Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Yoda vs. Darth Vader

How is Yoda and Darth Vader's presentation style?

Monday, January 30, 2006


Reading many of the articles this week on the Challenger disaster has been really interesting. There is so much that has come out now that noone knew when it happened, including that the crew actually lived through the booster mishap.

I was 9 or so when it happened, and for some reason was home that day from school. As a devoted member of my school's "Young Astronauts Club", I was sitting in front of the TV watching for whatever coverage the networks were going to have. I remember watching the replays (according to the articles, most people did not see the disater live), which, of course, was replayed over and over.

I don't remember feeling horror or anything. This lack of reaction was likely a mix of my personality and just being nine years old. In fact, what I remember thinking was something similar to "OK, going into space is kinda dangerous". I was more interested in finding out why it happened so it didn't happen again.

Mom, though, was in the kitchen, I think making something to eat for us while watching the news. She was crying -- she has had the incredible opportunity to watch the entire world of space exploration unfold, and to see this disaster was pretty devastating, I imagine.

Afterwards, I think the teachers in our school were more horrified than the students. That week, school was a continuous therapy session. In art, we drew pictures of exploding shuttles. In social studies, we talked about how this disaster changed the world. In science, the month before we had been talking about the shuttle; now we were talking about 0-rings. In English, I remember having to write a poem on the Challenger, which, in my juvenile "I've had it" way I tried to title something horribly tasteless like "Lord of the O-Rings".

Despite my lack of sensitivity, I will say that for many of the kids my age, it was a significant changing point. Certainly this was the biggest disaster we had experienced, and it did make the point that the world is not always perfect.

By the way, make sure to read Richard Feynman's addendum to the Rogers Commission here. Feynman is in my opinion the best communicator of difficult technological subjects ever.

"For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled."~Richard Feynman

Friday, January 27, 2006

Speaking of video...

How could I have missed this video of David Hasselhoff on an Alaskan cruise? I see he's at least gone to Glacier Bay and taken the Alaska Railroad to Fairbanks...

Oh here's one for the Steelers fans. The Seahawks don't have such a video (one more reason Steelers will win--Ha!).

Video Friday

OK last week it was podcasting, this week, let's talk about cool videos that are out there.

1) So you think you know how to fold a shirt? Here's a link on how to do it using topological advantages. Do you think this is how Extreme Ironing competitors fold their clothes?
2) Life in Alaska shows you a wonderous disappearing coffee phenomenon to try when it's really cold outside. I might just get up in the middle of the night to try this myself...

As far as last week's interest -- podcasts are COOL! Some of my favorites are the Onion Daily News, Bill Maher, and ChinesePod.com (teaches Chinese) and of course the Princeton Review (sings songs about vocabulary words). Go look on iTunes and see for yourself all the stuff you can listen to...for FREE!

In other news...
Agh! The Sony Aibo is Dead!. Bummer for those Robo-cup fans out there.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Friday Demotivation and Motivation.

Today has been a stressful day, so I'm looking for positive things to share.

The Art of Demotivation
Aunt Judy sent me a powerpoint of Depressories, but little did I know they also now have a Free Podcast! Here's the blurb on "Disconfirmation":
Face-to-face interaction of executives with their employee subordinates is an unfortunate necessity in most organizations. However distasteful, such exchanges do provide fertile opportunities for the seeding of Radical Demotivation™ in the employee psyche. In this segment, Dr. E.L. Kersten explains one of several disconfirmational communication tactics which can be helpful in disabusing employees of their narcissistic delusions of parity. FIRST IN A SERIES.

Ha! I bet a few of us can identify with that one. Subscribe to it to hear more!

For those of you who need a bit of help in keeping the house in order, Flylady is now here to help! She will guide you through baby steps to keeping your house and life in order. I just signed up for the email list, and she's already proud of me! I will shine the sink just for that :)

I've been also looking into life hacking, which is a movement to build tips and tricks to increase productivity AND happiness in this digital world. These sites tend to deal with everything from dealing with email overload to tips/tricks for using your ipod. Here are some good ones:
life macros: Also has an email group of once-a-week tips.
Parent Hacks: for those of you with children (also where I got the Flylady link)
Life Hack: A forum for life hackers.
Seminar from the Emerging Technology Conference (yes, this is a big enough deal that one can write papers on it)
Best of 2005: When thinking about life hacking, looking at the top tricks is a good way to start...
43 Folders is also an excellent site for personal productivity.

Anyways, have an excellent weekend!

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Top Ten Conditions of the Truce with Osama bin Laden

Read it here. My favorite: 10. NFL-style instant replay must be used in all future college bowl games.

Oh, BTW, on the side of my page now is a link to my clippings page from Bloglines. You can see what I find interesting on the blogs that I visit regularly there. Dilbert is really funny today!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Kincaid Park

We had the joy of getting more snow last weekend, which gave Frank and I the chance to take a photo safari out to Kincaid Park in her wintry goodness (you might remember our summer safari, which was quite different).

Frank ventures into a curve in the Mize Loop.

Frost on the trees is really beautiful.

Frank is a better skier than I on classical skis. Here he is, waiting for me to catch up :)

Queen Anne's lace in the winter looks a *bit* different...

The sky was relatively clear, considering how much snow we got the day before.

These two trees are entertwined!

Leftover holiday decorations on the Mize Loop.

A look out over the ocean.

More holiday decorating at Kincaid...

Frank (again) waits patiently for me to catch up!

X marks the spot!

Here's a picture looking over the inlet. See the white cliffs in the distance?

Frisbee anyone?

I hope to get the pictures from vacation up soon :)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Steelers WIN!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Steelers WIN! Against the Colts! What an exciting nail biter that was!

In the case of the Broncos/Patriots game, the Broncos clearly were playing well, but were seriously aided by a strange call by the referees. The referees made a pretty weird call on the Steelers too, calling an interception not an interception (granted I am not an expert or anything), but even with all the terrible luck, somehow the Steelers were able to come back to win.

The Steelers/Colts game is the type I really like. When one team is totally winning, I start feeling bad for the other team, especially when the cameras start panning the bench and you get to see all the long faces. I did feel bad for Peyton Manning, who is my age and also regularly trounced UK in football during my college years.

So I am looking forward very much to next week -- Broncos vs. Steelers. Anyone have a clue as to who will win?

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Microwave Fixed!

I totally love my microwave. It knows how to make things for me, and automatically senses the temperature of food in order to determine how long to cook it.

But it has one little problem. The door opens sometimes during cooking. So I have made a fix...

Is it too much to ask that appliances work without having to jerry-rig everything? Posted by Picasa

Friday, January 13, 2006

Volcano Update and Moose Encounters

So the eruption count today is up to 4, with a new eruption this afternoon around 4:40pm. Alaska Airlines is cancelling flights for tonight. The Volcano Observatory expects this eruption cycle to last at least a few days.

How exciting! To celebrate, Frank and I went skiing at Service. About halfway into our loop, Frank turned a corner, and I saw a big moose standing right in the classic tracks! Luckily, Frank saw the moose at the same time and fell to a stop. On our way to ski through the woods to get around the moose, we saw a younger moose walk out of the trees as well. They were not very interested in us -- we were not trees that can be eaten.

Anyways, it was a beautiful night, with a wonderful bright and full moon really high in the sky. Wish you were here :)

Lori versus the Volcano

Augustine erupted again around 4 this morning. Apparently the plume was at 34000 feet! There's an ashfall advisory for the Kenai, but none for Anchorage yet.

Volcano Tip of the day: If caught in an ashfall, don't use your windshield wipers without spraying some water on there first.

UPDATE: Augustine did it again at 8:47 this morning.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Orlando Overload

A 19 year old has decided to go to Walt Disney for an entire year-- not to work, but to go to the parks! He's doing it for charity, so take a visit to his webpage when you can.

If I were going to go to Walt Disney for a year, I would go on "It's a Small World" every day! It's my favorite ride! In fact, I went on the ride during the holidays, and I'm going to drag Frank back on the ride in Disneyland in a few months, just to see what it looks like on the west coast. Come on, you don't believe me? Here's some pictures:

It's a world of laughter...

A world of tears...

A world of hope...

And a world of fears...

There's so much...

That we share...

That it's time...

We're aware...

It's a Small World After All!

Ha! Doesn't that make you feel better today :)

Trail Vandals Caught! Volcano Erupts!

Looks like at least some of the jerks that were doing wheelies along the ski trails in Anchorage were caught.

Oh, and we had a volcano eruption 180 miles southwest of Anchorage this morning!

Once again, here's the FEMA (for kids) website on what to do in the event that a volcano erupts near you...

Monday, January 09, 2006

That Bengals-Steelers game this weekend

Did you watch? It was a very exciting game. Frank and I both cringed when we saw the replay of Carson Palmer's leg injury, but I definitely did not think Kimo von Oelhoffen meant to hurt Palmer like that.

As a Steelers fan, it was an exciting game, but it also was bittersweet. I really like Marvin Lewis and think he's done an awesome job bringing the Bengals back from the "depths of suckitude". On the other hand, Pittsburgh might be unleashing it's own form of suckitude if it cannot figure out how to run an offense in a very loud place (aren't they going to Indy next week)?

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Lesson Update

No matter how great you feel, there's very few things that can bring you back to earth as quickly as learning a new sport. Frank and I had our first skating class yesterday, and it was, as I should have known, pretty madcap.

I had visions of looking just like Ole Einar Bjoerndalen (whose biathlon season I watched last year), only to find that I really looked more like Bozo the clown. Needless to say, my olympic hopes were somewhat dampened by this predicament, but I'm sure Ole was not always so graceful on his skis either.

Skate skiing is kind of like ice skating while sitting on an imaginary saddle, except that the skates are as tall as you are, and you have these really long poles to deal with. There are different pole/ski combinations to master, all used for different situations.

I am still optimistic with some bullheaded work, we will get better. Maybe by next week, we'll be able to do the Mize Loop at Kincaid!

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Thursday Fun

Very busy day today, but here are some things to check out:

..My heart's in Accra decided to build a hot tub in the middle of winter. Yikes!

I think a few people asked me for a link to the Flying Spaghetti Monster and his noodly appendage>, so there it is :)

John Wilder describes live in Fairbanks, in particular, cabin fever/why people should get back to work after vacation.

Oh, and I'm up to 13 buys of my pictures on Shutterstock (at the very bottom of the page)! At this rate, I should be able to buy a chai latte at Starbucks in a few months!

Time for Galileo's resolution walk, and then another madcap battle with the XC skis on the trails. We have a ski lesson tomorrow to learn how to skate, which should be fun as well!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Spoonful of Russian

On NPR today, a podcast called A Spoonful of Russian was described. Basically, it's a podcast of conversational Russian. Unfortunately, Natalia was affected by the Katrina disaster, and is currently in hiatus. However, you can still catch up by listening to her archived podcasts!

As far as today goes, the weather is beautiful. Today we had a weird time on the hillside where there was fog rolling down the mountains (the temperature was warmer on hillside than in town), and I saw a rainbow circling the sun from the back porch. According to Wikipedia, this is called a Halo, or Icebow. Either way, it was really pretty and a bit strange. Denali was also visible today over town.

Well, time for another walk for Galileo :). Hope you are doing well and that the weather's beautiful where you are!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Another creepy Computer Science project: The Oracle of Kevin Bacon

UVA has built the definitive oracle of Kevin Bacon. Creepy!

Walt Disney and Mickey show us the way OUT of Magic Kingdom, and back into reality

Well, this is our first day back into the reality of NOT being on vacation. Vacation was great -- one of the interesting things about living in Alaska is that you appreciate things more. Waking up in the Caribbean and being able to walk outside without any thought for frostbite is a total pleasure. Feeling sun on your face, even with the threat of sunburn, is completely enjoyable. Most importantly, spending time with family just means so much more when you don't get to see them as often.

At home, we are slowly getting back to reality. Vacation to me is not officially over until everything that was accumulated during the vacation is put away, and judging by the piles of stuff on the stairs and all available flat surfaces, it will take a while :).

Galileo's resolution this year is to take a walk every day, so we bundled up to explore our walking route this afternoon. The landscape is cold and pastel-colored, except for the icky khaki color of the driven snow. Galileo could barely get across the street, which shows you how slippery it was. I fell only once on my wrist but wound up with only a dull ache and a bit of snow in my shoe.

Anyways, the sun is going down, and it's a good day in the frozen north. Posted by Picasa

Face Recognition?

Here is a website that will match any person's photo to a celebrity.

It's a hoot. I've tried it on a few of my pictures, and Frank apparently looks like Bill Gates/Britney Spears, I look like Anne Frank/Sun Yat Sen, and Anne looks like Meg Ryan. Will and Heather are similar to David Duchovny/Jennifer Lopez!

Try it yourself, the results are surprising.

Face Recognition?

Here is a website that will match any person's photo to a celebrity.

It's a hoot. I've tried it on a few of my pictures, and Frank apparently looks like Bill Gates/Britney Spears, I look like Anne Frank/Sun Yat Sen, and Anne looks like Meg Ryan. Will and Heather are similar to David Duchovny/Jennifer Lopez!

Try it yourself, the results are surprising.

Monday, January 02, 2006


Dave over at Bird TLC relates some suprising information about starlings in Anchorage. Those of you who are reading this that went to UK can remember the awful time they had with starlings in Lexington.

Back to AK

We're Back! While we were waiting for our flight to Seattle to stay the night (then return today to ANC), we saw a flight going to Anchorage across the terminal. The good folks at Delta (and I do mean good folks) were able to get us on that flight, so we arrived early this morning.

Our bags were late and the bag service was unresponsive (suprise) but I must say that the people at Delta really have done some pretty remarkable things for us this year.

More later :)