Browse Month: September 2015

Ultimate league

My friend Kevin dropped by our ultimate league last night and took a ton of photos of the games. He even managed to catch a few good action shots of me.

Here I’m sneaking a forehand past my defender:

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Tossing a casual backhand downfield:

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And here’s a nice shot of us heading downfield with a backlit sunset:

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It’s been a great league so far (we’re three weeks into the season) and I love my team. Hopefully we’ll continue to do well.

PC Load Letter

Hah, I stumbled across this today and it reminded me of my days working in a computer lab…

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Since no one but computer lab guys knew what this meant, HP finally updated the message so it was a little more clear what was wrong with the printer:

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Which only leads to another great 80’s reference, of course.

Thirsty boy

I found this old photo on my phone… on our California trip, Alex was a bit thirsty one night at the restaurant.

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In the middle of a drought in California, too…

Homemade hot fudge

The other night I cooked up some homemade hot fudge for my bowl of ice cream. Delish.

homemade-fudge

Go Rox

Our latest Zing activity was a Rockies game on Monday night. We had sweet field-level seats right down the third-base line, courtesy of Brian’s work on StubHub:

rockies-game

The weather was absolutely perfect, so it was a great night to sit out and watch a game. Too bad the Pirates trounced us– the first batter of the game cranked a home run, and a few batters later (still in the first inning) we watched another home run ball soar into the deep seats. The final was 9-3, but still a good time with the guys.

Black belt #2

Last night Alex was awarded his second-degree black belt!

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Normally there’s a ceremony where a group of students who are receiving new belt ranks are all presented together. However, since Alex will be leaving the country (and thus the dojo) in a couple of weeks, the instructors decided to test him a little early.

First he was run through the rigors of their fitness regimen, which consisted of a series of push-ups, planks, crunches, jumping jacks, mountain climbers, burpees, bicycles, and holding the “horse position” for a couple of minutes. It was grueling, but Alex never complained. He just said “Sir!” whenever the instructor ordered him to switch to a different exercise.

Then, sweating from that, he had to face three attackers who all went after him. They were all wearing pads, but he wasn’t. He had to demonstrate his self-defense skills as well as his black-belt moves, fending them off as they came at him from three directions.

Apparently that wasn’t enough– the instructor then called up two more people, and Alex fought five attackers at once. Of course he wasn’t going full-bore, since he could have potentially hurt someone, but he did manage to accidentally sneak in a punch against a teenage girl (also a black belt) to give her a black eye.

Afterward, he was exhausted, but the instructor jumped him and they wrestled a bit as Alex fought him off. The instructor is an ex-Marine who’s very skilled at self-defense, and he wasn’t giving Alex any breaks. I’ve participated in some of the classes with Alex, and I can attest that he’s good. He did a great job resisting the attack.

Finally, Alex demonstrated one of his kata. There are different ones for the various belt ranks, and he chose one of the hardest.

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His moves were, as always, very crisp and sharp. He looked good out there.

At last the instructor was satisfied and there was a nice presentation ceremony. Alex received not only a second-degree black belt, but was also given the honor of the first advanced self-defense degree.

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The instructors and several other black-belt students all congratulated him with brief speeches, talking about how dedicated Alex was and how much work he put into these classes. And here he is with his awards and new belt!

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Following the ceremony, we had some cake and punch. Alex cut the cake with a katana (his weapon of choice).

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All in all, this was a pretty big deal and certainly a big moment for Alex. He worked hard for six years to earn this, and he’s sad to leave the dojo. I’m really proud of the skills and discipline it taught him.

Get rich playing in a band

My friend Dave went to the bank the other day to deposit a check he’d received from a client for work his software company had done. The check was rather large– tens of thousands of dollars– and he said the teller looked like she was about eighteen. With wide eyes at the size of the deposit, she asked Dave what he did for a living.

Completely deadpan, he replied, “I play in a rock band called Thunk.”

He figures she probably decided then and there to change careers from bank teller to rock star.

It’s completely true, of course: he does play in a rock band called Thunk. In fact, they played to a huge crowd last weekend; here’s a shot. Dave’s on the keyboard on the far left.

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Family pictures

About a week ago my friend Jason agreed to take some family pictures for us. He captured some really good ones.

Then there were these.

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Maybe a year ago, Jason took family photos for our friends the von Niederhauserns, and [insert long story here] they decided to take a “pirate photo”. Here it is:

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So we did the same, although I think Zack misunderstood “pirate pose” for “Stephen Hawking pose”.

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Yep, what an awesome family.

Zack the… babysitter?

Laralee was watching a friend’s kids the other day, and Zack took a turn with one of the babies.

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He’s a natural.

Mystery insurance pricing

It’s no secret that I abhor insurance companies and their ever-increasing rates, but I just opened a letter from The Hartford informing me about their latest rate increase:

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Wow, they can’t even tell me how much it is? Thanks, The Hartford!

Cold feet

Seen on Slashdot:

You need to be brave to have nerves of steel if you also have a heart of
gold, because if you ever get cold feet you might act as a thermocouple and
electrocute yourself to death.

12 terabytes should be enough for anyone

You’d think 12 terabytes of storage would be enough for anyone.

Apparently not. My backup volume filled up last week:

# df /backup
/dev/sdg1 btrfs 12T 12T 0 100% /backup

So I bought a new eight-bay drive enclosure and eight 3TB hard drives. I just set them up and plugged into the computer. A few magic incantations with Parted and BTRFS, and now I have 24 terabytes ready to rock:

# df /backup
/dev/sdk1 btrfs 24T 0 24T 0% /backup

Next step: copying data from the old (full) array to the new (empty) one. Hoo boy– this might take a while.

As a follow-up to my post after seeing Jurassic World, I wanted to share this awesome list of questions someone had after watching the movie.

How long has Jurassic World been open? How did they reclaim the island from the rogue dinos from the first movie? Are any of the dinos in Jurassic World the ones that have been there all along, just recaptured? Why didn’t they clean up the ruins of the original community center? How did those kids manage to get a Jeep that’s been sitting unused for 22 years into working condition at all, let alone so fast? How do you even sell an idea like Jurassic World after the events of the first three movies? How was the T-rex in California from the third one spun in the media? What do animal rights activists think of the park? What about conservationists when they’re literally feeding endangered sharks to that water thing for entertainment? Do the employees live on-site or are they ferried in every day? Why is a park in Costa Rica staffed exclusively by Americans? How does Costa Rica feel about having an island full of murder-lizards nearby? Are the scientists using this gene-splicing and cloning tech to save other endangered species? To fight disease? What are the scientific ramifications of the Jurassic World universe? Is 22,000 people a good visitor turnout for a park that size; I feel like they could do better? What does admission cost? Do they have tacky themed resorts like Disney? Why are people literally no longer impressed by freaking DINOSAURS so they need something bigger and scarier? How did they get everyone off the island when the T-rex was still loose? What were they even trying to accomplish with that thing? Who thought that was a good idea? Dr. Wu, you were there in the first one– WHY DID YOU THINK THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA?

Oh, and HOW THE HECK DID CLAIRE OUTRUN A T-REX IN THOSE HEELS?!??

Golden Girls

This evening my friend Amber shared a photo of an old poster on her Facebook page.

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Amber is in the middle of the front row.

Here’s a story about that poster.

In high school, Amber’s brother Aron was one of my best friends, and I was at his house all the time for everything from a six-hour game of Axis and Allies to poker night to pinball tournaments. It was the party house. Amber was his gorgeous little sister, and as a joke I’d ask her out now and then when I happened to be over at the house. (Remember that in high school I was an acne-pocked nerd, not the handsome stud I am today.) She’d always have a reason why she couldn’t go out with me, so she’d turn me down and we’d laugh about it and I’d go play spades or whatever.

At some point during my senior year, she asked me if I’d go out with her. Apparently there was this group date or something, and she didn’t have anyone to go with, and I happened to be handy. I thought about it for a moment and turned her down. Hah! The tables were sure turned now!

Fast forward five years.

It was my senior (fifth) year of college, and my friend Andy went with a group of guys up to Mizzou to watch a basketball game. Mizzou was UMR’s big brother– the University of Missouri school everyone knows about– and they had a pretty good sports program. It was a little less than two hours to drive there, so now and again we’d head from Rolla to Columbia for something or other (to see the “big city”, that sort of thing). Anyway, he came back from the basketball game late that night with a poster of the Golden Girls.

What’s more, it was signed by a couple of the Golden Girls! I don’t know which ones– maybe half a dozen or so– but two of them were Amber and Jen (Jen is the brunette right behind Amber). Andy was going on and on about how hot those girls were, and how lucky he was to get their signatures, and wow Mizzou sure had gorgeous women, yada yada.

I casually mentioned that I knew Amber and Jen (Jen is Amber’s cousin and we’d crossed paths now and then in high school). Oh, and Amber had asked me out a few years ago and I’d turned her down.

Andy was flabbergasted. It was so funny to see how unbelievable he thought it was that I’d turned down this gorgeous girl for date… a girl he apparently would’ve taken out on the town without a moment’s hesitation. I explained the story and he deflated a little, but was still impressed.

That might have been the start of my nickname, “Big Dog”, but that’s a whole different story…

Back from the dead

On my hike yesterday I had my camera in my jacket pocket, and after an hour of freezing rain and snow, my jacket was pretty much soaked. After returning to my car, I was alarmed to discover that the camera didn’t work. I suppose that wasn’t terribly surprising since it’s not made to be waterproof, so I left it out all day today to dry a bit.

Tonight I turned it on and was happy to see that the lens focused and it apparently took some pictures… but the screen didn’t work. A digital camera isn’t very useful without a screen, since all of the controls are there.

Figuring I had nothing to lose, I went to work tonight disassembling it. I removed a dozen tiny screws and pulled things apart, hoping that I could magically fix it. The interior was an amazing jumble of electronics squeezed into this little camera body.

camera-pieces

With the parts strewn over my desk but still wired together, I inserted the battery and turned it on. The screen worked! I put everything back together, and now I’m back in business. Whew.

Grays Peak

I wasn’t sure what to do on Labor Day, since I didn’t plan to work and the kids were doing different things. So I decided to climb a fourteener. I picked Grays and Torreys, which are supposedly the “second easiest” mountains to climb, after Bierstadt which Thom and I hiked last year.

My main goal was to see how I might do in a couple of weeks when I head up to Seattle for Thom’s wedding. We’ll be hiking ten miles into the North Cascades for a four-day mountain adventure, and Thom warned me that it’s a “tough” trail. If it’s tough for a guy who spends most weekends climbing mountains, it pretty much means it’s going to be crazy difficult for me! I figured a little practice might be in order.

I have a new pack, and I loaded it with a bunch of stuff that I absolutely didn’t need (like a tent) just to give it some weight and make it more “realistic”. I wanted to find out if the pack would work on steep trails.

I kissed Laralee goodbye and headed out. The drive to the trailhead is about 90 minutes, and there were a lot of people. It’s a popular destination, since both peaks are “easy” fourteeners. I had to park about a half-mile from the trailhead on a narrow rocky road, meaning my hike was a bit longer than it might have been otherwise.

Anyway, I got underway and started to climb. After a while it was obvious that the exercise I get playing ultimate and biking doesn’t really work the same muscle groups. Combined with the thin air (the trailhead is at 11,000 feet) I was breathing heavily as I went.

Up around 13,000 feet, the trail divides and you can hike to either Grays or Torreys. Here’s a view of Torreys, partially hidden in clouds. There was a big storm rolling in, and I knew I had to get up quickly.

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I decided to do Grays because it wasn’t (yet) in clouds, so I took that fork and made it to the top. Here’s the view from up there:

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Woo hoo!

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After a few minutes on top to catch my breath, it was time to head down. Almost immediately, the wind picked up to about 20-25mph and it started pouring freezing rain. They were those little ice pellets that sting, especially in the wind. Both peaks quickly disappeared into clouds, and I could hear distant thunder getting closer. It was definitely time to get moving!

Obviously climbing the other fork to the peak of Torreys wasn’t an option. Here’s the view looking down the mountain– you can’t even see the trail anywhere.

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I slogged through the freezing rain, which mixed with snow and left me pretty much drenched. My pack was awesome: everything inside stayed dry, and I could hardly even feel it on my back. I can check that off my list.

I found out that some of Zack’s Boy Scout leaders are planning a trip to climb Grays and Torreys this Saturday, and they’ve invited me to join them. Twice in one week? Hmm.

Quotey quote

Great minds discuss ideas.
Average minds discuss events.
Small minds discuss people.

— Eleanor Roosevelt

Geek humor

I just saw a guy with a t-shirt that said:

[“hip”, “hip”]

Which of course in programmer-speak is a “hip hip array”. HAH!