Sunday, November 28, 2010

Josh Cowart put it best

In the words (paraphrased) of Josh Cowart:

It is not so much 'it's all downhill from here' as much as it is a downhill sprint. On a oil covered mountain. Carrying a arm load of knives.

I was able to get my parents to the airport this afternoon. We had a great time! I have asked if they wanted to post something on their trip here, we will see if that happens. For the sake of time, I will go with highlights (in order): Sunnyledge, CMU, Primanti Bros, Cathedral of Learning (and Nationality rooms), New Coat, Thanksgiving service, Church Brew works, Working morning, Appetizers, THANKSGIVING! Funicular! Fort Pitt, Strip District, Hoffbrau Haus (Wienerschnitzel!), Pamela's , Heinz History Center (basically all day), Cheesecake factory, Church.

It was awesome! I allowed to let myself not worry about school. But now it is time to dig in.  
By this Thursday, Mitch and I need to have a learning elevator system and a presentation, by the next Tuesday I need to have a working slide show constructor, and the same day, I need to have a Ethnography Paper written.

All lots of fun, but a lot of work.

Fair warning, for the next few weeks, the posts are going to be brief. Sorry!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Let It Snow!

After hearing all of these stories from Spokane, The Tri Cities, Seattle, and Utah, It is finally snowing here in PGH. Don't worry, it is not enough to get super excited about, but looking out my window right now there are quite a few small flakes coming down!

Good thing my parents brought my snow gear!

P.S. I hope you all are listening to Christmas Music! I stumbled upon the greatest thing ever last night. "Christmas in the Stars!" It is best described as Mary Poppins traveling at Lightspeed, with C3PO giving a narration. Awesome!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Part the Third

Happy Thanksgiving!

As a throwback to Lockheed, I give you this:

My mother and father are having a great time! I am certianly enjoying their company! Now that I think about it, I should have them write a post!

Well I need to get some sleep for tomorrows adventures! I am super thankful for all of you!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Mark this Day

Let it be known:

It took untill 8:20PM on November 22nd for me to hear Bagpipes on Campus.

As Jackie noticed, I spend far too much of my time on campus inside.

Thanksgiving Part the Second (Or Turkey Day II)

Obviously I did not get enough Turkey for one weekend. On Sunday, Joe (one of Larry's old roommates), for frustration of not ever having leftovers hosted a Pre-game Thanksgiving meal. This pre-festival was at Joe's apartment on the other side of town, in Dormont. Really cool apartment! Surprisingly big, and lots of character, he and his roommate are big movie and comic book fans, and it shows in their decor. Joe was in charge of the Turkey, Dressing, and a Polish bread/dumpling (for some reason I think it is called Kolsa, but no amount of Googling is shedding any light.). I covered the Potatoes and Green Beans, don't worry Mom, I rocked those. I have never made green beans like you do for Thanksgiving, but I got it down now. I might have put way to much bacon in, but no one complained. And the potatoes, in honor of my Grandfathers, were light and fluffy.

This second meal was also very enjoyable. I am realizing more and more how awesome it is that we are all from different places. The four of us sitting around that table all grew up in different environments, but we can all still come together and enjoy a good meal. Granted, Larry, Joe and Ryan all lead very different lives, it was still very enjoyable. Witnessing this sort of experience is awesome.

After eating far too much. We broke out the Pumpkin Pie, and the evening was complete.

As Joe made a 16 pound turkey for 4 guys, he had a lot left over, so he sent some home with us. I know! We got leftovers! We had Turkey, Stuffing, Potatoes! Don't worry, as many of you are already thinking, I did what I had to do.

Today I made Thanksgiving Pierogies! Taking the dough from before, I swapped out the filling for turkey, stuffing, and potatoes. Oh my goodness. I have perfected this process. I have the dough down, I have the filling practiced. I ended up freezing 45 or so pierogies, and tried a few out for myself. Fried a little in butter to get the dough to get flaky, then served with Turkey gravy. MMMmmmm... New Thanksgiving tradition. Mom, you can have your Turkey soup. I am making pierogies. Hey! We can put the Pierogies in the soup!

After feeling rather productive I headed back to the Shadyside area for two reasons:

1) to scout out where my parents are staying. Done. I know where I am gonig

and 2) to meet up with some people at the church to head to CMU to hear Daniel Sepulveda give a little talk. First I am going to link this video. Mind you he is a punter, just saying. He is the current punter for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and a rather devoted Christian. He gets up and talks to groups often apparently to help spread the gospel and be a positive role model. I listened to him talk for 45 minutes, and was greatly impressed by his public speaking ability and his faith. For the last 20 or so minutes he opened up the floor and took any and all questions people were willing to ask. He is a very inspirational speaker, mainly hitting on how we are not the center of our lives, that no matter what we want, it is God's will that directs us. That he plays as best he can and for the glory of the kingdom, but that it is God who has providence over his life. I was not really planning on going, but am certainly glad that I did.

Now, I need to get some sleep so tomorrow I can get ready!!!! I am stoked!

Thanksgiving Part the First

After a long week of working on projects (or procrastinating a little), I was greatly looking forward to Friday adventures. Last Friday was the Young Adult/Grad Student Progressive Thanksgiving Dinner. Glorious.

To start the story, I must comment on my choice of clothing: It was a Friday, and I decided, opposed to my normal view of: "What? A Flogging Molly shirt is classy enough..." I went for a more civilized look for this Thanksgiving dinner. I decided on a clean White shirt with my coveted Red Tie in honor of Gramps. Oh yeah... and my kilt.

For those of you who may not have experienced a progressive dinner, you generally change houses for different courses of the meal. It diffuses the responsibility, and it allows for some fun in carpooling. So the evening started at the Schooley's, where Bri had made some amazing appetizers, ranging from a baked brie, to stuffed prunes (really tasty!), stuffed mushrooms, and a great cheese ball. There were about 20 or so people stuffed in to their small apartment, very cozy, and very fun. Topics of discussion included getting Tucker up to speed on Harry Potter (oh yeah, a group of us were going to see HP 7 after all of this) he had never read any of the books, and not seen any of the movies. We boiled down all of the Harry Potter story to Star Wars, I thought we did a decent job for 10 minutes. This was the first time I wore my kilt with this group of people, so there was discussion about that. I had to justify walking up and down stairs differently (apparently no one knew what I was talking about). A very enjoyable group of people.

We eventually made it to the Church, where we met up with the other contingent of YadGrads who were at another person's house. At the church, in the "fellowship hall" (aka ball room from Beauty and the Beast), there was a great feast set out. Before we get to the food, I have to boast a little. Randy, a man who is impeccably dressed every single time I see him, came up and informed me that I get his vote for the best dressed. One of the highlights of the night. A great honor indeed, coming from him, it meant a lot. There you go mom, I didn't forget everything you taught me. So we quickly dug in to the turkey, potatoes and gravy... mmmm gravy. I sat with Jeff, Randy, and a couple who are both CMU people. I cannot remember their names for the life of me, the guy is a PHD student in the Buisness school, and the girl is in the costume production department. It was rather interesting to hear the other side of CMU, yes they have a strong arts department (speaking of which, I should write about my treak in to the CFA building last week).

After dinner the group split up again. The part I was in headed to William's house for some desert. Decadence is an understatment. There was cheesecake, pumpkin pie, pumpkin cheesecake (which was basically pumpkin pie meshed with cheescake) Red Velvet Cake, cookies, cider, and Ice Cream. So very good. By design, we did not stay there very long, the majority of the group at this particular location were also going to Harry Potter, so we sampled as much goodness as we could, and headed off to the Waterfront for cinematic adventure.

The theater we went to gets props for having great movie posters all over. Instead of having "Up comming events" they had Star Wars, Back to the Future, and Ghostbusters vintage posters. Awesome. They do gets points taken away for "Reserved" seats in the theater. These overly large chairs, with quick access to the bar (yep the theater had a fully equiped bar) were sort of like First Class theater going, and the rest of us were in coatch. Because we got there late we had to split up in to smaller groups. I went off with Sam, Gwyn and Tracy, which was awesome. Tracey has the frightening tollerance of Kirsten, a trait that will always amuse me. So as the movie started, to my left I hear: "Ok, time to assume my movie watching possition." I look over to see Tracey pulling her legs up infront of here, so that she can hide behind her knees. There also might have been some wand fighting earlier in the night, unfortunately by the time we got to the theater, one of the wants we broken (I may have had something to do with that...).

A note about Harry Potter: It was exactly what I expected. I was not overly impressed with this part in the books, and I was not overly impressed with the movie. I am certianly glad I went, it was just a lot being lost in the forest... and wondering around, sort of like Lord of the Rings, but not awesome.

Yet again, great night with great people.

In other news, MY PARENTS ARE GETTING HERE TUESDAY! I am super excited! That is what I did most of Saturday... yep, being excited. That is all. No, I spent a large part of my day cleaning, and getting some work done so I can hang out with them.

Don't worry, there will be more to come later today. I still need to go over Sunday's Thanksgiving Part the Second. But alas, Machine Learning Calls me... A Cruel Mistress.

Monday, November 15, 2010

I know it is a lot...

I know this is a lot of reading for you guys... but I had to get you all caught up.

I am going to take a note from Cory:

What do you all want to hear about. I realize that I have been talking about what is going on, rather flatly. Let me know if you want to know more about a certain subject, or something I have not touched on at all!

Cultural outgoings #1

So Tracey and Gwyn are basically Pittsburgh Natives. Gywn has lived here her whole life (except for college) and Tracey has been here for the majority of her life (I think her family moved here when she was in elementary school). (Gwyn and Tracey, If you ever read this, feel free to correct me, I know my facts might be off). Some time ago I was talking to them about the lack of mexican food in the city (yep, I talk about it a lot), they being true Pittsburghers, are very loyal and very proud. They were (and are) certain to show me all of the finest Pittsburgh places to eat.

So Saturday night I met up with Gwyn, Tracey, and Sam, and we headed out to stop #1: The Church Brew Works. Yep, this is the iconic Brew pub inside of a de-sanctified church. The story goes that after the church stripped the building of any art, and defaced all of the permanent wall paintings, a member of the clergy had to come and reverse bless it. We happened to come during the 14th anniversary. It was packed. It does have a unique atmosphere (obviously) but in the sense that it is one large room. In some restaurants, you have different dining rooms, that are segmented. Here it kind of reminded be of Oktoberfest style beer halls, high ceilings, large open seating, loud, with a very pungent smell of malt and hops. Yes, Mom and Dad when you are here we should go. One side of the establishment is an open seating bar area, and the other is traditional wait to be seated restaurant style. After being given an hour estimate for a table, Gwyn was able to secure a table in the open seating area in under 10 minutes. This brew pub is also known for its eccentric menu. For the anniversary they had a number of specials ranging from Wild Boar pizza (Wild Boar Sausage, real Boar, not just figurative) to Pittsburgh Style Salad (with French Fries) to Pierogie Pizza (a pizza with potato puree, onions, garlic and cheese). I knew that I was going to get pierogies of some sort, so I settled on their untraditional (I think they rotate this around) which was "Rattlesnake and Cactus" pierogies. It was awesome. Enough said.

Afterwards we headed to Shadyside to a renown Gelato shop. Sadly the shop was closed (like permanently closed). But good news to me! It is being replaced with a Taco shop! We had to settle on a Frozen Yogurt shop (yes, a Frozen Yogurt shop... say it right California). A very good desert, but nothing overly noteworthy.

That evening was Gwyn's sister's birthday party. So the four of us headed over to a bar where we found quite a gathering. Among them was some young adult people who I actually knew! After hanging out for a while, and a rather rousing rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody we headed out.

A very enjoyable evening. The three of them are rather different and dynamic, making conversation highly amusing. They are all great people. I think the next outing might be a breakfast edition to Pamela's (I know Dad, I still have not been!)

Mastermind and Master Scheeming

Last week was dedicated to that computational photography project, every waking moment was spent working on it, right up until Friday at 2:00 when it was submitted. I was certainly in need of a break.

Lucky for me Jackie, the youth minister at Shadyside, had contacted the young adults asking if anyone wanted to join her and the junior highers for a little Friday fun. Naturally I said yes. First stop was Panera, an apparent necessity for Pittsburgh locals. I was not aware of its greatness, and those around me were quick to make me aware. Basically it is a soup, salad, sandwich shop connected to a bakery. I had a tasty chicken soup with a cob salad. Very good. While we were there we also prepared for a little mischieving (yes that is a word) later that night (I will get to that later). Due to a miscommunication as to the location (we were at the waterworks, and some people went to the waterfront, they are on opposite sides of town) there were only 2 junior highers. As for "adults" (which will be used loosely from here on out) most of them I knew! Sam (girl from Whitworth, Spokane represent!), Tracey and Gwyn (who really could be constantly grouped together, they are locals, sort of, the V party was at Gwyn's house) and Christiana (who came to the V party). So yes, the "adults" outnumbered the Junior Highers 3 to 1.

After diner we walked over to the theater to watch "Mastermind." Which I will throw out there is a great movie. I was pleasantly surprised. I was not really expecting much, but it was a good story, very funny, and by far the clearest looking CG animation I have seen yet. Us Adults were being told constantly by one of the Junior Highers that we were getting out of hand. There may have been some Twizler wars and licked-gummi bears being stuck to faces (I was not part of that last one).

One of the pastors of the church and his family recently officially adopted a daughter, who I believe had been living with them for a while (I don't really know the situation). Anyway, we "forked" their yard. Now if you were like me, you may be thinking that to fork some one's yard, you push the forks, tines down, in to their lawn. In this case, we wrote motivational and inspirational messages on index cards. Then inserted the cards in between the tines, and then pushed the forks (handle down) in to the ground. The over all effect being that in the morning the family would come out to see all of the messages facing them. Very amusing operation. And in doing so found out that the people in my car (all "adults") had never really done any pranking... in fact one of them (she will remain un-named) didn't know that TPing involved Toilet Paper until I was talking about it. She always thought it was actually setting up a Tipi in some one's yard. I am thinking that this needs to be changed. The only problem being that all of the people we thought of to prank live in apartments, thus making TPing not overly effective. So Chelsea, Chris, if you have any ideas, let me know.

After all of this shenanigans, I headed down to the Leaf and Bean, a local coffee and cigar shop, where Garret (someone from the Young adult group) was having a birthday party. The Leaf and Bean would be the place where his girlfriend, Kendra and Jeff (the young adult director) work. Father, you would like it. Two things you enjoy, in an atmosphere you would find comfortable. We might have to stop by when you are here. I didn't really know a ton of people, I spent most of the time talking to Jeff about a movie based theological series I am going to be starting.

On that topic. I am looking for movies that have some sort of theological undertones in them. They can be blatant as Luther, but they can be subtle as well (in fact those would be preferential) like The Dark Night. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

Yet again, another enjoyable Friday.

This Machine is trying to Kill me.

Well I just finished homework 4 for Machine Learning.

I attribute section 2, which I just finished (15 mins before class starts), to divine intervention. I don't know how I went from nothing on a program to a working EM implementation, with no debugging, in an hour.

This homework consumed my weekend, I spent a good 14 hours on it. But the rest of my time was awesome! Stay tuned later today to hear about Friday movie night, and my efforts to be come a Yinzer on Saturday.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Computational Photography Project 4

The moment you have all been waiting for...

*drum roll*

Project 4!

Special thanks to Grandpa and Colson for providing me with some images to use!

I hope you all enjoy it!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Let it be known

About my fellow peers:

I greatly respect my peers for their intellect, and their technical aptitude. They are truly in the top tier of their field, or are on track to be.

This being said. They have some major issues. Currently there is a guy who has been sitting in the cluster next to me for the past 30 minutes whining to his mother about how his advisor is being hard to get a hold of. He is applying to a bunch of really fancy PHD programs, but he cant handle filling out an application? Yes, I have called to vent to my mother before. I think she can back me up that traditionally get it out there, and I am good to go, 5-10 minutes max.  (well his is still going.... we are at 45 mins now...)

Oh, I am a huge fan of the guy sitting in the cluster, apparently thinking that no one was there, scratching. nay, full on touching himself. On that one, I was caught so off guard, that I almost yelled at him, but decided that it would be a bad idea. He kept on going for a good hour before I just left.

Part of my problem might be where I got to do all of my work. I don't have an office, so I get to use public clusters. Aka Undergrad clusters. There is a couple who frequents the cluster who I know way too much about. Way too much.

And last but certainly not least. (This guys actually makes my day) When he is working, every 10 or so minutes, he quickly rolls away from the table, and stands up. Sometimes he walks around the room, sometimes he just turns around in a circle (in place), then sits down. And keeps working. I am thinking this is his way of collecting his thoughts.

It may seem like I am being judgmental. However all of these people distract me. I am in a cluster to get work done. Not to be grossed out by young engineering love, or hear about some kids issues with life.

As one story goes. When a girl was asked about the overwhelming male to female ratio at CMU she replied: "Yeah, the odds are good. But the goods are really odd."

I generally liked GU engineers!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

GunPowder Chili

I just realized that I did not post the recipe for the Gunpowder Chili!

This recipe comes from my mother. She would make it in the winter to warm us up. And always on Halloween!

Approx Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1-10 hours (whatever you need) It is a good one to make the night before and let cook all day.

Mothers Chili (now re-titled "Gunpowder Chili")

1 pound Ground Beef
1 Onion

1 can Kidney Beans
1 can small White Beans
1 can Black Beans
1 can Tomato Sauce
1 can Crushed Tomatoes (hard to find here in PGH)
1 Packet of Chili Seasoning (hot or mild, whatever you prefer)
1 Bunch of Cilantro

Cook the ground beef with the onions, until the onions are translucent and the meat is cooked. You can add seasoning to this, like garlic powder.

Possibly the most annoying part about this, pull all of the leave off of the cilantro. You don't want the stems getting in the chili. Once you have a pile of foliage, chop finely.

Pour everything (including the water from the cans, this is necessary) in to a crock pot. Stir well.

Cook on low for 6-10 hours (I know that is a big margin, but it will work!), or high for 1-2 hours.

If you don't have a crock pot, you can trow everything in a big pot and slow cook for an hour or two. First bring it to slight boil, then reduce heat. Make sure to stir if you do it this way.

This will end up serving 4-6 people. It is very easy to double the recipe for more people (make sure you have a big enough crock pot!)

Depending on your location and family tradition serve with Fritos, Chopped onion, Cheese, Corn Bread, Tortillas, Maple Bars, in a bread bowl, over baked potatoes, on hamburgers... just not with Ice Cream.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Woody Allen...

I was judged this Sunday on how many Woody Allen films I had seen. I have never once seen a film by this man. I know his name; however, I have never had the pleasure of viewing his work.

Just out of curiosity: What about all of you? To the right is a poll that I have set up. Please indicate your situation. If you do not, you will have 10 years of bad luck.

If you need a recap of Woody Allen films I will direct you here.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Remember, Remember...

Yep, My mother is awesome. I know that most of you know that. But I am just saying it again. I received this shirt on Thursday, just in time to rock it on Guy Fawkes Night the next day.

As many of you know I love V for Vendetta, and many of you have joined me in the past celebrating either the movie or the actual night. This year I sent out a mass e-mail to all of the Shadyside people inviting them to join me in celebrating such an event.

Gwyn was kind enough to let us in to her house for the event, which Mr. Schwerin, Mr. L and myself quickly transformed in to a mini theater (I know... not as cool as my apartment in the Tri, but I didn't bring my projector with me):

I asked everyone to bring either a Revolutionary Food, or a British food item. There was Shepard's Pie, Hasty Pudding, Parkin (a traditional cake just for Guy Fawkes night), Some really good pumpkin muffins, corn bread, oreos and nilla wafers (I think they were just there... nothing British or Fawksian about oreos). My own contributions where Lenin Lemonade, and Gunpowder Chili:

Holly, you would have been happy, someone brought the fixings for Pimm's:

Other pictures:

Overall it was a great evening! Lots of fun, lots of conversation, lots of V. Great. All in all there were 9 people there, 2 of them had never seen the movie.

On a side note, yesterday was also the 55th anniversary of Doc Brown thinking of the Flux Capacitor! I should have had a Back to the Future Night!

Anyway... I spent all day (well 6 hours) at Mitch's house, working on our Machine Learning project. We did make progress, but we have a long way to go.

This evening was Randy's (another guy from Shadyside) birthday! And instead of waiting for his friends to plan a celebration, he just pulled out all of the stops with an amazing party. That is if amazing is determined by the quality of food, which I would like to say is the case. He, himself, made a plethora of tasty treats ranging from Bree Cranberry cups, Mini Quiche, a great pasta bake, glorious stuffed mushrooms, olives in a cheese puff ball and his very tasty meat balls in a special blueberry sauce. He also made 3 different types of brownies, a red velvet cake and a pumpkin butter cake. It was amazing. He has a gift. I felt rather inadequate. There were a number of people I actually knew! Which was great, another evening of good conversation and great food.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Who is excited?

I need to get to bed, so I am going to keep this short.

My mother wins the competition of prizes with the following:

Chelsea had a third place idea with Sexual Revolution Rainbow Cookies and the Tea trap. I would really like to tar and feather some one. I feel as though in this day and age it would not be as humiliating...

Thank you Mom and Chelsea for playing my game! You both receive my undying love. What! there was a prize! Yep, and the rest of you didn't even try ;)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Prelim for Computational Photography Project 4

This is just a preliminary for project 4. The rest of the project (that I am working on now) will include automatic panorama stitching.

Thanks to Colson and G'pa Bob for the amazing pictures!

Panoramic Mosaicing

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

In search of Ideas

Hello everyone. I am need of your help.

As many of you know, this friday is November the 5th. Also known as Guy Fawkes night. Seeing as lighting things on fire is not overly safe/legal, I am opting for an alternative celebration. I have organized a viewing of V for Vendetta (something that you should all watch... I know Alana has my back). Along with this I made it a requirment for people to bring 'Revolution' themed food.

So I am not feeling overly creative, and I know that you all can come up with better things than me (mom, I am looking at you. R2GU).

So what are your ideas for Revolution food?