azureabstraction > out of the blue

Halloween 2009

November 1st, 2009

Halloween was pretty awesome this year. We went to a farm to get apples, which we made into juice upon our return. On the drive back we saw a bunch of kids in crazy costumes. Little ladybugs, princesses, and giraffes. The highlight was two parents who dressed up as bunny rabbits; the kid who sat on his dad's shoulder was a little carrot.

Aaron, Cami, Sarah, Paff and I carved awesome pumpkins: a crazy face, a kitty, a spider, a zombie turnip, and a velociraptor, respectively. Soren, Alice and Austin came over to watch Evil Dead II with us. Then we all went home and slept.

Next year's pumpkin: Escherinspired.

Technology Update

October 25th, 2009

Fireplaces are perhaps the cleverest invention yet. Soon I will have to get an axe so that I can split more kindling. Another clever invention: the axe.

Early Seattle Photosets

September 28th, 2009

Pictures have finally arrived! Two photosets: one from moving and getting settled; the other from a picnic to Gas Works Park. They are taken with my lovely new Nikon d90. After a long time drooling over DSLR cameras, now I finally have one. So I may post more pictures than usual.

Panning for Gold

September 26th, 2009

I enjoy sifting through old papers. Every year or so I go through my papers and every time I keep about half of the stack. I start with the papers collected since the last winnowing, from which I save maybe one sheet from every twenty. Unwanted papers are recycled or digitized. By the time I reach the papers that are a few years old, I only get rid of one out of twenty.

At the core of the pile the memories are dense. Fond, embarrassing snippets of poetry. Touching letters from friends. Notes from my favorite college classes, and drawings derived from boredom. Plans for world domination, plans for programming projects. Everything has a practical purpose, or else a significant core of meaning.

By the time I'm forty I'll descend through the strata of my life with easy familiarity. I'm looking forward to it, looking back on a trail of papers like memories. The old ones drop away until only the striking, the harrowing, the golden remain.

Geological Wiki-Hole

September 14th, 2009

I just escaped a geological wiki-hole. I read about the Cascade Arc (home of the only historical eruptions in the United States), Mount Rainier (a surprisingly prominent mountain), plutons (subterranean crystallized igneous rock intrusions), the Volcanic Explosivity Index (Yellowstone tops the scale), Puget Sound (a flooded glacial fjord system), the most prominent peaks in the United States (fun to play with the table sorting), the Yellowstone Caldera (every 600k to 900k years; last one was 640k years ago), topographic prominence and isolation. Among many other things.

Isolation is probably the coolest thing I learned tonight, because of how a list of isolated peaks gives you a nice cover of an area, a division of peaks that doesn't favor one or another region too much (especially Alaska or Colorado). Topographic isolation is the distance before you reach a point of higher elevation. So for the United States you start at Mt. McKinley (Alaska). Then you fly far off to Mauna Kea (Hawaii), to Mount Whitney (California), to Mount Mitchell (North Carolina), to Mount Washington (New Hampshire) and to Mount Rainer (Washington). It's basically like demarcating a watershed.

I am also enamored of prominence. You find prominence by going down in contour lines until you reach a ring that contains a point of higher elevation. The easiest explanation is via rising sea level. To find a peak's prominence you raise sea level until it is the highest point on its island. The prominence will be the height of the peak above that imaginary sea level. It has to be specially defined for Mt. Everest, since nothing is higher. Every other peak is recursive. The most prominent peaks in the United States are Mount McKinley, Mauna Kea and Mt. Rainier.

Science and the internet… a dangerous combination.

Living with Jezebel

September 13th, 2009

Last night at 9:50 we arrived in Seattle at our new apartment. Since it had been a long day of packing and cleaning Sarah's old apartment, we went to sleep after we got all of the boxes inside. Today has been full of unpacking, but we aren't even halfway done. It will be a week of that: wake up, do work, unpack.

It is a very good thing my parents were able to come help us move. As it was, we just barely fit everything into my parents' truck and Sarah's car. We made do by piling everything carefully into the bed, and then tying a futon mattress on top to keep everything pinned down at 70 miles per hour. The load was just taller than the cab. I have never before slept on a bed that looked like it had been driving down the highway (bug splats all over one end). That is on the to-do list: clean the mattress.

I'm looking forward to exploring the Fremont neighborhood. We got breakfast today at the Fremont Sunday market, but that's just dipping our toes in the water. Good times ahead.

Fall is Breaking

September 4th, 2009

It cooled down today. This morning gusts of chilly morning air blew through the room, sticking the half-curtain thing out horizontally (apparently it's called a valance, but I could never use that word seriously). Now there is no wind. The cold air sinks down from the window above the bed. Cold feet. It's coming time for fleece blankets and comforters at night, and fires in the fireplace. Perhaps there will be occasion to sleep by the hearth.

Arwen welcomed me down to the farm sometime in October. She said I could sleep beneath the aluminum roof of the top floor of the silo, which just begs for a night of torrential rain followed by a bright morning walking around in the scent of rich, rain-soaked dirt.

I think weather affects me in the broadest sense. Although I delight in the extremes of a perfect thunderstorm or a day where the clouds have gone crazy, it is the larger trends that deeply affect me. The first rain, the first cool day after summer, they are robin-of-spring harbingers. I like the time between solstices, when the changing of seasons brings out patchwork weather. When it is neither too hot nor too cold, or at least never for very long.

I am looking forward to Seattle for just this reason. In Spokane, Spring and Fall are fleeting. Before long it settles to one unfaltering extreme or the other, goes on for an eternity. I am looking forward to fog, drizzle and overcast. Back to the West side.

Laptop Keyboards Are Not Durable

August 29th, 2009

I was talking to Gadget from study abroad, and we got to comparing keyboards:

Smurf: I'm hard on my computer keys…. Some of the letters are worn off, and my left alt key has fingernail pits.

Gadget: that coating they put on keyboards is worn off all my keys from typing so much, well all of them except the number keys and the f keys

Smurf: Do you not have letters?

Gadget: nah i have letters. theyre getting worn down though. half of the S is gone hahaha

Smurf: I no longer have an N. My O is just a speck on the upper left. E is a broken vertical bar, and S is two short curved segments. M, H, R, T and C have the most trouble beyond that, though a number of others have pits and blemishes. A is lame, missing its right leg.

Gadget: ooo! my A is missing its right leg too! sounds like youve done a fair number on your keyboard hahaha. most of my letters are just chipped a little bit

Smurf: Oh, and of course left alt is gone, left ctrl is missing pieces. I was just looking at letters.

Gadget: even my touchpad has been worn smooth

Smurf: Ooh, forgot about my arrow keys. Apparently I'm harder on down than up. Left and right are both more troubled than up, but not almost disappeared, like down. Looks like backspace is having problems, too.

Gadget: hahahaha i must have some industrial paint for my arrow keys because they are immaculate

Smurf: I should take a picture of my keyboard and post it on my blog with pieces of this conversation. :P

Gadget: yes!

Jezebel Fremont

August 16th, 2009

Sarah, Paff and I looked at apartments in Seattle yesterday. Sarah had done a lot of online research and arranged for tours. One stood head and shoulders above the rest. It was our top choice before we even visited; touring it just cemented its position. Now we just have to wait to wait for our application to go through.

It's a little apartment in Fremont, hidden on a back road but right next to Fremont Avenue. A ten minute walk (if that) down the hill and you're in the bustling center of the neighborhood. It has a beautiful view over lower Fremont and the canal, and is surrounded by trees.

When we were doing the research, I compiled the apartments Sarah had found onto a Google Map. Paff reviewed it and determined that they needed easy handles for reference, so he tacked on common first names to each. I added a last name based on their neighborhood for easily finding them in the list. When Sarah found a second batch of apartments, she gave them a collection of slightly less common first names: Jezebel, Erasmus, Tabitha, etc. Thus was Jezebel Fremont named.

She has a fireplace. A dishwasher, washer and dryer, garbage disposal. She allows cats. She is a 4 mile walk to Pike Place, and much less than that to Aaron and Soren.

I am excited.

Kitchen Day

August 10th, 2009

Yesterday was a kitchen day. A few days earlier Sarah and I went huckleberry picking with her friend Cody. So we had waffles with huckleberry syrup for breakfast. Then I made a huckleberry pie. The crust was a little finicky to handle, probably because of the warm house, but it turned out flaky and delicious when the pie came out of the oven. For dinner we made Indian food. Sarah made the naan, and I cooked a lamb curry with spiced rice. We had it, of course, with a pot of chai tea. Quite satisfying.

Of course, now we have to clean the kitchen again….