Thursday, May 29, 2008

Tonight's dinner

... Brought to you by the color yellow (mango, corn) and the letter C (cumin, cayenne, corn) :)

Schmap guide book

Two years ago, when I was in LA for Thanksgiving, I went down to the Getty Villa (thanks, Marc!) and took some pictures on a beautiful sunny day. I eventually posted them on Flickr, where they were discovered by the people from Schmap. Last week, I was notified that my picture of the Getty Villa fountain (right) will be included in their California guide!

Pretty cool!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

We do cool stuff!

I am fully aware of the fact that I work in a rather specialized part of industry/academia -- supercomputing has always seemed sort of esoteric and "out there" to most people, even though they watch the weather forecast every day (generated with a supercomputer), drive in cars and fly in planes that were designed with supercomputers, watch movies made on supercomputers (Pixar, DreamWorks Animation) ... and don't get me started about all of the Procter & Gamble products, like coffee cans and diapers and Pringles. But still, a topic that tends not to be too mainstream -- unless you watch Numb3rs. :)

Here's a real-world application that, while it's a little scary, is definitely the wave of the future. One of the supercomputers here at TACC directed a laser in Houston that was doing surgery on a dog! Pretty cool, huh?

Before you ask, we never found out the dog's name, and while the surgery was successful, the dog had to be put down afterwards. :(

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

wind turbine blades in transit

Driving back from a conference in Houston, we passed three pairs of these (two turbines worth). They're enormous!! Must be headed for the wind farms in west Texas.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Gotta love Mike Rowe and the Discovery dudes!

Have you seen the "Boom dee-ah-dah" commercials for Discovery? Here's a stage version, with Mike Rowe, Bear Grylls, Ben Bailey and the Deadliest Catch captains (yay!)... and another guy I don't recognize (with good hair).

Update: I have now been educated. The guy with the good hair is Josh Bernstein, formerly of the History Channel's "Digging for the Truth." He's moved over to Discovery, but I don't think his new show has started yet. Yes, he's a nice Jewish boy, but apparently he's looking for a "tall blond Jewish girl who is interested in the environment." As Eliz. says, we'll have to figure out how to make me taller. The hair dying is easy! Of course, I also have no urge to live in a yurt in Utah, so that might be a challenge. ;)

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The boys are back!

There are parts of my past that I don't talk about often. Other than my junior year in Spain, I don't talk about college much, and I hadn't spoken to anybody from Rutgers in many many years. Lo and behold, one of the guys I used to hang out with at RU looked me up on LinkedIn and sent me a message. And presto! I have three old friends back! So here's a little of my backstory, brought to you by the reminiscing I've been doing since I heard from Arc two weeks ago.

At the end of my freshman year in college, I made friends with a bunch of odd guys in my dorm. And when I say odd, I mean, interesting, different, funny, strange, goofy... They were mostly roommates -- Chuck and Adam, Bill and Chris (aka Arc), Tom, Ken (Clubber), Jason and Chad. I don't know how I hooked up with them, but by the time I left for my trip to Spain after sophomore year, I couldn't imagine how I was going to live without them.

We watched a lot of Star Trek: TNG and played a lot of card games and ate pizza at odd hours. Let's see. Chuck was (probably still is) a pyromaniac. He set all kinds of things on fire, including his roommate's desk, with a nice splash of WD-40. We didn't particularly like his roommate that first year (Joel). I don't remember Adam until sophomore year, when he became Chuck's roommate. Chuck and I had a "thing" at the end of freshman year, and then I spent most of my sophomore year trying to find someone else... and failing, so Chuck and I had more of a "thing" at the end of sophomore year. ;) Chuck was also a serious pool player, with his own cue, so we spent a lot of time shooting pool at the student center. I have to say, it was a little depressing to lose so often.

Bill and Chris were sort of the odd couple... Bill was soft and round, and Arc was tall and angular (his name was Arc -- short for Archimedes -- because he could tell you the digits of Pi to the 200th digit, or something like that). They were hilariously funny together, and well-matched as roommates. Arc dressed all in black, and used to ride around on his bike and hum the wicked witch music from the Wizard of Oz. Arc was also the one who took my name and rearranged the letters to turn me into "Yamless," which is what they all called me after that.

The first time I met Tom, or at least, one of the first things I remember about Tom, was cleaning up after him after he'd had a few too many to drink. Tom was the one with the weight bench in his dorm room, where they all gathered to show off how much they could bench press with their shirts off. Tom knew he was going to be a lawyer from the beginning. He and I were the only non-engineers in the bunch, so we were frequently the only people in the dorm on exam nights.

The other future lawyer was Jason, though he started off with an engineering degree. He split his time with a different crowd (they thought they were waaay cooler than we were) but he was just as geeky as the rest of the guys -- he just didn't like to admit it.

Ken (whom we called Clubber, after Rocky's opponent in Rocky III) had been a wrestler in high school and liked to show off his bod. He was always running around barefoot, and could pick things up with his toes. Sophomore year, he went out with a girl named Tammy, who got him hooked on baby food. (I never understood that one.) Ken was always good for a hug. Of course, he used those opportunities to try to guess my bra size, but that was to be expected, I suppose... we were in college. :) Ken's sophomore roommate was 32 years old: Clay was a Marine who came back to school so he could get an engineering degree and make better weapons. Clay and I were good friends - he was one of the only people I could talk about politics and current events with (although he was a rabid Republican, so we did plenty of arguing!)

Chad was a freshman in our dorm sophomore year. He was awkward and geeky, like the rest, so he fit in perfectly. If there wasn't anything else going on, we watched ST:TNG in Chad's room every afternoon before we went to dinner. Chad, Bill and I went to see Bryan Adams in concert at the Meadowlands. (yes, I said Bryan Adams. shush.) I am ashamed to say I can't even remember Chad's last name right now.

So, like I said, an odd bunch of guys. But these guys were my life. I used to get funny looks from other girls when we all walked into the dining hall together, but really, they had nothing to be jealous of. (well, except Ken and Tom, I suppose, who got all the female attention.) When Star Trek: Generations came out, we all went to see it together -- I think there were a dozen of us -- two *in uniform* (Tom, Chuck) and the rest in ST t-shirts. We were nerds, but it was fun. :)

When the time came to go to Spain for my junior year abroad, I was sad to leave all the guys. They were sweet, promised to write, and gave me a pink teddy bear to take with me. I slept with it every night, and I still have it! They wrote to me at least once. heh. (Boys! what did I expect?)

This trip down memory lane is thanks to Arc, Ken and Tom, who have all emailed me in the past week. They're all married (or effectively married), with a total of six kids between them. I don't know if I'll see any of them soon, but it's so neat to catch up and hear what they've been up to.

Here's a picture from Bill's wedding 10 years ago that one of the guys sent me. L-R that's Jason, Arc, Chuck, Tom, Bill, Ken, Adam, and Chad. I have to say, they hadn't changed much since graduation at that point.... I wonder if the ensuing decade has made much of a difference?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Theme overload!

I've been to enough Disney parks to note how theming can be done well (like, say, the Indiana Jones ride, with creative things to look at while you're standing in line, and John Williams music playing in the background), and let me tell you, the Great Wolf Lodge needs a lesson. Yikes! Once you get past the giant wooden (or faux wooden) wolves in front of the hotel, you are accosted by a theme-filled lobby: stuffed wolves on platforms on either side of the fireplace, three stories high... a clock-tower with a Pocahontas-style Indian that animates in a show three times a day... there's even a little fiberglass squirrel sitting on top of the trash can -- creepy! Then when you get to your room, the wallpaper is bears, wolves, moose and elk (see picture of bathroom wallpaper) ; the sofa pattern is bears and moose... the rustic wooden furniture is everywhere. Bleh.

Oh right, forgot to mention that, much as I tried to stay home for an entire month, I ended up having to come speak on a panel at a meeting in Cincinnati. Back home tomorrow, thunderstorms permitting.

Update: And while I'm posting, I should add that the Ben Stein movie is now #12 on the list of top grossing documentaries of all time. Double-bleh.