Wednesday, September 29, 2010

CMU Donut Dash - Awesome

Walking on to campus today I saw lots of donuts drawn on the ground (here lots of groups use sidewalk chalk to advertise, seeing as 85% of the population enters campus in the same location, this is effective). They were promoting the 2nd Annual CMU Donut Dash. Turns out a fraternity is trying to make this an annual event... they had one last year. This is a race around the CMU campus (about 2 miles) where in the middle of the course you have to stop and eat a dozen donuts.

Awesome. Food and not too much running. I am in.

So now my question to you is should I join the competitive division? They are posting times of 25-30 mins for the mens winners last year. Conservatively, I think my mile time is just around 9 mins. I can certainly pound down 12 donuts in 10 mins. but then the question is can I then run another mile. I have a slight feeling that I can. I just don't feel overly confident signing up for a competitive running event... Let me know what you think.

Pirates are way cooler than Ninja's.

First let me start with a short clip directed by a rising hollywood master, Christopher J. Tomlinson:

For those of you who do not use the internet, or for those of you who never talk to anyone... which I guess is none of you, seeing as you are reading this, you should know about the on going struggle between Ninja lovers (Jordan, all of my small group guys (aka The Spokane Ninja society), I don't remember if you were on the wrong side Alan...) and the Pirate crew (I certainly fall in to this category, Brian, Chris, Chelsea). Remember we are going off of the pop culture ideas of Pirates and Ninjas, not the actual historic people. (we all know Pirates were way cooler back then anyway)

I was thinking about this conflict on my way to the bus today. I came up with a definitive resolution to the question at hand, what group is better: Pirates or Ninjas. This might have been spurred on by my Salzburg Pirates shirt I am wearing.

We can go on and on about the weaponry each would have used, we can talk about how you don't know you are being killed by a ninja because you are already dead, we can talk about how pirates had boats so they could obviously fight bigger battles, we could talk about the level of professionalism displayed by the Ninjas, or the lack thereof by Pirates... all of these are insignificant to the following: Pirates had way more fun.

What are Ninja's known for? They are known for not being seen. They are known for killing efficiency. They are known for being sneaky. Yeah, that would be cool for about a day. Then I would get lonely, and depressed. Pirates were the merrymakers and revelers of their day! If you look at Disney's depiction (which is obviously accurate) they had a great time, ranging from ruckus parties, to chasing women, to disgracing public officials, general frivolity and fun. 90% of the pirates had huge smiles on their faces. If Ninjas smiled, you wouldn't be able to see it! Being a Ninja is just lame... but Pirates, they know how to have a good time! If you were to walk in to a party, a Pirate would be the life of the party! Now granted by the end of the night he would be a disgrace... but still! The Ninja, he would be in the darkest corner of the room, with no friends.

Being a Pirate just sounds fun. Now granted I don't partake in a lot of what pirates are known for... drinking and chasing women are not really my thing... but merrymaking and disgracing public officials, I am all over that.
And therefore, once and for all, Pirates are way cooler than Ninjas.

But we all know that Bears are better than both.

Monday, September 27, 2010

You should have all of the bs in the same form...

Well. I know it has been a whole 4 days.... so lets recap. Don't worry, I am going to keep you interested by letting you know that there are pictures!
Champion. You show that rock...
 And Ill start with them! I was walking down a very little used stair case, when I noticed this little guy. I though of Wall-E, and had a little moment bonding with this little plant... It could persevere, I could persevere.
So last Friday, with the exception of class, was spent working on Machine Learning homework. But for class we went on a field trip! This would be my ethnography course, we walked from campus to Schenly Plaza (across the street from the Cathedral of learning) for some practice observations. I chose to look at how people converse, both in person and on the phone. So I just meandered around the area, I ended up covering about 5 square blocks, part of which was PITT. Not really all that interesting... people have a hard time talking when there is a lot of noise (like cars, or loud music), people tend to not talk on their phones while in groups, bla bla. Really it was a time to practice note taking, which was much needed for my homework (which I will get to in a bit). So after class I ran in to one of the guys from my Computational Photography course, we confused ourselves even more... after spending and hour discussing what the heck the problem we were trying to solve for, I headed home.

Now I will introduce to you Scooter Algorithm for catching a bus on Friday around 4 PM. If a bus passes you full, walk up to the next stop. If it takes you less than 5 mins to get to the next stop, keep going. Once there, wait for the next bus. If that one passes you, replete until your either get on a bus or you make it home. I don't know if I have explained it yet, there are a set of "61" buses, as in 61A, 61B, 61C, 61D. These buses all start downtown Pittsburgh. They all travel past Duquesne University, then travel through Oakland, then pass Carlow University, then pass PITT, then they get to CMU. Full. Every time. From CMU they travel to Squirrel hill, where they all split off and go their separate directions, mine towards Braddock and Wilkinsburgh. At Squirrel hill, half of the bus gets off, and the rest of the ride is easy going. Last week, when I had way better things to be doing than waiting for the bus, on average 2 full buses passed me each day. With 61A's only coming every 30 mins, this means I end up waiting for over an hour! Not cool! Then you get on the bus and it hits traffic, and a 15 bus ride turns in to a 2 hour ordeal.

So on Friday, I really did not want to stay at school, so I started to implement my "Scooters Algorithm." I ended up making it 1/3 of the way home before a bus picked me up. Ugg... simply frustrating.

So for dinner I made perogies again. They were great! I took pictures this time! If you are wondering they were potato and cheese perogies, cooked with onions and peppers, topped with more cheese.

I am supporting James!
That is right. I found Reeds!
As I enjoyed my dinner, I watched the latest episode of the Office and Big Bang Theory, both of which I missed because of homework... The two episodes I watched made me realize two things: I love the Office and Big Bang Theory, and I really miss watching the Office after eating enchiladas with Bill, Jake, James, Dannica and Jamie (Alana, you ate with us, but never watched the office...). Those were great times.

Enough being sentimental. So I get to work. Friday night I spent a lot of time working on Computational Photography... I only had 20% of the program working, and it was going to be due on Tuesday (tomorrow). I had spent a lot of time working on it, and by working on it, I mean starting at an ugly equation trying to figure out what it means. The TA and the professor were both out of contact, so I was on my own. After talking to my other classmates, I was farther, and had a better understanding than them, so they were not useful. I got to a point where I could think of nothing else, and looked up at the clock... 1:20 AM! AH! I need to go to bed! So a sleep I went.

As a side note, I have a really hard time going from working on things like homework to sleep... my mind stays on the problem, and I just stay up. This was and is a re-occurring problem.

So the weekend ended up blending together a lot. If you were to take the expectation of my weekend, in terms of what I was looking at, you would get my computer screen. And if you were to take the variance, you would get the post-its right next to my computer screen.... Saturday morning I had a really good conversation with Chelsea about the Photography homework. It is full of linear algebra, something that I was never formally trained on. She was able to clear out the cobwebs and get me to think of the problem in a different way, which was awesome. Turns out, we were not close to the right track. But it was still good to work with here... yes at one point I did say: "you should have all of the bs in the same form" I was referring to the multiple b vectors.... Chelsea, come on, we were being serious!

At one point I went to the store for food. Larry asked me to pick up some double stuffed oreos. Now, 2 days later, they are gone. And I did not eat any...

Later in the day I went over to Mitch's house. We pounded away at the homework. We eventually got all of the math parts done, however the 5th part of our homework was writing two different programs. Later this week, I will have Mind-Blowing ideas #3 going in to these... Cassidy, Mitch's wife made us pizza again. (dang, I need to get a wife!). By the end of the night (1 ish again) I had the first, Naive Bayes classifier up and running.

Sunday. Sunday was a feat in computing power. The ISB Mainframe II (that is my desktop) was pounding away at full power all day. First it was solving linear algebra, then it was processing images by the end. If you take out all of the time I spent on homework, my day was about 3 hours long. I woke up, took a break for breakfast (eggie-in-a-basket!), then later I took another break for dinner and for taking a load of laundry down. Then more laundry. Then I got to have a very nice conversation with Jamie, via skype, that acted as a much needed and much appreciated break from the work. All in all I figured that left my room 5 times. I never showered, and I never changed out of my PJs (yeah bullet proof and Darth Vader!). Again, I stayed up way late trying to write up the problems... but hey this is college right?

So today, I went to school early, again to continue the write up. I do all of my work in a not-so-neat form, so that once I know the process I can then go back and write it up again. So I was working on that all morning. I finished 5 miniutes before class started, and turned in 45 pages of HW, 41 handwritten, equation filled, pages on engineering paper, and 4 pages full of typed explanation. Dang. I felt good turning that in. Certainly felt like I accomplished something. And I feel as though I understand it too... I don't know how well I would do if I had a test on it tomorrow, but I get the general idea.

The rest of the day I treated as a resting day. I headed downtown to work on my Ethnography project, Ill tell you all more about it when I write it up. But for a fore taste, I looked at this for an hour:
Ill let you try and guess why.

 My evening has been filled with very productive Computational Photography work. This is the fun part now, I am trying to come up with examples to show off my code. Mom, watch out! You are a subject of some of my examples. ;)

And now it is time for bed!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Happy THOR DAY!!

Ok, Mom, here is your post ;)

So this past week has been spent on two things:

Machine Learning Homework - I don't know what is going on in this class. It is like being told: "if you move your hands, water moves" and then getting thrown in to a pool... of d dimentional space. It stinks.

Computational Photography Project - I know a little more about this. We are implementing Poisson Blending to insert an image over another. It is a really cool effect, but really math intensive. Also lots of number crunching. I filled up all of the 4 GB of system memory on my computer crunching the outcome of 70,000 equations with 30,000 unknowns before I knew about "sparse" matricies. However as of last night I hit a little brick wall. Fear not, this morning walking to the bus, I had a "moment of clarity" and I think I know how to solve the issue I am having.

Other than that I been doing these things:
Sleeping (unfortunately not very much)
Eating (not very well, and at odd hours... good thing there are no grape nuts around)
Showering (don't worry, I will always be clean)
Getting very apprciated pick-me-ups from Brian, Grandma and Gramps, Chelsea, Jamie, James, and my apparent life guard Kirsten.
And blowing my nose (either a cold or allergies have infested my nose with mucus)

So... now back to work...

3.2 Multivariate Gaussian Distribution
The density function of a p-dimensional Gaussian distribution is as follows:
N(x|mu,A^-1) := 1/((2pi)^(p/2) * (|A^-1|)^(1/2)) * e ^ (-1/2 * (x-mu)^T A (x-mu))
where A is the inverse of the covariance matrix, or the so-called precision matrix. Let {x1,x2,...xn} be i.i.d sample from a p-dimensional Gaussian distribution.
1) Suppose that n >> p. Derive the MLE estimates for mu and A.

... don't know what the means? Yeah, neither do I.

Monday, September 20, 2010

"Original Hot Dog Shop"

Today has been relitively stressful. I don't enjoy working on problems that I don't know how to solve, and that I don't know or cannot get to the resources to solve them. The over-arching theme for the day was Multivariate Gaussians (don't worry I don't really know what they are either), Probability Mixture Models, and Image Gradients (also something that I am not getting right...).

I did have to take a break for suctinance before heading home, so I ventred back towards PITT. I knew that my bus ran through the food area over there, so I figured I would get dinner then jump on a bus. Given the fact that I would have a better chance of getting on a bus later in the afternoon ( I should say prevning) and that I did not really have any food back home, this sounded like an awesome plan.

So I decided to try out the "O" Hot Dog Shop! If anyone is interested it is located on Forbes, just west of the PITT campus.

Inside is very much reminded me of zips, old hand written menus, lots and lots of options to go with everything, that old yellow counter top and tile from the late 70's Anyways, the people behind the counter were very nice (that could be that I was one of the only people in a large establishment), and they went over all of my options. I settled on the hot dog, (small) fries and drink combo. The girl that was helping me, started off by putting some potatoes in the fryer, then started getting my dog ready. I figured that they were not going to have a bunch of fried sitting there getting cold, so they wait for a customer to order before making them... ok, moving on. My modest sized hot dog was put in a bun and covered with slices of American cheese, and toasted. Then covered with a house spicy brown mustard, chopped onions, and a special chili. At this point the girl puts a sheet of wax paper on a plastic tray, arranges the hot dog on one side, and puts a little paper "boat" on the other. Now, this boat is about the size of my hand, not really too big. She then goes over, removes the basket from the firer, dumps all of the fries in to a bigger paper boat ( 8 x 8 ), inverts the small (now dwarfed) paper boat, puts it on top of the mountain of fries, then for the big finale: inverts the whole thing over my tray, spilling fries everywhere and getting about half of them in the boat, which cannot be seen anymore. I almost started laughing in the store.
Let it be noted that I ate a few fries before this picture was taken.
 The hot dog was good, nothing special. The fries were very hot, and very crisp (mother, Auntie Donna, and Gramps, you would have liked them). The diet coke was diet coke... nothing impressive there... Yes, that foil thing is ketchup for the fries. I would certainly go back there, apparently it is another "landmark" in Pittsburgh.
The view, as I clogged my arteries.
The picture does not do Forbes justice, I managed to capture the least busy moment. They had 2nd floor seating, that I had all to myself. It was a good break before heading home to lock myself in the attic, working on HW until now...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Weekend #5

Dang... I have a lot to cover. I guess I should have posted something last night or Friday!

My Friday was similar to last week; however, there were a few modifications. After pounding my head against my homework for a while (ill get in to that later), I ventured out of the Engineering building in to the great unknown (just think about puxatony phil coming out of his hole). There was a surprising amount of stuff going on around campus. Ranging from a CIT (Carnegie Institute of Technology, I think (which I think I am a part of in engineering)) appreciation BBQ (but all of the free stuff was already plundered), there were buggy trials (I am not even going to go in to this right now), a fraternity was also doing some sort of rush thing... I don't know. But the part that I did involve myself in was checking out the Miller gallery.At the moment they are housing an exhibit on Steelers fans and their oddities. It was interesting... surprisingly small... I was expecting a lot but it was really only one medium sized room, with a lot of open space. In one corner they had a web cam set up with a bar in Europe somewhere that was labeled as a "Steelers Bar," this was a little creepy... Other things included a recreation a a particular fan's basement room/shrine to the team, a large gallery to tattoos, and a large map of Steelers organizations and Bars, two of which were in the TriCities, Kimo's and Jackson's. I have been to both, and neither had an over all Steelers feel.... but hey! TriCities rep in Pittsburgh! All to note was a running video of the "Yinz luv da Stillers" show. I felt more enlightened as to the culture of Pittsburgh after leaving.

After getting my culture on, I headed back to the PITT area (same area as last week) to check out the "authentic" Mexican place that I passed up last week. I should have passed it up again this week. It was rather disappointing. My "supremo burrito" was more the size of a hot pocket, and was rather bland... oh well. It was then that I decided that I am going to need to temporarily depart from my Mexican leanings (in terms of sustenance) and branch out. I am going to need to embrace the local fare. One word: Perogies (Ill talk more about that later).

After dinner I enjoyed another movie put on at school, Friday was Ironman 2. I had seen it before, but it was just as good the second time. I would suggest it to anyone who enjoys super hero movies or general action movies. After this I found myself waiting for a bus, apparently with the CMU theater students. For the entire 25 min duration of my wait they were singing and dancing. It was like a real life musical, but sort of weird. This was my first "late night" bus ride. Turned out ok. Don't worry Mom, Ill survive!

Saturday I had the pleasure of going over to Mitch and Cassidy's house for some studying and dinner. Getting there was a bit of a hassle. Turns out there are two St. Joe's, one was St. Joe's Street, and One was St. Joe's Way. Silly Pittsburgh...

So Machine Learning. We received homework last Monday. It is due not tomorrow but the next Monday (the 27th). I think the best way I have come up with the situation is this: It is like teaching a first grader that 1+1=2, and then expecting them to be able to do Trigonometry Homework. The work that we are being asked to do is significantly more complicated that anything that we have seen in class (... more complicated, math wise, than I have seen in ANY class). It was really good for my confidence to hear that Mitch was having a hard time as well. At the end of our efforts we had about 25% of the homework done. The rest I have not the slightest as to how to even approach it, let alone solve it. Mind you have have spent about 4 hours average over the past week working on this, and I have talked to 2 of the TAs frequently about this. Tomorrow we are going to go talk to the professor and see what she says regarding the ridiculous expectations.

So... dinner was really good! Cassidy made Pizza! They are both really nice, and very... I guess gentle would be the best word. Mitch commented that we might have to make this a more regular thing (that is dinner and HW). Don't worry, I didn't show up empty handed, I brought James-inspired Brownies!

Today (Sunday) was a good day of rest. Larry has been M.I.A. all weekend ( I just found out that he was in West Virginia, I did not know this... and was starting to worry a little), so it has been quiet. I went to church, great sermon on standing up to giants (David and Goliath). Headed to the store for a few things... went to the Market Place (Giant Eagle, of course), yes this is the store with underground parking; which today I found out was 2 layers! Good news, you can all rest, they have Reeds. And not just Reeds Ginger Brew, but the Spiced Apple Brew. I was super excited.

So for dinner I ventured out in to the culinary unknowns of Pittsburgh delicatessen. Pittsburgh, apparently, is known for Perogies. I had never heard of them before coming here. They are a huge deal. Apparently the "real" place to get them is at a church; many churches (particularly Polish churches) sell them as a sort of fund raiser. They are basically polish ravioli. They are fairly large pasta pockets, filled with varying things, most commonly potatoes and cheese, also sauerkraut and cheese but range to bacon and ham to plum puree and other odd mixes. Reports show that Pittsburgh consumes more than 11 times more Perogies than any other notable population. I do not know the right place to get these little guys, not yet, again, Larry was out of town. So I went to the Perogie section of the grocery store (yes, their perogie section was bigger than their Chili, Mexican and tortilla sections combined) and picked out some potato and cheese ones. I am not sure the correct way to eat them, but a good sounding serving suggestion was to saute them with onions and peppers. I added a little cheese to the top as well. The resulting concoction was very different, but certainly good. In the future I am going to have to try to make my own Perogies, which I don't think is going to be that hard; and I need to find a church to buy them from too

But fear not... when I am back on the west coast, I am looking forward to real (albeit, Americanized) Mexican.

Oh! and I almost forgot! I went back to Shadyside for a very nice Young Adult bible study. It was very relaxing, and a good "end of the week." I met some new people and talk to others who I had met before. So far Shadyside is a good fit. I certainly miss Colbert, but this will do for now :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Mind-Blowing Idea #2 - Image Cutting and its application

Ok, here is installment #2 of mind-blowing ideas. This one is not as intense as the Fourier transform, but it is also not as cool ;)

So there is a process where you can look at the gradient map of an image, this being the point wise derivatives of the image (aka relative rate of change (aka edge detection)), and based on the values of the gradients, find a path of the least noticeable pixels. This has huge implications, the first example was in image blending. Taking two images you want to blend together, you can get a rough idea of where you want to overlap the pictures, and take a gradient map of the two put together. Then applying this process of finding the "least noticeable" path, you can simply cut both images along the line and piece the two together, with no need for blurring. The easiest way to visualize this would be to imagine taking two images of bricks, and blending them together. If you were just to blur the straight edges, you are going to get fuzzy bricks in one region of the pictures. With this process you would cut the bricks along the mortar lines and match the two images together based on these lines, minimizing the effect of the process. If people are having a hard time visualizing, I can post a good example from lecture.

So another application is "Context aware Image Resizing." I don't really want to try to explain this in detail, so I will do the same thing my professor did, check out this video:

So cool! Apparently the undergrad students are going to be implementing this. But the grad students are going to be taking it a step farther... I don't know what that is going to look like.

Jepordy - I Win

Tonight when I got home Jepordy was on. I immediately let out a little cheer and thought of My mother, father, and Chelsea. There were two things that make tonight unique:

Answer: If you were to stand up, and give your seat to a lady, some might say that this is not dead.
My moto in life: CHIVALRY! Yeah!

Then, for those of you who did not watch it (which I am guessing is most of you), the final Category was "Word Origins." My pre guess was going to be Thor, as in the origin of Thursday. I bet $15,000. The actual answer was something to the effect of "This was used in the UK originally to describe the relative speed of the mail service" I immediately said "Post-Haste!" NONE of the contestants got it! I was amazed! Mom, New Plan: I should stop this whole grad school business and play Jepordy!

Unfortunately Larry was not all that excited. It was not like watching it at home....

Getting to the end of Week 4: "Welcome to the Big Leagues"

First off: This is an Umbrella city. Everyone has one. I found out people carry them around even when it is not forcasted to rain. Having the conditioning of the northwest, they are a little annoying when you are trying to walk down the sidewalk and you almost get your eye poked out with the sharp thingies poking out. Don't worry, I have been rocking the Troop 639 coat. It has been keeping me very comfortable and dry the past few days as summer is being flushed out by fall. Apparently weather changes here == rain and wind. If it is going to change from hot to cold, Pittsburgh gets rain. If it is going to change from cold to hot, Pittsburgh gets rain. It is never for very long, but when it rains... it really rains...

Earlier this week I received my first Machine Learning homework assignment. Shortly after I contemplated Chris' urging to drop out and hang out with him in California. This homework was a set of 5 topics. Each one being an assignment in itself. It is mostly hefty probability, kind of like Dr. Braileanu's class, but taken to the nth degree. Seeing as I did not know what I was doing, and my general stance towards probability, I am struggling to say the least. Good news: the TAs and the professor have been very understanding, and very helpful; even when I went in and asked for pointers on how to do the first part... that is never a good sign when you cant figure out the base case. I think James' comment sums it all up:
"Yeah... tell me about it. Welcome to the Big Leagues"

Other than that, which I have been spending a lot of time working on, life has been good. I got my grade back on my Computational Photography project, apparently I did better than they were expecting, sweet! At least I can do well at one of my classes! Last night Larry hosted a fancy (well not really...) dinner, he invited Joe and Peter, who both were former residents of the attic. Both of them are cool guys, Joe is a video editor for an advertising company, and Peter works for a professor at Pitt. Dinner was steak, potatoes and green beans. Peter made a great dessert with strawberries, ice cream and a pumpkin roll thing... awesome! Afterward, I found out that Peter was having a hard time with his discrete mathematics course that he was taking. This course is basically digital logic, but for computer science majors. And seeing as digital logic was one of my favorite classes at GU, I happily helped him out with some concepts that he was trying to grasp.

In other news, my dear cousin, Cory is just starting up at UCLA as a freshman. I am super excited for him! He is also keeping track of his progress, you can check it out here. Go Cory!

Well, I need to head to Computational Photography, apparently we are getting another project assigned toady! I cannot wait to see what we get to work on.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Not-your Nachos

I am having a hard time trying to find stuff that Larry will eat. I found out today that he does not eat Sausages. :(

So I tried making him Chicken Nachos. He said he liked them.

2 Chicken Breasts (or 1 pound of Ground Beef)
1 Package of Taco Seasoning
1 Can Re-fried Beans
1 Onion
1 Pepper
1 Small Can of Sliced Olives
1/2 Pound of Cheddar or Mixed Cheese (like the Mexican Mix)
1 Bag of Tortilla chips
Salsa, guacamole, Lizano... etc.

Cut up and cook the meat in a fry pan, after it is done cooking add seasoning and some water (look on the package to see how much). Set this aside. Chop and cook peppers and onion in some oil. Set this aside. Heat up beans while all of this is going on.

Take a large cookie sheet, preferably with raised edges, spray with pam, or cover in foil. Place a layer of chips down. On layer add beans, olives, peppers, onions and meat. Be sure to spread out goodies. Liberally cover with cheese. If you are going to make a lot of Nachos, keep layering chips, goodies, cheese until desired heft.

Bake at 350 until cheese starts to brown, this will be anywhere from 15 mins to 45 min depending on oven and the amount of Nacho on the pan.

When cheese looks good, remove from oven, and place right on table. Serve with Salsa, guacamole and Lizano.

This is a really good recipe to change around. You can add and subtract whatever you don't want, or whatever you don't want to buy. The only necessity is chips and cheese.

I will also direct you here for a warning.

Computational Photography Assignment #1

This is not nearly as exciting as the other project I posted. This is just a homework assignment; but, again I had to create a webpage.

Not much to enjoy, but here it is.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Relaxing Sunday

So I knew that I was going to be going to a church event later today, and I had to get to work on some homework, so I did not go to church today. I know, sad Sunday. But there were some other perks.

The clothes dryer is broke. But that does not keep my dirty clothes from piling up. So I had to take matters in to my own hands. I had some string, and I knew some knots. And I came up with the following:

It so far is working out fairly well... we will just have to see about the undershirts tomorrow. They are not going to be as cooperative.

This evening was the Shadyside Church young adult and graduate student ministry kick off. It was a lot of fun, I met a lot of new people. Including, drum roll..... Sam! She is from Washington. She grew up in Spokane. She went to Central Valley. She worked at the MAC. She went to Whitworth. She knows of Jessie, Robyn, Steven, Abby and Jeff! It was super exciting to meet someone from Spokane, and the little connections that were there were just amazing. She is studying here are Duquesne University. Awesome. I also got to know a few other people, and hang out whit a few that I have already met, like Jeff (he is the guy in charge), Burt and Randy. It was a very fun and laid back evening. But now it is time to go to bed, so I can be fresh from tomorrow!

Dancing in the Rain.

Saturday, yes Saturday. Last weekend I met Mitch at the never ending pasta bowl. Mitch send me an e-mail about the ECE inter-mural Frisbee team, asking if I would like to play. I made sure that they were not that good, seeing as I am horrible, he said that I would be fine... Well he ended up not being able to be there, so when I got to the field, I had to go around asking people what their team name was (it was a little embarrassing). I eventually found the "Magic Smoke Mafia" (Computer Engineers, yes this is a reference to keeping the smoke inside.) So I played some Frisbee. I was certainly the weakest link on my team, but I still had fun. We ended up losing all of our games. :( but that is fine. My body hated me a little afterward, but again, it was fun.

For the rest of the day requires a little back story: two weeks ago I wore my Dropkick Murphys shirt to class. Someone noticed it and asked if I was in to that sort of music, then she saw my bag and decided that I was. She mentioned that there was going to be an Irish festival in a few weeks, and that if I wanted to go, I should let he know. I sort of put the idea in the back of my head seeing as class was about to start. So I eventually went to the website to find that their line up of bands was going to include Scythian and Gaelic Storm! I had not previously heard Scythian, but I had heard of them, and knew that they had a reputation for being good. And Gaelic Storm is just amazing. At this point I knew that I had to go. Now an issue came up that I did not know this girls name, and she was not in class this past week. So I sent out an e-mail to the entire class asking if anyone wanted to go. Sadly, Sonja, was the only person to respond (only sad that more people did not want to come).

Mmmm... Shepard's Pie
So after Frisbee I showered and donned my Kilt, and headed out to the festival. It was a fairly intense festival, there was a ton of merchants (including Utilikilts!!! all the way out here...), lots of Irish inspired food, Irish Dogs, lots of things for children, workshops for music, dancing and heritage finding. But of course the main part, and the part that I was most excited about, was the 3 stages they had set up for the vast plethora of bands. We walked around for a while and got something to eat. I went for the Shepard's Pie, it was great. While eating, there were two interesting people standing near us. The guy had a utilikilt on, and I noticed an interesting Tattoo, turns out it was an imperial cog over his elbow. I asked him if I could take a picture, he said: "sure, but you might want to see hers first" gesturing to his friend. She pulled up her sleeve to reveal a half arm Star Wars collage! So cool! I talked to them for a while about Star Wars and what now, awesome.

Sonja and myself: Irish buddies.
 After getting the lay of the land, we ended up picking out some seats at the main stage. The next two groups were very, very good traditional Irish folk bands. I greatly enjoyed them, great sound and great music. Around 8:45, Scythian took the stage. Scythian is a group composed of rather young guys playing Irish and Czech infused folk music on steroids. They were great. very unique sound and awesome stage presence. From where we were sitting, I could see that a pit was forming. Seeing as I can not resist a good mosh, I headed in. Just as I got down there, it started to rain. Not very heavy, but a good rain. Right about this point the band got in to their good stuff, and the people watching came alive, it was great. A little mosh pit formed (I may or may not have been a part of it) complete with crowd surfing. It was obvious that the event planners were not ready for this. Eventually security gaurds had to come stand in the pit and keep the fun down.

Scythian, tearing up the stage.

At this point the audience was fired up and soaking wet as it had kept raining. Then came Gaelic Storm. It was great. They are certainly gifted individuals, they sound way better live than they do recorded. Again, great stage presence, and a great show. I think the fiddle player went through 3 bows during the performance. There was lots of fiddle-pipe offs, little duels, so cool! Lots of dancing in the rain, it was perfect. Just in front of me there was a little girl who was on her dad's shoulders, turns out she was five. She was singing away, on "Drink the night away" the lead singer noticed that she sang every word, and noted that was most likely a bad thing. Eventually this little girl was brought on stage and got to hit a cymbal during one of their last songs. It was so cool! and the crowd responded great. Certainly one of the more unique shows that I have been to, and a wonderful time. Sonja and I left, completely drenched, and in high spirits after a fun evening.
Sweet Box Drum playing. Just for you Drew
Needless to say my body was not happy with me after lots of running around and jumping around. On top of that I forgot to take my contacts out, so Sunday morning I did not feel the best. But it was well worth it.

If you want to see more pictures!

Friday exploring: In Humor and Space

I know this is a little late, I have not sat down to document things until just now.

That white thing is a person!
On Friday, after class, I had a fair amount of time to kill. I was not in any particular hurry, it was very relaxing. First thing I came across was a little art project in action. These guys were doing something regarding lines, I didn't really get it, but that is why I am an Engineer! When I walked past them, they were in the process of making a full body cast or some poor guy. I stood their for a while, and just watched the whole process. They are going to put up the project next week, Ill try to go back and see it. It was a very weird thing to turn the corner and see!

I was getting a little hungry, and from my lost trip on Thursday, I knew that there was a healthy (as in lots, not actually healthy... ) food area over by University of Pittsburgh. After walking there from CMU, it is amazingly close. It is about 2 blocks from the northern corner of CMU's campus to the start of Pitt's campus. And a few blocks down Forbes there are a ton of shops and restaurants. In my head I was trekking towards Chipotle (yep, just for you Holly). On the way I stopped in on what looked like a serious Mexican place, it did not really look promising, I passed on fairly quickly. I might go back sometime, but no, Friday was Chipotle time.

After enjoying my dinner, I started a leisurely walk back to campus. My path took me right past the famous Cathedral of Learning. (I would strongly suggest checking out that link) I had lots of time.... so I went in.
Yeah, I am just studying in a castle...
Oh my goodness. It is an amazing building. I could not imagine talking a class inside of there. There is a gigantic open commons type area in the middle of the first floor filled with tables and chairs for studying. I had some post cards to write (if you want one, I need your address ;-) ) so I found an empty table and enjoyed the atmosphere. It was an amazing building. I gave myself a little tour. All along the perimeter of the first floor are "Nationality Rooms." Each room embraces a different culture of people from the Pittsburgh area. I could not go inside of them (there are tours during the day, but I was there a little late on a friday.) , but just the outside of the rooms are awesome! Things like the German room had a giant Eagle crest above the door way, the Scotish room had thistles integrated in to the handles. Everything about these rooms are unique to the country they are representing, the hinges of the doors were all different, and I am sure the insides are amazing! I will have to come back here during operating hours...
 So after all of this, I headed back to CMU. Every Thursday - Sunday the student union puts on a movie in one of the large lecture halls in the University Center. It was surprisingly good sound and picture, I was very impressed, and the price was great! $1! Every day is a different movie, normally with 3 showings starting at 7:30. Friday's movie was "Kick-Ass." I was not really expecting anything, but I really enjoyed it. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed satirical movies like Shaun of the Dead. Mother, I don't think you would like it, there is a lot of gore, and the language is fairly rough. In one word this movie is: Absurd. The whole time I was laughing. The basic plot is about a "loser" kid who decides to be a super hero, and the issues and problems that occur because of it. Perfect movie for a Friday.

After the movie I went out to the bus stop, trying to get a ride home. The bus apparently did not see me waving my arms, and drove past. So I called Larry, I knew that he was hanging out with some friends in the area. I got directions, and headed off to Shadyside. It was about a 15 minute walk, and was very nice, perfect weather. I met up with him and his friends, they were just finishing up their meal; afterwords Larry gave me a ride home, just in time for me to go to bed. Great Friday. I just wish that I could have shared it with some of you. Not nearly as fun by yourself.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

PHG Bus failure #2

So I thought I had the whole bus thing down. I thought that I had it figured out. I was wrong. Today I did not have official class. I had a recitation at 5:00. 5:00?? Really? That has never happened before! I was not sure what I was going to do with myself.

There it is... First Pres.
So I decided to be adventurous. I decided that I would try to make it to the Strip District by way of the public transit system, or Port Authority here. I went on a little run this morning (Larry gave me a path that was the least hilly...) then cleaned up and headed out. I had done my research. I was going to take the 61A to downtown; I normally take this bus to CMU, so that was easy. Then I was supposed to get on 87 outbound, and arrive at the Strip District. Now, when I got off of the bus I found myself in front of the elusive First Presbyterian of Pittsburgh. I laughed when I saw that.

So I looked everywhere for the stop I needed to be at. In my research for where I was going, I failed to look at where the 87 bus was going to pick me up at.... dang. So I wandered around the down town area for a while. I didn't want to go too far, seeing as I need to get to class eventually and I knew where a bus stop was that would take me to CMU. So I eventually gave up. I threw the towel in. I gave up and found a hot dog stand for lunch. This very nice Russian lady gave me one of the best hot dogs I have had in a while... not quite as good as a Costco dog, but well worth the $3. So as I was enjoying my glorious dog, I felt a little something hit my shoulder. I looked up so see a pigeon sitting, with its rear facing me, on a ledge above me. I then inspected the nice, fresh, dropping that was dripping down my shirt. After fighting back the urge to throw up, I quickly finished my lunch and got as much off as I could. Gross.

I eventually made it to CMU. I had a wonderful time re-learning probability. To those who I have discussed this with (Gramps, Brian, Alan, Steven, Jordan, and a few others...) I am still not convinced that a coin flip is unbiased and 50/50.

So this evening, for no apparent reason I spent some time on "Omegle" BEWARE: Anyone who is easily offended, this is a prowling ground for the lower people of the internet. 9/10 people are not worth talking to however there are some awesome connections. So the theory of the site is simply two strangers talking to each other. A chat box appears with "You" and the "Stranger." That is it. No more, no less. A lot of people abuse the fact that they are anonymous, and you get some fairly nasty stuff. But then there are the conversations that are awesome. One person was a "gangbanger/no hear no feelings" guy from south central LA, we talked about his life, and his desires to get out of it. I was just about to mention teen challange when the connection was lots. Another girl was from New Zealand, we discussed her breaking up with her boyfriend, and how she really cared for him... that was actually a really cool conversation. It is a really cool feeling that the person you are talking to could be the person you sat next to on the bus earlier that day, or it could be someone from around the globe. I once talked with a guy from Spain who was trying to work on his English. As Alan would say: "The Internet is Awesome!"

I updated the Fajita page with some pictures from me making them this weekend!

I feel as though I was going to say something else... but it is getting late, and I need to get to bed!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Computational Photography - Project 1

Well, it is here: September 7th, 2010 11:55 PM. I just submitted my very first CMU project.

I would suggest everyone go to the newly created web page showing it off. As a word of warring, I have not had a chance to size the images properly, to some pages take forever.... i mean forever.... to load. Sorry, Ill try to get that fixed inside of the week.

EDIT (9/9/10): So now it is also hosted on the schools web space. The proper link is here

You can get to it here. Currently it is hosted on dropbox. Hopefully tomorrow I will change that link to go to the location where it should be located, but I am having troubles getting access to the right space.

The project was a ton of fun, and you can see that it turned out well. If you have any questions, let me know!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Happy Labor Day!

First let me start off with Sunday. Yes I did make it to church on time. I went back to Shadyside Pres, the church that Larry took me to the first weekend. It was very nice. Their communion bread is more like a Christ cookie than bread! It tasted like mom's shortbread. I got to meet Jeff, the director of Young Adults and Graduate Students, he gave me lots of information on what is going on. He also gave me a lot of info on the food scene here; alas there is no decent Mexican food here. Jordan, I could go for a BBQ Chicken burrito right about now. After church I headed over to a different Giant Eagle (I had previously gone to the Waterfront location, I instead went to the "Market Place" location). This grocery store had underground parking to accommodate the mass amount of people there! I need to go shopping not on a Sunday. I did not find any more options of Chili, but I did find SPATZLE! I did not get any but I know where to find it. I was also excited they had Reeds! Over all it was sort of a sad trip. I am realizing that is one of the little things that I am missing, consistent grocery stores.

Upon getting home, I worked some more on this silly photography project (don't worry in the next few days it will be publicly available). For dinner I made some more Fajitas, I had left over tortillas and Larry was not going to be home. I got to talk to a lot of people through out the day, Grandma and Gramps, Jamie, Mom from Priest Lake, and Kirsten on Skype, while I cooked dinner. Over all it was a relaxing and enjoyable Sunday.

Today has been a day dedicated to HTML. In the past two days have re-taught myself HTML. Instead of a traditional write-up for this project, my Photography professor wants a web page displaying our results. I think I may have gone a little overboard, but it is turning out fairly sweet. I got up bright and early and started pounding tags and forging styles.

I needed to mail something. I knew it was Labor Day, and I figured that the Post Office was closed; but, I looked online and it said nothing about any stores being closed for the holiday. So when I got there, I was a little let down. Failure #1.

I then went to school to try to post this newly formed website on the school's server. But alas I could not access the right drive, and there was not folder set up for me to use. Rendering all progress at school to zero. Failure #2.

The rest of the day has been spent working away. And now I realize that it is late and I need to get some sleep! I hope everyone had a great Labor Day!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Mail #2

Oh! I almost forgot! On Friday, walking in to the house soaked, I found another package, this time from Grandma and Gramps! Inside I found two ove'gloves; I am super excited to use these! I love ove'gloves! Along with some very tasty Biscotti and Salt water taffy :) A very nice care-package. Thank you Grandma! Thank you Gramps!

Mind-Blowing Idea #1 - Fourier Transform ++

Ok, time to push up your glasses and pull out your TI-89s. It is Enginerd time. I am guessing that most of you will not take much out of this; however, this is for the more technically minded.

Computer Engineers and Electrical Engineers should remember this, and I am sure James already knows this, but this guy Jean Baptiste Joseph Fourier in 1822 proposed that every function, continuous of discontinuous, could be represented by a series of sine functions, or varying amplitudes and phases. This in its self is ridiculous and mind numbing, but we learned this all in Nelson's Signals and Systems class. That is not what this is about. If you need to refresh, go to the Wikipedia page, and here. Boiling it down, you can "transform" something from the "x," or space, domain to the "w" domain, or frequency domain.

So here is where my jaw dropped. I was in lecture for Computational Photography, and the professor was going over different ways to filter an image. He was talking about Gaussian filters, step filters, media filters... ok, they are fairly unique, bit all fairly intuitive. Then he starts talking about Fourier, I was a little apprehensive about him bringing up something that I briefly learned from Nelson, I was slightly worried that I was going to need to know how to do a transform sitting there in class. Most Picture files in essence are a large array of data points, each one corresponding to a given pixel. This would be analogous to the space domain, each value maps to each pixel. Some crazy genius decided that he was going to apply the same idea of a Fourier series on a image. Now, instead of each data point corresponding to a pixel, each data point corresponds to a sinusoidal image. The center data point would correspond to a 'flat' signal. The the horizontal axis would be a series of sinusoidal images oriented left to right. The vertical images would be a series of sinusoidal images oriented top to bottom. Each step away from the center increasing in frequency. The 'in between' data points correspond to sinusoidal images oriented in off angles and varying frequencies.
From Efros (CMU) and Seitz
 So starting with this image:

Applying a Fourier transform we get this:
Looks like a star!
To note, I shrunk the image a but as to weed out some noise, and I darkened the output to show the highlights. So first thing to notice. Very strong vertical and horizontal lines, this would be because the camera outputs images in a grid system, so there are a ton of "up and down" "Side to side" patterns. Then the center is much more populated than the outskirts, this would "low" frequency things, things that we can easily see, the whole image capturing process weeds out things that we will not notice, and discards them. Now the amazing part, notice the lines that are converging at the center. They end up representing the major "perspective" lines of the image, like the sides of the road, the light rays from the sun, the horizon.

This is a reversible process, as in if I were to perform an inverse transform I could return back to the original image. I am going to change it a bit first. I am going to take and zero out the middle of the image, there by cutting out any "low frequecies" and leaving just the "high ones." These are going to be the ones with the radical changes, or the edges:
Now I am going to do the exact opposite, and take out the "high frequencies," and I am going to get an image without any clear definition:
I only just learned about this process, I don't fully understand how to use it, or how to perfect it. I will let you all know when that comes up, I am sure it will!

I can see how this might be a very poor explanation of this process, and I also recognize that it is really late, and my mine is like that last picture, fuzzy. So let me know if you have any questions, or want more examples!

"The more you know..."

I did steal that first image from my professor's slides,  Alexei Efros 2010

Report: The Fence

While working on my Computational Photography project, I needed to take some pictures of campus, so I headed over to "The Fence." When I got there, I decided that I could use the 3 guys there for my project, so while I was taking pictures of them I talked to them about this pivotal Carnegie location.
The Three gentlemen who answered my questions.
As per tradition only current CMU students can paint The Fence. Once you paint it you have to "gaurd' it. As long as you have someone with The Fence, no one else can take it. You have to hand paint it with normal brushes. No spray paint, no rollers, no sprayers. Generally students are free to put whatever they want on it. It has ranged from "Happy Birthday so-and-so," to a giant American flag (with hand prints for starts) for 4th of July, to Christmas themed, to a giant Buggy (another CMU thing... I will get there later), the Greek houses take it to announce new pledges, but commonly it is used to advertise upcoming events.  There have been times in the past where students have put not so politically correct things on it, so the administration white washed it, breaking all of he above rules. This apparently caused a huge fiasco, more so than the first issue of what was written. Generally students respect the fact that it is a central landmark on the campus (it is basically in the middle of the campus, everyone walks past it), and respect that it is a representation of the school. Generally you are supposed to just walk away when you are done, the next group has to be on the lookout for when this happens, but sometimes there is an unofficial 'call list' for people to call when your group is leaving.
Advertising. Notice the green pain on the ground, that was from the last guys.
At the moment it is held by a fraternity, Sigma Epsilon, they said that they are going to hold it until there large Labor Day BBQ, which they are using it to advertise. They said that a group of 80 or so people take shifts holding it. The group that had it the first week I was here had a little building set up next to it, complete with a AC unit for comfort.

Here are some pictures!
Notice the paint hanging down... it is a lot of paint.

For Detail. Again, note the layers of paint, and the paint on the ground.

Pasta and History, they go together like intestines and manuals.

So this morning as I was working on school work, Larry sends me a skype message (yes, when we are both in the house, we use skype to communicate) asking if I wanted to go see this. Down on the south side, right next to Heinz field, they docked the LST-325. It was a tank landing ship used during WWII and more specifically the battle of Normandy and after shuttling supplies and men across the English channel. This ship in particular was given to Greece, and then reclaimed by some old guys (really, it was crewed by a group with an average age of 71.5!) and bough back to the US and preserved as a museum. You can read more about it here as well.

It was all a very impressive event. We, Larry, His mother, and myself, got to stand in line for about an hour with a ton of people to get on. The ship could carry 30 Sherman tanks, or a bunch of troops, and it could float in 3.5 feet of water. It was the type of boat that would point towards the shore, drop anchor, and go full speed ahead to get up as far as it could up the beach. Then use the anchor (and the lightened load) to get back out to open waters. In side that had some decent displays and a bunch of cool photos, most of winch were taken on or of the ship. You could walk all around on the main storage deck, and up on to the main deck. They had some vehicles, some 'verteran' and some replicas that were stationed throughout the ship. All very interesting and enjoyable. If you want to see more pictures, you can go here. Gramps, I was thinking of you, we were right next to the confluence!

 So when I got back, I very quickly headed out to school. It is this time of the year. It is Never Ending Pasta Bowl at Olive Garden. I really enjoy this event, and seeing as I had no one to go with, I sent out an e-mail to all of the grad students (yeah for spamming mailing lists!) setting up an event. I told everyone to meet in front of Hamerschlag Hall at 5. We ended up having 9 people. It was awesome. Funny enough there was only one non-American, and she was a trooper. She spoke almost no English, but tried really hard to learn and figure out what was going on. It was good food and great company. They were a good group of people. All but one were Engineers, so the topics of discussion were rather uncommon, and odd, but it was a lot of fun. Don't worry, not nearly as cool as my Gonzaga friends, but still a good evening.
We all wanted to just lie down on the grass... we were so full.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Bring your Ponchos

Ok, let me start with where this story starts, and also where it ends.
Start: I walked out of the Gates building to a rather dark sky, and some strong wind in my face.
End: I stepped on to the bus with 90% of my clothing dripping wet.

Let's go back.  I walked out of the Gates building to a rather dark sky, and some strong wind in my face. As I approached the bus stop I was surprised that there were not more people waiting for the next bus. It was 4:00 ish on a Friday. My observation has been that the buses after 3:00PM are just completely packed. I think this has to do with Pitt and Downtown Pittsburgh being 'down stream' of CMU, so the buses are already full by the time they get there. So a few minutes after I arrive it starts to simply sprinkle, really like heavy misting, nothing I can't handle. Now this stop we are at has a covering, seeing as it is not really raining, I am still standing outside of its protective umbrella. A bus comes and takes everyone but 2 girls. So here we are the three of us, and then it starts to pick up, so I move to the underside of the covering. And then it starts to rain. And then it starts to pour. And then the heavens were opened and there was a water fall over all of Pittsburgh. It was some of the heaviest rain that I have ever been in. Yes, Drew and Holly, it reminded me a lot of that one night in Rome. Because my mother taught me manners and that Chivalry is not dead, I am standing the closest to the harsh elements, with the two girls huddled in the corner. As the down pour continues some more people trickle in (haha, did you get my pun?).

I am watching a common trend as it becomes apparent to me that there are some major pools of water running the length of the road way. Mind you we are on a hill, it is not like we are that the bottom next to a pool a standing water, we are on an incline and a pool of water is flowing past us. I watch people dive in to the bushes on the opposing side of the street to avoid getting splashed from the cars driving past. There were a few close calls, as cars would throw up water on the the ground under our protective shelter; me new Keens were starting to feel fairly squishy as they were absorbing more and more water. At this point I am fairly dry, my right leg is getting fairly wet, however my clothes are dry. Then I look up. A bus is heading in our direction. It looks full. Like in most cities, when buses are full they just drive past the stops until they have some room. This bus was not stopping. This bus was going to hit the pool of water that was building up in front of our little sanctuary.

It was like the splash zone at Sea World. There was no escaping the resulting tidal wave that assaulted the bus stop. The only people who were remotely dry were the two girls who had taken shelter behind me. It was not simply a splash. My glasses were no longer dry. My shirt was no longer dry. My shorts were no longer dry. My boxers were no longer dry. The ceiling of the bus shelter was no longer dry. That is right. For a brief moment it was 'raining' inside of the covering as the excess water that hit the roof dripped of. After laughing profusely with everyone there my bus was the next one. And I stepped on to the bus with 90% of my clothing dripping wet.

Seeing as I had no were to go it was fine, and that is was still fairly hot, it felt nice. Nothing in my bag got wet, no harm done. I made it home in time to see Agnes (the lady that lives across the street) doing some yard work, and we had a good chat. She thinks you are going to love it here mom!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Something good and a Refutation.

So after a lot of trial and error (but mostly error) I finally have my last picture frame up. Kirsten made me a custom picture presentation device for my birthday.
This is it on the wall:
No Auntie Donna, there are no pictures of you... sorry.
It was inspired by this:
If you know what that is, I salute you. If not, you need to watch some more Star Wars (Jamie I am looking at you...).

On to other topics. If you are not my lovely Aunt, you may not know that she has posted a rather large reply that I feel as though I need to respond to each action item, you may find it here.

1) No... I have not moved it. There is not that much room to move it around, it is perfect where it is! I agree it is a very functional space. The only problem is that there are certain spots that are a little low, like the threshold to the bathroom, that I keep hitting my head on.

2) "Every Tree Has Character,"  just like you!

3) Oh, you have this rank, don't worry:

4) I find it very amusing that you looked at the pictures that closely! I have had that for years! I keep wires and other electronic stuff in it.

5) Oh, I have a fan and a AC unit. I am quite comfortable.

6) I know, my amazing Pirate themed bathroom supplies did not come with me. I know exactly where it is in Spokane. It is with my Swashbuckling Trash can, my Grog Soaked Hand towels, and my Jolly Roger Shower Curtain. I think that I may retrieve it at Christmas time... we will see.

7) They make my head hurt too! There are a lot of really smart people here, it is really intimidating. But I know like Golf, school is a competition with yourself, do the very best you can do.

So there you have it, this is an interactive blog. I will try to respond if you have any direct concerns.

Now I must go to bed, get some good sleep before... THOR DAY!!!

The Death of an Era

Good ol' Reds are there on the right. This is on a boat to Poros!
 As many of you know, or have noticed, right after I graduated from High School I donned my first pair of Keens. Those Red footwear got me through everything that I could throw at them. Ran around at Youth Group. I went sailing with Chelsea (which for me = wet). I trekked across Europe! I hiked up Badger Mountain! I walked through light snow! They tread on the West Coast, they have tread on the East Coast. I did have to get a new pair around the end of my sophomore year, but the new pair were the exact make and model of the originals, it was like they added some new tread on the bottom, but other than that they were the same. They were faithful to me and I was faithful to them. Granted Lockheed Martin would be a temporary gap in the love from me, but it was not my choice! But after 5 years, my little shoes have taken a beating. Everything has held up, with the exception of the tread. On their underside, their tough black rubber has given way to the soft core of gray insole. It was time. They had to be retired. Only to be worn on special Fridays.

Fortunately my birthday gift from my parents was a new pair of tried and true Keens, Unfortunately they stopped making Newport H2's in red a long time ago. I had to settle. I had to go with their new and revised Newport H2's but in Bison/Wetsand. Yes they fit. Yes I will grow to love them. However my good old reds will always be there waiting for a good walk.
Not the same.... :(