41 Years, 59 Miles May 31st, 2011
Yesterday was my 41st birthday, so I biked 59 miles.
I got this crazy idea from my friend Burt, who, since turning 50, has set and followed a goal for himself: each birthday he runs 100 minus his age in years, in miles. So I thought, if he can do this as running, I will try it biking.I left at 9 am and got back around 3. I decided to head west to Boulder and then north to re-explore some country roads I used to enjoy when I’d bike from my former house in north Boulder. I saw approximately 64 cows, 33 horses, a dozen random unidentified farm animals, 11 rabbits, 43 prairie dogs, 8 squirrels, 2 dead snakes, 1 snake skin, 2 dead birds, 159 live birds/ducks/geese. Around halfway I found myself in Longmont debating about where to get lunch and just standing there I somehow managed to fall off my bike, getting sidewalk rash on my knee and injuring my middle finger. (I’m hoping it’s not broken, if it turns out it is then there’ll be one more bird to speak of…) Anyhow, this is called “making memories“; it was Memorial Day, after all. I added these fresh right-side ailments to my already bruised right foot (where I dropped something on it Saturday) and sore right wrist (fell hard on it snowboarding last week).
A description of this ride would not be complete without mentioning the weather. At the start of the day there was fog and a cool mugginess, which turned to general cloudiness with hints of sunshine. Then when I was enjoying the beautiful but unsheltered St. Vrain Greenway Trail southeast of Longmont, somehow it started hailing and raining. Pea-sized hail falling at 45 degree angles eventually results in one or two hitting your face and this stings a little. I was glad to have a helmet. Heading south from there on County Line Road I noticed a bank of clouds black as night to the east. The image of a man suspended on his bike in the Wizard of Oz briefly came to mind. But, then the sun came out. However, I wished the hail would come back when the 30 mph winds kicked up. This meant my last 8 miles were entirely uphill even on the downhill, being sandblasted and tossed around unpredictably. I was glad to have a helmet.
Typical Colorado weather? Probably. I do like the drama and variety… just not the wind!
In spite of little planning for this ride, I was at about 58 miles when I got back to my apartment so only had to do a little extra tooling around to reach 59. See my route.
I know what you’re thinking: this girl knows how to party on her birthday, huh?
Well, I do find life isn’t complete without both yin and yang. It so happened that someone I know was having a birthday party in the afternoon, at a stunning house in north Boulder with sweeping views, great food and drink, even a dancing violinist and various other activities. His birthday was actually last week but I thanked him graciously for having a party to celebrate. Then 2 of my good friends took me out to dinner + dessert for a bit more of a personal celebration. So I had an all-around great day!
Oh, and on my drive back home I added a coyote to my wildlife sightings.
Wearable Computing Showcase at Maker Faire May 9th, 2011
I will be attending Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA this month and am excited to be a part of the eTextile and Wearable Computing Lounge and Showcase organized by the Textile Enchantress Lynne Bruning! I plan to have 3 items at the Lounge and will need to pick one for the Showcase. Each of these items share a common theme:
- the original garment was purchased at Goodwill
- it is lit up by individual LEDs
- telephone wire was used in the circuitry
Fiesta Flower Power
They say “beauty is the best defense against complexity”. Who needs brains when you have elegance and simplicity? Less can indeed be more! A coin cell battery powers 43 tiny 1.8mm white LEDs evenly dispersed on this blue floral print dress. No Arduino or LilyPad.
This was my first project in wearable technology, completed in March 2011. Diffused 5mm RGB LEDs adorn each of the 10 buttons on this shiny black coat. Each LED is surrounded by crystal beads for accent and additional diffusing enjoyment. Controlled by an Arduino Duemilanove. A button lets you choose either color drift mode for the subtle approach, or switch to rainbow mode when you want to wow friends and complete strangers alike (and/or try out light painting…).
Inspired by a dream, a Facebook conversation and a look, hot and cold compete for attention on a little black dress. Diffused 5mm RGB LEDs are set simply to glow ember-orange, but with the timing and intensity cleverly crafted to mimic the look and feel (well, maybe just the look) of a campfire’s glowing coals. Controlled by a LilyPad, making gratuitous use of the Arduino language’s random() function. NOTE: I’m still working on this one but hope to have a photo up in a few days!
For the Showcase I will either exhibit the Rainbow Raincoat or the Smolder dress.
The Logic of Expectation May 4th, 2011
Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”
Sacrilegious as it seems to question Einstein, I have nevertheless been pondering the point.
It started because I wasn’t liking the results I was getting on something so I decided to change my approach. But I got the same result, making me ask, somewhat jokingly (albeit with a hint of seriousness that accompanies many jokes): “what does it mean when you do different things and get the same result?”
Last night I gave it another pair of tests, but this time asking: “so, if I do the same thing over again, I should expect the same result as before, right?”
I biked from my home in Lafayette to Boulder yesterday and was hoping for a repeat of my ride home from a few weeks ago. That night I heard an owl hoot, met and raced a train, and was serenaded by a pack of coyotes. So yesterday – same day of the week, same time of night as before – I hoped for at least some of those 3 things to reoccur. I got none of those 3 things.
Also, back in March I remember having really strange dreams after eating chili two nights in a row. Last night made it two consecutive nights of chili. This morning I awoke to find I couldn’t remember a single dream.
It’s true that the situations were not exactly the same, but I figured they were similar enough to at least get some commonalities.
So, am I to believe from all this that “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” is NOT insane after all?
Of course not, that’s ridiculous, I’m missing the point(s) completely. For one, he was probably talking about controlled experiments and the quote shouldn’t be extended to everyday life. But also I think the keyword is “expecting”. Just because you expect something doesn’t mean it will come to pass. I should know that, Statistics minor and former Actuary that I am. There may be measurable and reliable probabilities or it may be a black swan event.
In my cases I was probably chasing things resembling black swans. Which is probably stupid since they’re just as likely to break your arm as the white ones. Or so I would expect…
Maybe I should have considered the Einstein quote alongside the old adage:
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
It sounds more positive, anyway. I forget to laugh sometimes.