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Archive for August, 2009

Back from Seattle

An oil platform off of the Santa Barbara coast.

An oil platform off of the Santa Barbara coast.

Oddly my trip to Seattle had relatively little internet connectivity. I was staying at a house with no wifi and no gracious neighbor with an open connection. My internet was limited to an hour or less a day at a Starbucks and someone else’s iPhone. It was odd to have my laptop the whole time and yet not be connected.

My trip up was a complete success though. Relying on the power of Craigslist combined with e-mail, instant messaging, Facebook, text messages and mobile phones all led to my soon to be current housing situation. Interestingly enough the final decision that got me into the house was decided by three coin flips. Sometimes luck is favorable.

This was my first time really driving around Seattle (well I was navigating since I am too young for a rental car) and I must say two things struck me: the traffic and the street names. The traffic is what it is. However the street names have an almost failed logic about them. I see the reasoning, north-south streets are avenues while east-west streets are streets. Then there are quadrants and numbers with the origin set in downtown Seattle. But once we get to 193 St. Ct. NW Private it starts to become a little concerning. Then there is the occasional named street thrown in just for kicks.

I feel the idea was that even if you are new to the city a sensible sense of direction and the ability to count could easily help anyone navigate around. In practice it does not quite work that way. If the city remained on a solid grid without large freeways, tunnels or raised roads it would work. However it is not a grid and there are many roads with only a few designated ways onto or off of the road.

Also I would like to note that despite what any tour book will tell you Pioneer Square is not a very good place to go. There were two parking lots across from each other completely empty, nothing is more suspicious then an empty parking lot. That and the flocks of homeless just shuffling about in worn boots and threadbare slippers.

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Keeping Time

An superb pocket sundial.

An superb pocket sundial.

Cell phones run off a network time.

My computer runs off a network time.

High precision watches and clocks are constantly corrected by radio (I think NIST does this).

And yet I want a pocket sun dial.

I just wish I could combine a compass and a sundial. Get a foldable light fin to put on top of the south part of the needle (the one that points north) so it auto-aligns for the right time.

There is a definite market for this, namely myself and maybe a handful of others.

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Bad Person

Sadly his sword was lost long ago.

Sadly his sword was lost long ago.

For this trip up to Seattle (which I am currently in the middle of but scheduled these posts) I feel like a bad person. I usually only fly with carry-on, I make a strong point to do so. For this flight with my Mom we are checking the maximum allowed by both of us.

I am checking four bags full of my stuff for a flight. I really feel like a bad person doing this. On the way back it should be all carryon again with the bags collapsed inside of themselves or left at my Uncle’s.

Before starting to pack I looked up Southwest’s checked baggage policy, two bags each under fifty pounds and less then 62″ in linear dimensions. What could anyone pack that weighs fifty pounds in that small size? I was shocked that there were people bringing more as they had a provision for a fee for heavier bags.

Then I put four years of undergraduate physics books (and three math books) into one bag and realized: it was fifty pounds.

That showed me.

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Touring Sonoma

Sonoma County back country.

Sonoma County back country.

Ever have one of those photo projects looming over you that you know you should really do?

That was this panorama for me. It was nothing serious, I handheld four shots at a very wide angle north of Armstrong Grove (on the way to bullfrog pond) and stitched them with Photoshops panorama tool. It came out pretty well, not stunning or beautiful but that could be a result of me growing up in the area.

The person on the far right was visiting my Dad’s business from Japan. He said that he will probably print this photo out, so somewhere in Japan could be one of my photos on a wall or other flat surface.

If anyone happens to see it, let me know.

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Trusty Bike

My trusty companion for four years.

My trusty companion for four years.

I did it, I finally sold my trust mountain bike. While it never did triumph over any mountains it successfully carried me across campus numerous time over the last four years. Sun, rain or cold it was there. Sometimes the seat would be completely soaked (not the seat shown) and it sometimes squeaked and rattled when it rained but it performed well.

Having lived through UCSB for fours years without once being stolen it is now venturing forth to the SSU campus to carry another to their classes.

I will miss you bike.

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Housing Search

Gotta say, that is one sweet couch.

Gotta say, that is one sweet couch.

After a week of furious craigslist activity I have finally found out where I am going to be living in Seattle.

One thing I have learned from this craigslist adventure is that putting up a post saying you are looking for housing garnishes many more responses then contacting people who have a room available.

Now I get to travel up to Seattle and a weekend that was initially going to be spent looking at rooms and the like will hopefully be spent signing a lease and maybe buying some furniture. While I would not have a place to put it I have an Uncle living in the area, in fact I feel that most people have an Uncle living near wherever they go. If not an Uncle then perhaps a second or third cousin.

The world is small after all.

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Some translations are hard.

Some translations are hard.

When first exploring the majesty that is the internet oh so many years ago I discovered online translators. This always intrigued me and I sought to find the most roundabout why to translate a phrase for spanish class. Usually I used german, japanese, chinese and maybe russian as intermediaries. Then taking the final spanish phrase I would run it through to english to see what it said. Occasionally it was humorous but more often then not it was just bland.

I went on with my life and occasionally needed something translation but more often then not it was something to english or a phrase into another language (for spelling things like gute nacht). I forgot completely about my attempts at iterative translations, until today.

My friend posted a link on Facebook to Translation Party, a site that takes an english phrase, translates it (via Google I believe) to japanese, back to english and so on until an equilibrium phrase is reached. This is a simple but wonderful idea and it is fun to play around with. After a few minutes I discovered that it is possible to break the site in two ways.

1. Find on unstable phrase that cannot reach equilibrium (What is on second).

2. A phrase eventually degrades into a string of non-sensical letters (My hovercraft is full of eels).

Here are some results from it:

  • Good sir, this is a wonderful idea -> Well, it’s a good idea (Some become internal conversations)
  • Never memorize what you can look up -> How do I know my heart? (Unstable)
  • Where is my hat? -> Hat? (In this case it actually worked as an equilibrium phrase between the two languages)

Automatic translations are just fun to play with. It would be neat to choose a third intermediary language (English -> Spanish -> Japanese -> Spanish -> English). Then again that might not give sensical results.

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