Photos Spare Cycles MythBusters

Category: trips

April 1, 2009

Belatedly back

Sea Turtle

I had a much needed sea turtle adventure in Hawaii last week and finally got some surfing in.

More sea turtle photos

June 25, 2008

Brooklyn Bridge


More photos

Olafur Eliasson: Take Your Time @ MOMA


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Photo gallery

Olafus Eliasson created one of my favorite installations I've never saw -- The Weather Project at the Tate Modern -- so I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon his "Take Your Time" exhibit at the MOMA. I can't think of any American museum that can really rival the Tate's Turbine Hall for immersive art, but Eliasson took over every knook and cranny he could find in the MOMA. A fan propels itself in the atrium, an opening in the wall takes you to a platform that hovers over infinite reflections of yourself, and yellow flourescent lights in the hallway turn everyone into an intense monochrome gray. My favorite part of the exhibit was a multi-faceted kaleidoscope light that sent colors of every stripe onto the surrounding walls.

If only I had been in NYC this weekend instead of last: Eliasson's Brooklyn Bridge Waterfalls are due to open tomorrow. Perhaps another favorite never-seen installation to add to my list.

Photo gallery

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June 24, 2008

© Murakami @ Brooklyn Museum


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I can never figure out whether Takashi Murakami is an "artist" or clever con. His study of otaku/manga/pop fetish commercialism looks an awful lot like otaku/manga/pop/fetish commercialism. But LIchtenstein got away with plagiarizing pages out of comic books and now hangs in nearly every modern art museum; at least Murakami does original work.

Brooklyn MuseumI was sad to miss Murakami's show in Los Angeles. I stayed at a hotel just two blocks away from the exhibit, but between New Years, the Rose Bowl, and the Moca's limited hours, I couldn't make it over. I must have some gravity towards Murakami: last weekend I found myself staying in Brooklyn just on the other side of Prospect Park, so I was not to be denied this time around.

The exhibit takes over a large swath of the Brooklyn Museum and spans two floors. The museum feels transformed with Murakami wallpaper covering many of the rooms to intense effect: imagine the effect of standing in a room covered with smiley flower wallpaper, smiley flower paintings, and smiley flower sculptures. If that doesn't seem intense to you, imagine another room with eyeballs on pink.

The biggest transformation was also Murakami's most brilliant stroke: a fully operational Louis Vitton store sits in the middle of the exhibit, offering some of Murakami's previous work for LV as well as an exhibition-exclusive design.

Murakami's exploration of otaku sexual fetishism setup the most disturbing twist: there was a large number of parents who brought children to the exhibit. I would have thought the naked female robot transforming into a spaceship would have deterred them from going further, sparing the parents from having to explain the life-size manga woman spraying milk from her breasts and the male counterpart just across. But no, deep into the exhibit, there were kids happily drawing smiley flowers on pieces of paper.

Photos aren't allowed inside the exhibition, but I tried my best anyway: photo gallery

April 21, 2008

Pirate Fest!

Pirate Fest!

Savannah straddled a fine line between old charm and decrepit, winning me over as I got to see more of the town outside the historic district. Tybee Island won me over more easily: Tybee Island Pirate Fest, Oct 10-11. Oh, and their mayor looks like Marky Mark.

At the Tour de Georgia

Tybee Lighthouse - (c) Ken Conley

Covering it over on my spare cycles blog

February 6, 2008

Is Chicago, Is Not Chicago

In the event that our flight does not land in Chicago, we will be landing in Dulles

That was the gist of what I heard as I sat down on my Southwest flight this morning. There was much missing from the announcement, such as why a plane that had not yet taken off was uncertain about the location of its landing. We were given the option of leaving the plane, but we opted to stick around for this new adventure in 21st-century quantum air travel. After all, both Chicago and Dulles are closer to our destination than San Jose. Win/win.

I got off my plane in Dulles with a hop and a skip, eagerly looking forward to what Southwest's next exciting twist on air travel would be. They didn't disappoint: we could not be given a refund or voucher because those can only be given at our destination. Dulles was not our destination, but I thought they had already redefined the concept of 'destination' earlier in the day.

They offered us a "40 minute" shuttle from Dulles to BWI in rush hour to catch another flight, but we decided to go rent a car on our own. At worst we arrived an hour later. At best we are currently not in Alaska.

September 21, 2007

iPhone UI: Built for 2 1/2 year olds

I have returned from my trip with the above video, which is my 2-1/2-year-old nephew playing with my iPhone. You know a user interface is good when you can put it in front of a toddler and he gets it immediately. I'm a very proud uncle.

The video was taken the second time I showed him the iPhone, but it was pretty much the same the first time around, except I think he left more toddler finger goop on the screen the first time.

September 16, 2007

On to West Virginia

Discovery leads the chase

I've journeyed from west to east across Missouri, through Branson, Lebanon, Columbia, Jefferson City, Hermann, Washington, St Charles, and St Louis. Today I thought would be easiest because a media sedan was there to drive me around the circuit. Little did I realize that I would end up sprinting 12+ blocks because the media sedan passed me by twice.

It's been a blast. Perversely, the hard bits added to the fun because it seems that the harder I worked for the shot, the better the result. You'll find lots of photos over on spare cycles. I can't say I've really visited Missouri as much as I've photographed it. Almost all my time here was spent in hotels, press rooms, or in the car. Next time, I'll go out for dinner.

Many thanks to m for the 20D loan -- couldn't have shot the race without it.

September 14, 2007

Jefferson City

I've now made it to Jefferson City, where I am staying at my third Best Western in a row. They must like me now because this is the nicest of the three I've stayed in -- actual hotel (rather than motel) quality. I've settled on them because, unlike some higher priced lodgings, they actually offer free in-room wireless.

I tried to stay in the same hotel as the riders/press the first night I was here. The conversation with the front desk went somewhat like this:

Me: "Do you have any rooms for tonight for one person?"
Hotel: "Yes we do."
Me: "How much?"
Hotel: "Two-hundred-twe-- that can't be right. Let me check. Huh, that is right. Two-hundred-twenty dollars."
Me: "Um. Thanks."

I stayed at the Best Western two blocks away for $70, and I still ended up at the same bar as team managers (Johan Bruyneel, Jonathan Vaughters), mechanics and press. The riders from DFL-CyclingNews were the only riders present. They managed third place in the time trial so clearly they had a good game plan.

My game plan seems to be going well also. The media has been hanging out in the hotel lobbies, all siphoning off the same wifi signal.

Tomorrow I attempt to follow the riders from Jefferson City to St Charles. If today was any indication, it means that I will get some easy but boring shots at the start, frantically drive for an hour between stopping points just so I can get two shots of the riders zooming past, and then attempt to finally get a finish line shot right. I'll be happy when I get to St Louis where the riders pedal around in a circuit: by then I'll be delighted to shoot fish in a barrel.

September 12, 2007

Off to Missouri


I'm headed for a journey across Missouri to follow the Tour of Missouri, then off to West Virginia to visit with family, and finally a quick stop off to say hey to bp in Pittsburgh.

August 22, 2007

Tour of Missouri, looking for free couches

I've gone ahead and booked a ticket to Kansas City to watch the Tour of Missouri bike race (Stages 3-7). In the spirit of excellent planning, I haven't figured out any of the other planning. My tentative schedule is:

  • Sept 12th: Springfield/Branson
  • Sept 13th: Lebanon
  • Sept 14th: Jefferson City
  • Sept 15th: St Louis
  • Sept 16th: St Louis or somewhere closer to Pittsburgh

I'll be driving over to West Virginia afterwards to see my family. If you know of anyone near any of those locations who's willing to spare some couch space, it'd be much appreciated. I'll just need somewhere to crash between the end of one stage and the start of the next. My goal is to get as close as possible to breaking even on this by selling photos, though that is extremely unlikely.

April 2, 2007

Swimming with the sea turtle (underwater camera 2)

Snorkelling with Sea Turtle

Swimming with a sea turtle ranks as my top moment from our Hawaii trip. There were many moments high on the list -- dolphins, humpback whales, pretty fish -- but its hard to beat having a sea turtle swim right past your face. We were already pretty happy after having seen a dozen or so sea turtles up on the North Shore, but the waters there were too choppy to get in. Having this little guy unexpectedly swim past us completed our sea turtle adventure.

Snorkelling with Sea Turtle Snorkelling with Sea Turtle

Underwater Camera 2 photos (more sea turtle plus unicorn fish and others)

April 1, 2007

Spinner Dolphins


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We took an fun (and complimentary) dolphin boat cruise off the coast of West Oahu. The dolphins came up right to the hulls of our catamaran and surfed the tiny wake before swimming off with a couple of spin-breach flourishes. Quite fun.

Spinner dolphins photos

Underwater photos 1

Humuhumunukunukuapua apua'a

above: Humuhumunukunukuapua apua'a

d and I picked up some cheap disposable underwater cameras at Costco to use at the lagoons around our hotel as well as up at the North Shore. The photo above may not be the best off the reel, but Humuhumunukunukuapua apua'a (aka reef triggerfish) is too cool of a name and too cool looking -- it's also the unofficial state fish -- to not give some love to. I also managed to get some underwater takes to go with my previously Turtle Beach sea turtle photos.

Underwater Camera 1 photos

Turtle Beach, North Shore Turtle Beach, North Shore Turtle Beach, North Shore

March 27, 2007

Quick post from Hawaii


IMG_3048Hawaii goes well -- our hotel room feels larger than our apartment and we're overlooking the beach. Today we went up to the North Shore and watched about ten different sea turtles feeding on seaweed. A very nice guy on the beach whose job it is to watch after the turtles told us a lot of interesting facts about them, from describing the satellite transponders on the backs of the turtles picked as most likely to visit the breeding grounds to anecdotes about having to free some of the smaller turtles that get wedged in the rocks. The turtles definitely need their hard shells to protect them against the crashing waves as we saw at least one turtle get flipped over. I'm posting photos of them from my digital camera but I'm hoping for even better from my disposable underwater camera.

On the way back we visited the set of Lost -- you walk down a public beach and there it is, a bunch of huts made out of airplane siding and bamboo. There was some Dharma Initiative food within grabbing distance, but I had no desire to outrun the security guard.

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March 24, 2007

Off to Hawaii

I'm looking forward to finally learning how to surf.

February 23, 2007

Media Passes are awesome

I new that the media pass would give me better access to take my photos, but who knew there would be other fringe benefits:

  • The Press Room has wireless internet to upload your photos and write your reports
  • It also has food and water
  • You get a welcome bag from the city (someone stole the fudge out of mine, but I got a wine glass, opener, and tourist info)

I'm in Santa Barbara now drinking coffee to stay awake. I still need to find a place to sleep tonight...

November 17, 2006

Headin' to DC, West Virginia

I'm off to Virginia. On Sat/Sun I'll be in West Virginia. I'll be in NoVA/DC the rest of the week until Saturday.

August 25, 2006

City grids rock

The coolest fact I learned about Chicago during my first visit there last week is that it is on a grid system that would make a mathematician proud. The city is basically one giant cartesian coordinate system where the origin (0,0) is at the downtown intersection of State and Madison. From there everything is either addressed as being n units North/South, East/West, where every 800 units = 1 mile (8 blocks every mile, 1 block = 100 units). For example, I stayed near 1600N 1600W, which is about 4 miles from downtown origin (3 miles if you can find a diagonal street). 

This system works great for navigating. If I'm trying to get from 1600N 1600W to 2400N 800W, I know that it's about 2 miles away -- very useful if you're debating paying for a cab, walking, or taking the El. There's also very little problems with getting lost: you know exactly which direction you need to head and you know when you've gone too far.

From Wikipedia's entry on Chicago

The city’s urban context is organized within a grid pattern. The pattern is modified by the shoreline, the three branches of the Chicago River, the system of active/inactive rail lines, several diagonal streets (including Clybourn Street, Milwaukee, Lincoln, Elston, Archer, and Ogden Avenues), the expressways, and hundreds of bridges and viaducts. In addition, the baselines for numbering streets and buildings are State Street (for east-west numbering) and Madison (for north-south numbering). Street numbers begin at "1" at the baselines and run numerically in directions indicated to the city limits, with N, S, E, and W indicating directions. Chicago is divided into one-mile sections which ideally contain eight blocks to the mile, with each block's addresses ideally occupying a 100-number range. Even-numbered addresses are on the north and west sides of streets; odd-numbered address are on the south and east sides.

August 10, 2006

Rule #1 of Flying: Never travel when a terror plot has been foiled

Corollary: If you are in need of good California wine, simply hang out at the airport terminal on a day like today. With no liquids allowed, that means plenty of Napa and Sonoma visitors caught between ditching or chugging. I'm sure someone in TSA is partying tonight.

It wasn't actually as bad as I thought. The news crews filming us in line were annoying, but the lines moved fairly fast. TSA wasn't very good at informing people with carry-on luggage that that they best exit the line and go and check their bags: in the short time I spent checking my bag, two women frantically cut in front of me to try and check their bags after having sat through the entire security line. It was annoying that you pretty much couldn't even buy coffee inside the secure area to bring onto the flight, but the good news was that there was tons of room in the overhead bins.

The only real annoyance for me came as a result of the large amounts of misinformation coming via NPR radio as we drove to the airport. I decided it was best if I left my iPod and more expensive camera equipment behind as it was unclear as to what was being allowed in carry-on baggage, so I am now in beautiful Chicago without a good camera. It did rain today, though, so the pictures wouldn't have been good anyway (today, at least).

August 9, 2006

Off to Chicago

Going to another wedding, but I'm taking a couple extra days to try and make this one a vacation (unlike the 30 hours I spent in Iowa).

July 30, 2006

Back from Iowa

I was off in Iowa this weekend for a wedding. It was a bit of a blitz trip so it may not be fair to give my opinion of Iowa just yet -- according to my SFO parking garage receipt, I was out of the Bay Area for less than 1 day and 20 hours. I will say that I was pretty darn happy that the plane trip back took me on my favorite approach into the Bay: over the Yosemite Valley to San Jose and then up the Bay across the salt ponds. One-hundred-degree, hot-and-humid corn fields are pretty at sunset, but it looks like the weather here went somewhere nice while I was briefly gone and the Bay's looking beautiful as always..

March 6, 2006

I'm going to Japan!

I've just sent in my registration for aamas-06: Autonomous Agents and Multiagent Systems as there is a paper that I wrote some paragraphs and did some UI designs for. The conference is in Hakodate, Japan, on the big island of Hokkaido. This will be my first trip to Hokkaido, so if you have any suggestions/recommendations, please send them along. We're currently figuring out how to make our way up to the Daisetsuzan national park.

I always comment on how I seem to visit the parts of Japan that no one else seems to visit (e.g. Sasebo, Okinawa, and now Hakodate), so I think I'm also going to take some time off and cruise down to Tokyo to experience the tourists' Japan. Suggestions for Tokyo are also welcome.

October 9, 2005

I'm back

I'm back from the East Coast, land of much rain but happy weddings. Also, land of slow dialup modem at parent's house, an experience that increases in pain as technology progresses. My time back in the West will be short -- I leave for the Far East this Friday, hopefully rid of this airplane-inflamed cold.

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October 3, 2005

October travels

I'm about to fall off the blogging radar. I leave for Wednesday for Kenji's wedding, get back Sunday, leave the following Friday for Japan and get back ten or so days after that. I'm pretty sure my 100-year-old grandma doesn't have Internet access, so expect little until I get back.

I'll be meeting a bunch of people at Kenji's wedding that I only know through their blogs and vice versa. I'm skimming through Flickr to see if I can better matchup handles, names and faces. If you really want to screw with me and have me go up to novak and say, "How's it going Anne?" feel free to mess around with your photo captions. It may be to your advantage -- the person who best impersonates novak gets a Penny Arcade t-shirt and sketch.

Here's a photo of me dressed up as an even-toed ungulate. I promise to show up dromedary and not bactrian.

July 18, 2005

I'm back

I'm back. It's 2am. I arrived home about 4 hours ago. Since then I've watched three of the four Tour de France stages I've missed. One more stage and I'll finally be able to take the media blinders down.

Our Internet connection in San Diego ran out Saturday evening soon after we got back to our hotel room. You may have to wait a day or two for the dramatic conclusion to Tour de Comic-Con.

June 21, 2005

India-mex wedding

I attended my first Indian wedding in New Jersey last week, though it was more of an Indian wedding with Mexican influences. I missed the mariachi band playing during the reception as I had to head back west, but I did get to see my friend enter in on horseback while a van blasted dance music (this should be part of every wedding).

I'm planning on submitting one (and only one) of the photos I took at the wedding to the C.A.F.E. group on Flickr for constructive criticism. If you could help out by indicating which one of the photos below you think is best, I would appreciate it. There were various alterations I was experimenting with, including B&W conversion, dodge/burning, lomo-izing, etc...

Wedding-1-4 Wedding-1-3 Wedding-2-1 Wedding-1-2 Wedding-1-1 Wedding-4 Wedding-1-5

June 13, 2005

Blue laws

I was in Bergen County, NJ, for a wedding and learned this fun fact:

On Sundays, you can buy alcohol, but you cannot buy books*

* To be fair, you cannot buy anything 'retail' (books, clothes, music), only 'essentials.'

April 17, 2005

Pinnacles and California Condors

California Condorota had the great idea of taking a trip down to Pinnacles National Monument (southeast of Monterey). Driving there is deceiving -- up until you reach the park you are in the typical Northern California rolling green hills, but once you reach the remains of the former volcano, you are suddenly surrounded by large rock towers jutting straight up out of the ground. The main high peak is a haven for large birds, which are constantly circling above and around.

If you enjoy hiking, birding (condors, vultures, sparrows, hummingbirds), chapparel flora, rock climbing, or small caves, there's plenty to do and be entertained by. We hiked up to the High Peak, where we spotted one of the few remaining California Condors -- it became an instant tourist attraction. At one point we saw what looked like a kid squirting the condor with a squirt gun and throwing small rocks -- we shouted for the kid to stop and leave it alone. Turns out it wasn't a kid; it was a park ranger trying to get the condor to leave the company of people.

I've have been reading the condor field notes from Pinnacles, and the acclimation to people is a big problem the condor reintroduction program is frequently dealing with. Periodically they have to capture some of the more human-friendly condors and bring them in for "aversive conditioning."

As usual, there are hundreds of photos to process and rank, but in the meantime I've uploaded some of the condor photos. It appears to be a young one, as my reading tells me that adults have pink heads, but if it weren't for the tag on the shoulder I wouldn't have known it from the turkey vultures that were also circling above. I believe the condor is number 306, described in the field notes as a "young female" that was recently introduced to the park. She appears to have been one of the last of the recently introduced condors (November 2004) to venture from the flight pens and around the park, and my camera was lucky that she has become more adventurous.


Related entries * Pinnacles Photos * Pinnacles Panorama California Condor Photo Album

January 5, 2005

Going to...

wv... West Virginia! My Christmas was brief this year (I flew to my Aunt and Uncle's for X-mas day) as I have been saving up vacation to go back East to see my soon-to-be-born nephew. I'm flying out tomorrow night and will be back Monday with adorable photos. The West Virginia Internet is a lot slower and less widespread than our luscious Bay Area Internet, so I expect this blog to go blank in a few days (and I still haven't posted about how I spent the day after Christmas taking photos in a cemetary).

November 11, 2004

More on the visited counties map

Update: to all those who stumble across this entry and wish to undertake this giant task, ignore most of what's below (except to download the blank maps and whatnot) and instead download a free trial of Keyhole, which will allow you to pull up highway and county boundary data. I recommend this over the NACO maps and other sites suggested below.

I don't really recommend doing a visited counties map unless you're a map dork like me and have photoshop+a lot of time, but in case you do, here are the resources that helped me along.

Christopher Swindle deserves first billing for providing maps to color in and links to various resources. This should be your first stop.

World Atlas does a pretty good job of linking to various map resources on other sites, indexed by states. NACO has county maps for all fifty states and will also list the county seat (often the city that you are looking for). Virginia DOT and Texas DOT have good interactive tools, and North Carolina DOT, Connecticut DOT, and Arizona TPD provide descent maps.

If all else fails, you can enter in the driving route on Mapquest and slowly pan. At the correct zoom level it will show you county line markings and names.

Finally, you can checkout, which is a full list of the resources I used to compile my maps.

To demonstrate that I'm not the only map dork out there, I've included an IM conversation in the extended entry.

Continue reading "More on the visited counties map" »

November 10, 2004

Visited counties map

In an attempt to outdo my visited states and my visited countries map, I now present to you, my visited counties map:


I'll admit that I was inspired by ps's visited counties map, which is both cooler for the amount of coverage as well as the color-coding indicated the time period. I've elected to use a three-color scheme: yellow for drive-by visiting, orange to indicate that I actually did something there (other than pee at a McDonald's), and red to indicate a tie to that particular area (visited multiple times, family, live(d) there, etc...).

I'm still missing a line connecting San Antonio to Raleigh via Baton Rouge, and a line connecting Atlanta and Orlando. For both lines I can't recall which route was used. There are also some missing counties here and there that I'll get to when I have energy to spend on this again.

Update: with the help of my dad I was able to resolve some more routes. This is 99% complete now.

Update 2: to all those who stumble across this entry and wish to undertake this giant task, I highly recommend downloading a free trial of Keyhole, which will allow you to pull up highway and county boundary data -- it makes it a lot easier to figure out where you've been. You might also find NACO county maps useful for matching up the Keyhole data to an overall picture, and last but not least, you can get blank maps to fill in from Christopher Swindle.

July 27, 2004

Comic-Con '04 Backposting

In order to keep my panel notes in semi-chronological order, I'm backposting them. I will keep track of the new posts here, in case you are interested.

Newest: * Stan Sakai

New: * Quick Draw Panel * Kung-fu extravaganza

Slightly older: * Mirrormask (Gaiman and McKean) * The Incredibles (Brad Bird) * Composition in Storytelling * Ray Bradbury * PvP/Penny Arcade (Added photo) * 24 Hour Comic Panel * Quotations * TnA report

Older: * Costumes * Buffy! * Schwag report * Summary and Advice * Queen and Country Sketches * Pixar/Incredibles/Brad Bird

The Quick Draw Panel page is likely to be updated when I exchange notes with honeyfields.

July 24, 2004

I'm back

Todo list:
- blog about Comic-Con (panels, schwag, sketches)
- process Comic-Con photos
- read Comic-Con comics
- watch three days of Tour de France stages (even though the outcome was inadvertently spoiled already).
- blog about said three stages
- build awesome tie fighter fleet of destruction

Tomorrow I head off to my first ever academic conference, AAAI, which is an AI conference in exciting San Jose. Other people get to go to boring places like Vienna for conferences, but really, the commute there is terrible.

July 20, 2004

To Comic-Con I will go

I'm heading off to Comic-Con tomorrow. Can't seem to find my registration confirmation, so I hope they let me pick up my badge without it :). If you have any special requests (sketches, stuff to try and find, etc...), please get them to me IMMEDIATELY as I will lose regular Internet access tomorrow.

June 16, 2004

Ireland Trip Log

I thought it would only take a week, but it's been ten days and I'm only halfway through. This entry sums up my progress: the entries that are unlinked are those which I still have to do, and some of those that are linked need a bit more revision, but if you've been dying to see my Ireland photos you can check them out.

I've mainly done the 'scenic' entries. Most of the Dublin/Galway nightlife stuff I still haven't got to yet, partly because I'm relying on ginfiend/wdj/psychoshepard to blog their recollections and save me the effort of recollecting.

May 29
Dublin I (St. Stephens Green, Trinity)

May 30
Dublin II (Chester Beatty, O'Donoghue's)

May 31
Dublin III (Jameson, Guinness, Temple Bar)

June 1
Dublin to Cork (Kilkenny, Cobh)

June 2
Cork to Kilkee (Ring of Kerry, Shannon Ferry, Kilkee)

June 3
Kilkee to Galway (Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, Doolin, Galway I)

June 4
Connemara (Connemara National Park, Kylemore Abbey, Galway II)

June 5
Galway to Dublin (IV)

June 6
Dublin V

June 14, 2004

Europe travels

I noticed (via ginfiend) that world66 has updated their map offerings. Given my recent travels, here is my updated Europe map:
visited europe map

create your personalized map of europe
or write about it on the open travel guide

they still don't have a visited Asia map...

May 27, 2004

Leavin' Here

05-27-04.shamrock.jpgI'm headed off to Ireland tomorrow morning. I'm not bringing my laptop, so my posting will be confined to what whims allow while in Internet cafes. I'll be back two Sundays from now, full of Guinness and Kilkenny.

If you have any suggestions for Ireland, please post quickly before I go, as we have no plan as of yet.

May 22, 2004


With all my posting of media related to my trip to Boston, I never took the opportunity to do a simple post on what I actually did, as opposed to what I saw.

The trip didn't start of auspiciously. United cancelled my flight and put me on one five hours later, and that flight was further delayed both on take off, landing, and during the taxi-ing to our gate, but my luck turned around as a nice person from Genentech gave me a ride from the airport to j and hogue's place. Among other things, we joked about the flight attendant who was more than a bit overzealous in her enforcement of emergency exit row qualifications and procedures.

The alumni party BBQ was fun; during the course of the weekend I found out about two babies on the way, caught up with a lot of friends, and saw the immense damage to one of the houses used to lived in. I also watched a lot of NBA playoff games, had some good serious discussions with friends, saw the tremendous changes to the MIT campus (Stata, Simmons, Z-Center, and toilet paper), and managed a couple of sinks during beer die (though I shamefully had to use proxies for defense).

My only disappointment was that this was one of the lesser turnouts for an alumni event that I had seen in the six-or-so events I had been to; most of my class was absent, pretty much no one from the previous three classes came from out-of-town. The low turnout was understandable: this year's event was much more low-key since our venus was destroyed, and next year's event will certainly offer much more interesting sights with a newly renovated house to gaze at. Also, I did manage to see a lot of this year's seniors (who were freshmen when I graduated) before they take off.

May 17, 2004

Fire ch-changes

Following up on the theme of change, another big change had less to do with MIT, and more to do with a fire that started during a cold snap, which was followed by thousands of gallons of water that was used to put out the fire, which was accompanied by the gutting of walls and ceilings to contain said fire, all of which resulted in crispy wood encased in sheets of ice. The event I'm describing occurred in one of the houses I lived in during college that I got to tour while I was in Boston.


The actual fire damage was very little, but the water and the gutting ruined most of the walls, floors, and ceilings, from the fourth floor all the way down to the basement. The biggest loss is the Lounge, which had accrued much of our culture over the years. When people move through a place at the rate of four years per stay, much of the memory of the organization has to be carried in the place itself. So, as much as the fire will provide a phoenix-like opportunity for rebirth/remodelling, it also represents cultural amnesia that the current members of the house will have to work hard to repair.

You can view more of the current state in the extended entry.

Continue reading "Fire ch-changes" »

MIT ch-changes

In the three years since I've graduated, MIT campus has changed a lot, and my general impression is that it has become a much nicer place to go to school. The biggest factor in this is the new Z-Center, which replaces MIT's 50-year-old scummy pool and basement weight rooms with a modern, three-story complex with two pools, tons of workout machines, and lots of TVs. It also appears that there are more dining choices close to campus, and I also happen to like the addition of the Stata Center. The number of buildings that MIT has built or is building since I left is astonishing -- my current count notes that at least five large buildings have been completed, and there is also a gigantic building being constructed for the cogsci department. Of the buildings, the only one I wish MIT could take back is the Simmons dorm, which is ugly beyond description on the outside -- I hear that it's even worse on the inside.

I can't speak for changes in student life. It was hard to tell in the space of a weekend how the changes to the freshman programs, from changing the timing of rush, to requiring freshman to live on campus, to eliminating two-term pass/no record, have harmed or improved interactions on campus, but I will note that I even noticed that the toilet paper on campus has noticeably improved, and that certainly improves day-to-day life.

Back from Boston

More entries await after I get more sleep...


May 13, 2004

Off to Boston tomorrow

Hopefully will have plenty to post when I get back.

January 30, 2004

my us

This isn't as cool, detailed, or information-rich as ps's visited counties map, but I went ahead and generated a visited states map just to check up on my progress. The influence of a southerly cross-country trip is obvious, and will hopefully be fixed sometime in the future. My criteria for filling in a state was that I had to have at least driven in the state -- airport layovers don't count -- but even that is fairly loose criteria.

visited states
create your own visited states map

January 24, 2004

my world

visited countries map
create your own visited country map

October 2, 2003

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

LACMA has a permanent exhibit of Japanese art that is rather cool. They built a building specifically for it that uses fiberglass filters on the windows and running water to create the effect that you are in a Japanese country-side home surrounded by shoji screens. One thing that I thought was cool is they had a tiger/dragon scroll. You can click on the image to see a larger version that shows some of the brush detail - I think the dragon is particularly cool. In the extended entry I also posted some pictures of Bishamonten, the Guardian of the North, squashing a demon beneath his feet, and the Carefree Hotei, painted by Zen Monk Fugai Ekun.
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September 24, 2003

Guess this photo

While we were descending down Haleakala on bike I took photos of this massive smoke plume over the middle of the island. Ten points to whoever can guess what it is (anyone who's ever lived on a tropical island or has relatives on a tropical island is not allowed to guess).
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Posting madness!

I just got back from Maui, so expect a ton of posts over the next day or say (at least until I start my new job on Thursday). Sorry for the old news links, but I like to use this blog to keep track of stuff for personal use... On the positive side, where will be a lot of cool photos I took in Maui being posted, on the negative side, there will be a lot of photos from Maui being posted (we took over 500 photos).

Marathon photos version 0.9

Here's the first round of photos of metamanda's marathon. The only photo I have of Amanda crossing the finish line is on my 35mm roll, so I plan to repost once I have those. Joey also has a nice photo or two that I would like to add.

- Maui Marathon Photos

Teppanyaki photos

We went to a Kobe restaurant, which is a teppanyaki grill in Lahaina on Maui. The food was good, and the chef was nice, but there weren't as many "tricks" performed with the cultlery compared to other teppanyaki experiences I've had.

The chef made a cool onion volcano, which I managed to get a couple of shots of.
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September 18, 2003

Off to Maui I go

I'm leaving for Maui to go watch metamanda run her marathon. Wish her luck!

August 11, 2003

Comic-Con Backposting

I'll be backposting entries for the Comic-Con as I want to keep the chronology correct. I'm knocking off the easy ones first (i.e. the ones with the least amount of photoshop involved). I'll probably be using this entry as a tracking entry and advancing it forward in time.

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August 10, 2003

Photos: Gopher/Chipmunk Hunting

There happened to be a huge mound of gophers next to the hottub. The gophers were clearly attracted by the large amounts of food that people left behind. I also spotted a chipmunk amongst them.
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July 6, 2003

Smith Mountain Lake Photos

More photospam from my trip to Smith Mountain Lake, including a one-legged duck.
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Biggest Photo Stitch... Ever

I took a really huge panorama while I was away at Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia for the 4th of July. I didn't think it would turn out because I started taking photos at one end of the cove, and by the time I had finished the boat I was on was already at the other end of the cove. Interestingly enough, it worked, but the number of images I took (nineteen) was so large that it exposed at least two bugs in Canon's PhotoStitch program. I managed to piece it back together, so if you're interested, venture forward.

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May 12, 2003


Got a lot of culture over the weekend down in Los Angeles with my Aunt and Uncle. I went to the Getty, saw Gehry's new Disney Center, saw Esa-Peka Salonen conduct Mahler's 3rd, went to the Huntington Library/Gardens, and went to the Norton Simon. I took lots of pictures, but the early reports on my DSL are that it really won't work for photos. I'll have to find a better way of posting my photos, as the architecture was really cool (Getty and Gehry), and I got to see a lot of good paintings, including a lot of great Impressionist works.

February 23, 2003

Vegas Baby pt. 2

We walked up and down the Vegas strip today. My gambling was in the black today :
- Won $40 on craps at the Venetian
- Lost $20 on blackjack at the MGM Grand
- Won $34 on craps at the Monte Carlo

We saw the tiger at the Mirage and also went to the Guggenheim Hermitage exhibit at Venetian (Van Gogh, Mondrian, Kooning, Reubens). Unfortunately they had just closed the BMW motorcycle exhibit.

Dinner was at Delmonico (at the Venetian), which was an all-around excellent experience. I think that we were probably there for several hours, as it started off as just a couple of drinks at the bar, then latte, then Foie Gras with carmelized banana and smoked apple bacon, then amazing beef tournedos, and finishing up with a chocolate souffle and vintage port. Mmmmmm.... Gonna have to eat there again.

February 22, 2003

Vegas Baby

I finally went to Vegas for the first time in my life. I stayed at the Monte Carlo, where I managed to lose only $100 on craps. Today we met up with Vijay, Raj, etc... and had buffet at the Bellagio. They had some neat Chinese New Years decorations in the garden and some cool color glass flowers on the ceiling (altered photo of this is the background of this blog). We also rode the roller coaster at New York, New York (that place is designed to get you lost). We couldn't get any good show tickets, so next time that I want to see O/Mystere I'm going to have to remember to get tickets three whole months in advance.
Vegas baby. Instead we ended up walking around Caesar's Palace, seeing the Lassen gallery, watching the Atlantis water show, and eating dinner at a Chinese restaurant at the Bellagio that had a good view of the water jets.

December 30, 2002

Back in Cali

December 29, 2002

Back from Smith Mountain Lake

... in Northern VA now

December 28, 2002

Boat Captain

Got to drive a boat for the first time in my life. I piloted the neighbor's tritoon around Smith Mountain Lake. I was able to get it up to 30mph before my mom started screaming from the cold wind :). Not the fastest little boat, but not bad for a party boat.