Monday, February 27, 2017

Blackhawk Park

A few random photos from Blackhawk Park while I was out wandering around doing a bit of Ingress-ing.

The trail...

The frozen lake, which had a few ripped up spots in the ice.  I couldn't tell if they were from people or thawing.

And a very big tree that gave me an old man or Ent vibe...

Ben’s Five Keys to Creating a Successful Side Project

I enjoyed this article by Ben Halpern, plus all the associated discussion.  I always find myself trying to hold on to a project that just sort of slips away as my passions change and new work crops up, both personal and professional.  You can dig around in this blog to find examples where I couldn't stick to my ideas for a Unity app and more (where I drifted away from geocaching for instance, although you can't quite grasp how much I shifted toward playing Ingress).

My favorite advice is constraints.  I've often found that to be the best way to keep myself engaged.  Knowing exactly who's involved (just me?), and a firm, but flexible, deadline (yep, both), and what I'm willing to spend personally, and what my expectations are...and they better be tight, manageable, and focused.  As soon as the constraints are loosened and I think "maybe this is something that should be bigger" it goes all cattywampus and drifts away.  I was impressed at Minndemo 25 with the devs who had spent three years working on a pet project.  That's amazing focus, particularly as they have working software to demo after that time for a crowd of 600+  Seems like a good goal - demo at Minnedemo 28 for instance - but that's a lot of pressure.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

St. Mary's of Marystown

I was way down Highway 169 tonight cleaning up an Ingress field.  I went to the wrong place first, which I've done before, and which is incredibly annoying.  It's sometimes difficult to tell from the portal description where the place is; I end up looking for a nearby intersection.

Made for a beautiful photo taking down 4 AXA covering most of Eagan and beyond.

Minnedemo 25

I went to Minndemo with Erik the Hairy Swede last week.  There was a good selection of presentations packed into about an hour.  Damn is that event ever busy now.  Despite the 600+ people crowded into The Minneapolis Depot, I still managed to bump into Jen the contractor placement rep I've known for a long time.  She switched firms recently, so it was nice to bump into her. I preferred her understanding of my contractor needs over her replacement.

TroutSpotr was pretty wild.  It was a pet project to overlay public lands (in Minnesota), roads, and streams, so you could pinpoint where bridges where and where public land access was from the bridge so you could find new places to fish for trout.  He used QGIS and he certainly built something it looks like the DNR might buy off him.  Very funny presentation.

Player's Health was also pretty exceptional.  The developer was trying to create a space parents owned where they could log specific health data for kids in sports so that it could be shared with teams/coaches they invited in.  It would then serve as a place for coaches to capture injuries and receive doctor signoff and then future coaches could see a history of injuries for the purposes of knowing what to watch for.  Reminded me a bit of Concourse that I worked on for my company where lawyers invited other lawyers and individuals into their spaces/matters to share docs and info, but with more concrete form-based interfaces built around aspects of it like injury logging.

Talkative Chef was also interesting - hands free recipe recitation using open source text to voice in the browser.  Clever idea if Alexa/et al don't parallel develop the idea.

Cat Doodles via Machine Learning

This is a cool idea.  It maps, in the browser, what you draw against some machine learning algorithms.  I played aroudn with the cat one to create my own letters out of cats.  Almost looks like someone skinned a cat to make the alphabet.  Yuck.  I tried my own cat below....he's sort of creepy.

Facebook Data Extension

My browser of preference is Chrome, so this extension caught my eye.  I'm not sure what I could do with the information, but it seems interesting to track it even if they're using alternate algorithms and it's PIT (point in time) of install, not retroactive.  So there's no way to really track what you've already told them.  And there's code!  For some reason the idea that there's something particularly useful that could be done with the fact I can get to the source code is bouncing around in my head.  And let's not say that the useful idea is installing a stealth version on corporate computers to track overall corporate culture tendencies (you can obviously track time on Facebook via the corporate logs).  I can see a good and a bad path having that data - start to push your culture toward a new culture (top down "I want this") or recognize the corporate culture you attract and double down.  Then again - you'd have to have a separate (or modified) add-in to track other social media platforms.

I work with a lot of lawyers and they're big on capturing billable data.  I wonder at what point someone decides "we should capture everything" to examine potential for billable work through other services as well as innate biases in lawfirm partners by examining total web activity.  They often want to capture email and text data (although text data is notoriously insecure), so web activity isn't such a big hop.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

IGH Burlesque

As an early Valentine's Day date night, my wife and I went to burlesque in Inver Grove Heights at Jersey's Bar and Grill.  We were dubious...we've done all our burlesque attending in downtown Minneapolis and Chicago (whoa...six years ago now) before, so the crowd is pretty diverse.  The crowd is not very diverse in Inver Grove Heights.  Except the MC, although his humor was the kind of self-deprecating humor you get when a minority is faced with a room full of Caucasians. He was funny anyway, and did a great job keeping the crowd engaged.  Still, after the belly dancers had cleared off and the burlesque had started, the crowd whooped it up and seemed to enjoy the whole show.  Although there was nothing like the unicorns and Hello Kitty/GI Joe stuff we used to see at BOMB.

Musette and cast just offstage.  It was a very small stage.  Considerably different than a big theater.  I don't think it was good for belly dancing and I was dubious about how it would work for burlesque, but it was pretty intimate.

We hadn't seen Sweet Pea in years.  She did a number of acts, including this one with multiple hula hoops.  Both she and Scarlette Revolver had hula hoop acts.  Sweet Pea managed to remove most of her outfit while spinning the hoops the whole time.  Impressive.

I mentioned this to Kyle.  Sweet Pea danced to Heart's What Above Love.  A truly horrible song in my opinion.  But a great performance.
Sweet Pea Heart

It's Nadine Dubois!  We hadn't seen her since BOMB!  And my wife noted that while the guys had had Nadine as an MC, the women hadn't (we tended to go on different nights - avoided baby sitters), so she hadn't seen Nadine in even longer.  She sat with us for a while in between numbers.

Nadine singing.
Nadine 2

Scarlette Revolver doing a triple hula hoop act.


The place was bigger than we expected.  Not anywhere near the size of the Ritz Theater, but all the tables were full and there were folks sitting in every available seat.

Here it gets weird.  Ready?  Gollum dancing with the one ring.  Reminded me of the burlesque event Kyle, Ming, Fat Leonard, and I went to at the Varsity where the Suicide Girls did burlesque with a sci fi theme.  First time I ever heard Super Massive Black Hole.  I was telling Eryn all about it the other day because I thought she find the idea of someone doing burlesque with a Portal theme amusing - particularly the cake throwing bits.  I was not incorrect.

It's not truly weird until you get to see a bit of video.

This was enjoyable - Baby Got Back done Taco style.
Baby Got Back

And the whole group.  Sans Elektra Cute who did some great numbers.

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

Hawaii - Post 4 - Volcanoes National Park

While on the big island we went over the top of the center of the island across the extinct volcano until we got to the live volcano at Volcanoes National Park.

Here's my family on the rim near where the steam vents are.  We didn't bring rain jackets or umbrellas so my wife bought a few at the ranger station.  I think my daughter's and mine are still in the luggage unopened.

The way into the Thurston Lava Tube.  On the way out, Pooteewheet ended up stuck with a tour group for a few moments looking at trees.  I think some of those people ahead of us, although I remember them all wearing the same outfits and looking sort of like a cult.  She fit right in.

In the Thurston Lava Tube.  Near the hotel there was another lava tube, unmonitored, and lots of people stopped to wander around in it.  Seemed dubious.  I wouldn't have been afraid of lava, but the idea of being under all that rock with an expert giving it a once over would make me nervous.

Up by the Jaggar Museum, overlooking the lava.

Here you can see where the lava is bubbling.  If you stare really really hard, you might be able to see the glow.

This is even closer - you can see the lava in this picture.  If you can't, here's a link to the Original so you see it without increasing your screen resolution.

And in Panorama - the link goes to a much larger panoramic view.

We headed down Chain of Craters road and stopped at the lava pits (sans lava).

My wife and daughter were excited that there were live Nene, or Hawaiian geese.  Eryn came back with a stuffed one.  Not real slash dead slash taxidermied.  But a toy stuffed nene.

The Nene stop was near a big area with a crevasse and lots of big rocks.  It was a neat place to hang out as there wasn't anyone around almost the whole time we were out there.  We had it all to ourselves.  Eryn and I originally thought that far rock looked like the Gorn rock from the original Star Trek, so we were trying to get a picture of us fighting for Mean Mr. Mustard.  But the closer we got, the less it looked like the Kirk-Gorn rock.

A random rock.  These things were sharp despite looking lumpy.  We saw a guy nearby from our car that had obviously fallen and cut up his knee.  I'm surprised he was still moving around.

And down to the sea caves by the Pacific Ocean.  Off in the distance you can see where the lava meets the sea.  You can't get there easily unless you bike from the back or hike in over hours.  We didn't do that.  But my brother, nephews, and dad came back later to hike to the lava.  They didn't bring enough water or dedicated flashflights so from the hotel we were getting posts about batteries wearing out, getting lost on the lava field, and leaving phones in undesignated places.  We thought it might all lead to tragedy.

The video version so you can enjoy the crashing waves.
Volcano National Park Sea Caves

Hōlei Sea Arch

A better view of the lava steam plume with the warning in the foreground that you're in all sorts of known risks for dying, none of which are eruption or lava related.

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

Hawaii - Post 3

I'm in training, so I should be coding about Angular 2, but I'll get to that.  Day one wasn't particularly exciting (I learned more from the first part of the Pluralsight class).  So these are still pictures from the Big Island.

We spent one day snorkeling - I mentioned my family all cut up our feet looking at turtles and fish and brain coral in the shallows.  My siblings took lots of pictures of their children, and fish, and turtles, and brain coral.  I figure I can find those on line.  I took a picture of the fact that you have to get a permit to drink on the beach, so you need to think about it in advance.  We were at Kahaluu Beach Park. Here are a million pictures, including turtles, yellow fish, girls in bikinis, and surfers.  We didn't see any sea lions.

My wife and I spent a few minutes touring the petroglyphs near where we stayed.  The idea of living in this hole in the ground, even if it was more of a roof at the time, is sort of frightening.  At least the temperature is pleasant so it wasn't like you were freezing in there.  Minnesotans tend to think about those things.

This whole area including far to the right and left and behind me is covered with carvings.  It was weird that you could just walk around, but it was also difficult to tell what was old, what was graffiti, what meant something, what didn't.  Except for one...

I think I know what this one means, and I suspect, although I can't be sure, that it isn't an ancient Hawaiian petroglyph.  But I didn't try to date it scientifically.

Sunday, February 05, 2017

Hawaii - Post 2

This was my morning walk on the big island most mornings.  Along that shoreline and way past the Hilton over there  There's an Ingress portal on this point.  I can't recharge it from Minnesota, but it was a nice spot to link to that no one else wanted to walk to while I was in Hawaii and it gave me a reason to take the more difficult walk than along the side walk with the joggers.  I walked down to that little flat area of rocks when the tide wasn't in.  There were generally golf balls all over that area.  Reminded me off the Seinfeld episode where Kramer nearly kills a whale and George saves it.

When the tide was in you didn't want to be down there.

I walked past this most mornings too.  Apparently this path goes a LONG way between towns.  I was tempted to walk it, but I finally decided if it looked like this in this spot, it looked like this in every spot.

Some of the stranger morning photos.  This is the Zen garden.  KEEP OUT!  No trespassing in the Zen garden.

This is a plant that sexually harassed me once a day.  It sort of looks like it has a priapism issue.

A nice picture closer to one of the beaches.  This was not untypical of the beaches near where we were staying.  They were not great for swimming unless you wanted to get cut up.  As a matter of fact, when we went snorkeling in the shallows at one of the local beaches known for snorkeling, my wife, daughter, and I all cut our feet up pretty good.  I still have a bit of a scab about five inches long that's finally going away after over a month.  Brain coral.  Sharp.  Wear flip flops or surf shoes.  You will note a decided lack of pictures of sea life in my posts although we saw a lot: turtles, whales, dolphins.  No rays - if you're going to see the rays book WAY in advance.  It was the one thing we really missed by not planning ahead extensively.

That said, here's a sea turtle.  Bad picture, but it was pretty early in the morning and s/he was headed into the hotel area to visit some friends.

These are the turtle's friends.  There are two dolphins in there for the hotel dolphin encounter (we weren't at this hotel, but the walking path looped back and forth through the hotel grounds).  I felt kind of bad for them, but in the mornings they were zipping all over the place playing with each other.

There was a tendency to carry white rocks to where there were black rocks and make all sorts of initials in hearts graffiti.  So we made one for Klund.

In panorama...

Sadly, it didn't even last a day.  Love is fleeting.

Unless you take a video of it, then you have it forever.  Along with the soothing sounds of the waves in the background.

I ate this on the big island.  It's a loco moco.  I had a few of them to compare and contrast.  Rice, fried egg, hamburger, gravy.  The gravy was generally the biggest difference.  But it was seriously Minnesota food.  No spice, pretty straight forward meat and starch.  I'm surprised I can't find them on every corner here.