Monday, March 26, 2012

PG&E entertains the neighborhood

I never really thought about how power poles in people's back yards were replaced before.
(seen on the way home from school)


I happen to really like the label that Nimue and Chad created for Chad's most recent batch of beer.  (For those not in the know, Space Kitty Commander #1155 Smudge Gizmo is Nimue's alter ego, who writes many of her school reports and shows up all over her drawings.)

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Happy Spring

Though it's been raining all weekend, I did get out earlier in the week to investigate the early-season wildflowers over at Pulgas Ridge Open Space Reserve.  Here are a few for you in more northerly climes to enjoy:

Star lily and red trillium

Bush poppy and bigberry manzanita
Giant lupine and mission bells

Lotus stipularis (I think it is anyway; this one is endemic to Ca)

And of course, the obligatory banana slug.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Lego VW Bus build

I got this wonderful Lego kit for Christmas, from my family -- I actually built it soon thereafter (with help from my trusty assistants, Nimue and the cat) and took photos as the assembly progressed. I just now got around to turning the pictures into a time-lapse movie, which you can see below!

It turns out, I am not by any means the only one to have thought of this... these guys (amongst many others) did much the same thing, but in far greater detail and with more finesse... their video looks great! 

For the technically interested (and for myself, so I can remember how I did this), I used the following steps to make the movie from my collection of stills:

1) Export images from iPhoto into a working directory. There were 88 photos for this sequence.
2) Resize images to something more suitable for use on the web:
mogrify -resize 800x600 *.JPG
3) Change the filenames from something like 'DSC_2835.JPG' to 0001.JPG, keeping a numerical sequence. For this, I used a Perl script (based on the canonical Larry Wall 'rename' but with a mod to handle the sequential numbering; found here): 's/^[^.]+\./sprintf("%04d.", $n)/e' *.JPG
4) Build the video. I initially tried qscale = 2, which resulted in a 9.3MB file -- too big for sharing on the web! qscale = 10 gave a more reasonable ~1.3MB filesize.
ffmpeg -qscale 10 -r 10 -b 9600 -i %02d.JPG bus10.mp4

If I were to do this again, I'd definitely get a remote control for the camera, and take lots more stills to smooth out and lengthen the animation.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Ma + Ni + Da = Happy!

On the thirteenth (which is also Gramma Eileen's birthday), Daddy adopted me. We went to a big courthouse in San Jose, and we waited what felt like hours but was really only forty or fifty minutes, and we saw a judge who told Ma and Daddy to sign stuff, and we said a few things, and then we went home/back to school/to work, but not before eating a delicious lunch! The great thing is that I got to skip Math Class!

Monday, March 5, 2012


Some of the borage seeds I scattered about the garden finally sprouted.  The flowers taste like cucumber!


Not only have I made it out to recreate in the local open space preserves three times in the last week, but two of those outings involved relatively close-range helicopter sightings.  Odd.

Helicopter presumably doing water drop training/practice, as evidenced by the big bucket it kept carrying as it circled Lexington Reservoir.  I saw this one as I was riding my commute bike through Sierra Azul (a delightful form of self-torture given the oh-so-steep grades on Kennedy trail).

And this medevac helicopter that Nimue and I watched land up at Montebello while we were waiting for Chad to arrive on his bike, wondering if he was held up on the trail by the evacuation procedure.  (We've figured out a weekend outing scheme whereby one of the adults rides their bike up the ridge in some interesting manner while the other adult drives up with Nimue, followed by a family hike or bike ride together, followed by the first parent driving Nimue home while the second gets their turn for a "real" ride.)  It was pretty entertaining watching this one land; I just hope the person they transported out is ok.