Worlds Fastest Knot

So as anyone who has crossed paths with me for more than 10 minutes in the past 3 years probably already knows, I'm big into so-called flying knots. I find them a great diversion for my ever fidgeting hands and they occasionally impress people to boot*. Occasionally, when I am practicing my knot tricks, someone gets inspired enough to want to learn. There isn't a whole lot of material out there to point them to and many of the tricks take more instruction than can be given in a brief 5-minute interaction.

The excitement people get when they do learn one of the tricks got me thinking about wanting to find a way to share these tricks with people in a more effective manner. Since I dabble in comic drawing, I thought maybe doing a little diagram/instructional thing might be a fun exercise. It turns out it was! So if you want to learn how to tie the world's fastest knot, check this out.

Hopefully I will put together a few more of these, maybe enough to fill a small educational pamphlet. Then everywhere I go, people will be throwing flying knots and giggling with glee. That way I won't be the only giggling knot thrower out there. Tee hee.
Wednesday September 30 2009File under: misc, juggling

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Soapbox Derby 2009

Picture it: 8 derby racers that run the whole gamut. There is a converted lawn mower, a custom welded tricycle, a scorpion looking inverse tricycle, and a pallet with wheels among others. The drivers stand around showing off their contraptions and getting the instructions. Waiting for the drivers is a minorly modified version of last year's track. One of the notable modifications is a tabletop jump that looks hard to avoid.

After gawking and preening, we all lug our vehicles to the top of the track. Practice runs are had (except for me because I didn't have faith my car would make it more than one run, and I wanted it to be officially timed) and the serious competitors quickly become apparent. The process, similar to last year, is annoyingly unorganized leading to lots of waiting, but I guess that is part of the accessible atmosphere. Everyone rolls with it and has a good time.

My car, Cherryette of Fire, performs admirably (which is to say doesn't lose a wheel like last year). After hitting a hay bale on the first run while trying to avoid the jump, I learn my lesson and just hit the jump at a reasonable speed the next two runs. Needless to say, I've got some signification modifications to do if I want to be a competitor next year. Just being in the race, though, is a hoot.

Besides the races, there was swimming, cliff jumping, tight rope walking*, circus shows, good music, good people, and so much more. The event did a great job of showcasing the emerging Lookout Arts Center (a.k.a. the Quarry) as a venue for such great events. I greatly look forward to next year. Start designing your car now!
Wednesday September 16 2009File under: misc

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Wishing Well

I get a great amount of pleasure out of creating things. While I can imagine* having a great feeling of accomplishment after running a marathon, I like having something to show/touch/point to for my efforts. It is neat to be able to come back after some time to be reminded of the creative energy that went into it.

My latest creative project is this wishing well. Perhaps you remember my mention of wanting to build a one a couple months ago. Well, I can now proudly say mission accomplished.

How do you build a wishing well you ask? First you dig a hole. Then you put on one layer of rocks. Then you lift more heavy rocks into place creating the next layer. Repeat until you have an awesome wishing well. Finish by dropping in a coin and making a wish. Of the 3 wishes I've made so far, one has come true, one is looking likely of coming true, and one is looking not so likely - not too bad.

Anyway, if you ever make it up to the Quarry (a.k.a. Lookout Arts Center), check it out and make a wish (or just throw some money in and don't make a wish if that's the way you are. Either way is fine by me.)
Sunday September 13 2009File under: misc

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Family Reunion in Des Moines

Interchallenge virtuouso Sara totally nailed it. Des Moines, Iowa was the secret location of the last blog post. Why was I in Des Moines, Iowa you ask. For the not even close to annual* Studer Family Reunion.

As you all probably know, my mom's family isn't small. Oodles of aunts, uncles, cousins, cousins-once-removed, and even a couple cousins-twice-removed necessitates some organizational efforts: color coded shirts, name tags, and an elaborate family tree. But in addition to spending some great times with rarely seen but dearly loved relatives, we had a little bit of nuclear time as well.

Family reunions sometimes get a bad rap. And I'll admit I was a little reticent heading into this one myself. But there was no need. I had a great time and look forward to a little less hectic time with such great people in the not as far away future.
Monday September 7 2009File under: travel, misc

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Compost Experiment Results

About a year ago, I put together a little experiment testing the claim of a plastic cup to be "compostable" (see original post here). From what I had heard and read, I suspected this claim to be misleading in that it takes more than a home compost bin to break down the corn-plastic, but I didn't want to start spreading disinformation without having looked into it myself.

Well, after digging around through soil, worms, eggs shells, and more soil*, the results are in: the plastic of the cup is in just as good shape as it was the day it was served to me. If it wasn't for being crushed with additional compost material, it would still be able to be drank from. (And for the record, our compost bin is awesome and gets really hot and breaks down everything else just fine.)

The moral of this story? If your gut tells you an advertising claim might be a little too good to be true, look into it. I see green claims thrown around these days that are a blatant misstating of the truth*. Now I've got a little empirical evidence to back me up, at least on this one.

(Thanks to everyone who has kept asking about this. Knowing that the things that make me curious make you curious as well is great inspiration to keep on posting!)
Wednesday August 26 2009File under: environment, misc

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Sleeping Around

Where a person lays his/her head says a whole lot about his/her life, I think. If you look at this data over time, you get an idea of a person's routines, travel habits, and maybe even relationships. Whenever I heard a traveling salesman or musician say "I spend 200 nights a year on the road" or whatever, it would always make me wonder: where did they spend their nights, in what size chunks was that time spent, etc. It also spurred the question for me: how many nights a year do I spend on the road? It wasn't one that I could readily answer (at least with any accuracy) so about a year ago, I started keeping track.

Now I have over a year's worth of data on where I slept. I've put it together in this [visually pleasing] interface to share with you (so specifics have been omitted), but mostly for myself in getting a picture of what the last year of my life has looked like. Some interesting things I've realized: I haven't spent more than 11 nights in a row at home; nights at home vs. nights housesitting are almost equal; I've spent a month's worth of nights in a tent, 12 in a wheeled vehicle of some sort, 16 on a boat, and 2 on a plane.

Not only has this exercise served as a great way to quantitatively describe my lifestyle (or at least as much as you feel is represented in this data), it also serves as a great log. In 20 years when I wonder what it was like to be young* and free, I can see how I spent my time. This whole thing has been so fun and informative for me, I'm hoping to continue keeping track for years to come. I only wish that I had been doing it for the last 10 years as well.
Wednesday August 19 2009File under: travel, misc

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A Walk in the Woods

What a better way to celebrate rolling over the old odometer than heading out into the woods with some new friends. That's what I did this last week: a 5-day backpacking trip in Glacier Peak Wilderness.

The plan was to do a 35-mile loop from North Fork Sauk River up to White Pass, Red Pass, Kennedy Hot Springs, and Byrne Lake*. The first day, just at the beginning of the switchbacks*, the rain starts. By the time we reach camp that first night, we are soaked. The decision is made to take the next day off, at least from packing up camp, and do a day hike south on the Pacific Crest Trail. The weather somewhat clears on and off to allow for some great views*. The following night/morning, it rains again so we do a day hike north on the PCT. We all decide that hiking without crazy huge fully soaked packs is the best way to go anyway.

All in all, it was a great time. The good company, wildflowers, fresh abundant berries, vistas, escape, and nature greatly outweighed the weather*, bugs, and two flat tires. I might just have to try this backpacking thing again someday.
Friday August 14 2009File under: misc, pics

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Portland Happiness Pie Chart

Portland

I've been having too great a time in Portland these last couple weeks. I've been having so great a time, in fact, that I'm officially putting Portland on the list of places I would think about moving to if I ever decided to settle down, move out of the garage, etc. etc.

Why am I having such a great time? you ask. I've made up this handy little chart to help explain. Click on any wedge to get a brief description.

Sunday July 5 2009File under: misc

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Portland Timbers

Minor league sports are fun to attend. Soccer is a neat sport. Free stuff is good. Hence, getting free tickets to see Portland's minor league soccer team is doubleplusgood! Having spectacular weather didn't hurt either. Timbers won 4-0. Take that Canada!


Monday June 29 2009File under: misc

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Crafts Camp

Back when I was on that deserted island in the south pacific*, we used our spare time to make things (or in my case, attempt to make things). We called it Crafts Camp. While very little of what I worked on turned out to be cool, the process of sitting down and creating something semi-artistic felt good.

I had occasion to pursue that semi-artistic creative spirit again recently, this time a little less primitive than coconuts and shells. I tried my hand at stained glass. I had most of the tools around from an attempt I made 10 or so years ago. With a few trips to the hardware store and a little reminding from the woman* who owns Green Frog Glass in Bellingham, the project turned out a success. The whole thing was a great reminder that self-created art isn't out of reach of the everyday man and it is worth the time and effort.
Wednesday June 24 2009File under: misc

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