Gone sideways

June 19th, 2007


Melissa Loewen

June 16th, 2007


Sunday, the last time I saw you, you said I seemed worried I would never see you again.

I am glad that I called you after that, this Wednesday, but I now I wish I had called you Thursday, and Friday, and, hell, every other day this week. In our last conversation, we talked about how stressful the end of the school year was for you, with the report cards to complete and events which needed planning. How you had finally negotiated a lighter teaching load for next fall. I was going to come play trombone for your students this coming week. We talked about going hiking this weekend — how you needed to get in shape for your trip to Australia, where you'd be celebrating your 30th birthday with your best friend. (Though you would never tell us exactly what day that was.)

You'd been saving for years to make that trip, and it was only two weeks away. It was exciting.

It isn't right that you died Friday, in a car accident. Weren't you the first person I really opened up to in this city? Mightn't you have been the first person I called if this had been someone else?

Others affected:

I have disabled comments on this post, but please do share your memories at Dave King's page.


June 12th, 2007


I think I'd seen several photos of Theo Jansen's Strandbeesten before, but I don't recall seeing them in motion before today's post on wohba.

That's truly incredible to me. These are huge structures made out of electrical conduit pipe that actually walk along the beaches of Holland, powered by the wind. I was further entranced by a 20-minute video of Theo Jansen talking about his creations, though it's a bit of work to unravel his design process from his artistic schtick.
Theo Jansen

Not that I care much - I just like to watch.

May 28th, 2007

We’ve been having some pretty big self-control issues with an unnamed child. And I’ve found myself yelling a lot in response to some of these actions. I hate myself for it. She hates herself for it. Together we’re a mess. I spent about 30 minutes tonight surfing the web looking for a magical cure to teach self control to my child.

And then I remembered - I also have self control issues. Maybe if I did a better job with mine, she’d do a better job with hers?

After our episode tonight in which I apologized (again) for my response and she apologized (again) for her behavior, she came in my room, shut the door, and sat down on the bed with me. She looked at me and sighed. She said, “Life.” I looked at her and said, “I know, sweetie.” She sighed again and said, “Sin.” I nodded back and said, “Yes. I know.”

(from halfpinthouse dot com)

"Venture the Void" review

May 24th, 2007

Venture the void

Calvin's game Venture the Void was recently reviewed on GameTunnel. It received a combined score of 7.0/10 and a "Silver Award", ranking fourth of the ten reviewed games - just beneath the latest episode of Sam and Max. Isn't it time for you to discover your outer space style?

Live from Calgary

May 24th, 2007

Calgary - May 24

The winning boat design

May 19th, 2007

Canoe plans

So here's the next boat I am going to build. It's a tandem canoe from JEM Watercraft. I decided to go with someone else's design to learn a bit about building something on this scale, and in the hopes that the entire process will go quickly. This needs to get done before the end of summer. I chose this particular one for the following reasons:

  • It's stitch-and-glue plywood construction - meaning you basically cut out the plywood panels, fix them together and wrap the whole thing in fiberglass. One of the quickest ways to make a boat.
  • The geometry is fairly pleasing for a stich-and-glue boat. I wanted some tumblehome, and it's here.
  • The designers included estimates of time and costs on their website, which made it easier to see what I was getting myself into.
  • It's called the Merrimac! (I'm from Missouri.)

So that's that. There is still much to do.

  • Get a vehicle for moving plywood and/or boats around.
  • Get Canadian driver's license, registration, and insurance for said vehicle.
  • Get all the necessary tools and supplies.
  • Build the thing.
  • Find someone to go floating with!

I'll keep you posted.

PS - I built the paper model from a thesis draft in about an hour. I expect the real boat to take a bit longer - maybe two hours??

abstract + snail = EVIL

May 19th, 2007

abstract + snail = evil

Vertical alignment of subfigures in LaTeX

May 17th, 2007

(Update: Several people are finding this page through a search engine, which is little surprise since I had a great deal of trouble finding the answer to this problem. However, I've bookended the $\LaTeX$ stuff with some banal life events, so you'll have to scroll down a bit to find the answers to your $\LaTeX$ woes.)

So, the landlord came in today to fix some things.

I tried to give him as much space as possible, since I find it hard to hide how frustrated he can make me. The last time I saw him, he complained about everything: from the hinge on the screen door that had rotten out, to "clothes on the floor" of our bedrooms.

My room had one (1) shirt on the floor. That is a miracle. Though I guess people complained about free manna from heaven as well.

But the other day while I was gone, he came with his wife and they talked to Lisa. I don't know what she said to them, but when he came back today, he didn't have anything negative to say. He fixed the screen door and trimmed the yard while the plumbers were busy working on our leaking taps.

Lisa has a degree in International Relations.

Now, it was probably best that I said little to him, since I didn't want to change his mood. Instead I sat in my room trying to get my figures to look right in $\LaTeX$. They were all printing on separate lines, but I found the subfigure package which allows the creation of, well, subfigures, which can all go on one line or be formatted into whatever kind of tables you would like.

The only problem with this is I was generating the figures with the xymatrix command in the xy-pic package. The captions on the subfigures refused to align vertically, even though all the documentation I could find insisted that this should be the default behavior. I even tried the subfig package, which is supposed to be more advanced in some ways, but got the same behavior. I still don't understand exactly what is going on, but from this newspost, I gather that xypic doesn't set some kind of baseline in a reasonable place, and so you have to fudge it by wrapping the xymatrix in code like this:

\raisebox{\depth}[\totalheight][0pt]{ ... }

Which is frankly quite mysterious to me. But I created a macro to handle it, and indeed, the figures then aligned vertically as I expected them to.


The only problem then was that many of my diagrams are low-width posets, so their captions
which is quite annoying. But since all my captions are rather short, using the \widthof command from the calc package I was able to whip something up to ensure that those figures are better spaced:

\newcommand{\widesubfigure}[2][\@empty]{\hfill \subfigure[#1]{ \makebox[\widthof{(m)~#1}]{#2}} \hfillmbox{} }

This sets the width of the figure to be at least the width of the caption, and automatically adds some whitespace to the sides to ensure even horizontal spacing on the page.

So, now all my figures are arranged nicely, and I just have to fix their content.

The landlord and plumbers are coming back tomorrow to fix the leaking tub. Calvin estimates that the tub leaks 144 liters (36 gallons) of water everyday, costing roughly $5.00 per month.

Really, though, it isn't right to waste water, no matter how cheap it is.


May 6th, 2007

Interesting photo.

(Seriously, check this one out.  You won't regret it.)