About chrisglick

Former English professor in Japan, current electrical engineer. Strida owner.

Volunteering with Habitat for Humanity

This morning I volunteered for a second day with Habitat for Humanity. We were supposed to paint the outside of a house to which we applied primer two weeks ago; however, it was raining—brief lightning, too—so we wound up working on the interior. The future Habitat homeowners putting in their required hours mainly worked on painting the doors. I wound up doing much caulking of baseboards and shelves, but I also sawed some boards to become shelves and secured shelves with a nail gun. Good stuff!

Helping people build homes is enjoyable, and it also gives exposure to a number of tools, methods, and people. The Tucson branch doesn't have any volunteering during July, because it is too hot. If more openings come up, I will volunteer again later this year.

Memorial Day Weekend on Saguaro Lake

My friend and I towed his boat up to Saguaro Lake this Thursday. We quickly found that the work he had had done was inadequate: Every time we turned off the engine or ran at near-idle speed for more than a few minutes, one cylinder would quit firing. Thankfully we had multiple spares, so we could rotate through them and generally maintain performance.

But the throttle linkage seemed wonky as well, with irregular fluctuations, one of which tossed me backward from the bow. My rear still hurts from that fall.

Our first night was spent camping on a floating dock without cleats about midway to the dam at the opposite end of the lake. Early Friday morning I woke to feel four steps on my chest followed by a flop flop of wings right by my ear. Some largish bird had used me as a runway. Shortly thereafter we pulled over to the secured dock to check out the campground, which was very nice: at least twenty sites, ample shade trees, and a toilet. But someone else had set up their boat in preparation for a horde of revelers that would arrive throughout the day.

After cruising up and down the lake and refueling, we met my father and step-mother for Fish Friday at the marina's restaurant. Not bad at all! But when we returned to the campground dock, there was barely an opening. We managed to squeeze in, which brought some people convinced our boat was going to bump into theirs. We apparently defused the tension, but probably the revelers' drinking helped them forget all about us. They cranked music until midnight, but the Mr. Microphone sessions thankfully ended around 10. Few had expected the night temps to drop into the 50s, so there was a late-night exodus back to the marina and onward to homes and hotels.

Saturday was a repeat at the campsite, with even more boats tied three abreast. This time, however, people were prepared for the cold. During the day, a Phoenix friend came and we drove him up to the dam. On the way back, we stopped at a party beach where we met, unexpectedly, another Tucson acquaintance. Drinks in buggies had driven overland to the beach, and one poor guy managed to roll his on the beach. People got together to right it, only to find his head gashed badly. Thankfully another boater and hockey enthusiast had superglue on hand, which was used in lieu of stitches. On our way back to the marina, we saw the State Patrol boat stop at least one boat for unknown transgressions.

Sunday morning we decided to call it quits, but we had learned it will be worth going up for the campground on non-holiday weekends.

Starting with Ruby

Recently I was digging through the many PDF and other ebooks that I have purchased and found Learn to Program by Chris Pine. The book has a publication date of 2011, but I have no idea when I bought it, so I started looking into it. Rather than a philosophical approach to programming, it introduces the reader to programming with Ruby. As with nearly all introductory books, this one is easy to get moving with. The concepts are almost universal, so I have been making nice progress. However, Python is what I really need to be working on.

A blurb I read somewhere claimed that Ruby draws on the best of Perl, a language I never touched, but I once read it was developed by a linguist, which explains some of its quirks. Since I once studied linguistics, that made me chuckle. All the same, the linguistic basis might explain some of the nifty string methods in Ruby.

Oh, I also upgraded the default Ruby installation on Mac OS X to 2.5.0. I picked up some nice gems, too.

Atop Pikacho Peak

On Sunday some friends and I decided to go up Pikacho Peak, a peak that stands alone along Interstate 10 and is notably tall with sheer faces. When driving past it on your way between Tucson and Phoenix, you can't miss it. It is now an Arizona State Park. But you might wonder what it looks like from the top, and whether anyone can get up there.

We started about 8:45, later than we wanted but fortunate on an oddly chilly morning. The lady at the entrance collected our $7 fees and reminded us to wear hiking boots and carry two or three liters of water. I went with Chuck Taylor high top sneakers and six liters.

The start seemed not too worrying but soon it was uphill and the water began to weigh.

Once we got to the base, the wheezing and pounding hearts stopped. Things levelled off for a while, but we were soon near edges, seeking footholds and toeholds, and pulling ourselves up on steel cables.

The pictures that can do the most challenging parts of the ascent justice are those where you least want to free a hand or set down a backpack to fetch a camera or phone.

The climb took almost two hours for me, although others in better shape clearly go up in less time. Near the top, you might be pleased to note you are higher than most of the birds living on the peak fly at. There is some satisfaction in looking at hawks from on high.

There are actually two peaks, the shorter of which was far less crowded. Regardless of the peak, you can see entire trains, areas watered and not, and more.

The return was not the knee killer I had feared. However, it was turning almost crowded with all the people coming up. We had to stop in places to let others pass including some older people with what looked like ski poles and a surprising number of foreigners. There were also pairs of young people carrying no water whatsoever. They were not going to be very comfortable. I ended up drinking about two liters, but I should have drunk more.

Sure enough, I wound up with two blisters on my toes, but my shoes are now broken in for the next excursion.

The next day my calves were very stiff, but it was well worth it. That said, I don't know whether I will be in a rush to go up Pikacho Peak again.

A Student to Marry

I greatly enjoyed most of my Japanese students and colleagues, but I have retained contact with only a few of them. Most of my acquaintances are from my Tokushima University days, during which my Japanese ability began to improve and the size of the city, smaller than Sapporo and Tokyo, helped me get to know people better. My last unwed student recently sent photos of the man to whom she is now engaged, who proposed by writing "Please Marry Me Rie" in fruit syrup on a dessert plate at dinner.

Congratulations Rie!

Display non-Roman Script in Seasonality Go v4.0

One of my favorite applications for Apple products is Gaucho Soft's Seasonality, which I have been using for years. It is a great weather monitoring application, with the particularly nifty animation of particles indicating wind temperature, direction, and velocity.

The iOS version is Seasonality Go, which is well worth buying if you monitor multiple weather locations. If you want to see your locations' maps in the local languages' scripts—e.g., see Tokushima City in Japan as 徳島市—the app itself does not (currently) offer a language display setting. You must flip the following setting for Maps, which you find by going to:

Settings : Maps : Always in English and switching it off, as shown below. Turning it on (green) leaves you with the Roman alphabet.

Settings : Maps : Always in English

Now we can see the weather in the language where it's happening.

Not Tokushima weather but 徳島市のお天気

Suicide of an Acquaintance

Last night I was very saddened to learn that a young man I knew at IUPUI had killed himself three days prior. He was a few semesters behind me, so I first met him when he was in ECE362, a required course on assembly programming, that I taught with my friend Nathan. He was a hard worker, often coding away in the lab, but he never seemed to get angry about it; the frustration he showed seemed quite minor. Indeed, I had contacted him about coming to work with me after he graduated.

It was a real shock to learn of his suicide.