Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cool pictures

Last night I was out for a walk late at night because it was really warm. It also was quite foggy, which made for the possibility of some really cool pictures. I took a lot of pictures, most of which are not very good, but I managed to take a couple of the coolest pictures I've taken in a while. They were a little difficult as they involved figuring out where the shadows fall, propping my camera in the right spot with a 10 sec timer and then getting myself into the right place.

It looks a little bit egotistical that I've used myself as the subject, but, honestly, I was walking alone. There was nobody else to use as a subject, and these kinds of conditions don't happen very often.

Friday, December 26, 2008


Upon arriving home for Christmas break, we had a neighborhood party at our house, which involved this heirloom punch bowl...

... and the coolest looking plate of cookies I have ever seen. The girl that lives next door made this.

Overall, the party was a good time and I got to know my parents neighbors a little. I even talked to my t-ball coach (at least, I'm told he was my t-ball coach, I don't actually remember him). Turns out he is actually a really great guy; works in Aerospace engineering and bike commutes along my favorite highschool bike route; my kind of guy.

We celebrated Christmas eve early because the parents and Rachel had gigs on the real Christmas eve. Here is the spread of food we had.

Note that the china and silver here are also heirlooms. The heirlooms seem to come out around the holidays.

Christmas morning was relatively unexciting, as the parents had another gig. Rachel and I made chocolate chip pancakes ...

... and Rachel made a Christmas tree out of the chocolate chips ...

... and Jeremy tried to flambe cheese.

The morning's shenanigans also included playing dominoes with the presents. (Turns out that one of them actually contained a glass picture frame. Luckily it didn't break)

Overall, a nice day to just sit around and chill with the family.


I have been quite lazy about updating my blog lately, but now that I'm on Christmas break, I have time, so I will have to catch up. The obvious things have happened: I was really busy at the end of the semester ... I finished finals ... It snowed ... It was cold ...

The exiting news, however, is that I am finally on a research project. My original understanding was that I would be doing the numerical modeling for the cutting surface in a plasma cutting situation. However, because of the way funding is working out, it looks like I might also be doing experimental work for it, which I find quite exciting, because both the modeling and the experimental work look really interesting. The only downside (or benefit, depending on how you look at it) is that I now have a lot of stuff to do over break. I am reading the theses of my predecessors to get familiar with the project. I also need to learn as much as possible about the equipment from another student before he graduates in a few months.

A rather exciting perk that came with the research position is that now I have an office in the Mech E building. I feel like I'm really moving up in the world now. It isn't a particularily nice office but still, it is nice to have a place to dump my stuff when I come in to school. I also don't have to carry everything back and forth between my apartment and school anymore. I also have 2 office mates, which I've found that I really enjoy. Previously, I never talked to anybody at school. It was a classic case of being very alone even though there are a lot of people around. But now, I have someone to say hi too in the morning (other than the bus driver). Unfortunatly both of my officemates will be gone within a few months.

Speaking of people at my school, another exiting thing about my research group is that I am the only American. It is kind of a weird experiance after being at St. Olaf, where "diversity" means only a different color of skin. Here, my advisor is German and the other students in the group are Korean, Indian, Egyptian, and Japanese. Communication sometimes takes a little effort because they have varying degrees of fluency in English.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


This was pretty much my week...

...and some of this...

... and a little bit of this ...

I am getting to that point in the semester where there is a lot to be done, so I pretty much just spent the week/weekend studying. It's also been getting cold enough that I haven't been biking to school because I don't have anywhere to dump my cold weather riding gear. On the plus side, I'm starting to enjoy walking more and more, for some reason. It is .8 miles to the bus. Then on the way home, I take the bus all the way into the St. Paul campus and go to the gym. Then it is a 1.3 mile walk home. I discovered that this actually saves me about an hour or time versus going straight home and then biking to the gym.

Monday, November 17, 2008


I was at my parents house for the weekend, both because there was a potluck/hymnsing on Saturday and because my brother was playing a concert on Sunday. It was a nice weekend (and I managed to get a fair bit of work done in between those things.) And, somehow, I ended up taking 77 pictures of Ben (yes, I counted them.)

First, we find Ben in a cowboy costume...

...complete with a gun...

...and he can go gangsta style with his gun...

...but wait, he also has a cello...

...turns out that his orchestra was dressing up as cowboys for the concert because they were playing Copeland. (If that doesn't make sense, ask a classical musician and they can explain it.)

He was also practicing piano for a while. Because he only had one light on in the room, and because most of the stuff there was already black or white, it was perfect for black and white photography.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

St. Olaf visit

I haven't been down to St. Olaf in ~6 weeks, so I decided that I was due to take a trip down and visit some people. I let some people know I was coming, biked to my parents house, borrowed a car and heading down to St. Olaf for the day on Saturday. It was an excellent trip and I'm so glad I went. I got to catch up with a lot of people I haven't seen for a while.

Upon arrival, I discovered that my chapel buddies were camping out for the day in the fireside room, so they were conveniently gathered in one place. I briefly chatted with them, but they were heading off to lunch. (Apparently they were allowed to leave the fireside room to get food.)

Then, I went and sat in the chapel for a while because I really like being there and I figured everybody would be at lunch. While there, I finished reading Ezekiel, which was cool, because I have a history of getting stuck in the major prophets when I try to read through the bible, but now I'm through them. Upon leaving the chapel I called Beth to find her, and ironically, she had been sitting in the chapel too. So I we chatted for a while. (Note: this is an older picture of Beth)

Next on the list, I visited my former Hoyme residents and discovered them preparing to put on a Vaudeville style act for Am Con. It involved April trying to dress as a dude...

...and Kevin trying to dress as a midget...

Next, I visited, in order, Scott (former resident now a JC), Kathryn (former camp co-counselor), and Lindsey and Grace (former residents now JCs).

Then, it was on to the main event. I was joining Sarah, Cheno, and Susan for dinner at Hogan Bros. and hopefully some sort of shenanigans (at least, I was hoping for some sort of shenanigans.) Happily, I was not disappointed. Hogan Bros involved some mild silliness...

Later in the night we decided to roam campus and visited the new science center, because I wanted to see it. There, Chenoa, got herself stuck in a hole in the middle of a table.

I was also excited to discover that we can go on the roof. There is a deck type opening where there was biology type of stuff going on. We also discovered how to take a picture of a ghost...

Overall, it was a wonderful outing with these three...

The whole trip was great, although I wish that I had gotten down for a visit earlier. Seeing all my old friends made we want to make sure that I don't lose touch with people. I should probably get down to St. Olaf more often. I like how I can act like a kid around my friends there. I normally feel like I have to act too grown up these days. I can't just goof around and be silly.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Shiny Toy Guns

I am writing this post immediately after the last post, but it is such a vast change of topic that I thought it should go in a different post.

On Friday, for some reason, I really wanted to do something fun and hang out with St. Olaf friends. So I pretty much sat around all morning moping and trying to bury the feeling with homework. Then, I finally got out of my pajamas around lunch time and in the process looked at my cell phone (which was in the pocket of my jeans) and discovered that I had gotten a call from Scott, one of my St. Olaf friends. I called him back and discovered that he had an extra ticket to a Shiny Toy Guns concert that night. So all of a sudden, I had plans for the evening, going to a concert of a band I like a lot, with a friend that I haven't seen for a while. It doesn't get much better than that.

The concert was at the Varsity Theater in Dinky town, so I biked over and met Scott. We had a chance to catch up for a while before the concert, which was really nice. I was his JC when he was a freshman, and now he is a JC, so we were able to swap JC stories, which was fun. The concert was also excellent, although my ears were ringing for a while afterwards. Overall, it was really nice to just let go and forget about grad school and just hang out with old friends for an evening.

There was a lot of lights at the concert.

There was also a lot of smoke.

It was good.

Reformation day


For those that are unaware, today is reformation Sunday, which is a day to celebrate the heritage of the Lutheran church. I remember my first reformation Sunday when I was going to church at St. Olaf. It felt a little weird and I felt a little a bit like an outsider, because I was still pretty new to the Lutheran church. Church today felt quite a bit different than that reformation Sunday. I no longer feel at all like an outsider to the Lutheran church and especially not at my particular congregation (Como Park Luther Church) even though I have only been going there for a couple of months. I realized today that I've become more and more Lutheran.

For one, the Lutheran liturgy feels very comfortable and familiar. This is especially the case because there are a lot of Ole's at my current congregation, including one of the pastors. The stained glass windows even came out of the same shop as the windows in the St. Olaf chapel, so it isn't really a "new" congregation for me per se, just an extension of one I was already part of.

My Lutheranization, is not merely an aesthetic though. I find myself affiliating more and more with their doctrines and ways of looking at Christianity. Working at a Lutheran camp probably did a lot to contribute to this. In particular, the way I read scripture is falling more into line with the Lutheran approach, where scripture is generally categorized in Law or Gospel (although both can often be found in the same verse). Here, Law serves to tell us the way we should act, although there is no way we are actually able to fulfill the Law. Gospel on the other hand is "good news" that tells us about salvation from our fallen state. (Of course what exactly does that fallen state look like? Good question. Read C.S. Lewis.)

The other aspect of Lutheran doctrine that I have grown to embrace is the emphasis on vocation. That is, part of our life as Christians is to find what we are called to do and to use our gifts from God. Thus, the vocation of Mechanical Engineer glorifies God just as much as the vocation of Pastor. Granted, that makes doing my homework an issue of being a good Christian. Makes homework seem pretty darn important if you think about it too much.

So, yep, I guess I'm a Lutheran now. I guess I better get baptized, cause that's a big deal in the Lutheran church.

Saturday, October 18, 2008


One of the best parts about where I currently live is the commute. When I don't want to bike, I have the campus connector bus. Now, while some people may not consider walking 15 min to a bus as the ideal morning commute, I actually quite enjoy it. The walk is across the fair grounds, which, for the most part are empty. With the fall colors, it is especially beautiful and inspired me to bring my camera along for one commute.

There are chainsaw sculptures all over the fair grounds. Sometimes they startle me at night, because it looks like there is a person standing next to the sidewalk.

Why do they line the road with concrete sphere's? I don't know, but they look kind of cool.

The last five minutes of the walk are along this fence which is not the most pretty...

...except that now the leaves are bright yellow.

Surprisingly, this is one of the few pieces of litter I have seen. I would have expected a little bit more on the fair grounds.

At the end of the walk is the bus, which runs every 5 minutes, so there is never a very long wait for the bus.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A role model

I aspire to be a little bit like Dave Weins when I am in my 40's. Nice family, nice friends, able to take down the most popular racer in the country.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I had my first exam in grad school last Thursday. It was in Digital/Analog Control, which, so far, has essentially been a math class. I'm not sure how well it went, because I'm not used to in-class exams. It was all stuff that I could do relatively easy if I had a enough time to work through it, but because we had limited time, I choked on some stuff. I probably should have done more review so that I would have all the stuff in the front of my mind instead of having to dig for it. Oh well, I'll have to keep that in mind for future in-class exams. I'm used to the Physics take-homes from St. Olaf which where ridiculously hard, but I could crank on them for 15+ hours.

I've been dog sitting for the girls that live downstairs this weekend. It has been loads of fun because the two dogs are really nice dogs. (It might help that girls are in vet school, so they know how to take care of animals.) The dogs totally know the routine better than I do. So when I walked in this morning and let them out of their kennels, they promptly went to their food bowls. After I fed them and they ate, they went over to the door because I needed to let them out. Outside I was sitting on the stairs letting them run around. As soon as I stood up they ran to the door so I could let them back in. Once inside they promptly went into their kennels. I thought it was really cute.

This afternoon, I took the dogs for a walk, which was an adventure. The dogs were tugging on the leashes the whole time. Either they were trying to run ahead, or they were trying to stop and sniff at stuff. If one dog stopped to look at something, the other would immediately run back to see it. I must have looked ridiculous because I was laughing and getting pulled around by the dogs for most of the walk.

I wanted to stop and sit down for a little at a picnic table but then the dogs promptly climbed onto the picnic table. It was really funny, because one of the dogs climbed up first and then the other dog didn't want to be out done, so he climbed up too.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Very little excitement happened this week. The only thing out of the ordinary was that on Wednesday I hung out with a lot of St. Olaf people that I haven't seen for a long time. That was really nice. I also managed to put in 50 miles of commuting in 2 days.

For the weekend I'm at my parents house, because it seemed like a nice place to go to study for the weekend. I brought my camera along for the ride home and got some good pictures.

My new bike commuter image. T-shirt, rolled up jeans, sketchers (more wind proof that running shoes), and a big bag.

A somewhat artsy picture through some kind of construction frame. Note, this and the previous picture where taken by putting the camera on a 10 second timer while using burst mode.

The sun was setting over Saint Paul as I headed through Indian Mounds park on top of the bluffs.

Sunday, September 28, 2008


Today, I saw one of the cutest things ever. I wanted to get out of the apartment and get some fresh air, so I went to a little park that is just down the street and sat on a bench to read. (Was reading Jeremiah, which is kind of tough going, but it was next in the endeavor to read through the bible.) Anyways, there was an old couple sitting on another bench in the park talking. They where probably in their 70's. So that was nice, an old couple sitting in a park on a Sunday afternoon. Then, the best part is that I looked up a little later and noticed them walk over to the swing set and playing on the swings. They where behaving just like little kids, but they where quite old. It was so cute.

I also spent a large part of the weekend trying to get linux working on my computer. I had already installed Ubuntu using a dual boot so that I could keep using windows. Ubuntu, however, does not support my wireless card, so this weekend, I found a workaround that lets me use a Windows XP driver for my wireless card. It's up and running, but it's still really flaky and only works sometimes. I also discovered that a lot of programs that can be downloaded for linux are not compatible with my architecture (AMD 64). So, alas, it looks like I still won't be a linux user.

In fitness news, I have been doing a little training for the possibility of a return to 24 hour racing next summer. This has manifested itself as going to the gym 3 times a week to work on strength and flexibility. Well, because of knee problems, I have been taking it easy when doing squats, but on Friday, I was feeling good and decided to push myself. So I upped the weight from 100lbs to 150lbs and did 2 sets. It was amazing. My muscles felt like they had a ton of tiny cramps or like they where ripping or something. When I got home, I ate 2 cans of tuna and iced my quads to try to limit the soreness. The icing worked pretty well on my quads but my hamstrings and butt were still sore because I didn't ice them.

In the interest of sharing some beauty, (because that's part of what I try to do with my blog) here is a picture from the U of M ...

... and a picture from St. Olaf.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Visiting St. Olaf

This weekend I decided to visit St. Olaf. Furthermore, I decided that I was going to bike commute down. It was quite an adventure because it's 45 mile ride, one way. I left at 3:30 on Friday and it took about 3.5 hours to get there. By the time I got to St. Olaf the sun was setting.

Unfortunately, the flash on my camera stopped working, so this was the last picture of the evening. It was really nice visiting people and talking to people at St. Olaf. Unfortunately, I didn't get to see everybody that I wanted to. I guess I will just have to visit again sometime soon.

I stayed the night in a friends room and the next morning, I was up early (because I'm on an early schedule from grad school). I wasn't sure how late people would be sleeping, so I didn't want to call anybody too early in the morning. So, to kill some time I went and sat in the chapel and read the bible. It was somewhat nostalgic because I used to go to morning chapel early to sit and read the bible. I also made some serious headway on my project of reading the bible cover to cover. I read the larger part of Jeremiah in the chapel, which is good because last time I read through the bible, I got bogged down in the prophets.

The ride home was like a long, drawn out train wreck. Before I even got off campus, I managed to sprain my hand when I went over a curb while trying to adjust my bag. Luckily, that didn't hurt to much until the next day. Then, because I haven't done much distance riding recently, I made some dumb nutrition mistakes, waiting too long to start eating. Then, when I realized I'd waited too long and desperately needed food, I shoved down ~1200 calories, which left me feeling kind of sick for the rest of the ride. On top of that, I am not in nearly as good of shape as I was when I was racing, and I was carrying 15-20 lbs of gear in my bag, so the 45 miles the day before had already taken a hefty toll on my body. By the time I got home my vision was starting to blur and I was becoming incoherent. I went to bed before 8:00 and was out cold for 11 hours.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

New Apartment

Installation 3 in my catching up on my blogging.

Also in August, I moved into a new apartment. It is actual a house where 2 roommates and I are living in the second floor and a couple of girls are living in the first floor.

My room is still sparsely furnished. I decided to get a folding table instead of a desk because it was easier to move in and it gives me a lot of workspace. I also haven't gotten around to getting a bed, so I'm still doing the mattress on the floor thing.

I did, however, invest in a dresser, which I got for a very good price at a thrift store. Notice the stick in the corner next to the lamp. Ben Clifford found that our freshman year and thought that it would be good room decoration. It has been in my room ever since then, where ever I have lived.

This is our dining room (which isn't used as such very frequently). Behind it is the living room and behind that is a kind of windowed alcove type thing.

The back yard.

If you are familiar with the Space Tower at the State Fairgrounds, then you will know where my apartment is, because the Space Tower is right across the street. This is a picture out the front window.

The best part of the apartment is the location. It is 4 miles from school, 2 miles from the grocery store, 2 miles from a bike shop, 1.5 miles from the gym, 1 mile from church, and 10 miles from my parents house. Furthermore, there are excellent bike routes going to all of those places. Thus, bike commuting is very easy, which I quite enjoy. If it get's too cold to commute, there is a good bus system that isn't too hard to get on.