XVIII

Happy birthday to the most beautiful, talented, smart, funny eighteen-year-old girl in my life!

xviii

Sad car

This afternoon I was in the parking lot of Jimmy John’s after grabbing a sandwich, and a guy backed right into the side of my car. I saw him coming, and my window was down, so I shouted “Hey, whoa!” but he didn’t hear me. Luckily the damage was pretty minor:

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The rear bumper of his SUV was barely scratched, so he asked two or three times, “Are you sure you didn’t already have damage there?” As if I had a big dent exactly where his bumper hit me or something, and was lying about the damage.

So begins the drudgery of working with his insurance company to get this fixed. Whee!

Zack’s new toy

Zack’s friend Bryce built a “gaming computer” a few weeks ago, and Zack decided he really needed one too. I guess his little iMac laptop isn’t breathtaking for gaming (although it seems to work okay from what I’ve seen) and it’s all the rage to have a custom rig running Windows and Steam. Bryce’s system cost upward of $300, but I sat down with Zack and we worked together to figure out the parts we already have– there are shelves upon shelves of parts in my basement office– and what he really needs for a reasonable gaming computer. We ended up with $165 in parts.

Well, everything arrived yesterday and Zack was excited to get it going. Today we sat down, unpacked all of the boxes, and I showed him how to build a computer.

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The one thing he’s missing is an operating system; we don’t have Windows anywhere at home, so I guess he’s going to borrow an installation CD from a friend. Then he’ll be ready to game with the best.

Happy birthday hat

I was just meeting with a lawyer and he had a sweet “happy birthday” cake hat on his shelf. Since today is Dirk’s birthday, I figured I had no choice– I asked the lawyer to take a few pictures of me wearing it.

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Yeah, this is the sort of guy I have as a lawyer: the sort of guy who has a hat shaped like a cake.

Another one!

Astronomers have found another “dwarf” planet deep in the solar system. It’s temporarily been designated 2015RR245, which isn’t a very exciting name, but presumably they’ll give it an official name soon.

Here’s a cool diagram showing the currently-known distant planets:

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Everyone knows Pluto, and many years ago when I taught science class, I talked about Sedna, Makemake, Haumea, Quaoar, and Eris. But now I see we’ve added Varuna, Varda, Ixion, and a handful of other yet-to-be-named guys. I’m not sure if someone has yet come up with a song or mnemonic (remember “My very fine mother just served us nine pizzas”?)…

It’s exciting that our local neighborhood is much busier and more complicated than we’ve imagined!

Juno, meet Jupiter

After a multi-year journey, the Juno spacecraft arrived at Jupiter on July 4. NASA just released its first photo of the big guy:

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The Not-so-great Red Spot is clearly visible– it continues to shrink, which of course is a source of continuing scientific speculation. To the right are Io, Europa, and Ganymede.

Awesome stuff.

Shakespeare action figure

I’m lifting this straight from Mom’s blog, but I thought it was awesome.

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For some reason, the “Removable quill pen and book!” part really cracks me up. You just don’t see that kind of thing in Star Wars action figures, for example.

Steamboat Springs

Last summer we had a great time taking a road trip out to Utah, Nevada, and California. It was the first time we’d gone on a trip like that with friends, and it proved to be such fun that we decided to do it again this year. We invited Kurt and Megan, as well as Jason and Jerilyn, and all decided that Steamboat Springs would be a good destination. Most of them didn’t want to do something quite as epic as we’d done last year, so staying in Colorado was a good compromise.

We drove up there on Thursday; normally it’s about three and a half hours on the road but some construction projects delayed us quite a bit and it ended up being more like four hours. But we made it and checked into our fancy big condo– since Steamboat is a ski resort, there are tons of fancy big condos scattered around the base of the mountain. There were fifteen of us in all, and it had plenty of space for everyone. We arrived first and claimed the big master bedroom (hah!), leaving the other bedrooms for the two other couples and their gaggle of kids. Kyra and Zack grabbed couches so they didn’t have to share bunks with the younger kids.

On Friday we decided to take a hike to a couple of waterfalls called Lower Fish Creek Falls and (wait for it) Upper Fish Creek Falls. The lower falls were about a quarter-mile from the parking lot, and they were pretty cool:

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We wanted to press on to the upper falls, although they were two and a half miles uphill. But heck, these are kids; they should have boundless energy, right? Well, as we continued to climb, the day warmed up and the sun was beating down on the trail for much of the way. The complaints started mounting. We found a nice shady lunch spot on the side of the trail and stopped to eat, which did wonders for everyone’s attitudes. A particularly brave chipmunk kept coming up to us, obviously looking for food. He actually climbed on Laralee’s leg! The kids thought it was a riot, and Zack (being Zack) tricked him into climbing into his backpack. The chipmunk realized what was going on and popped out, then ran off.

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Personally, I thought the hike was relatively easy, and enjoyed taking some photos along the way.

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A few people coming down the trail told us we were close to the upper falls– maybe 20 minutes of hiking to go. Of course, at the pace we were going (the youngest kid was four) that was more like 30 minutes. We were able to convince the tired kids to continue the climb. Sure enough, within about half an hour we found the falls. Suddenly everyone’s fatigue was forgotten, and we all took off our shoes and jumped in the water, climbed on the rocks, and generally had a great time.

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After a while we had to head back down, so we gathered our shoes and started the long hike. I ended up carrying a couple of the younger girls on my shoulders most of the way because they were pretty tired (understandably so). When we arrived at the cars, everyone was pretty beat. But still, we all agreed it was a great trail.

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Saturday we set our alarms for 5:30am and woke up to catch a 6am shuttle to the “balloon rodeo”, a big annual event in Steamboat that starts with a hot-air balloon launch at sunrise and then a day of festivals, food, and parties. Just before the sun peeked over the mountains, it was fun to see mist on a nearby lake from the cool air.

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The early hour didn’t prevent Zack from being a ham, though.

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The first two balloons that were inflated and took off had the American and Colorado flags, respectively. We stood for the national anthem, and then they floated overhead and touched down on the lake just as the sun came up. Nice.

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As we watched for an hour or more, there were probably twenty other balloons that took off and coasted overhead. Almost all of them attempted to touch the water– apparently it’s a tricky maneuver, so there’s some measure of pride involved for the balloonists. It makes for a nice photo-op, though.

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A few more shots:

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Then there was the woman who was dressed as a horse:

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After the last balloons had coasted overhead and scattered over the town (the wind was light and unpredictable, apparently) we headed back to the condo. That afternoon about half of us decided to rent some inner tubes and coast down the river, which was a blast. The other half rode an alpine slide down the mountain. We had dinner at a nice Italian place in town, where Kurt found a hundred-dollar bill under his chair– better than a coupon!

It was a nice evening so we stopped in a few shops. One was the coolest rock and gem shop I’ve ever seen. Check out this mammoth quartz crystal:

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Or an amethyst big enough for Zack to stick his head through:

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Everything was breathtaking. I glanced at a few price tags; the quartz crystal above was $12,000. There was a flat rock, probably four by four feet, with a palm fossil and some fish, for $45,000. But the most expensive rock I could find was a massive fully-intact ichthyosaur fossil which was about six feet long. It cost a staggering $195,000. I guess if you have a multi-million-dollar ski house on the hill in Steamboat, you can afford wall hangings that cost more than a suburban house.

We also stopped in at a t-shirt shop that had some sweet hats.

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On Sunday morning we stopped in for church at the local chapel (just a couple of blocks from our condo) and then headed back home. We took a much more scenic route across the northern part of the state, avoiding all of the construction.

All in all, it was a fabulous trip, and hopefully the start of an annual tradition (now that we’ve done it twice with the same friends).

McRadpants

Zack: Dad, you can name your kids whatever you want, right?
Me: Yeah…
Zack: So I can give my son the middle name of McRadpants?
Me: Umm, I guess so.
Zack: Cool! (runs off)

I guess this would’ve been a cute conversation if Zack was, say, five years old. But he asked me this today. He’s almost fifteen.

I can’t wait to see what happens when he becomes a dad.

God creating animals

Seen on the internet…

[God creating kittens]
God: Make them really fluffy and adorable, like little furry hugs.
Angel: That’s so swee–
God: And put razor blades on their feet.

[God creating pandas]
God: Cow bears.
Angel: What?
God: Did I stutter?
Angel: …
God: Take a cow and make it a bear.

[God creating spiders]
God: Make it have 8 legs.
Angel: Seems excessive, but okay…
God: And 8 eyes.
Angel: You need to calm dow–
God: And a butt rope.

[God creating bees]
God: Put a needle on its butt.
Angel: Come on, wha–
God: And make its puke delicious.

[God creating alligators]
God: See that log?
Angel: Yeah.
God: Fill it with teeth.
Angel: Umm, what?
God: FILL IT!

[God creating a praying mantis]
God: Make an insect that does karate.
Angel: Okay.
God: Now make it bite her husband’s head off.
Angel: Dude, we need to talk.

[God creating parrots]
God: How about a tye-dye chicken who screams actual words at you?

[God creating bats]
God: I want a hairy black potato with wings.
Angel: Umm…
God: …
Angel: God?
God: Also, it should sleep upside down.

[God creating hippos]
God: How about a big fat horse that’s always trying to sneak up on you in a pool?

[God creating octopi]
God: Give it 8 super strong arms and hands.
Angel: Uhh, we’re out of bones.
God: Okay, 8 weird floppy arms with suction cup things.

[God creating hyenas]
God: So, it’s a cat dog with jaws of steel.
Angel: Sweet!
God: But it laughs like Fran Drescher.

[God creating chimps]
God: Shrink a gorilla and make it smart.
Angel: Okay. And what sound should it make?
God: Just have it scream all the time.

[God creating ducks]
God: I’m out of ideas. Just put a big surfboard mouth on a pigeon and make it sound like a loud idiot. I don’t know.

A big change in my life

After more than a decade, my old Timex watch finally gave out. I banged it pretty hard and although the digital part of it continued working fine, the analog dial was dead. Rest in peace, old friend.

After a bit of poking around, I found another Timex that I like, and I can continue looking sophisticated.

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Groupon = spam

A couple of weeks ago, I used Groupon for the first time in my life. They offered a good deal on tickets to an amusement park, so I figured it was worth a shot.

Since then, I’ve become the victim of Groupon spam. They send me multiple messages every day, mostly advertising deals on things I care nothing about. Here’s what Gmail looks like right now:

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Seriously, guys?

$10 billion should be enough

Some guy named Thomas S. Ross has decided to sue Apple because he claims he invented the iPhone first. Specifically, in 1992 he sketched something he called an “electronic reading device” that allowed a person to “communicate, write notes, … and store reading and writing material”.

In his lawsuit, he points out how similar the two devices are:

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Yep, clearly he was thinking the same thing as Apple, fifteen years earlier. Never mind that technology in 1992 wasn’t anywhere close to making this thing a reality… I mean, I could have drawn some cool little device that did awesome impossible-at-the-time stuff then too!

His technical detail drawing is kind of funny:

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Notice the floppy disk drive on the left-hand side, and the comment that it will use a 16MHz 386 processor. Oh, and tiny solar cells on the sides that will presumably power all of this.

Although his patent was declared “abandoned” by the USPTO in 1995 because he didn’t pay application fees, he says he has suffered “great and irreparable injury that cannot fully be compensated or measured in money”. So he decided that ten billion dollars should be enough to put his anguished mind at ease. Oh, and royalties on all ongoing iPhone sales.

Apple’s lawyers are probably enjoying this.

Longmont sunset

Last night we went out to buy a few things to send to Alex in Peru, and the sunset was pretty spectacular.

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(Dang light posts)

Gigabits = a lot of bits

Today I got plugged into Longmont’s gigabit fiber network. It’s called NextLight, and from what I hear it’s the fastest municipal network in the country. Unfortunately I can’t take advantage of the full speed quite yet, because my ten-year-old router isn’t gigabit-capable… I need to find something faster so I can transfer huge files from site to site just for fun.

Take that, CenturyLink and Comcast!

Tornado WHAT?

I just got a couple of alerts on my phone about a tornado watch, starting now. It struck me as kind of strange, since outside I see clear blue skies, a few scattered clouds, and a beautiful sun.

The National Weather Service says the same thing:

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Who knew? Of course I rode my bike today. Should I head home now, when it’s nice outside, or risk riding through a tornado in a few hours?

Han in Jello

Yesterday Zack found an old box of cherry Jello in the back of the pantry. He was bored, so he decided to mix it up and enjoy a little snack. He had the brilliant idea of pouring it into our Han Solo ice cube mold.

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As it turns out, Han Solo doesn’t do too well as Jello. Too bad.

Resume fun

Zing’s in the market for a new developer, which means it’s time to poke a little fun at some of the stuff I see in resumes as people apply for a job.

Let’s start with an objective that uses some big words but is basically meaningless:

Objective: To play an integral role in an innovative effort.

When applying for a job where you write code, don’t start your cover letter with:

While I am no coder, I do possess a fun, quirky attitude.

Our job posting says very clearly– in bold font with capital letters– that we’re looking for a local full-time employee. So it’s always great when people say things like:

I reside in the Greenville, SC area. If the opportunity you posted can not be performed remotely, I apologize for the inconvenience.

And finally, something that had me puzzled a bit:

I am confident that, although I can show no experience on my resume, I can be an asset to you.

Points for honesty, I guess, but this guy is a long-haul truck driver. No kidding. He’s probably really nice, and hopefully great at his job, but I just don’t understand how a truck driver applies for a job requiring mid- to advanced-level programming skills.

And so, the hunt continues.

Is 4 a lot?

Seen on an internet Q&A forum:

Q: Is 4 a lot?
A: It depends on the context. Dollars, no. Murders, yes.