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DC [Dec. 8th, 2018|08:17 pm]
I'm back in DC! I was here week before last for another conference, but other than meeting up with Ian for dinner one night, I hardly even left my hotel room. (There was nothing at the conference I was interested in, but one of our grants requires us to attend and present on our funded work.)

So I spent all my time at that meeting working on the research for AGU, which is what I'm here for now. I'm still working on my presentation, but after many long hours, I finally have my code for the multivariate bias correction working. Yes! Finally!

Travels today were smooth and boring. I'm staying at a (brand-new) Residence Inn that's right across the street from the convention center, which itself sits athwart the Metro station, so that's about as maximally convenient as it gets. On checking in, I realized that it's actually a little tiny apartment. It has a living room and a little kitchen! Which is actually stocked with implements of cooking and usable for the preparations of comestibles!

So I wandered over to the Safeway a few blocks east of here and picked up groceries for several meals. I figure it'll be nice to just run back to the hotel for lunch and not have to fight the crowds. (It's tricky to buy groceries when you want about a week's worth of food but nothing left over. And are trying to stick to a low-carb diet.)

I also got dinner at Sweetgreens, which is a great fast-casual chain that does big hearty salads. Thanks to Ian for pointing it out to me on the previous trip!

P.S.: Here's the description of how the multivariate bias correction works that I came up with while pondering whether I could condense it all into a single sentence or whether it would implode under the density of the jargon:

Using an augmented moving window, we detrend the data with a broken-stick regression, apply a rank transformation to extract the copula, bias-correct the copula using repeated quantile mapping of random orthogonal rotations, transform the probabilities back to variable values via a kernel density estimate of the observational cumulative distribution function integrated using the trapezoid rule, and finally restore the trend with an offset equal to the mean bias during the overlap between observations and the historical simulation; for precipitation, we also work in log space, replace sub-trace values with random uniform noise, and apply a final distribution mapping and mean scaling step at the end.

Isn't that delightfully opaque?
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We finished Pandemic [Dec. 4th, 2018|09:30 pm]
Well it's been quite a hiatus and many things have happened, but if I wait until I have the mojo to catch up on all of it, I'll never get caught up.

Karen and Chris and I finally finished our game of Pandemic Legacy! It only took 3 years. We actually won! I think we got lucky in the initial configuration of the game, and we put a lot of effort into keeping things contained, which I think was a good strategy. (Of course, we also got lucky with the inevitable rules screw-ups / accidental cheating, so that didn't hurt.)

Final game board and score under the cut!
SpoilersCollapse )

Okay, that's a thing, and therefore a post.
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Art show [Oct. 2nd, 2018|11:03 pm]
So we have this family friend, Peg, who was a friend of my mom's when I was a kid, and whose daughter Kelly was my babysitter when I was in elementary school, and whose son Gus was one of my best friends in high school. She used to be a high school English teacher, but she also painted, and since she retired and moved to Nebraska she's been doing a lot more painting.

Sunday was the closing of her art show at a gallery in Scottsbluff and also her 80th birthday, and it turns out that Scottsbluff is only a 3 hour drive away, so Jerry and I hopped in the car and took a little day trip to attend.

It was a good trip and I'm really glad we went. The drive was nice, and we got to do a bunch of spousal chatting on the way there and back. In addition to catching up with the artist herself, I also got to reconnect with Gus, who I had fallen out of touch with and hadn't seen in, gosh, fifteen years or so, and his family, and Kelly too. And of course there was the art.

I really like Peg's art, and the directions it has evolved since she retired from teaching are pretty amazing. It was a retrospective, so it had pieces going back (one or two of them older than me), and it was arranged chronologically. There were also little blurbs for each piece, and it was neat to find out the stories behind each piece, including some that I had first seen in her house when I was a kid. Plus some of the stories feature people I know (including my mom), so that was fun.

I also had never known that she majored in geology in college, and after reading her biography I realized that this style of stippling and patterning she does in the ground and the sky in the paintings sometimes -- that comes from geological maps!

She often puts super-saturated colors against dark backgrounds, which creates an effect I really like. Her work really brings out the colors hidden in the landscape, and on the drive home I felt like I was looking at the landscape around us with new eyes and a better appreciation.

Also, we bought a painting! Only a little one, but I like it very much.

Pictures (just a few, highlighting some of my favorites) under the cut. Definitely click to embiggen!

ArtCollapse )

Oh, and here's her website:
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Cheese sauce [Sep. 25th, 2018|10:19 pm]
I am feeling proud of myself for successful kitchen improvisation tonight.

I bought a whole bunch of pattypan squash and kale at the farmer's market on Saturday. (I also got the four knives that we use most frequently sharpened. Totally worth it!)

I didn't have a firm plan for what to do with them, but later on while I was at the grocery story picking up the rest of our weekly provisions, I found a recipe for a casserole on my phone that sounded good. So I picked up extra Swiss cheese and some shredded Parmesan, but then started looking at the recipe a little more and thinking, hmm, I bet this is going to turn out bland and watery.

Squash releases a lot of water when you cook it, and the recipe called for sauteing onion and kale and then adding chicken broth and cooking it "until it's absorbed", and I'm like... kale does not really absorb liquid. There was a fair amount of brown rice and bread crumbs in it that could soak up a lot of the liquid, but I was planning on leaving those out anyway (because low-carb), and again, bland, so clearly some adaptation needed to happen.

So I cubed up the squash and roasted it separately first to drive off some of the liquid and get some browning going. Sauteed the kale with onion and a bit of chicken bouillon powder. Then mixed it all together and stuck it in the fridge.

And then instead of making it into a casserole, I made a Swiss-Parmesan cheese sauce to go over the top. I was able to find a number of keto-friendly recipes, which all amount to one part each butter and cream cheese to two parts heavy cream and four parts cheese. So tonight I whipped that up. It came together pretty well, then threatened to seize and break (I think that's too much butter), but I added more cream and whisked like mad and was able to recover it.

And the result is very satisfying. The sauce is thick and rich and the flavor complements the vegetables well. There's a little too much of it (next time I won't measure the amounts, I'll just eyeball them to match), but overall I'm pretty satisfied with it.

(Are there other, less banal things going on?  Of course, but I haven't got the energy for a catch-up post, let alone trying to engage with anything more substantial, and I figure sharing A Thing is better than nothing, even if it's inconsequential.)
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Recent Recipes [Sep. 10th, 2018|10:30 pm]
Yesterday I made an eggplant-tofu stirfry, and dry-fried green beans. And last weekend, I made a big batch of ratatouille. (Hooray for big batches of farmer's market veggies that I then feel obligated to cook! And potlucks.) And the weekend before that I made a nice mustard-y coleslaw to take to a pool party. I was very satisfied with how they all turned out, so here are some recipes.

Easy RatatouilleCollapse )

Eggplant and Tofu with Garlic Black Bean SauceCollapse )

Dry-Fried Green BeansCollapse )

Mustard ColeslawCollapse )
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A new car! [Aug. 10th, 2018|10:32 pm]
The other exciting thing that's been going on lately is we bought a new car!

The minivan is pretty clearly on its last legs, so we decided to finally bite the bullet and get a new vehicle.

Jerry did a lot of online shopping and decided that a Kia Soul was a good fit for our budget that still had enough cargo room to haul a bunch of martial arts weapons around. We were able to go over to the K'GoGos' place (three? weekends ago) and were able to test-drive Cris's, which was a nice no-pressure way to check out that we really did like it.

So then we started looking for ones we could buy. I will say that the entire car-shopping process is a lot easier than it was the last time we did this. Not only is absolutely everything listed online, there are also website like cargurus that will tell you what's a reasonable price for that particular vehicle.

So Jerry did all the online shopping and I went to the credit union and got a loan preapproval and ran the numbers to figure out what we could comfortably afford and did the in-person looking at the top candidates. (Many of which had already been sold.) My mom also looked around some in Nebraska for us, since cars are often cheaper out there. She found one that was likely, but the guy selling it couldn't deal with a SMART preapproval, so that ended up being a no-go.

Anyway, after a lot of looking and prepping, we found one we liked and decided to go for it, so Thursday two weeks ago we drove all the way down to Centennial to buy it. Turns out the other thing that the internet has made easier is that you can just google "how to negotiate a car price" and get a bunch of good advice on that part of it, too. The one we were looking at had a posted price that the websites said was a fair deal. The dealer had signs posted declaring the fixed amount that they add on to the negotiated price (to cover costs and their baseline profit); we followed the tips we'd found online and got them to reduce the price by that amount, so that put us back into "fair deal" territory when all was said and done, and it was within our budget, so we decided that was good. (We figured they had come down by a fair chunk and weren't likely to come down further by that much again or even anything close to it, and we didn't care enough to spend a lot more time haggling over a couple hundred bucks, so good enough.)

The actual buying was then a little bit adventuresome, because the salesman sent us off to the finance guy, and there I discovered that I'd left my checkbook at home! Whoops! We were on a time limit at this point to get Jerry back up to Boulder for work, and we didn't want to make another trip all the way back down there to finish things off, so there was a little bit of a scramble to get it all sorted out. We figured out that we could put most of the down payment on the credit card (hey, free miles) and then we ran over to a nearby Wells Fargo to pull cash out of the ATM to cover the rest. We hit the limit on how much I could pull out with my card, but fortunately Jerry had his card, and we were able to get the other half of it with his, which gave us enough to go back and have the entire down payment we'd planned for covered and not have to redo all the financing. Woot!

So we drove home with a new car. It's a 2017 Kia Soul with only 17k miles on it. It's dark brown with a white top, and Jerry dubbed it Cappuccino (Cappy for short) because that's what it looks like. It's very nice, and we are very pleased with it.

(Postscript: To add to all the excitement, at the same time that we were dealing will all this car buying, we had a clog in the pipes that resulted in an overflow of blackwater into the laundry room. Super gross. We got a guy to come and snake the drain, and then a couple days later it overflowed again. Fortunately, this time it was only graywater from the washer. We had a warranty on the work, so the guy came back and did it again, and this time it seems to be all fixed. The basic problem is that he was going through a 1.5-inch pipe (where the overflow happened) to try to clear a 3-inch pipe where the clog was, and it's hard to get the snake in there. The other fortunate bit is that it only affected the upstairs plumbing and the washing machine drain, so we still had usable toilets, kitchen, and shower downstairs and in the basement. The previous owners of our house appear to have drywalled over the pipes where the cleanout is, so if it happens again we'll probably have to cut a hole in a wall, but at least at this point we're pretty sure where to do that, and it'll be in the garage or the laundry room. So that was an adventure. A gross, gross, adventure involving lots and lots of laundry.)
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Family weekend [Aug. 10th, 2018|10:04 pm]
My parents came to visit last weekend. They brought us a great big bowl of tomatoes and a bunch of cucumbers from their garden.

You know, when I was young, I thought I hated tomatoes. Eventually I realized that I hate bad tomatoes. You know, the styrofoam-y flavorless out of season ones you get on junky sandwiches. I love good tomatoes, although I generally pick them out of salads and sandwiches because I usually prefer them on their own. I have been eating lots of ripe tomatoes just sliced and salted, and they are wonderful.

Anyway, my step-brother's girlfriend's ex-husband (yes, really) passed away recently, so they came for memorial stuff and so on. On Saturday afternoon I drove up to Central City to join them at one of the little saloons for a sort-of-wake. We lived in Gilpin County when I was in my teens, and I actually hadn't been to Central City since they passed limited-stakes (ha) gambling. (I've been to Blackhawk, which has been utterly subsumed, but not Central City.)

I was driving up Clear Creek Canyon (which I haven't done in ages) and about five miles from town I hit a huge traffic jam that was just creeping along. (We found out later that a rock climber had fallen, and the road was actually completely closed. Yikes!) After five or ten minutes had passed and my phone was still saying that it was 36 minutes to my destination, I pulled a U-turn and headed back downhill, figuring I'd cross over to I-70, go up to Idaho Springs, and trying going up over Ohmigod Road. Once I had signal again, I discovered that actually, the Central City Parkway, which is a 4-lane highway going up over the hills from I-70 directly to Central City, is now a thing that exists. So I took that instead.

I spent all of 45 minutes there; I said hello to Dave & Michelle, saw a couple people I knew from middle school, and then Mom & Larry were heading out, so that was it for me. More of the physical town still exists than I expected (lots of old historical buildings), but the place that it was is pretty much gone.

We had a good visit while they were here; we spent a fair amount of time all sitting around the living room quietly reading together, which was nice. We took them to Wishbone for dinner on Sunday, and they headed home Monday morning.

On Saturday evening my parents were wiped out from a full day of socializing, so Jerry and I were able to go to a party at the Kuma-Go-Go's house. We stayed a lot longer than we expected to, and had lots of great socializing with chosen family and good friends. 'Twas delightful.
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CHVRCHES [Aug. 8th, 2018|11:12 pm]
I got to see CHVRCHES on Monday! Geoff (Pyro) called me up on Friday and very kindly asked if I would like to join him and Adam and Jeff L. for the show, and I allowed as how that sounded delightful, thank you very much. And indeed it was!

I slept in, worked a half day from home, and caught up on chores, then met them down at the Chop House for some dinner. (My stomach was a little off, so I had the French onion soup and a salad, and that was just right.) We did some catching up, then carpooled over to the Ogden.

There was a line, which was a little odd, because doors were supposed to be open, but we waited a bit... and then a bit longer... and a bit longer still... and it turned out that there was a power outage and they couldn't let anyone in! In the end, we stood in line for almost two hours; the doors didn't open until 9. Adam unfortunately had to bail, since he had to get up at 5 and couldn't stay out that late. And we got rained on (briefly). But really, it wasn't that bad, and mostly it was standing outside talking with friends for a long time instead of standing inside talking to friends for slightly less time before and between sets, so I didn't mind.

The opener was Pale Waves, and they were pretty decent. They also got onstage and started playing right away, which everyone appreciated. They had the bass turned way, way up, and I really dug that. (Long sustained bass synth notes at body-vibrating volume = yes please, it turns out.)

CHVRCHES finally came on at 10:30. It was an excellent show. About half the songs were off their new album (which I'd been listening to), a handful from the second album (which I have), and the rest from their first album (which I don't have but clearly need to get). "We Sink", which I hadn't heard before, is like, optimal tweedly-boop music.

Having only seen the band as animated in the video for "Bury It", they looked quite a bit different than I expected. Lauren is tiny. She could pass for about 14 years old. Iain looks like an uncle to the rest of the band. And Martin is a lot more... soft nerd than his animated self. He sang lead on two songs, and he dances like he's only partly in control of his body. It was awkward and adorkable.

They had a good light show, and the live performance added a lot to the music. And the bass! Again, so much bass. It was AWESOME and made me very happy. Even with a long wait and getting rained on, it was an excellent show with good friends, and delightful all ways round.
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Late June, Early July [Jul. 10th, 2018|10:12 pm]
A month since my last post? Bad me! Well, it's been pretty quotidian. Plenty of things, but nothing dramatic.

Some social gatherings: went to a party at Channan's and another at Mitch's on Pride weekend. Jerry made takoyaki at the latter, which was fun. Both were pleasingly low-key-but-social. Also had a Douglas over when he was in town weekend before last. And then last week on the 4th we went to Bob's and floated around in the pool for a few hours before a big thunderstorm blew in and rained/hailed us out. I did the traditional fireworks-watching in Broomfield afterwards; Jerry stayed home all tuckered out. David, who's borrowing our guest room for a while, came along to Mitch's and Bob's.

Work stuff: I had a big two-day meeting for one of our projects the week after my last post. I had to do a lot of prep, but I had my ducks in a row and got my hour-long presentation ready in plenty of time and it all went smoothly. Things are going swimmingly with my new student assistant on the fire project; she's very keen, and we were able to get code from the guy who generated a bunch of the data our collaborators are using, so it's all zipping right along. Jerry ran his first week-long martial arts camp (wooden weapons) for his school, and that went well.

Politics: Everything is on fire, but walking around in a cloud of outrage and anger just eats my time and energy without generating any kind of useful change, so I try to stay focused on doing good where I have leverage that matters, which is mostly municipal board stuff and being productive at work. I did go to a protest rally about immigration policy weekend before last. The speeches and suchlike don't do much for me, but I figured I could contribute positive vibes (and headcount), so I wandered around thanking the volunteers and telling people I liked their signs. And I ran into Joe and we discussed things like framing the issues, which will be useful at the board meeting tomorrow.

Entertainment: I read a new Bujold novel and then spent a week re-reading a bunch of her other books when I was feeling sick of my own thoughts. Ran Star Wars and the second session of D&D. Started Pandemic: Legacy back up with Karen & Chris and we may finally finish it soon! And we saw The Incredibles 2, which was enjoyable. Not fantastic -- I think the novelty of the premise was part of the joy of the first one -- but solidly entertaining.

And a couple weekends ago my ex-stepmother, Glenda, was passing through town on her way to go visit my sister Mollie (her daughter) and her new baby, so she stopped by and picked up the stuff from Grandma's house that I've been holding onto for Mollie. So I got to sort through a bunch of stuff of my Dad's to figure out what to send along to her. I found a couple letters from back when he was married to my mom, before I was born, and I realized: my father was always a really impractical romantic. (My mom confirmed this when we talked on the phone the next day.) And I think that explains a lot about our relationship. Because that is so very not me...
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Rainbow beard plus catchups [Jun. 10th, 2018|10:07 pm]

I colored my beard rainbow yesterday! Sorta for Pride, sorta just for pretty. Here's a pic of me & Monkey at Chris's birthday BBQ. Yay! This was after he had spent the day teaching small children to punch things and I had spent it at a retreat for the municipal advisory board I'm on (which was good) so we were both tired; he went home to crash not terribly long after, while I stayed to play board games (Cash & Guns and an unexpected win in 7 Wonders), but today we were both wiped and did nothing but sit at home and recuperate.

Life has been busy busy the last few weeks, although not with anything much interesting. Jerry's working more hours in the evening, so I've shifted my schedule a bit to match. Which has been helpful for getting things done; we have a new student assistant who's still in the start-up phase where she comes to ask me questions pretty frequently, and there have been lots of meetings and talks going on, so there are a number of tasks that I can get a lot more done on once everyone else has gone home and I can focus. (And it's not like my brain is ready to do much before noon anyway.) It's amazing how productive student assistants can be, even with just undergraduate levels of know-how, because they don't do anything expect work on the tasks you assign them. No emails to answer, no meetings to attend, no organizational reporting to do, no high-level planning and long-term strategizing, no projects to prioritize and deadlines to plan for, they just work on the to-do list you gave them and all of a sudden they've finished in three days the thing you were expecting to take three weeks and now you have to come up with more things for them to do!

We ran the first session of the Monster Island D&D campaign for the bears. Their party of five 3rd-level characters annihilated a "very difficult" encounter of six regular and one mutant sahaguin with clathrate grenades that theoretically should have been CR 8+, so I think they'll be able to stand up to fire-breathing T-Rexes and suchlike. I just have to finish writing up all the procedural content generation systems we're gonna use...

Went to the pool party at Bob's on Sunday of Memorial Day weekend. (Jerry stayed home and out of the sun, after spending all day at Boulder Creek Festival on Saturday for work. Happily, his neck only turned brick red, not lobster red!) Dropped by Nick's on Friday the 18th for Michael's graduation party, which means a post-college friend's child who I remember being a baby just graduated from high school, ack what is this "time" thing I'm not sure I approve.

So yeah, 'bout like that.
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