• Category Archives day by day
  • This is the category closest to just being a plain diary. Places I go, things I do, people I see, what’s happening in my life.

  • Springtime! Happy Easter!

    Posted on by Don

    I’m sitting at the Bethlehem Library right now — I was planning to maybe ride today but last night’s wet spring snow put the kibosh on that. I felt a bit cooped up and wanted to get out of the house for a bit, so I thought I’d check the new coffee shop (the Church Street Market) across the way but it’s closed on Mondays. I’ll be meeting Anne and maybe Deb at Wise Bean in a bit, but I had a hankering to do the laptop-and-café thing… Oh well, the library works.

    We had a fairly hectic weekend: Friday night was the Adult Easter Egg Hunt at Anne’s niece’s house, Saturday was a Seder at Toby & Erika’s, and yesterday we did an Easter brunch. I got in a ride on Saturday morning, and I’m glad I did since conditions were really good, and it looks like they won’t be good again for a little while. Spring’s coming, it’s just taking its time.

    Fun with Computer Maintenance: I got fed up with Adblock and installed uBlock Origin instead. Better, faster, less intrusive.

    PostGIS Fun: I merged all the bus routes into one GeoJSON file, then loaded them into the database. I then took that table and broke it into two others: one containing the bus stops, with their names, reference numbers,  OSM attributes, and geometries, and a bridging table (sans geometry) containing fields for the bus stop reference, route and stop order for all routes. Some new ideas: “select distinct on” and “window functions.” Works like a charm!

    Off to the Wise Bean…

  • Digging-Out Diary

    I kind of fell into the same trap as before — leaning too heavily on categorization for my posts — and am now stuck, playing catch-up with things I wanted to talk about that really didn’t warrant their own posts. So…

    Cali Weekend: I finally managed to go skiing this year. Julie G had an extra ski pass and a Friday off, so we went up for a morning on the slopes at Blue Mountain. She’s a bit of  a neophyte (or maybe more like “haven’t skied since college”), and was more comfortable on the easier slopes, and I was too, to tell you the truth. We did two each on the Burma Road and Paradise trails, then I did two on the intermediate Lazy Mile, and we called it a day. It was surprisingly fun, especially since I had been worried beforehand, about getting hurt or whatever.

    The next day I did a towpath ride, going the whole length to the waterfall in Easton, and on Sunday Anne and I rode the towpath to Easton for brunch at Two Rivers.

    That was two weekends ago. The weather has been pretty crappy since then, but we did manage to get out, in one heavy spring snow, to attempt some cross-country skiing: too warm, and the snow was too wet. Oh well, at least we tried…

    Reading: I read Ann Leckie’s new novel Provenance , set in the same story universe as her Imperial Raadch trilogy (but not within the Raadch itself). Fast paced and fun — especially for a book about the authenticity of venerated historical objects — I’d recommend this to anyone who liked her trilogy.

    I also finished Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up The Bodies, her second novel about Thomas Cromwell, advisor to Henry VII. This one picks up where the first left off (at the execution of Thomas More), and continues through to the execution of Henry’s second wife, Ann Boleyn. It was just as absorbing, but seemed to move a bit slower than the first.

    Next up was The Discovery of Middle Earth: Mapping the Lost World of the Celts, by Graham Robb. It had an interesting premise: the Celts were more sophisticated than we realize, and had a pretty advanced navigation system, based on astronomy and a system of survey points, which they used to build roads and locate their cities. That was the theory; in practice the book was a rambling mess, full of very enjoyable digressions and oddly useless maps and diagrams, that attempted to tell the story of the Celts. (The book reminded me, more and more as I plowed through it, of Robert Graves’s The White Goddess, and not in a good way.) There were parts I really liked, but I struggled to finish it.

    And finally, I’m in the middle of The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet, a novel by Reif Larsen. This is the story of Tecumseh Sparrow Spivet, a 12-year-old prodigy (mapmaker, scientific illustrator) living on a ranch in Montana, who wins an award and a job offer from The Smithsonian Institution — who don’t realize he’s a child — and takes off for Washington DC via freight train. That’s as far as I got, but so far the story is compelling and multi-layered and, despite appearances, not a Young Adult novel.


  • Watching The Snow Fall

    Posted on by Don

    The last storm (on Wednesday) came with a lot of hype, and I was disappointed to wake up with no snow on the ground, just rainy surfaces rather than the advertised snowpocalypse, but then snow started falling midmorning and it came down all day. It was a heavy, wet snow, but there was nowhere as much as they were calling for: we got maybe 4″ on the ground rather than the expected 12″ — the storm tracked east of us, apparently, and we missed the brunt of it, though areas west and north of us got some accumulation. Go figure.

    I got out Tuesday for a nice, pre-snowpocalypse ride on the towpath, which was in great shape — conditions had been improving, and I expected this would be the last chance this week for a decent ride. I rode down to the waterfall in Easton and back, really pleasant. After that I got my act together then went over to Southside — a little early, so I could get a few photos, for some OpenSteetMap mapping at the new parking garage — to meet Anne for dinner at La Lupita before going to see Colson Whitehead talk at Zoellner Arts Center.

    That was really good: he started with “I was born a poor black child” à la Steve Martin, did several readings from The Underground Railroad, talked about his career, his writing process, and writing as a part of his life in general. The Underground Railroad was the subject of a number of workshops at Lehigh; the event was well-attended by students as well as the usual bookish crowd, and the Q&A afterward was pretty decent.

    Wednesday was spent waiting for snow, watching snow from inside while I did computer stuff and Anne did her spinning, and then watching the storm peter out… I got in another bike ride yesterday after some trivial shoveling, just going over to the CAT office to help Scott move some shelves, the first step in his office reconfiguration project. It was a bit chilly, but the air felt fresh and very spring-like.

    Today I woke up and looked outside — snow flurries.

  • Montreal Photos

    Posted on by Don

    As promised, here are my photos from Montreal:

  • Playing Serious Catch-Up

    Morning weigh-in: 189.0#, 14.0% BF

    Today I followed “weigh-in protocol” (do it pre-shower), and it looks like my body fat is back in the normal range. So, there’s that…

    Reading: I got two books on maps from the library, but they are surprisingly boring.

    My computer project du jour is to bring my photo database, and my  Flickr account, up to date. I’ve been downloading from Dropbox into Shotwell (my photo program), doing a bit of curating and then uploading the keepers into Flickr — I am now getting close to the end of 2014,  with thousands of photos to go. Sigh.

  • Push-Ups and Oatmeal

    Morning weigh-in: 188.5#, 12.0% BF

    I haven’t been getting much exercise lately, except for my morning push-ups, but I have been eating a oatmeal every day for breakfast — “oatmeal” in this case meaning steel cut oats, with a little butter, cinnamon, a touch of maple syrup, and at least two fruits (apple, banana, blueberries): nutritious, very filling, and it keeps me full for a big part of the day. I suspect that the oatmeal has something to do with my weight loss, but I have no answer for why the body fat is down, my actual body is about what it was. Usually the body fat percentage is a proxy for my hydration level, low BF meaning I’m dehydrated  — usually because of a few beers the night before, but there have not been that many beers since the weekend — so I’ve taken to drinking a few glasses of water every morning, just in case. (I’ve broken my weigh-in protocol lately, weighing myself after bathing rather than before; since the body fat measurement is based on electrical resistance, my wetted skin may be confounding the measurement.)

    Other than that, not much has been going on. I’m once again in a difficult period with my skin, it’s been raw and sensitive, and yesterday was a bit of a crisis: I moved a bunch of heavy, dusty boxes at the Museum’s archive building, and between the dust and the sweat I had myself a real reaction. Oy. I left early and sat in the backyard getting some sun — it was a sunny and record-warm day, as opposed to the current cold and rain.



  • Back From Montreal

    Got home yesterday, after a five-day trip to Montreal with John & Donna — pictures and fuller report to follow. Today was spent getting back into the swing of being home; Anne did stuff around the house while I volunteered at the Canal Museum. We also ate a lot of fruit and vegetables today — a long weekend of heavy food (poutine, anyone?) took its toll and we needed to change direction.

    Reading: Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel. Anne read this, loved it and recommended it to me, and I’m simply devouring it. It’s the story of Thomas Cromwell, advisor to King Henry VIII around the time he married Anne Boleyn. I’m almost done.


  • Some Mapping Fun

    Morning weigh-in: 190.5#, 13.0% BF

    Just got back from a walk over to Southside, where I took a few pictures of the new parking garage being built. I just updated OpenStreetMap by adding the new buildings on New Street and removing  the things they replaced (the Maze Garden). I’ve been doing a little bit of cleanup on OSM lately, mostly of things I find causing errors in my routing program — the connection between American Parkway, North Braddock Street and Dauphin Street (with the D& L Trail overlaid over the lot of it) in Allentown has been my biggest “problem child,” but I think I’ve got it mostly un-buggered.

    (My own routing database is now out of date — and therefore incorrect — but downloading the data and then running all the post-processing is so tedious I may just fix the database by hand.)

    Storm yesterday, but a few people showed up for Anne’s ukulele practice, including Julie G who brought a bottle of North Korean brandy that she’d picked up duty-free many years ago. It was …interesting, and I’m glad I can say I tried it, but I’ll make a point of never drinking that stuff again. “Rotgut” doesn’t even begin to describe it…


  • Science!

    Morning weigh-in: 189.5#, 13.0% BF

    “Science!” — that’s what I yelled in the kitchen this morning, after taking the final gravity of our new brew. It came in at 1.006, which means that our beer is probably about 2.1% ABV. Not exactly deadly, but it definitely tastes good. It should be ready to drink within a few days.

    My next task is to clean up the brewing equipment in the basement, maybe do a trainer ride, and get the 5010 ready for a snow ride tomorrow.

  • The Morning After

    Morning weigh-in: 189.5, 13.0% BF

    Here it is, the day after Pearly Baker’s 23rd Annual Superbowl of Chili in Easton — how can you tell I’ve been to all of them? …wait a few minutes and I’ll tell you — as well as the day after the Eagles win Super Bowl LMXXIIEIEIO. Philly still stands, as does the Valley, though both a little worse for wear.

    I don’t really have that much to say, so here’s what I said ten yeas ago.