Friday, August 31, 2007

I will pick up batteries

I will pick up batteries this morning & be In About 830.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Class Number 2

Did a lot of wheel spinning tonight trying to see if I could find GIS data for the area of the Virginia Creeper Trail, which I will visit this coming weekend. I had limited success, and eventually abandoned the idea of doing a map related to the trail. I found some more landslide data in Buncombe county to work with. And am now working on that. But it's time to go home.

Lecture from our book, first published in 1953 and latest edition in 1995, was interesting. I think it is a good book. It has a little bit of a retro feel to it. The design and layout looks like 1970's. Pete says it is more of an overview of Cartographic concepts and technique. That seems like a good idea at this point in our GIS education.

Watch this space for an update...

Friday, August 24, 2007

Friday Night Bike Ride

The last 2 weeks at work have been very stressful. Very likely the worst ever. There was a management override of sensible priorities for preparing for the new semester. Yeah, it was bad. But we did the best we could, and continue to do so, and are making steady progress. Just a bunch of long frustrating days.

So I couldn't work my regular bike rides/exercise routine into the week. Finally it's Friday and traffic was ultra smooth on I-26 so I got home earlier than I'm used to. Nap time! Nice nap, but a little on the long side, so I groggied myself up and out for the bike ride. Pretty normal ride, but then I stopped to get a rock out of my sandal and noticed the gate was open to the old EDACO junkyard down by the river. It's all empty in there, as it is slated to become more parkland. I rode around inside the fence that I've seen for many years and never been inside of. It's a large space covered in cement that was dumped there by cement trucks with leftover loads to get rid of. The junkyard had an agreement with the cement company to accept the extra cement so that their ground was nice and covered and the cement company got rid of the excess. Apparently it is 15 feet thick in spots!

The other excitement was at the dog park, where I often stop to watch the dog antics. I stopped along the fence and noticed that someone had a Mountain Express newspaper and a library book lying there at the edge of the dog zone. I watched some dog action and then decided to get going because it was already getting dark. I got out my flashing light which I clip to my butt when I ride in the dark. As I was doing that a woman walked over, inside the fence and said, "hey, what's going on? You want to look at my Mountain Express?" I said, "no I just like to stop here and watch the dogs on my ride." What followed was about 10 minutes of very interesting conversation. It started with her pointing at what I thought were some trees along the river and saying, "you want to see something really cool?" Well, yes I did. "Look, if you look at this just right it's a perfectly formed baby frog." I'm looking at the trees for some form that looked like anything other than a tree. "NO! RIGHT HERE, ON THE FENCE!" Oh, OK, I see a tiny spider that appears to be dead hanging on the fence. And yes, it does indeed resemble a baby frog. She says, "I showed it to the girl over there and she told me, it does look like a frog but it's the SPIDER!" Several times she referred to it as *the* spider. She said she got right up to it and it didn't even budge. Yeah, I don't think it's budging at all anymore.

She then stuck some fingers through the fence and introduced herself as Christy. I made a greeting gesture by sort of holding and squeezing her fingers, since there was no possibility of shaking her hand. It was firmly wedged in the wire fence. I think it was about this time that she told me about the "little baby buzz" she had going from a beverage she was holding. It was wine, in a recycled package that was basically a juice box. Just 2 days ago, I told Jaime and/or Ken that they should put wine coolers in those juicebox containers. The conversation was one of those that is a bit of a challenge to keep up with as it bounces here and there in a totally unpredictable manner. I was trying to figure out how much of the erratic form and content of the conversation was caused by the wine-in-a-box-little-baby-buzz, and how much was just from a really outgoing and offbeat personality. I didn't really get too far on that analysis because I had to really hang on just to keep up with where the conversation was going.

Christy was a pretty woman with a sweet lilt in her southern accent. She was really friendly and seemed to be trying hard to keep the conversation going and develop it into something. My man-brain went on alert. It was thinking the situation was an opportunity. Man-brain has been on alert for opportunities for 3/4 of a year, but is in transition right now. I know why it's in transition. N is why. But knowing why doesn't change that it is still a rare and interesting experience to feel that change taking place.

I began trying to extricate myself from the conversation, I really did need to get going as the light was fading fast. I explained this to Christy after she offered to read my horoscope from the Mountain X. I told her that I needed to get going because it was getting dark, and gestured to the flashing light I had attached to my butt. She hung on and had to tell me a few things before I left. She told them with great energy and sincerity. First was the MOON, which was looking at least as fetching as Christy, about 90% full, and fuzzy and pink through the post-sunset haze. The moon she exclaimed, was 240,000 miles away, and took THREE DAYS to get to on a NASA rocket. Next, she pointed me to the North to some pretty PINK CLOUDS, and told me they were ALL in the troposphere. And that the milky way galaxy was 125 light years across, and there are billions of galaxies. And also that the earth was 15 billion years old. She pulled all these things together to say that we were small and had limited time on earth. Good points. When I first mentioned the flashing light and riding in the dark, she said something that sounded like she thought that if I was meant to be hit by a car the light wouldn't protect me. I decided not to engage her on the topic "the only fate is what we make."

She said I was neat, and I said she was neat too and finally rode off. She yelled to me that she could see my flashing light really good and I waved back. I laughed about Christy on and off for the rest of the ride. Several times out loud. It made me glad that I live where I do, so I can meet interesting people like her. Later in my ride I made my way down the relatively busy Friday night Haywood Road. Cars with loud stereos, and bikes passing me in the opposite direction. A bike passed me and I didn't get a good look at the rider. Then I started hearing, " Edward! Edward! Edward!" in increasing volume. I first thought the person on the bike was somebody I knew, but no. It was Christy driving up beside me, yelling out the car window about some other bikes with flashing lights and saying hi, and have a good night and so forth. I waved and laughed and said similar things back to her and tried to not get hit by her car. I laughed some more after that second encounter and made my way home.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Return to GIS Class!

Yes, I'm back in GIS class again, so beware that there will be new posts every week about GIS stuff rather than other stuff. It may be a good thing actually, since my blogging has slowed in recent weeks.

Pete is still the teacher, and that's good, because he loves the GIS and that makes it fun for us students. And Mary is in the class, which is also fun, because she has a good sense of humor and we need that on these long Wednesday nights. Mary totally whipped out her mad GIS skillz first thing tonight with all the pretty formatting and such on her map of the dangerous landslide site on Tunnel Rd.

I had lost significant GIS knowledge out of my brain since the last class ended in May. But it started coming back pretty well once I got into the program.

The map I made is above. If you want to see it bigger, you can click it. Showing the parcels that are located within 1/2 mile of the landslide site. I was shocked to see that my dentist office is within the danger zone. Oral hygiene is important though, so I will brave the area despite what I now know.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Bargains at the Goodwill

Yesterday I stopped at a church rummage sale and found something called the "Electric Chicken Bucket" made by the Wear Ever company. It is a pressure fryer. I couldn't resist it for $3. Apparently there is some market for these because they are no longer made. Apparently they are no longer made because people got hurt using them. 450 degree pressurized oil? I guess there would be some danger there. I don't intend to cook chicken in it, that's all I'm saying.

Today, I visited the Goodwill on my trip out of the house to avoid solitude delerium. It was also nice to get in the air conditioning for a little while. At the Goodwill I found another $3 treasure. It's the "Billie Jean King Serves You Right!" It is electric and hurls tennis balls at you for practicing. I don't play tennis, and that's all I'm saying about that.

As I carried the "Serves You Right" through the store a man asked me what it was, and I told him. He reminded me of the father in Big Fat Greek Wedding. He segued the discussion about the device, to the fact that I am young and I should have someone to play with, and then onto the topic of marriage. It ended with a few pearls of real wisdom. When choosing a wife or husband, you should not choose one that you will be scared of them leaving. You should choose one who is scared that you will leave. And since I am in my 40's, I may have a 15 year old child when I am 60, and they might resent me. I guess they would resent that I am so old?

Yeah, I think I'm skipping the kids altogether so there will be no possibility of resentment. And I kinda think it's possible to have a relationship where neither party is scared of the other leaving. I think that might work really well!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Bike Ride Route #1

GIS Class is returning to my weekly schedule soon and so I thought I would play with this junior mapping program to analyze my latest bike route. If you click those maps they will get bigger so you can see them. The elevation profile feature at the bottom is nice and shows the killer hill I go up toward the end. It's really steep. I get in the lowest gear and can't keep my usual cadence, and the front wheel makes little hops off the ground with each push on the pedals. I do stay on the seat. I'm trying to figure a ride that is longer and avoids that really steep part.

The map program says the route is about 9 miles, but my bike says it is more like 10.5. It takes me about an hour to ride it, but I usually stop at the dog park and watch the dogs for a while. Sometimes I also stop for other things, like: interesting things on the road that I need to pick up and take home, to corral a snake off the road so it doesn't get squished, to look at trains, etc. The profile says there is over 1300 feet of elevation change on the route. Half of that is going down though, and that part is easy and just plain fun.