We all have our little quarantine projects. I’ve had a few. Reorganizing the cluttered tupperware in our cabinets. Getting the furniture in a spare bedroom ready for our new son in November. My more frivolous project has been installing a Pokémon themed display on my dashboard.
I started off simple. I wanted the display to be modular, so I could move the Pokémon around or play with them (not while driving). That meant instead of super-gluing the figurines directly to the dashboard, I would glue them to metal washers. I glued ceramic magnets to the dashboard (all using heat-resistant epoxy so it won’t soften in the summer heat). Then the Pokémon could be moved around to create different displays. I can even switch the Pokémon out entirely if I want and put in some other type of figurine!
So that looked good. It was fun. I liked it. But the dashboard was still a boring black color. How could I spice it up? Continue reading →
The title of this post kind of gives it away, but I lost my license while traveling to Nashville.
My dad woke up nice and early to give my wife and me a ride to the airport. He dropped us off and gave us hugs goodbye.
I had my license when going through security and put it back in my pocket after the body scanner.
We found our gate and my wife left to go to the bathroom while I got her a bagel to eat at an airport deli.
Soon enough our plane arrived. We boarded and watched some movies while flying out to Tennessee.
We got off the plane in Nashville, walked to the baggage claim, and waited for our bags. It took awhile so I went to the bathroom by the baggage claim.
After getting our luggage we went over to the rental car location and got in line for our car. Once we got to the front I dug around in my pockets and realized, “My license isn’t here!”
Thoroughly searching my pockets, wallet, backpack, and the folder I kept our travel reservations in revealed nothing. No license.
Going to the lost and found by the baggage claim, nothing.
Going back into the bathroom I’d used while waiting for our luggage, nothing.
Talking to the airline lost and found and getting them to search the plane we were on, nothing.
Out of options, my wife ended up being the driver for our trip.
We got to the hotel and I tried a few more things to at least locate my license and secure a replacement.
I called the San Francisco airport lost and found to see if my ID fell out by that bagel place and someone had turned it in, nothing.
I contacted the California DMV and after negotiating their phone tree for about an hour I got them to send me a temporary license by fax to our hotel.
The license did not arrive next morning as they promised, so I called again and they sent it within a few hours.
With the temporary license we returned to the car rental place to get me added as a driver.
Unfortunately, a temporary California driver’s license does not come with a picture. Without a picture the rental car people were unable to “verify my identity” right as it says on that piece of paper there.
And of course my picture on my student IDs was no good. The dozen or so insurance, credit, and debit cards I have in my wallet wouldn’t do. My wife vouching for me wouldnt cut it. A picture of an expired license on my phone wasn’t good enough either. Apparently the only thing that can verify my identity to the satisfaction of the rental car company is the one thing I lost.
Please note that not even TSA is this strict. I still plan on flying home and as their website states, security will ask me extra questions and it’ll take longer, but I should still get through.
In the meantime my wife has gotten to practice her driving skills (I’m usually the one that drives) and I’ve gotten to practice my navigating skills (she’s the one that usually navigates).
It’s worked out so far! The last hurdle to jump is getting through TSA, then we’ll be home free (quite literally).
Last week my wife and I went to Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
We flew there of course, but encountered the dreaded problem of
The plane we were scheduled to be on had a mechanical problem so it couldn’t fly.
While waiting in line to get out onto another flight we heard all sorts of people complaining. While I didn’t want to be rude and tell them off there, I can do that on my blog.
“Why do we have to wait in line at the lobby instead of at the gate to be put on a new flight? I don’t want to have to go through security again.”
Perhaps you missed the announcement where they answered this question, we’re waiting in the lobby because another plane is going to be using the gate we were at in a few minutes. If they spent the whole time up there giving us tickets instead of checking tickets for the next flight, the next two flights would never leave either. I needed to come down to claim my bag to get it onto the new flight anyways. Plus, there are four attendants in the lobby, so you’ll get served faster than if we waited for the two upstairs at the gate. Going through security again isn’t fun for anyone, but this is the fastest solution.
“Why can’t they check the planes every week for problems and fix them before the problems delay flights?”
Personally, I prefer the system where the plane is checked before every flight to see if it’s good to go instead of only once a week… Otherwise a plane could be flying for as long as six days with something wrong with it. Would you want to be on that plane?
Anyways, we ended up on a different airline with a connection to Orlando in Salt Lake City instead of Dallas.
We also ended up with a seat upgrade which was nice. Leg room and free movies to watch. Maybe not worth the five hour delay, but so nice!
After landing in Orlando we did the usual thing of grabbing our bags and the rental car before heading to the hotel.
We got to the hotel after midnight and checked in when it was “morning.”
Another movie I saw with my wife! Can you tell who my favorite person to go to the movies with is?
Age of Adaline tells the story of a woman who acquires immortality during a car accident. The movie has a pseudoscience explanation for how she becomes immortal that my wife and I laughed at.
Adaline was born in 1908. The movie hops around a little bit, but most of the story takes place in 2015.
Adaline fell in love and had a family back in the day. She obviously outlives her husband, but her daughter remains a character throughout the movie, aging into a granny by 2015.
At some point the FBI figure out that Adaline is immortal and they move to arrest her because she’s suspected of communism or something (this part wasn’t clear to me).
Adaline goes on the run. Every ten years she changes her name and moves to a new place, keeping the same youthful appearance of Blake Lively wherever she goes.
In 2015 Adaline falls in love with Ellis, a rich socialite who spends his time learning about the local history of San Francisco, something Adaline is intimately familiar with.
I suppose the viewer is meant to feel that the love between Adaline and Ellis is something wonderful and worth preserving, but frankly it feels creepy.
First of all, Ellis pursues her in the most stalker-like fashion possible. She sternly tells him she’s not interested at a party. Next he shows up at her work and hits on her there. They go on a date and then she calls it off. After that he figures out where she lives and waits for her outside her apartment.
Like I said, I think the audience is supposed to feel that his love is earnest, but he seems more like a rich boy who can’t have what he wants and starts freaking out about it. A normal person would start considering a restraining order at this point.
Of course Adaline doesn’t do that, she takes him back and agrees to go on a weekend trip to his parents’ house!
When she meets Ellis’s parents Adaline discovers that she used to date his dad after her husband died and was considering marrying him. The plot ensues and I don’t want to ruin the rest of it for you if you plan on seeing it.
The romance of the movie is terrible. There’s the issue with Ellis being a stalker, but the additional problem of Adaline being a little bit of a cougar. After all she is dating someone who is a quarter of her age.
That said, the science fiction parts of the story are interesting. How does an immortal person’s life work amongst mortals? Is she still sad when her pets die? How do friendships work for her? What does she do with all her time? Does she “retire” every couple of years or keep working? Those are all interesting questions that the movie answers well without even focusing on them.
I wouldn’t recommend seeing this movie in theaters, but if you like little science fiction stories about immortality (I do!) then I’d recommend renting Age of Adaline once it comes out on DVD.
A couple weekends ago I went home for a birthday party for my wife’s maid of honor.
Most of our friends still live in an area around our hometown, so when we visit them my wife and I visit them we inevitably end up visiting our families as well.
While there her dad told me about a podcast series called Hardcore History.
For awhile I’d been looking for something to listen to on my car rides to Sac State. Music gets old pretty quick for me, talk radio is too political, and NPR is way too varied in their topics to be consistently interesting to me.
In the past when I’m driving, cleaning, or some other long boring chore I’ve listened to a lecture series put out by the Teaching Company.
My dad gets the lecture series and shares them with me. My favorites are lectures on Greek and Roman classics, but eventually I listened to nearly everything the Teaching Company offered on those topics.
I got a few things from the library, but its difficult to find the perfect audio book to listen to.
My father-in-law’s suggestion turned out to be spot on. Each podcast of Hardcore History is immense. I’m listening to a four hour one now on the fall of the Roman Empire.
The podcasts are also extremely varied. Before the Fall of Rome there was an episode on the events leading up to the Red Scare in the USA.
Plus, the podcasts are free! At least the most recent ones are. The older ones are $2 each and all the older ones can be purchased at a discount.
Hardcore History podcasts don’t come out very often. On average there is a new episode every three months. Eventually I’ll catch up and be without free episodes. I’ll decide to buy the older episodes at that point. No need to rush myself yet.
Either way, the episodes are pretty cool. Dan Carlin is a great storyteller who goes to great lengths to draw parallels between the historical period he’s talking about to the modern world. Quotes from source material are used in the lecture to back up Carlin’s interpretation of events.
The podcasts are quite long, which isn’t for everyone. Plus, Carlin doesn’t know how to keep his voice at a constant level. Every few minutes I need to adjust the volume on my speakers because he’s shouting or whispering.
I’ve had a lot of fun listening to the podcasts. If you’re into history you should try them out! My father-in-law said so!
Woo! Yesterday I had my first day of graduate school and it was amazing!
For awhile I’d been worried that I wouldn’t like going back to school once the semester started. All of those worries went away once I stepped out of my car onto campus.
I unfortunately arrived late to my first class. I live in Davis and driving to Sacramento has never taken this long in the past.
I thought I’d budgeted enough for rush hour traffic. I guessed the time accurately except for the time to leave the freeway.
Everyone and their mother wanted to get off the freeway at the Howe Ave exit right by Sacramento State.
Next time I go in the morning I’ll get off at an earlier exit and dodge all that traffic. Hopefully that will get me to school with time to spare.
Anyways! I got approved to be a TA in a lab course which meets Tuesday mornings. This semester I’m in training, but in the future I’ll be paid.
The lab class is a GE fulfilling course, so its filled with students who are not biology majors.
The course is also taught by my graduate adviser, which is a huge plus. We’ll get to know more about each through teaching together which will help a lot later in the graduate school process.
I assisted the students with a simple discussion lab which tried to define what life is.
After the discussion each student took a sterile swabbed and rubbed it on something before rubbing it on a petri dish. Whatever they rubbed onto it will grow over the week and we can take a look at it next Tuesday.
When the lab finished I walked around campus. I found the bookstore, the activities fair (no I don’t want to join a fraternity), the student union, and the library. I at my lunch on the quad and then went to read in the library til my next class.
I have two other classes on Tuesday. The first was about how to be a better TA. I met the other students and the teacher told us a little bit about herself, her teaching style, and some resources we could use to improve ourselves as teachers.
My last class, Molecular Biology, was in the same room as the class on how to be a TA. I was surprised when the teacher walked in because I recognized him!
The teacher for my Molecular Biology class is also the post-doc who works in the same worm lab as me at Davis!
It was a pretty cool coincidence. Apparently he had already known for awhile, but hadn’t told me yet.
I was unfortunately the only person who consistently raised my hand to answer questions in his class. I’m hoping that will change in the future. Maybe everyone else was just shy because they hadn’t met the instructor yet.
At the end of the day the instructor and I discussed carpooling together.
Turns out that won’t work because he lives in Sacramento and I live in Davis. At the end of the day we want to be in different places.
Altogether it was a great day. I loved being back on campus as a student and as a teacher. I love learning and helping other people learn. I’m looking forward to the next two or three years at Sac State!
I’m back from my trip to Bois Blanc (Bob-Lo) Island! Be prepared for a lot of posts about my time on the Island.
Getting to Bois Blanc Island isn’t as simple as hopping on a plane and then you’re there like on a vacation to Hawaii or Disneyland.
I timed it once and if the journey to Bois Blanc is made in one go it takes about 21 hours.
First, you have to drive to the airport, check your bags, go through security, and wait for your flight.
The Island and the nearby mainland town, Cheboygan, both have airports, but they are only for private planes, not commercial flights.
There are a few airports to choose from, Milwaukee, Chicago, Detroit, Pellston, or Travese City.
Milwaukee and Chicago have long drives to the Island if you go to those airports directly, but they work well as connections to Pellston or Traverse City.
Detroit is a six hour drive to Cheboygan. While preferable to the two day drives required from Chicago or Milwaukee, being stuck in a car for half a day is not something you look forward to after being in an airplane for a few hours.
The flight my family usually takes is a layover in Minneapolis, Milwaukee, or Chicago before a connecting flight to Traverse City.
Traverse City is a two hour drive away from Cheboygan.
If you’re going straight to the Island then you have to get groceries in Cheboygan before driving onto the ferry.
An hour ferry ride later you meet the relatives at the Island dock.
A half hour more of driving to the cottages on the West End of Bois Blanc finishes the journey.
My dad always did the trip that way, but it’s a little exhausting to do in one day.
My wife and I prefer breaking up the trip with a night in a hotel after the drive from Traverse City to Cheboygan.
There was a mixup with the hotel this time. I got confused by the online booking site and reserved a room for the wrong date.
We got shunted to an antique style bed and breakfast instead.
The place was a little rundown, but at least we had somewhere to sleep! We made it over to the Island the next day to greet my relatives.
My wife showed me this cool new technology called Solar Roadways this morning.
She showed me with a Youtube video you can look at here.
The technology is a new type of pavement made out of solar panels.
The video describes it quite well in a funny way (Solar Freaking Roadways!).
Solar panels cover the road. On top of the panels are a few LED lights and then a strong shield of glass.
The glass can support up to 250,000 pound (113,000kg) trucks. The inventor of Solar Roadways, Scott Brusaw, chose that researched weight because the transportation of oil refinery equipment is done at weights of around 230,000 pounds (104,000kg).
The LEDs are used to create lane lines or for other necessary road paint (Pedestrian Xing, Slow Down, etc.).
If every paved surface in the USA were covered with these panels they would generate three times the current energy consumption of the USA.
Other energy sources would still be needed as solar panels don’t operate at night.
The panels can also heat themselves to melt snow and prevent dangerous driving conditions in colder states.
Two underground channels are planned to run along side the Roadway. One will hold water runoff. The other will hold electrical wires.
The wires carry the electricity off the solar panels to consumers.
The channel could also hold telephone lines, fiberoptic internet cables, etc. By placing them underground, storms are less likely to cause outages.
Mr. Brusaw, pictured above in a tractor on the prototype driveway of Solar Roadways, seemed particularly proud of the traction of Solar Roadways.
Some people worry that cars won’t be able to stop on glass, but Solar Roadways glass panels are textured in a way that cars going 80mph (130kph) on a wet panel could stop just as fast as on wet asphalt.
My worry upon seeing the giant textured panels was that bikes would not be able to go on them.
Fortunately, Mr. Brusaw has an answer for that too. Another variety of the panels has a smoother texture that bikes can ride over comfortably.
The smoother texture allows cars to stop in times similar to wet asphalt at speeds of only 40mph (65kph) though. You can’t have everything.
It would be easy enough to build a bike lane out of the smoother panels next to a road made of the textured panels to accommodate both types of vehicles.
If you’re interested in learning more about Solar Roadways you can check out their website or fund them using Indiegogo. The fundraiser is until June 20th 2014.
I started off by trying to install some child locks on our bathroom cabinets. Our new cat has been trying to sneak in and we think it’d be best if she doesn’t have access to all the toilet paper at once or all the chemicals that could hurt her under the sink.
Child locks come in two parts, the part you have to push to open it and the part the pushy part inserts into to keep the door locks. I’d glued the holdy part onto the cabinets on Monday.
I checked the glue today and was a bit rough in handling one of the holdy parts. It popped off in my hand. I sighed and reglued it on.
I glued on the pushy part and found it was very difficult to align it correctly with the holdy part. Fearing that I did it wrong, I only glued in one of the pushy parts today to see how it looks tomorrow.
After that frustration I went out to fix the flat in my bike. The flat had happened on Friday and I got new tubes on Monday.
I put the first tube in and it immediately popped. Figuring they can occasionally be duds, I pulled it out and put a second one in. It seemed fine and I biked off to work. It popped just before I got onto campus. I sighed and walked the rest of the way to my job.
I figured I was too pissed off to immediately get to work at lab, so I decided to make a quick appointment with an optometrist in town.
The optometrist informed me that I needed to know the exact amount of coverage my health insurance gave me for vision before I could get an appointment. On to calling the health insurance company then!
I called my health insurance and was put on hold (typical). I waited and zoned out not listening to the recorded message. Then the message said, “Goodbye,” and it hung up. I have no clue what led up to it saying goodbye, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t the usual hold music.
I called again and avoided the previous menu options that had resulted in the robot disconnecting me. I ended up waiting an hour on hold before I got to talk to a human person.
The whole time it faked me out by switching up which robot voices were telling me about the health insurance website. Each time the voice changed I thought I had finally reached a real person only to have my hopes destroyed.
I eventually got the health insurance and the optometrist appointment set up.
After that my day improved. I stained some worms to see if they turn blue over the next two days. I checked some injected worms to see if the DNA I injected into them had successfully integrated into their genomes. IT HAD! WOOHOO!
I called my wife to come pick up my bike during the afternoon so I wouldn’t have to walk it home. She came by and put it in the car and reminded me why I love her.
At the end of the day my wife came home with two cupcakes for me.