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Yesterday and today I have felt grumpy for no particular reason. Regardless, I dragged my grumpy self out of bed this morning, made a grumpy sandwich and some bread dough, and grumped on down to the boathouse. The quiet bike ride through the dawn started to ease up some of the grump.

I reached the boathouse a bit late but in time to see both Serious Double and Happy Double right as they launched. After a lap of steady-state, I caught up with them and they asked if I was interested in joining them for some 1000m race pieces. Yes.

The intensity of race pieces was a welcome distraction. We sent off Happy Double first, because they had to practice in the Maas ocean bathtub double, which added further disadvantage. After them, me, and after me, Serious Double. So I got to both chase and be chased.

I was satisfied with being back in the blue Hudson. I've made arrangements to use it for Gold Rush. Serious Double also asked if I'd be interested in a quad at Gold Rush. They barely got the words out before I said, "Yes." Somewhere around 4 sprint races in a day is my limit. It feels silly to show up for just one race, but it also takes some work to sort out good racing partners. After I rowed with M on Sunday, we chatted about Gold Rush as well, but it sounded like May was going to be just a little too hectic for her, so we agreed to look into other regattas later in the year instead.

Quads are fun.


So, yesterday I went up to Sonoma State University to give a colloquium. Google Maps' default bicycling directions would have led to a distance of around 62 miles, taking about 6 hours, which is a bit too long for a daytrip. If I had rented a car and driven, it would have taken just over an hour. But why would I do that when I could take public transit instead and leave the driving up to someone else?

You see, I live in a region with decent regional public transit, finally.

Here's the part where I struggle with the Goog's integration of things. It took some finagling to work out that I could ride my bike up to the El Cerrito del Norte Bart station/transit center, where bus 40 originates, and take bus 40 to the other end of the line at the San Rafael Transit Center. At San Rafael, I hopped onto the number 101 bus, which follows Highway 101 to the north. I missed my stop in Cotati, though - it occurred to me to start checking the map just as we pulled back onto the highway. So instead I rode the rest of the way up to the Santa Rosa, and then backtracked on the 48 to the 10. For the return trip, I walked the 2 miles back along Cotati Ave so I could catch the 101 back to the 40 and to my bicycle, and then rode in to campus to take care of some cricket work.

The outbound trip took around 3 hours, and the return trip also took about 3 hours, including the walk. Total cost, $20.30. I might have paid slightly too much because the buses here have you tap in *and* tap out with your card, and I didn't tap out on one or two of the buses. Otherwise you pay the full fare to travel the length of the entire route. Three times as long as the direct drive isn't that bad for public transit, and 20 bucks seemed like a good price to pay to have someone else do the driving. The buses weren't overly crowded and the passengers were pretty tame. I only wish I'd brought a book - not so I could read on the bus, but so I could read while waiting at the transit centers. Oh, and I wish I had a better bladder. I might have been able to find places to pee midway through the route if I'd looked.

As with the times when I drive to get places, I am grateful I don't go on this sort of long-distance commute on a regular basis.

I think my talk went reasonably well.

A friend-of-a-friend up in the Seattle area has been posting photos recently of his bike-bus-trail run triathlons. Our family tried to take public transportation to Issaquah once to go hiking, except our guidebook was too far out of date so we couldn't find the trailhead. This other guy appears to be having more success with the combination.

Under other circumstances it probably would have been useful to have brought along a bicycle for the trip.

Church of the Boat

There have been two major items on my agenda this weekend: work on organizing the bedroom, and rowing. scrottie and I spent Saturday morning on the first project and I am pleased with our progress. One of the two folding bookshelves I ordered showed up covered in mold, so I was only able to re-shelve about half of the things from the Gorm onto the non-moldy shelf, but it's progress. I also managed to fit S's deep wooden shelf into the closet, where it is helping to improve accessibility to various closet items. That part of the room isn't photo-ready just yet, but it's getting there. I gave the Gorm to S for more of his things because it's hard to do stuff if all of one's things are packed away too tightly.

With that stuff all pretty well situated, I headed down to the boathouse for the first of two workdays. One of the main agenda items is to repaint the boathouse, so Saturday was largely devoted to painting preparations. There were some interesting elements to the preparation. For one thing, due to its location, the boathouse periodically gets sketchy nighttime visitors who do things like climb up onto the roof or decorate it with graffiti. The City of Berkeley requires that the paddling/rowing club paint over any and all graffiti within a week, so the sides of the building that have been tagged more frequently have also been hastily repainted more frequently, and there's a fair amount of paint buildup.

In addition, it's an old building, apparently a temporary schoolbuilding that got repurposed, so the wood is showing its age, and the side that gets tagged the most is also the side that is most exposed to the sun.

Those of us who were equipped with various types of paint scrapers thought we were doing a reasonable job of stripping down some of the most weathered bits, but while doing so we also agreed that it was hard to know when to stop. After about two hours of this, the guy in charge (JD) said he thought we'd made good progress and could probably wrap things up soon. So almost everybody tidied up and took off shortly after 2 pm. Then JD got his hands on the pressure washer, which he'd previously handed off to someone else, and went back over the west wall:

Boathouse painting prep

A whole bunch of additional paint came off, and other sections loosened up due to the moisture from the washing to the point where it was possible to pull off large strips of paint with our bare hands. So I stuck around with the other two guys who had also lingered (=4 of us total) and we continued to scrape and peel. It's still hard to know where to stop. In a few spots, where the wood started to come off with the paint, I would take one of the scraping tools and clip off the paint strip so I wasn't removing any of the underlying wood.

JD says that he's thinking that next Saturday we'll finish out the prep work by going over things with an orbital sander, and then we will do some priming and caulking with painter's caulk. Hopefully that will get things into sufficiently good shape for a number of additional years. So much of painting is the prep work. Then we'll switch our focus to other tasks, such as replacing the dock.

The whole work party strongly reminded me of the church work parties I used to attend with my parents when I was a kid. That sort of physical work is a rewarding way to feel like I am giving back to a community that's important to me. S reminded me that a lot of bike co-op projects have been like that, too. Another benefit of going to help out was the chance to get to know the other rowers and paddlers better. Hopefully we'll see a few more people out on the water on weekday mornings.

On Sunday morning, I went back to the boathouse and went for a row with M in the Maas 2x. We would have tried out the club's Pocock 2x except we learned its riggers were broken. Regardless, the Maas was fun and M got me to do some work at a higher stroke rating, out of my zone of complacency. We aren't a perfect match but I think we'll be able to make things work and enjoy ourselves. Her schedule is on the crazy end of the spectrum, so we'll only manage to row together periodically. But those occasions should do good things for both of us.


Three recent things, illustrated

Thing 1: sytharin took us to Nabolom Bakery this morning, and the baked goods were as good as promised. Good drip coffee, too. We were all glad we brought our reusable mugs with us.


RAC got an especially tasty multi-grain hearty cheese twist pastry. I love raspberry scones, and had one of those, plus the pictured almond croissant, which was also great.

Thing 2: Here's our starting point for the Bean of the Month Club:


Have you heard of any of these before, and know of anything to do with them? Otherwise we'll just be winging it. I don't know of good things to do with lima beans in particular.

The other recent curiosity at Monterey Market is "lupin flour." Apparently it's an alternative to soy, although it's also leguminous and may trigger reactions in people who avoid soy for allergy/intolerance reasons. I'm mostly interested in it as an alternative to agribusiness, so I'll try some out once I've used up my current stock of soy flour. So far I have crossed off gram flour (chickpeas) and hemp flour as possible alternatives. Gram flour has too much flavor and hemp flour generates bad gas.

Thing 3: I finally captured a photo of Princess TinyCar in the back of a moving truck!


The story is even more fun (for me to tell, at least), just based on how a bunch of logistics have unfolded, and thanks to a happy ending (for now). Here's the short version. One of the projects that scrottie put a bunch of effort into just prior to moving out here was getting plates for PTC. That involved a series of overhauls/tunings of things (=considerable time and effort) and then spending quality time working on car insurance and then at the Arizona DMV, where he learned he'd need an emissions test, which then failed, unsurprisingly. He couldn't store PTC in AZ without a license plate and was concerned that it would be even harder to get a license plate in CA, so this was cause for additional stress on top of the usual stresses of moving. Based on the timing for returning the moving truck when it was due (11 am Wednesday), we worked hard on Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning to get the truck unpacked of everything other than PTC. In this photo, we're about to wheel the motorcycle down the ramp. Then S took PTC, still in the moving truck, over to the CA DMV.

He has observed that whenever a person goes to the DMV, the trip generally involves missing at least one meal, because you have to get there sufficiently early in the morning that they get to your number before closing, and then you'll probably be waiting until after lunch before they actually call your number. Given PTC's age, in CA the only thing she needed for a license was a vehicle inspection to verify the VIN. It sounds like the inspectors were amused by S's method for bringing PTC to the DMV, and were also amused by her because she's an entertaining older vehicle (so tiny!). California car culture has a lot of downsides, but for once it greased the wheels in our favor.

Then he brought PTC back over to the house and used his hand-winch to extract her and park on the street. He was late in returning the moving truck but also miraculously avoided late fees there. Phew.

Yesterday, while parked out on the street, she got her first love note ("My friend would really like to buy your car, here's my friend's phone number!").

Silver Kaschper; Intervals

scrottie informed me last night that he would be tremendously disappointed if I didn't make it rowing this morning. Then the crazy neighbors started running a vacuum cleaner at 4:50, so I was wide awake when the alarm went off at 5 am anyway. So, up and at em!

I took out the silver Kaschper. Its balance point is closer to the bow than the balance point on the blue Hudson. It feels like it weighs about the same amount, but at the same time it doesn't seem like it should. It just feels like there's a small brick wedged somewhere in the middle of the boat for no good reason. However, the tracks are in better shape, the seat is comfortable, and it has a stroke coach mount but a broken impeller.

If it's really supposed to be a men's lightweight boat for 145-175 pounds, it seems to me like it's rigged way too high (not adjustable) and the shoes are too big. If I take it out again I'll repeat the trick of stuffing the "oarlock mittens" into the shoes because the velcro style isn't great.

Other than that, it rowed like a Kaschper. Kaschpers always feel like sitting on top of a platter. They handle well in perfectly flat water, and I felt much less "loosey-goosey" in the Kaschper compared to the Hudson. On the other hand, I didn't feel like the extra stability made much of a difference to my overall speed. Even if I'm less stable in the Hudson, I think I like the Hudson's responsiveness better; it provides more positive reinforcement when I row well.

It has been interesting, getting to test out and compare a bunch of different singles within a fairly short timeframe. Hudsons still get my overall stamp of approval for solid boats that handle well in a range of conditions. Pococks do in some circumstances, although I haven't tried out any recent Pocock singles, just their sweep boats. [I do enjoy getting to row in old wooden Pococks and it would be awesome to try one out now.] THe newer Pococks aren't fun for novice crews (stick those novices back in a mediocre Vespoli), but they FLY when they are rowed hard at speed. I think I'd grant the Empacher a seal of approval as well, and Resolutes are also good.


The sky was just getting light when I got to the boathouse. Even though I felt like I was still dragging from carryover from hauling boxes on Tuesday, I asked the Serious Double if I could join them for some interval pieces. We did 3 sets of 9 minutes of 45 seconds on, 15 seconds off, and, once again, they mowed me down each time.

J gave me a good ribbing for making excuses at the beginning. It was funny because I can't tell you how many bike rides I have gone on that start out with a bunch of guys accumulating and muttering excuses, and then throwing the hammer down anyway. Generally there aren't people present at the beginning who go, "Oh, come on! Just suck it up! I don't care what your excuses are, let's ride bikes!" And J *does* know that in spite of any excuses I won't let up, even if I am tired or whatever. That's good rowing attitude. Egos don't matter, and your speed against the other boats doing pieces doesn't matter, so long as when the command to "Go!" is called you pick up the pace and give it your best. It really is more fun when there are more boats out to race, and there are always points where it's possible to regroup and try again.

And even when my forebrain is going "Ooof!" my hindbrain has been doing this sport for long enough that it knows to never let up when the power is on. And by the end of the morning, we were all relieved to be done and to know that we'd put in some good work on the water.


Stuck point again

After another day of muddling along on the cricket video project, let's see.

I figured out that I needed to be using Cygwin with admin permissions, so that helped. I reran cron-config, and then set up my crontab thus (after fiddling around for a little while to sort out the vim editor, which for some reason didn't behave in the same fashion as when creating and editing a shell script):

* * * * * echo "Cron test at $(date +\%k:\%M)" >> /cygdrive/c/Crontest.txt 2>&1

(can anyone tell me what the 2>%1 at the end of the line is doing??)

With this, if I type in "net start cron," this will write to a text file on the C drive every minute, which is a nice test. Of course, this also required some head-scratching to learn that the method for escaping the little Cygwin universe is to put "/cygdrive/c/" in front of the file destination.

But what I actually want to do is run a shell script and then deposit the contents in a directory.

My test shell script is as follows:

while [ $FRAMES -le 4 ]
filename=$(date +"%Y%m%d_%H_%M_%S").jpg
wget http://www.acromyrmex.net/rebeccaheadshot.jpg -O $filename
FRAMES=`expr $FRAMES + 1`
sleep 5s

In a nutshell (help! I'm in a nutshell!), this goes to my website and grabs my picture 4 times and saves it with 4 timestamps.

But when I tried to test this by appending a second line to my crontab file:

40 13 * * * /TestingScripts/TestTimeGrab.sh >> /cygdrive/c/Users/rebecca/TestPhotoGrabs/ 2>&1

Nothing happened. I suspect I'm not asking it to run the shell script correctly, or there's something else that's weird going on. I could check "cronevents" to see if there are any hints, if that's helpful.

This all seems like it should be so straightforward to do, but, as discussed with scrottie, it kind of involves a combination of dealing with annoying aspects of Windows PLUS annoying aspects of Unix, plus me having to learn my way around the vim editor and Cygwin peculiarities.

On the other hand, if I can get this configuration all sorted out, I'll be well on my way to getting some video collected so I can see how bad things are going to get with BioTracker. And, having done that part of things, I'll be nicely set up to start collecting lots of useful and interesting behavioral data.

In the meantime, I think I'm going to plug away at something that's a little more straightforward today - namely, measuring the carbohydrate content of cricket blood (hemolymph).


Getting scrottie all settled in has been a project, but not an insurmountable one, nor nearly as exhausting as getting all my junk situated, even if I am a little worn out this morning. It's certainly motivating me to devote further energy to the storage and management of my own stuff, as noted yesterday.

Here's a thing that drives me crazy: California closets with those double sliding doors. The first time I had to deal with one of these was the first place where I lived in grad school. What's the point of this obnoxiousness? Sliding doors make it overly difficult to access the closet contents. Maybe they theoretically make a space look more neat by hiding all of one's junk? Maybe they are okay if the only thing they contain is clothing? But even so, no matter what you do, you wind up having to slide the two doors over to one side, then slide the two doors over to the other side, so at that point, the doors are just a barricade preventing you from extracting a thing or putting a thing away and moving on with your life. Accordion-style doors make way more sense.

I think I'm going to remove the doors from the current California closet, and then maybe things will improve. I don't have a tremendously huge amount of clothing hanging up in there, so most of the closet serves as easy-access storage for things like the toolbox anyway.

Further scripting adventures

Documented here so that perhaps if I have to go through this whole rigamarole again, I'll at least have a starting point over the current round of *headbonk*.

Yesterday I spent an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out why I couldn't get a test script to run correctly using "while." Eventually, crying on the inside, I resorted to just typing in the whole sequence at the command line in Cygwin, and things ran just fine. So then what. Was I specifying the incorrect flavor of shell script? I ran around and looked at various variations on shell scripting. That didn't seem to be the problem. After a ridiculous period of time passed, I learned that Notepad++ for Windows is evil (explanation is basically buried in there). I rewrote the script using the vi editor and it worked. Hooray/phew.

Then, back to the matter of scheduling the script to run at a certain time. cron is almost definitely the answer, but for whatever reason I looked at a couple of other things first, before running out of time, because it looked like there were some mildly elaborate steps involved in setting up cron and there should be a simpler way for such a simple project. It seemed like "at" would be a good solution but the Cygwin command line informed me that it's deprecated and I should use "schtasks.exe" instead. Cue some more flailing around with schtasks, where eventually I got things to emit "Success!" except the test script didn't appear to run at the supposed scheduled time. Everything else pointed me at Microsoft's Task Scheduler, but I just can't get behind the notion of dealing with Microsoft GUI junk. "Click this thing in this window and then that thing in that window." Yuck.

So today I shall read some more cron setup tutorials and maybe someday soon I'll manage to schedule some overnight image collection so I can see how bad the glare is from the IR lights on the webcam at night.





Stuff Management [The boy is back in town]

(I have got to get a better song stuck in my head!)

scrottie has returned! As he has put it, this is the third time that Princess TinyCar has gotten a ride in the back of a moving truck. He managed to avoid outbound traffic in Phoenix, and inbound traffic in the Bay Area, by driving in the middle of the night, but not traffic around Los Angeles. Also, what is up with the terrible freeway pavement quality in the Bay Area, anyway?

Regardless, now that he's here, it's time for another round of Fitting Too Much Stuff Into Small Spaces, wahoo! Most of his belongings are headed for a nearby storage unit, but of course a person needs some room for day-to-day personal possessions, too. So I am going to pull the sewing machine out of its cabinet and will stick it on my desk while I refinish the cabinet. I don't know where it will live after that.

Under certain conditions, I would embrace the mantra of "adding more storage space will just encourage the accumulation of more junk." However, under the present circumstances, I think we're justified in adding just a bit more storage space in order to try and make the existing space more functional. Once I've had a chance to save up some more funds, I'm eyeing a futon bed frame that has space underneath for a couple of drawers, kind of like the bed/trundle bed combo that my brother and sister used as kids. What we need is the ability to access and use stuff, which in the long run will actually contribute to ensuring we have a good "stuff" ratio going.

Meanwhile, I bit the bullet and got two more folding-stackable bookcases to upgrade the Gorm to something that will do a better job of holding books and related items.

I'm going to have to keep working on management of the stuff in the closet, too. Those boxes of academic papers in particular still need to be dealt with. That's probably going to call for a good scanner.

My stuff, it owns me.


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