Blog post for a T-shirt? Sure. :)

I’m not above selling out periodically.  A few months back, I posted here for a chance to win some vanilla beans after winning some saffron.  Now, it’s time for a t-shirt.

Thanks to Bill, I’ve stumbled upon the Microspotting site.  And I definitely want one of the “I am the empire” t-shirts.  Oh, and Ariel, consider your blog subscribed to my RSS reader.  Great stuff!

Trying something a bit different

The car is packed (camping gear, bikes, telescopes), days off work are scheduled, and the route is planned.

Diann & I are taking a long weekend and heading out of town. Posting will be non-existent. 🙂

But wait!  I am going to try something out.  I signed up with Qik, a service that you can stream video to the Internet from your cell phone.  I think I’m going to periodically post updates from the road, ferries, bike, tent, and kayak while we’re out.

If you want to check it out, just check out my Qik profile page periodically over the next few days, or keep an eye on the Qik videos list over there on the right of my blog.

Is Qik’s open beta really an open beta?

Try as I might, I can’t see any difference in Qik’s recent change to an “open” beta.  I’ve submitted my cell phone number to them, received the SMS, opened the link, and then I get a page that says:

Request received!

Thank you for your interest in Qik. We will be in touch to let you know when you can get started – thanks!

Nothing after that, even though their blog post says “No more waiting for approval.”

Anyone have a Qik invite they can share with me in the meantime, since it seems like everything is status quo over there?

Biking Milestones, and why Guy Kawasaki is partly wrong

Yeah, this blog post is going to be non-sequitur. Bear with me, the first part is short, and I want to brag.

About a month and a half ago, we bought bikes.  I’ve been commuting by bike to work averaging about once a week – it definitely takes a while to get into the rhythm of things.  From the previous post, you can see that there’s a crazy huge (well, I’m call it crazy huge) at the 3.4 mile marker.  The first few time we it the hill, we took two mini-rest breaks.  The second time, and subsequent times, I’ve taken one mini-rest break (walking the bike a short distance, along with a few other people that poop out around the same point).  I’ve been getting farther and farther up the hill before the rest break, though, until yesterday… when I made it the whole way sans stopping.  Yay!  Here’s the problem: now that I know it can be done, I no longer have excuses to stop.

Ok, that was longer than anticipated, and many people that ride bikes will say “wow, he’s pathetically out of shape” – they’d be right, but I guess I’m working on fixing that, and that counts for something.

So, back to Guy Kawasaki.  A month or two ago I read Presentation Zen, an excellent book that I recommend people read.  I liked his section on prototyping presentations using paper, pen, tape, and a wall, and I’ve done that when putting together the last few presentations I’ve done.  Where’d Guy go wrong?  Well, he says that slideware (e.g., PowerPoint and Keynote) isn’t usable as a presentation design program.  I think I’ve just come to realize why.

I was putting together a quick & dirty presentation for my homeowner’s association the other day, and I did it directly in PowerPoint.  It worked fine to mock things up, but I found myself doing exactly what you shouldn’t be doing when drafting a presentation: I’d throw text on a slide, and immediately start putting graphics in, figuring out the right formatting, etc.  That doesn’t go in a mock-up, and that’s where Guy is right.  But, if you can ignore the formatting/etc. in your slideware app, I think it’s a perfectly fine spot to put together presentations.

Weekend in Port Angeles

Diann & I spent the weekend on the peninsula, mostly in the Port Angeles area.  We attempted to hit up the Hurricane Ridge Star Party put on by the Olympic Astronomical Society, but were foiled by clouds.  (funny aside here: I showed up, along with Nick who is also a member of the Seattle Astronomical Society, yet no one from OAS showed up)

While in Port Angeles, Diann & I watched the 4th of July fireworks and parade in the city, and we wandered around the downtown area quite a bit.  I figured these two photos were worth sharing:

Tattoo Parlor Wall Mural    Taekwondo Door

See if you can spot the humorous bit on the door to the Martial Arts training center.

Catching Up

A few weeks back, the Deadliest Catch video game came out for the Xbox 360.  Seeing as Diann & I watch the show every week (yeah, we’re addicts), I decided to pick up the game.

Lo and behold, a few of the big names from the show would be at my local Gamestop to launch the game.  We brought the camera, and here I am with Josh Harris, Edgar Hansen, and Sig Hansen.  I spoke a bit of Norwegian to Edgar and Sig, and I’m pretty sure I caught them off guard, but, to their credit, they did talk back in Norwegian.

Josh Harris, Marius, Edgar & Sig Hansen

Yes, the title of the post is a really bad pun, but it wasn’t intended… honestly.

Clear skies on the weekend

796px-Veil_nebula_lanoue This weekend had some more clear skies, and I had been warned well in advance.  I cleared the Saturday morning calendar, and packed up back out to Rattlesnake Lake with a bunch of the SAS guys for some viewing.

The seeing and transparency were phenomenal – a very stable atmosphere with not much crud in the air.  This makes astronomers happy!  The moon didn’t come up until 2am, so we had great darkness for a few hours.  Sadly, a bunch of the things I wanted to knock off my list were hiding behind a large hill to the southeast – I need to find a viewing site that has better horizons in that direction.

Just a few new Messier’s knocked off the list for tonight:

Favorite item of the night goes to M11.  I had just gotten done complaining to a few people how boring I thought open clusters were, and then I centered on M11.  Wow – it’s totally opened my eyes to how cool some open clusters can be.  This one’s definitely a new thing on my hit list of things to look at again.  Most disappointing thing: M80 – a tiny globular.  Most pleasing view: getting M59, M60, and NGC4638 in the same field of view.

67 Messier objects completed since November 2007.  Not bad – 3 more to go before I can file for the initial Astronomical League Messier certificate.  I’ll be at the Olympic Star Party on Hurricane Ridge this weekend, so I hope to knock out a bunch of the eastern ones that keep evading me at Rattlesnake.