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I invited some folks to have a picnic with me, on an island that I heard is nice and easy to get to. It was a nice time, and only cold enough for us to appreciate our jackets and hats. After some tea the sun came out, and I got a little bit of that magical autumnal feeling.


All that fresh air had everybody smiling big, and maybe a bit giddy, as you can see from the photos.

sweet gloves Seurasaari swish colors max's cafe firey fall birthday sculpture love this thing flat land big sky 101010 Sunset

And the squirrels have no fear.

seurasaari squirrel

hand in the fire

Last time I tried to put my hand in fire I looked away and didn’t feel any pain or heat, but when I looked back the flame was out. I decided that the next level is to watch and concentrate on my hand in the fire. I couldn’t find any fire this time, though. I should have conjured it up, but… that’s hard. Anyhow I found a shower and turned it to scalding and held my hand in the stream. It burned; I wanted to pull away, but I was able to remember that it wasn’t physical pain, and then it didn’t burn. It is probably easier for my brain to turn down the temperature in water than a flame, so I don’t consider this achieving the goal, but perhaps I am closer. I also dived through a plate-glass window, passing through without breaking it. That felt neat. It is strange how my dream goals get distorted.

see your friends

Saturday we set off in search of the recommended Bauhaus coffee shop, where they made a nice macchiato. The books were more for show than to be a bookshop, but I found an Atlas of 1962 and showed the World’s Fair page to my dad. He remembered being twelve and reading about the monorail and thinking that it was straight from the future. World’s Fairs are funny things, leaving strange artifacts from the past’s future in cities all over.

I got to tango to live music for the first time, which was great. The triangle needs a tango band; it’s too bad that bandoneons are so hard to come by and cost an arm and a leg, since you need both arms to play.

After the contra dance I heard about a good local act at blues bar, and tagged along with Maya and Quincy. By the time we got there I could barely hold my head up, let alone dance, but I enjoyed the music from the corner. An older guy leaned over and asked if Q & M were professional dancers, and said that they should be paid, since they were more entertaining to watch than the band.

Sunday I found my favorite street act of the weekend, The Bad Mitten Orchestre. I didn’t realize that their name is like badminton, ha. Then I found Genevieve, who has somehow been far from me for seven or eight years. If you have a good friend that been far for far too long, find any excuse you can to remedy that soon, like now! We talked about all of the different levels of communication that happen between two people, and how all that time seemed like more of a superficial distance when compared to the deeper levels of communication that were still very present, natural, and strong.

What is folk?

Seattle is cool so far. Walking too far up Pike Street last night I missed the hotel and went on to East Pike, but it was cool to see that neighborhood and there was lots going on. Somebody jumped onto the sidewalk and meowed at me, which made me happy. I saw somebody biking with an accordion strapped on their back, which was another good sign.

I made a call for Seattle suggestions and got lots, we’ll have to see what all I can hit:

  • Mango Margaritas at Agua Verde
  • Coastal Kitchen on 10th
  • The Pink Door in the market
  • Bimbos Bitchin’ Burrito Kitchen in Belltown
  • Metsker Maps
  • Bahaus coffee shop
  • Victrola Coffee shop in capital hill
  • crepes at the Joe Bar
  • Cyber Dog
  • Glo’s on Capital Hill
  • DICK’S
  • Ivar’s on the waterfront

The big draw this weekend is the Northwest Folklife Festival. Today we volunteered some, wandering around collecting $10 donations in exchange for buttons, which is a hard sell for a non-salesman like me. The bummer about a free festival is all the badgering for donations, but it is nice that everybody can come out for this.

The busking bands were the most fun to watch, but since when does every band have a washboard? I love washboards and all, but at some point it was getting hard to keep track of them all. ūüėČ Northwest Folklife Washboard Awards 2009

At one point I found myself in the middle of Seattle youth culture mishmash central. It was an overstimulating, interesting mix of hipsterpunk, harajukuhippy, drum jam next to hookah circle next to chiptune gameboy jam* next to breakdance circle. *Turns out the chiptune scene has an official venue at the festival, the 8 Bit Showcase. I love that folk festivals are broadening their horizons to be inclusive of weird and wonderful subcultures like this. What is folk?  Folk are folk.

I’ll remember my camera tomorrow.


Wordplay with Regular Expressions

Or, eat my Will Shortz.

I somehow got into a competition with a friend to think of the most words that followed the pattern of “pizza” (letter, vowel, repeated letter, vowel). The game didn’t last long, but the next day the problem was still bugging me, so I decided to write a php script to go through the scrabble dictionary and find them all, compiling a definitive list. So here they are, with the functions used to check each word:

408 "batty" words

COMP 401 == fun

I have been taking a Computer Science class this semester to hone my self-taught programming skills. I’m really glad that I decided to go through with it. It was nice to be back in the classroom, and the Prof, Dr. Stephen Weiss, made it quite enjoyable.

Dr. Weiss has been around for a large percentage of the entirety of Computer Science, and translates all of that experience into really cool lessons, asides, and tangents in the class. Before taking the class I had no idea how punch-card or tape-based systems would sort a large set of values (or do anything, for that matter). In teaching basic sort algorithms by relating them to historical systems like this, Dr. Weiss puts a more imaginable perspective on what is really going on behind the aluminum and gloss of my little lappy.

The kicker that tied this together came on Tuesday, when he described the Turing Machine, which is an incredibly simple theoretical machine, first described in 1936, that can do anything that any computer can do, from punch-card machine to MacBook Pro.

All of the assignments could be approached as puzzles, which made completing them particularly satisfying. I just finished the final assignment, a 9-square puzzle solver. You start with nine cards with values on each edge, then rearrange them, position and rotation, so that all the touching edges add up to 0. There are 49*9! (=95,126,814,720) possible arrangements, which, if you went through all of them, would take even a modern computer a while. So the problem is to eliminate possibilities as you go, which is called pruning. Here is the output of my solution:

tigers and pink flowers

in my dream tigers were all over the town, chasing and attacking us. i picked up a stool and a ruler to use as a whip, like an old-school lion tamer, but the one in the house turned out to be just a little tiger kitty. i threw him out by the scruff of his neck.

a few nights ago i had the most beautiful dream. three people were carrying me over their heads, with speed, in the shallow part of a lake. i was flying, arms out, through the branches of a tree with pink flowers. the people would respond to my shifts in weight, giving me full control over my flight.