, Really? bin Laden? Who?". Well done! Also a fun trailer for a "Pac-Man" movie made by Uwe Boll.

I put up the pictures from last weekend. Cute pictures of the nephews :-)

Fun information about US interstates. (thanks medryn)

Oh yeah - here's the Onion's preview of summer movies. (hint: they're not terribly excited)


Happy Easter!
Mood: tired
Posted on 2006-04-17 00:14:00
Tags: pictures ruby
Words: 73

Happy Easter, all! I took some pictures of an Easter get-together at destroyerj's place.

Also, I'm learning Ruby to work on a LiveJournal archiving project of mine, and Why's (Poignant) Guide to Ruby is easily the weirdest, most bizarre programming tutorial I've ever seen, or expect to see. Even if you don't want to learn Ruby, I'd recommend skimming through it (and the pictures), and then wondering how Ruby relates to cartoon foxes.


christi & david and baltimore pictures
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2006-03-27 23:20:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 23

Now that my computer works, I finally posted my pictures from christi & david's house and baltimore - check them out! (yay for working computer!)


math problem not so interesting
Mood: disappointed
Posted on 2006-02-28 08:51:00
Tags: pictures links
Words: 337

I mentioned an interesting math problem last entry -

OK, I lied, it's not too exciting. I implemented the interquartile range method first (because it was easier than calculating the standard deviation) and ran it on a set of markers. It found a lot of markers that were in the correct city, but were definitely outliers from a statistics perspective. These markers are all dental clinics (more or less), and it turns out they're not evenly distributed throughout a city. So I kept the interquartile range method but added a test to only reject it if the distance from the median point was more than .25 latitude or longitude. This got rid of the false positives (and kept something that indeed wasn't categorized correctly!), so that's what I'm using. The sad part is that I'm pretty sure that that would give the same result if I just did that test and not the interquartile range, but I don't have the heart to test that. So, not so interesting problem after all, but at least it's presumably solved.

I'm definitely making more progress on this side project, and hopefully I'll work on it tonight a bit and maybe be "done" for now ("done" because it's never done, stuff keeps getting added, which I'm going to have to deal with at some point. ugh...) On the plus side, I'm writing a lot of stuff that can at least be theoretically reused for some other project. *shrug*

Here's a good article about lobbying to get your industry millions. Ugh. Hopefully the fact that the article was written will shed some light on the system. I am proud, however, that my former congressman Lloyd Doggett was mentioned as trying to end the offending credit. Good for him!

Some indie rockers are refusing to license their songs for Hummer commercials, turning down big money in the process. Good for them!

Wow, this is turning into Link Tuesday. One more: here are the local commercials that Rudy's aired during the Super Bowl. Good stuff!


purging old memory, and pictures!
Mood: cheerful
Posted on 2006-02-23 10:48:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 304

At some point I had a lot of things to mention on LJ, none of it terribly important. As I am behind on mentioning such things, I'm removing them from my memory - *poof* - and now I feel free to post again.

The trip to Rice went well - chatted with candidates at the information session on Monday night and interviewed people Tuesday. I have a few tips for people who interview:

- Don't be late. Seriously, not only are you wasting the interviewer's time and making your interview shorter, you're possibly putting them in an irritated mood. I actually wasn't irritated, but interviewing can be subjective, and you're only hurting yourself.

- So, stuff happens, and you're late for whatever reason. Please apologize/acknowledge that you are in fact late. I'm not sure how I feel about hearing an excuse, either way is fine, but pretending like nothing happened is not a good option. Yeesh.

Afterwards, I drove back, and it was incredibly foggy most of the way from Brenham to Austin. There was lots of billowing fog and all that. It was pretty scary - I was going 45-50 a lot of the way and it still seemed fast. Had I known it was gonna be so foggy, I might have taken I-10 to 71 back - at least there are lights on I-10. Anyway, we made terrible time and I was exhausted afterwards, but at least we made it back safely...

I took a few pictures at Rice, and so I put up a set of random pictures left on my camera. I'm showing one behind the cut because it's so sad for Rice folk!

Ack! What happened to the hedges?? (apparently they're just being pruned, but wow is that sad)

I'm sure I'll think of more things to say right after I post this, but oh well.


New Year's pictures
Mood: sick
Posted on 2006-01-06 15:09:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 17

I'm out sick today, so I took some time and put up pictures from New Year's. *sniffle*


pictures are up
Mood: happy
Music: Madonna - "Ray of Light" (Pandora)
Posted on 2005-12-29 10:03:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 53

Just a quick note - I put some more pictures from Christmas up, including the first ones taken with my new camera!

I'm having this new chamomile tea that my mom bought for me in Rochester. It's good, but it kinda tastes like soap. I'm having a hard time reconciling those two facts. Mmmm...


good times, people
Mood: refreshed
Posted on 2005-12-19 11:41:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 125

So we had a Christmas get-together last night, and thanks to being reunited with my camera after stupidly leaving it at Britton and Liz's place, pictures of the event are available at my gallery. Power Grid was played, as well as video games, and there were cookies and pizza and cake (not in that order!). I had a good time, and I hope everyone else did too!

Today is a shopping day. Luckily djedi and I know mostly what we're going to get, so after we drop wildrice13 off at the airport, we'll go do that. Woohoo!

If you like conspiracy theories, or you're interested in Chapelle's Show and why it went off the air, read that article. Don't know if it's true, but yikes.


lots'a thoughts'a
Mood: content
Posted on 2005-11-30 12:34:00
Tags: pictures
Words: 200

I forgot to mention yesterday that I hit a deer on the way back to Austin! I was just driving along, minding my own business, when a deer ran across 290 (super-fast), and I just barely hit it. We stopped soon after and there didn't seem to be any damage, but it scared the crap out of me for a while. Never had that happen to me before.

Firefox 1.5 did in fact release yesterday. The pop-up blocking seems to be better, and things are noticeably faster (especially going back and forward). Still seems to use a lot of memory, though.

Yesterday djedi and I got a Christmas tree and put it up in my apartment, which was exciting (although messy). We haven't decorated it yet, but it really feels like Christmas even with just a bare tree up in the living room :-) I ordered some TiVo ornaments to put on it, too!

I finished putting keywords on all of my pictures, so now you can search by keyword to find pictures that people are in.

Hope everyone's having a nice day! And I hope whatever's in the air that keeps my allergies (and other peoples', it seems) going disappears!


Happy 151st post to me!
Mood: busy
Posted on 2005-11-08 13:28:00
Tags: pictures activism
Words: 75

I put up pictures from this weekend (including Ren Fest), although I didn't take very many.

For your viewing pleasure this evening, the Texas election results (courtesy of the Secretary of State). I'll be watching as soon as we get back from our boring meeting.

My hands have been hurting for the last week or so (it feels like the muscles in the hand, but it's hard to tell). This is not a promising development.

1 comment

off to houston
Mood: focused
Posted on 2005-09-15 16:23:00
Tags: pictures charlottesweb
Words: 73

So I'm gonna be in Houston tomorrow doing recruiting stuff at Rice for NI - we'll be in Duncan Hall from 10-4ish or so. Come check it out!

Also, Charlotte's Web was reviewed, which is pretty nifty. Only show this weekend is on Sunday, which'll be a nice break.

Gotta run to the van soon, but I'm trying to finish up some work stuff!

Oh, right, and there are new Charlotte's Web pictures up.


lots of stuff
Mood: concerned
Posted on 2005-08-30 13:59:00
Tags: pictures projecteuler referrer
Words: 178

I meant to post yesterday, but didn't have the time. And I don't really have the time today, but if I wait another day I'm sure to forget stuff. So here goes!

I put pictures of my recent vacation up, which means I'm now caught up on pictures. Woohoo!

I'm going to see "Wicked" in November, which I'm psyched about! It should be a lot of fun. I just need to stop listening to the music for a while so I don't get sick of it :-)

Still having fun with Project Euler - I've moved up to #130something on the rankings, which is good, I guess. I'm averaging about a problem a day, which is a nice and slow pace...

Fun referrer links:
- Searching for cow riding on Ask Jeeves leads to this picture, which seems appropriate.

- Another "naked" query (naked rice university run pictures on Yahoo) leads to Jonathan's album. No luck for the searcher, though!

- Barbara Stoll on MSN gives my gallery page, which makes sense. But I don't know of a Barbara Stoll related to me...


pictures, rehearsals, and movies! oh my!
Mood: chipper
Posted on 2005-08-27 13:22:00
Tags: pictures charlottesweb
Words: 225

I put pictures from the musical up. Next up, pictures from vacation! And then I'll be caught up. Which will be nice.

So for two consecutive nights, I've almost been in a car accident on the way back from Charlotte's Web rehearsal. This is not good. The first wasn't really my fault, but the second was, sorta (I was passing someone even though I had a feeling that he/she wanted to get over, which turned out to be correct). I really need to be more careful. Hopefully catching up on sleep and relaxing more this weekend will help.

But rehearsal last night went really well - we ran the whole thing in 62 minutes, and we're aiming for about an hour show, so good stuff! I only missed one of my cues (starting Monday, no more lines from the stage manager, which will be interesting...), and I felt pretty good about it even though Ron gave me in particular a lot of notes. And he let us out early!

So I went up to destroyerj's and met djedi there (and wildrice13 showed up later) to watch "Garden State" and "I (Heart) Huckabees". Both weird movies. I liked them, though. Especially Zach Braff. :-) After that, I was so tired I slept way late today, which is why I feel grrrreat!

That's all I got. Thanks for reading!

1 comment

quick post
Mood: tired
Music: "The Tick" background music
Posted on 2005-08-23 22:42:00
Tags: pictures charlottesweb
Words: 153

I put up pictures from my family's Father's Day trip to Lake Conroe. Does anyone have problems loading my gallery in Firefox? Because I do (it takes a really long time and sometimes the pictures never load), and I thought it was my webserver, but I just tried it in Konqueror and it worked fine. So maybe it's just on my computer or something. Anyway... (Edit: the weird thing is that it seems to work in Firefox when I click on a link to it - it doesn't when I type in the address directly. *confused*)

Charlotte's Web rehearsals are going pretty well, although they are quite tiring. I mostly know my lines...now I need to learn blocking and whatnot. And work was really stressful today - lots of interruptions and stuff so I never got a good flow going, although I did accomplish a few things. Oh well - I'm sure tomorrow will be better.


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