East Austin, the ArModelo & Longhorn Caverns

I spent last weekend in Austin with a few good friends from grad school. We’re spread across the country at the moment – two in Boston, one in Boulder, and one in San Francisco – and decided to get together somewhere that (1) is fun and (2) had cheap direct flights for all of us. Austin delivered on both fronts, easy decision. Before continuing, I have to thank my amazing wife Laura, who encouraged me to have one last weekend away before our son arrives. So, a quick recap on some highlights. I’ve been going to Austin at least once a year since 2012 to visit Laura’s family, and I’m still excited to find excuses to go back. No other US city has Austin’s mix of

Continue reading

Everglades National Park

I was in Florida visiting family last weekend, and took off one morning to go check out Everglades National Park. It was more interesting than I expected, and I only had a chance to see a small portion in Shark Valley, and some areas between there and the Gulf Coast visitor center. There were gators everywhere. In some of the swamps there were dozens swimming around. I’ll try the airboats next time. Here are some highlights:

Ramen Recipe

I recently made my first ramen, and think it came out well. I found a number of recipes online, primarily leveraging this one, and combined the ones that sounded good and had ingredients I could find in the neighborhood store. I’ll definitely continue experimenting, but here’s what I went with in my first go, for a serving of two: Ingredients: 2 chicken breasts, skin on 32 oz. chicken broth 1 jalapeno pepper 2 oz. mirin 1 oz. soy sauce 1 oz. chili oil 3 cloves garlic 1 inch fresh ginger 6 oz. ramen noodles 1 spring onion 1 egg 1 cucumber 8 shitake mushrooms 2 tbsp black sesame seeds Salt Steps: Broth: Finely mince garlic and ginger and add to large

Continue reading

fitteR happieR – How Depressing are Radiohead Songs?

Via Freecodecamp’s weekly email, I came across this R-based analysis that estimates and charts how depressing and sad Radiohead songs are, grouped by album. The level of sadness is determined using a function that accounts for both melodic factors (i.e., is the music sad) as well as the lyrical content. An interesting read from a coding standpoint, and after listening to a bunch of songs and comparing with the results, I think it’s about right. A lower score is a “more depressing” song.

We Drain Pipes, Not Wallets

A sign design firm, Dynamic Image LLC, recently contacted me to request to use one of my photos for a vehicle wrap project. It’s a shot I took in 2011 while visiting Rocky Mountain National Park: I sent them the high resolution file, and asked to see the results when it was finished. Yesterday, I received an email with two photos. Turns out it’s a plumbing truck. I’m a bit biased, but I think it looks great:

Hamakua, Waipio, and Pololu

For our final two days in Hawaii Laura and I stayed at a B&B on a ranch in the Hamakua region up north. The drive up to the ranch was six miles off the main road, three of which was through a eucalyptus forest: Here are a couple of horses on the ranch: We drove out to Waipio Valley one afternoon, and did the mile hike down and back up: Afterwards, we drove out to Pololu Valley. Unfortunately the weather turned overcast when we got there, but we had some good rainbow sightings on the way: Many more pictures on my photography site.

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

Laura and I visited the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden outside Hilo on our drive from Volcano to Hamakua. It far exceeded our expectations and I’d highly recommend an hour or so stop if you’re on the Big Island. The garden is along a trail that’s roughly a mile loop. It’s located off a scenic road which was among the best drives we did on the island. Just a mile south of it is the Onomea Bay Trail, which we walked as well. The trail actually passes through part of the garden, but you can’t get into the main area without first buying tickets at the main entrance. Here are some highlights from the botanical garden: And here are a few shots taken from the Onomea Bay Trail:

Music I Discovered in 2016, and Some Thoughts on Subscription Streaming

I spent some time organizing my music over the long weekend, and thought I’d share a playlist I kept throughout the year of songs and artists I discovered. Most of it was released in 2016, but there are plenty of exceptions that were simply new to me. For those who know my taste in music, it’s about what you’d expect – half americana/country/folk with lots of pedal steel guitar, and the rest a mix of indie, alternative, hip hop, and electronic. For full albums from the artists above, I’d recommend just a handful: A Sailor’s Guide to Earth – Sturgill Simpson Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit – Courtney Barnett Paradise – The Wood Brothers The Education

Continue reading

Photographing the Milky Way

I’d never photographed the night sky until last week. Living in the Northeast, it’s rare for me to have a clear opportunity without lots of light pollution. And when I’ve been lucky enough to travel somewhere remote, I’ve generally been without a tripod or the right lens. In Hawaii, light pollution is low and visibility is great, so I decided to give it a try while Laura and I were visiting. Here’s what I used for settings on a Nikon D7200 with a 16-80mm lens: manual mode, ISO 6400, focal length 16mm, f/2.8, shutter speed 25 seconds, and focus just a few millimeters to the right of infinity. I tried a few slight variations of those, but found the results weren’t as good. I shot the first bunch while

Continue reading