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We had a very busy, very social weekend with lots of out-of-town visitors.

Bryree & Marty were in town for a wedding, and the best time to get together was in the morning, so we had them come over for breakfast on Friday and I made eggs. There are not a huge number of breakfast places near us (especially since they were coming up from Littleton), and the ones there are serve everything with huge piles of toast and/or hashbrowns (which I can't eat), and then there's all the time you spend getting there and getting seated and ordering and so on instead of actually visiting, and since I'm used to cooking breakfast every morning anyway and had lots of breakfast components readily at hand, it was just easier and more enjoyable to make it than to go out.

Then, very late Friday night / early Saturday morning, my sister Sherilyn and her crew arrived. She and her hubby Devin were in town for a conference for a business venture they're involved in, and they drove down from Idaho, leaving on Friday evening and arriving at about 4:30 in the morning. They also brought their new baby Olive and a friend who grew up in Lakewood to babysit. They crashed in our guest room and library for a few hours of sleep, then ran off to Broomfield Event Center for the whole day. Again, breakfast was the best opportunity to have some visiting time, so I just cooked. That also meant I didn't have to be dressed for going out in public before 8 am. I made Denver omelets.

Went back to bed for a bit to recover from interrupted sleep, and then Jerry and I went off to the Lao New Year festival at the Lao Buddhist temple that's under construction over at Wasdworth & 108th. Did you know that was there? I didn't! Found out from Inclusivity Board, and it seemed like an important event to go and show community support for. Saw several other board members there, got some tasty nibbles (meatballs onna stick, gingery beef jerky), and watched some traditional dancing. Spent the rest of the day prepping to run Star Wars that evening over at the Nevilles'.

Sunday morning we said farewell to Sherilyn et al., who were headed out for church early, then off to visit Grandma, then back to their conference from noon-5, and then drove back to Idaho -- man, do 20-somethings have a lot of energy! We, on the other hand, went up to Boulder for brunch with Jofish & Erin, who are in town this week for the big HCI conference, plus Sarah and a couple friends of Erin's from E-Theta. So that was nice. We had brunch at Shine, which is one of the few places in Boulder that takes reservations for Sunday brunch. The food was tasty and it was far less twee an experience than is suggested by their website, so that was good.

And that was plenty of weekend as far as we were concerned. There was a gargantuan hailstorm in Denver yesterday, but nothing up in Boulder and very little in Westminster, so neither of us saw anything, although we have several friends with smashed-up car windows and/or houses. Yikes!
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So yesterday I took a half-day. I let the morning be relaxed and went about my full set of ablutions in a sort of semi-mindful way, which is to say mostly doing the stuff I was doing rather than putting all my attention on a Long List Of Things To Do. I did a couple errands (stopped by Kaiser for a blood draw, picked up a lunch salad from the kebab place in Broomfield) on the way in to the office and got there a little after lunchtime. And it worked! I had a lot more focus and was able to get a number of things done. Today was also pretty good.

Last weekend we had folks over to play Descent on Saturday. The scenario was horribly broken (everyone online agrees that it's just impossible for the Overlord to win), but we managed to have a good time anyway. Played a few rounds of Exploding Kittens afterwards. Mostly just visiting with friends, yay!

Then on Sunday, we drove down to visit Bob & Mike for cake tasting. We had pistachio and pina colada regular cake, and bakalava and root beer float cheesecake. They were all good; the pina colada moved up a couple notches, but otherwise they stayed about where we had them originally. I should mention that we were tasting varieties that we were unsure about, because we're going to have multiple kinds of cake at the wedding. (I had the realization that one of our strategies for dealing with difficult wedding planning decisions is to find solutions that involve not making them. So far it's working well.)
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Ugh. Today was pretty much a bust and I would like a do-over. I woke up tired this morning and really wanted to just take the morning off and go back to bed, and frankly, I should have. I got almost nothing done because I didn't have the energy to focus on anything complicated, so I tried to tackle some dumb and straightforward but semi-urgent tasks. But they were slow, and not only was I unable to deal with switching back and forth between tasks, I couldn't maintain focus through waiting for things to finish. So I ended up putzing around a bunch and then I didn't even have enough energy to disengage from doing nothing and stayed late at work for no reason at all. Bleah.

So despite the feeling that I really ought to be extra-productive with the rest of the week, I think what I need to do tomorrow is not push myself to go in early or anything, but instead make myself enough space to feel relaxed and rested so that I can get over feeling overwhelmed by the bajillion things on my to-do list and focus. And then I'll be able to get something done.


Apr. 30th, 2017 10:31 pm
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There's an awful lot of very good TV out there right now, but I gotta say, if you haven't watched Legion? You are missing out.

So Thing Number One is that the storytelling is unlike anything else I've ever seen. It's confusing at the beginning -- and frankly, even after having watched the whole thing, there are things that I'm still not entirely clear about -- but somehow it doesn't matter. I found myself saying "I have no idea what is going on, and I have even less idea what's going to happen next, but I can't wait to find out." Plus on a visual / cinematic level, the show does all kinds of bizarro things you've never seen before, and it makes them work.

Thing Number Two is that the acting is amazing. Whoever did the casting for this show deserves an award, because so many of the roles involve playing a wild range or weird mixture of personalities or deeply strange characters or conveying complex thoughts and emotions with little to no dialogue, and if anybody failed to pull it off, the whole thing would fall flat, but everybody just nails it.

Thing Three is... I don't know what it is, because it all happened at a subconscious level for me. It's probably something about the camera angles and the lighting and the sound and all that stuff, but whatever it is, it's really good. Because you'll be watching the show and nothing in particular is happening, and all you can think is something is really, really wrong; something terrible is going to happen and there's no reason at all to think that, except that something unidentifiable is off-kilter. Plus there's all this mental/psychological stuff happening, and a whole lot of it is represented symbolically and never gets explained, but it's plenty clear what it means.

I didn't binge the show because I don't like binge-watching and also because it's a pretty tense show, and sometimes after an episode I'd be like, okay, I'm really looking forward to the next one but that is seriously all I can handle for tonight. But I never once got bored with it.
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According to the calendar, I'm 45 years old as of yesterday. This seems improbable to me; that would imply that all the people I know who are around the same age as me are also in their mid-40s, and that can't be right, can it? But it's hard to argue with math, so I guess it must be so.

I got online greetings and phone calls galore to wish me a happy birthday, and they were all lovely and made me appreciate once more just how many really wonderful people I know. Yay! Thank you all!

We didn't do much of anything for my birthday. I'm not, like, opposed to recognizing it or anything, but there's just been so much going on lately with work and wedding prep and everything that I had no spare CPU cycles to really even think about it before Sunday. Mostly we spent the day playing the final session of our D&D campaign. I got to destroy the evil artifact that was mind-controlling the main villain, yay! It was a satisfying end, and it's the first time I've played from 1st level all the way to 20th level, so that was neat. Also, Brandon made very tasty Indian food for lunch, hooray!

On Saturday we managed to get ourselves up and take the bus downtown to March for Science, woo! We met up with and merged into the actual march about halfway along the route, somewhere on 16th street. I'm not much for political rallies (that old GenX hype-aversion syndrome), but it was kinda cool to be in a great big pro-science crowd taking over the streets. We couldn't get anybody to chant "Where would we be / without science? / Most of us would be dead!" (although I did see a number of signs expressing that sentiment), but when we got to Civic Center Park I got to chant "What do we want? / Evidence-based knowledge! / When to we want it? / After peer review!" and that made me very happy. We wandered around and checked out the various tables, and I almost felt bad that I'm already registered to vote, because there were so many opportunities to sign up. We didn't see anyone we knew (though according to Facebook quite a few were there), but I spotted a number of people I sort-of recognized from work. I think, anyway. We left before any of the speechifying started up (*shudder*), and that turned out to be good because partway back Jerry realized he'd forgotten to take his brain pills that morning! So yeah, definitely time to head home.
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I was gonna say that there was something noteworthy about weekend before last, but I can't for the life of me remember what it was, alas, but then I remembered: taxes! I spent Saturday getting them actually filled out and printed and mailed off. Whee. And then Sunday was the next-to-last D&D session, where we strategized the big climactic boss fight. We are finishing a campaign that has gone all the way from 1st level to 20th, which is a first for me.

Last week, Kevin / Wumph was in town for CWA at CU, so we got to see him, which was nice. On Tuesday evening, Jerry and I joined him at a brewery on Pearl Street for the Puzzled Pint, which is a puzzle-solving event. There were four regular puzzles and a meta-puzzle that built on the other four, plus a bonus puzzle. The three of us blew through them in 35 minutes, plus 5 more for the bonus puzzle, which was pretty satisfying. Then we just hung out and talked for most of the evening.

Then Thursday night, the plan was for me to stay late at work and pick him up after his conference dinner. It turned out that the dinner was at NCAR! So that was pretty convenient. At one point he got trapped by speechifying from some politician and had to escape off the backside of the cafeteria patio. "I can jump a wall if I need to," he said. :) After the requisite here's-my-office tour, we went to the Floyds' for Game Night, yay!

I played a new game that I really wanted to love, but did not. It's called Skyway Robbery, and it was heists + steampunk + airships! It had amazing theming and interesting gameplay, but some pretty serious balance issues. There was one "win the game" card that came up at the very beginning, which I've seen discussions online suggesting should be removed for first-time-players, but the bigger issue it's a game with a lot of momentum (i.e., succeeding puts you in a good position to succeed even further), but also a lot of randomness that can leave you stymied for several turns in a row at the beginning. I dunno, I might play it again if somebody can find good houserules online for it, but it was a frustrating and disappointing experience.

Much less fun was that also that week Panthro was overeating and then throwing up just about every day. Gross. Well, then we found out that the cause was that he had worms. Ew! Double gross! Jerry took him to the vet and got medicine for it, and now he's doing a lot better. Fortunately, they're apparently a kind that are spread by flea bites, so we don't have to worry about the other kitties getting them. Ah, the joys of pet ownership.

This last weekend I spent Saturday prepping and running Star Wars. Plus I got a haircut and did some grocery shopping while I was thinking about how to structure the next little mini-adventure. Sunday was more interesting; we went over to Matt & Jason's for a lovely Easter luncheon (Jason made standing rib roast, wow), and then in the evening Bob & Mike came over to our place to discuss wedding cake. ZOMG weddings involve so much work. I'm glad we're doing this with a decade and a half of getting along under our belts already. On the other hand, I think people who get married in their early 20s don't realize how much they're saving by doing it when they don't know anybody yet!


Apr. 4th, 2017 11:03 pm
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We spent all weekend adulting. For me, it was mostly doing taxes. I haven't actually sent them in yet, but I did all the calculations, which was the hard part. I had consulting income this year, so there were two extra forms, ugh. It also means that I have to send in a fairly big check, but since it's because I made a bunch of extra money, I'm not really gonna complain.

Plus I paid bills and sent in pharma co-pay rebates and submitted an insurance claim for the roof* and did grocery shopping, too. Oh, and wedding planning stuff. Lots of that.

*We had a big hailstorm last spring, and the HOA submitted an insurance claim to the HOA policy to get all the roofs in the neighborhood repaired, but the deductible was... large. A lot bigger than they had been led to expect by their (now previous) insurance agent. So they levied a fairly sizeable special assessment (i.e., billed all the homeowners) to cover it. So now all us homeowners get to submit claims to our insurance policies to defray the cost.

Submitting the claim was less work than I expected. I'm not sure how much of it will be covered, but even if it's zero, it's not that expensive for getting the roof fixed. And you gotta keep the roof of your house working.

This is the thing I hate about entropy. (And the ephemerality of teh interwebs.) I really hate disruptions to the infrastructure of my life. After I've gone to the trouble of setting something up the way I like it, I want it to just keep working that way forever. I regard the universe's lack of cooperation on this front as a significant design failure.
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I'm finally done with overwork! I met the deadline for getting the data processing done week before last. (I was aiming for Wednesday the 15th and finished on Friday the 17th, but a colleague argued that anytime that week was good enough for a "mid-March" deadline, and I am perfectly willing to be persuaded on that front.) Then Monday & Tuesday of last week we had a big project meeting (for which I worked a good chunk of the weekend prepping a tutorial on git & GitHub), and now that that's done, things can get back to normal.

I took the day off Wednesday and just, like, was tired. Went in very late on Thursday. Worked from home for two hours Friday and then visited Grandma in the afternoon. And I'm still two days ahead on my timecard.

Maybe after another week of sleeping in, I'll finally feel rested again.

I feel like I have a million things to catch up on since my last journal-type post, but really, it was just a lot of working late. We had D&D today, cleared the last level of the dungeon, and dinged 20th level. Woot! Last weekend Matt & Jason hosted a lovely St. Patrick's Day dinner party, whereat I ate the best corned beef I've ever had.

What else. Had to cancel Star Wars last Sunday because I had nowhere near enough mana; instead we went over to Karen & Thomas's and played a round of BaHotH with the Widow's Walk expansion. Had Kate & Mel & Nick over for Descent on the 11th.

Oh, and in the middle of the big push to get all that data stuff done, I took a three day seminar on regression analysis. That was pretty cool. I mean, the timing was terrible, but the seminar was really good and I learned a lot. Statistics doesn't fit easily into my brain using a mathematical equation formulation, but from a computational perspective, it's turning out to be a lot of fun. Who knew?

On Surveys

Mar. 23rd, 2017 12:26 am
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So the Chapman University Survey of American Fears. It's a thing. Someone on an email list I'm on ranted that the facts that 10% of respondents reported being afraid of zombies and that 32% agreed with a question about the government suppressing information about a fictitious event meant that people are stupid and ignant. My reply turned long, so here ya go.

Dude, come on. That's not even remotely what the poll results mean.

The only thing that you can say with certainty that the first result means is that, if you ask a bunch of random strangers who have no particular reason to give you deep and honest insights into their soul to spend half an hour filling out an incredibly long and detailed online poll (88 different topics, many with followups!) about an intimately personal subject (what makes you afraid), and, after asking about a whole bunch of other potentially scary things, you ask "are zombies scary?", about 10% will click "yeah, sure, zombies are scary."

Does that mean that some people genuinely worry about the dead coming back to life? I suppose there are probably a few such folks out there. But it could mean "I know it's just fiction, but the idea of zombies totally wigs me out." Or "Yeah, zombie movies are my go-to when I want to feel scared!"

It could also mean "Jesus, how long is this damn survey?" Or "Lol, they're asking if people are afraid of zombies. I'm totally gonna say yes to that." Or even "I just click randomly on these polls because the faster I click the faster I get to the incentive."

Similarly, if you ask a question that is predicated on a false premise but has answers that reflect a particular stance or affiliation, sometimes people will pick the answer that reaffirms their identity rather than the one that accurately represents, in a strict sense, their beliefs about the real world.

Sometimes (often, even) people will be confused by the mismatch between the question and their knowledge of current and historical events, and will pick an answer based on misremembered details. Sometimes people will be unsure of their knowledge, and will pick an answer using the question itself as a source of information. Sometimes people will answer the hypothetical presumed by the question.

And sometimes people will get annoyed that the poll is asking stupid questions that are wrong, turn contrary, and say "Yes! Yes I do think the government is hiding fictional things from me! Stupid poll!"

I find none of these things to be cause for shock, alarm, concern, or dismay, let alone weeping.

I mean, think about answering that poll yourself. The first thing I ask is "well, what do they mean by 'afraid'"? Is finding something troublesome or worrying the same as being afraid of it? If I think something is really super-duper-scary, but I think the odds of it actually affecting me are very low, does that make me slightly, somewhat, or very afraid of it? What if I'm only scared of the thing under certain circumstances? I wouldn't even know how to interpret my own answers to this survey, let alone a whole group of people's!

In my opinion, the only way to get useful insights from survey results like these is to look at them relative to one another. People are a lot more afraid of credit card fraud than they are of being mugged. That's possibly informative when it comes to criminal policy. People fear losing their jobs or losing all their data about as much as they fear heights and spiders. That sort of calibrates different kinds of fear against one another, which seems sociologically interesting.

But the absolute numbers are close to meaningless, and basing a supercilious "lookit all these stoopid muggles" rant on them is not a flattering look. Be better than that.
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I forgot to mention last time that we went to the art museum with Douglas and saw the Costumes of Star Wars exhibit, which was pretty cool. It made me appreciate the tremendous amount of detail that went into all of it. You don't always notice it on the screen, but I bet you'd notice the difference if it wasn't there. It also made me realize that many of the actors are, in real life, much smaller people than I'd always picture them as based on their screen presence.

My (half-) sister Mollie was in town this weekend with her hubby Jake and their daughter Logan, so last night we went to dinner with them and my ex-stepmother Glenda (her mom), and my ex-stepsister Ginger (Glenda's daughter) and Ginger's (adopted) daughter. (My family tree is complicated.) Anyway, we decided to try out Vital Root, which we'd heard good things about and which our friend Jeff is the chef of, and were very pleased with it. It's set up as fast-casual fine dining (which sounds weird, but works well) and the food is mostly local and all vegetarian. I especially liked the korean-wing-style veggies. Jeff was working that night and came over to say hi to us, too, so that was neat. And the 18-month-old mostly didn't melt down, despite not having had a nap!

We had D&D today and Star Wars last Saturday, and those both pretty much eat the day. On Sunday last weekend we went to a gaming pub for Neal's birthday. We played a game of Tokaido, which was fun, and then I spilled a glass of water all over it as we were putting it away. D'oh! I guess that's why they charge a cover. Then we played a few rounds of Codenames, which is a very clever party game.

Not a lot else to talk about; I'm still spending lots of time at work trying to get my bias correction done by mid-March, which is coming up very quickly. Especially given that I'm hoping to spend most of this coming week in a workshop learning more statistics. I stayed late at work on Friday crunching 5/6 of the dataset through the machinery, but there were errors so I'll have to do it all again tomorrow. I logged in remotely for a couple hours this morning and did some debugging and hopefully I have the problems all sorted out. Fingers crossed!

I guess the other big thing is that the starter motor on the Jetta died while I was at work and I had to have it towed to the dealer (since they're the best option for VW mechanics in Boulder). They got it all fixed, but there were various communications and logistical failures along the way, so it took a lot longer than I expected. I got pretty cranky about it after the first couple days, so we got to drive a loaner car around for a week or so. It was a nice car, but you don't actually insert the key into it to make it go! If you've got the key on your person, you just press the "start" button. Which I'm sure I would get used to, but it felt very weird.
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Now it's *three* weeks to catch up on, bad me. But really it's only been the weekends, so we'll pretend it's just a week.

So back on Saturday the 4th we went to lunch at Domo with Stu, which was tasty as always, even low-carbing it. I paid a visit to Grandma that afternoon, and then afterwards Jerry and I went to an open house at a mosque over in Northglenn. I had heard about it from the Inclusivity Board, and we figured it would be good to show up and be supportive. Which it was; they were very appreciative, and we learned some stuff (mosque architecture!) and we helped people feel safer and more welcome just by showing up and saying hi, and that was nice. Plus they were very appreciative of Monkey's beard. :)

Then on Sunday, we drove to Kansas and back! My Mom had called me up and said "do you want another cat?" Because they have three, and a fourth had shown up and adopted them, and four is Too Many (especially for traveling around, as they're now doing now that Larry's hip replacement is all done). We weren't particularly in the market, but we had a friend who'd expressed potential interest, and we figured we could be the backup in case it didn't work out with the friend, and even if it didn't work out with us, it would be much easier for us to find him a new home here in the Denver area than it would be for them to in Middle of Nowhere, Nebraska.

So we headed out early and drove to St. Francis, Kansas, which is about halfway, and met them there for lunch, which gave us a nice chance to visit and catch up. Then we transferred the kitty from their carrier to ours, turned around, and drove back home.

That Tuesday evening, the friend came over to meet the kitty, and after a good visit, concluded (reluctantly) that although he's a very nice cat, he wasn't quite the right cat, and that more importantly, now was not the right time. Which was a bit disappointing for our friend, but okay by us because it meant that we then were able to stop trying not to bond with him, and now we have a new kitty!

He's a soft and floofy gray kitty with a white chest patch. Fairly burly, and still fairly rambunctious because he's only a year and a half old. Although attitude-wise, he's super mellow. Basically nothing upsets or alarms him. He's also very talkative -- he chirps and squeaks at us all the time. Two weeks on, he's starting to get along with the other kitties. He's perfectly content with them and keen to be friends, although they get tired of him from time to time and we put him back in the library when it seems like the playfulness is starting to look more like harassment. His name is Panthro, and he is a very sweet boy (when he's not being a pill).

Let's see, then I had an Inclusivity Board meeting on Wednesday the 8th, and we both went to Games Night at Chris's on Thursday. We played a couple rounds of Nefarious (the mad scientist game) and then a nifty and unusual game called Kodama, which involves placing cards to grow a tree and scoring points based on whether the configuration matches the requirements of different nature spirits.

(Okay, so there was a lot of weekday stuff, too.)

We had Bear D&D on Sunday the 12th, in which we did lots and lots of planning and then fought a 20th-level spellcaster Great Wyrm red dragon. High-level D&D play is weird; we had a bajillion buffs up and crazy things going on like polymorphing everyone in the party to change our types so that she couldn't use anti-humanoid magic on us. But it paid off -- we beat her! Apparently we are getting close to the end of the campaign; hopefully we'll ding 20th level before we get there.

Things more back to normal this last week; just lots of work, mostly, getting things to run fast on the supercomputers. Saturday we went and saw Rogue One finally, which we both enjoyed. The theater was nowhere near as empty as we expected -- there are still plenty of people going to see it! Last night we watched Ant-Man on DVD, which we also liked quite a bit. The two things I really like about the Marvel superhero movies are that, first, they aren't afraid to have fun with them, and second, that they're comfortable mixing in other genres, so that it's not all superhero action all the time. Ant-Man is about 50% a heist movie, and a funny one at that. It's a shame we'll never get to see what Edgar Wright would have directed, but at least we got the script that he and Joe Cornish wrote.

And then today Van ([personal profile] pink_halen) came over for a visit. We went to a coffeeshop nearby and hung out, chatting, for several hours, then had dinner at Wishbone. It had been too long since we'd seen him, so it was nice to catch up.
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My boss got back from AMS early the week before last, and decided that yes, she did want me to go all-out to try to get the new dataset fully bias-corrected by mid-March, in time for it to be included in a big assessment report.

This is both a simple and complicated goal. On the one hand, I don't need to do any further method development: I have code that does the bias correction and I've tested it thoroughly on a good set of test cases and I know it works. On the other hand, it takes about 18 seconds to do one location. When you multiply that out by the full spatial domain and all the different variables and simulations, it adds up to about 2500 CPU-hours to do the whole thing. That's about 104 days, which puts us considerably past mid-March.

The good news is that the problem is embarrassingly parallel. (I might say it's even a step beyond "embarrassingly" parallel and into the realm of the ludicrously or stupidly parallel.) So all I have to do is get it set up to run in parallel on our supercomputer or maybe on the cloud and it'll be done in no time. (In principle, if I could get half a million processors, I could do the whole thing in under a minute. In practice, I gather that it always takes at least 5 minutes to get things spun up.)

But there are a lot of unknowns in getting it to run in parallel. I theoretically know how to get R to run in parallel using MPI -- I'm a coauthor on a tech note about it -- but I've never actually done it myself. So the first week was pretty stressful, because I was constantly aware of the clock ticking as I tried, with rather limited success, to Make It Go.

Happily, early this last week I got some help from one of our computing consultants, and although we didn't get the MPI approach to really work, he pointed me at another approach that was both simpler and better suited to the task at hand. I've replicated my test case and it works beautifully, so now it's just about restructuring the data to scale it up. Which means I no longer have to have all the time horizons and contingency plans and feasibility evaluation checkpoints floating around in my head, I can just focus on implementing the solution. Which is a huge relief.

(Hmm, that turned longer than I planned. I'll save the non-work stuff for another post.)

Just stuff

Jan. 29th, 2017 09:44 pm
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Lots of people were out of the office attending AMS, so I had a nice productive week because there were no meetings and I was all alone and could just code code code. I think I would start to feel lonely if it were that way all the time, but it's nice when it happens.

Although current events are awful, I feel heartened to see so many people coming together to protest and oppose them. Of course I have lots of thoughts and feelings about the state of the world, but that's all the oomph I've got for talking about it.

Friday before last was Jerry's last day of work, because the company he was working for let all their contractors go. Which is somewhat disappointing, but he's got other things in the works and is not unhappy about taking some time off to focus on wedding prep. And it sounds like there's further turmoil happening there that he doesn't mind missing. We went out to dinner at Dae Gee with Bob & Jeff & Douglas that night, and it was nice to see them, since it had been a while.

We played Descent last Saturday and I made the crockpot chicken tikka masala again for everyone. Again I was happy with the flavor profile, but it was still basically soup. I have some fixes I'll try next time, like pureeing the onion, but if they don't pan out, I may have to abandon the recipe.

Thursday I went to the circus! The Phantom Circus at the Oriental Theater, down in Arvada, which I didn't even know was there. My friend Ronco (MIT, obvs) has taken up acrobatics the last few years, moved to Denver at some point, and posted on FB that he was performing, so I thought what the heck and went to see it. I really enjoyed it. It was mostly aerial acrobatics (silks, straps, hoops, trapeze, etc.), with a handful of other things like tumbling, fire-eating, belly-dancing, and sword dancing. The performances were all set to music and had cool video projected on the screen behind them. The show ran a bit long, partly because they had to change the rigging for each act. It could've stood to be tightened up, but I was definitely happy I went. And Ronco's act (partner acrobatics with straps) was amazing - one of the best!

We had a lovely bear dinner at Matt & Jason's last night, a belated birthday celebration for Jason. Tasty food, lots of good friends. Today was D&D (fought a dragon/displacer beast hybrid underwater), grocery shopping, putting off bills until tomorrow, that kind of thing.
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Well, I'm over the flu and over the post-flu laryngitis (I used up my voice at the Inclusivity Board meeting last week, and was unable to make a sound for like two days afterwards), and now I'm dealing with Ye Olde Lingering Cough.

Nothing much interesting since last I posted; just recovery. Well, and the minivan needed transmission work. Whee! It's at that point where when a big repair comes up, we ask whether we should pay for that or just go get a new vehicle. Decided that it's not quite time to do that yet, since we have the wedding coming up and would rather have the money on hand for that, but probably next year it'll be time to go car shopping. (Yuck. I hate the whole large-expense decision-making process.)

So after commuting with Jerry on Friday & Tuesday, since I had no meetings today and everybody else in my group was out of the office, I worked from home. I got a minor bug in my code sorted out this morning (the right code in the slightly wrong place) and got a bunch of test locations bias-corrected for this last-minute comparison project that has come up. I was figuring it would take all of this week to deal with, so now I'm ahead of things, hooray! The weather was nice today, so after getting that done I walked to Chipotle for a late lunch and picked up some stuff at the grocery store.

I've been spending a lot of time lately playing an old-style isometric CRPG called Bastard Bonds and enjoying it quite a bit. I definitely recommend it to anybody who enjoys those kinds of games, although note that it features a lot of pixelated gay fanservice, so if that's not a selling point, you should at least not mind it.


Jan. 8th, 2017 10:29 pm
dr_tectonic: (bluh)
So we didn't do anything at all for New Year's; just stayed at home and had a nice long weekend of downtime.  I went and visited Grandma on New Year's Day, and then on Monday we got together with some of Jerry's siblings and his mom (who is in town) at his brother Bill's place.  Which was all perfectly nice, except that that's where we picked up the flu, because his brother and his mom came down with it a couple days later, too.

We had lots of snow forecast for Wednesday, and since nobody else was going to be in the office, I decided to work from home and avoid whatever traffic problems it caused.  That's when Jerry started feeling lousy, so he stayed home, too.  I made chicken tikka masala in the crockpot.  (Tasty, but quite soupy.)  Going into Thursday, of course, there was enough snow that work was closed for both of us, so I worked from home then, too.  By this point it was pretty clear that he had the flu, so we tried to minimize my exposure by moving me into the guest bedroom for sleeping and most of my hanging out.  It didn't work, though, and by Friday afternoon I could feel it coming on, too.  I managed to do a grocery run that morning, and I managed the conference call we had scheduled in the afternoon, but that was about it for my productivity.

I'm past the fever and the achiness (which was really bad with this strain), and now I'm into the sore throat and cough, where my primary source of sustenance is menthol cough drops.  Ugh.  I'm not feeling horribly tired, but that's probably because I'm mostly just sitting around playing games on my laptop.  I think I'm mostly okay, then I get up and do something and I have a horrible coughing fit (sticky brown mucus, yuck) and get out of breath from going down the stairs, so although I'm On The Mend, it's clear that I'm not yet Better.  I'll probably stay home tomorrow, too.

We also had Cris & Steve come over on Tuesday night (before we were contagious, thank goodness) and spent the evening playing Mah Jongg.  We started from simplified rules (e.g.. no kongs and no scoring, at least not at first) and I think that's a good way to learn.  We had a good time.  So at least there was that.
dr_tectonic: (bluebeard)
We spent the latter half of last week visiting my parents in Nebraska for early Christmas. Drove out Wednesday, spent Thursday & Friday there, drove back Saturday (Christmas Eve). Larry got his right hip replaced the week previously, so we didn't get up to a whole lot; just hung out with them and had downtime.

Larry had a couple post-op complications (a case of thrush and some episodes of atrial fibrillation, which is apparently no uncommon after major surgery) that kept him in the hospital a few extra days. He was still feeling pretty lousy when we got there, but improved considerably over the next couple days and was walking around by the time we left. Partly I think being at home instead of the hospital helped, and another big factor was when he stopped taking the pain meds (hydrocodone, I think), because that was upsetting his already finicky stomach so he couldn't really keep food down. But he is definitely on the mend now.

We helped out by cooking dinner (cabbage & sausages) on Friday and doing dishes and putting a tarp over the little trailer to keep the roof from leaking. And according to my mom, just by being there and not contributing to the worry feedback loop that the two of them sometimes develop.

We got to meet Bobbie, the long-legged bob-tailed kitten they recently rescued from a ditch at the side of the road, and visit with big boycats Toodle & Squeaker. Toodle is very lovey; Squeaker is skittish and almost started warming up to us by the time we left. Squirt (their little mostly-chihuahua) was of course delighted to see us, although she spent most of her time snuggled up next to Larry on the couch so that she could nurse him.

We did Christmas With Bears at Matt & Jason's. It was our D&D group plus Channan and (eventually) Cris & Steve. Very enjoyable; it's a good crew. I declared it a cheat day and actually partook of everything on offer, like the astonishing cake (coffee, hazelnut, and chocolate) that Brandon made.

It was a gift-light Christmas. Monkey's gift to me is getting the radio fixed on the Jetta. Yay! But all the car radio places are crazy busy after Christmas, so I told him to wait a little while until it calms down. I got him a couple DVDs to replace ones that have gone missing and a backup HD for the PS4, but one of the packages got lost in the mail, so I had to reorder them and they got here late. We mostly skipped gifts with my parents; we brought them some nice cheese and salami and my copy of The Martian, and they gave us cat toys and some money for the wedding. In the round-robin on my Dad's side, Sherilyn sent me a copy of On Food and Cooking, which makes for good here-and-there reading, especially with breakfast. I started reading about brassicas have already learned a bunch of new things!

Monday we had Star Wars, so I spent my day off work prepping for that. Now I'm trying to get my momentum back up while there's nobody in the office to distract me...
dr_tectonic: (bluebeard)
Friday! The last day of the conference! When everybody is worn out and starts wandering off early! And the day of my poster. In the afternoon slot.

Actually, things were a lot busier than I expected. It was a busy day for both posters and talks, and all but one of the single-sheet printouts got taken before I got there to man my poster. The only major disappointment was that there was this one talk that I was really interested in because it had all of the keywords relating to my research, and it didn't happen because the presenter was a no-show. Boo! I met up with Sequoia for dinner at a Turkish place (A La Turca), which was tasty, and a good long chat & walk before and after.

Saturday morning I slept in (hallelujah!) and then packed up my stuff, checked out, and BARTed myself over to Berkeley. Got ensconced in Colin & Jess's place around lunchtime, and then at 2 I walked to the Victory Point Cafe to meet up with Wes for a bit. As you might guess from the name, it's all about board games, so I introduced him to Sentinels of the Multiverse, and then we played several hands of Lost Cities. Wandered back to his place and chatted for a bit, then Jess came and picked me up and brought me (and dinner -- poke bowls) home. Their cat, Tesla, was pleased to see a new human and snuggled in my lap while I was there that afternoon.

Sunday morning we picked up a few things at the farmer's market, and then went to U-Boat & Christy's for brunch. Hooray! Got to see a bunch of people: Perlick, Jason & Felicia, Ariel, Chuck & Tef, Rawhide again, and a couple of the neighbors, plus a passel of assorted childrens, of course.

Perlick very kindly drove me to the airport on his way back to Palo Alto, and I had an uneventful flight home. Hooray! Except that I almost froze my face off waiting for the traffic to let Jerry through to pick me up at DIA, because the temperature had no digits back here in Colorado! Happily, it warmed back up today, and now the weather is back to merely cold, instead of arctic.

It's very nice to be home with my hubby & my kitties and to sleep in my own bed with my own pillows again. Yay! :D
dr_tectonic: (bluebeard)
Wednesday and Thursday were my significantly-less-jam-packed days, but I am still wiped out. Fewer Informatics talks on Wednesday, more Global Change sessions. Saw a couple talks that detailed interesting and sophisticated ways to do things that I don't think are particularly worth doing. Today was back to Informatics and talks about complicated provenance things that would totally be great to have, except that they would involve insane amounts of added work and are never gonna happen unless there's a whole lotta automation going on.

I ended up going through the poster hall late in the day yesterday and early in the day today, which means I walked by a bunch of interesting posters that weren't there because the authors either hadn't put them up first thing or had already taken them down before the end of the day. Why would you do that? The entire reason that posters hang all day is so that people can look at them whenever they have the time to get over there!

Yesterday I hiked over to the Dropbox offices to have lunch with Rawhide and Wumpf (who has an office nearby). I got to see the infamous chrome panda and have tasty lunch and good conversation, yay! And then at dinner, Schmooz and Quincy and I went to Hog & Rocks. We ended up just having a bunch of appetizer plates for dinner, including a number of raw oysters, which I mostly liked, except for the one variety that was less briny and more, like, organ-meat-y. We also got a ham flight. I hesitated over whether it was too egregiously foodie to bear, but it was really good. Four varieties of ham, all very different and all really yummy. Definitely glad I did it.

And then tonight I had dinner with Xris Onufryk downtown. Just burgers, but tasty. We showed each other lots of cat photos. And then she showed me her powerpoint presentations about shower curtains! Which was genuinely delightful to me. In return I showed her how is prangent formed and we laughed until we cried. YAT!
dr_tectonic: (bluebeard)
It's only been two days of conference, but I feel like I've been here for a week. Being away from home and routine makes everything seem to take up a much longer span of time.

I started Monday with a talk that made me think that I had to rework the core of my bias correction method, but once I left the room I realized, wait, no I can't replace the transform with that approach, because it depends on already knowing the thing that I use the transform for. *Whew!*

After wandering the posters a bit, I sat in an overcrowded and really interesting session about cloud computing. And then another one about it that afternoon. And another one today. And it's got me convinced that we need to take a new tack on some of the projects back home, to the point that I'm gonna try to get some experiments going on my own. So that alone was probably worth attending for.

Since I got out of the pre-lunch session a bit before the lunchtime rush, I zipped over to the Metreon and got lunch from Sorabol (Korean) and took it back to my room.

We had a (productive) side meeting from 5-6:30 that night for one of our collaborations. I bowed out of dinner afterwards to go to the MIT alumni reception, but it was at a new venue this year and turned out to be a total bust. Quincy was wiped and had to cancel, and it was in a tiny room with dismal refreshments. There was one table of food, with a pedestrian cheese platter, vegetable crudites and hummus, and three types of sliders. Oh, and a dessert table you couldn't get within five feet of. I bailed after maybe 10 minutes, and got dinner instead at a place called Lemonade, which is a sort of salad + hot dish fast-casual setup, emphasizing fresh and local. I was pretty pleased with what I had, honestly.

I've slept poorly the last two nights, due to foreign bed and overly-squishy pillows. I called down for a couple firm pillows and I'm hoping I'll do better tonight. But 8 am came really early this morning. Along with all the cloud computing talks, there was a good session on data formats. And I was able to say hello to Kristy (one of my grad school cohort) at the posters afterwards.

I had a very good lunch today meeting up with Jason Funt for lunch at the Whole Foods a few blocks south of here. Hooray for meeting internet friends in person! We got along well, and I wish we'd had more time.

I had a big gap in my schedule after lunch, so I rested up and actually used the hotel jacuzzi for a bit to loosen up the soreness of bad sleep and lots of walking. Dinner tonight from Loving Hut in the food court at Westfield. It's miscellaneous Asian cuisine and vegan, but more importantly, the food court was nearby and it was the one that was most appealing when I went wandering by it.

AGU Day 0

Dec. 11th, 2016 09:29 pm
dr_tectonic: (bluebeard)
Uneventful travel getting here. It pays to check how long the different security lines are at the airport: the maze at the west end of the main concourse at DIA was completely full, the one at the east end was half full, and if you walked over the bridge to Terminal A, the lines were about six people long.

I jumped on hotel reservations this year, so I'm staying at the Intercontinental, which abuts Moscone West. Woot! Having the option to go back to my room if I need to (or just want to lie down and relax for half an hour during slow periods) makes for a much less stressful conference.

Got my exercise in walking a mile uphill to meet Jofish en famille at Hopwater Distribution for dinner. Lovely! Had him drop me off at the Metreon Target afterwards so I could stock up on supplies.

I have come to realize that I am much happier when I don't have to make myself presentable to the world before I can eat breakfast, so (especially on long trips) I now fill up the tiny bit of unused space in the hotel room mini-fridge with foodstuffs. This is going to be doubly important this trip, since sticking to low-carb/high-fat is hard when eating out all the time. Now available for breakfast in my hotel room: brie, salami, mini sausages, heavy cream, 88% dark chocolate, and (thanks to the Korean place in the Metreon) kimchi.