Saturday, March 31, 2007

Custard Pie

I enjoyed very much seeing Custard Pie "unplugged" at Jack of the Wood last night. If you aren't aware, Custard Pie is a Led Zeppelin tribute band based in Asheville. The thought of that doesn't really sound all that interesting, but this group is really talented, and does a very nice interpretation of Zeppelin's material. I always think of music performance in terms of technical expertise and "feeling." I thought all 4 members scored really high in both areas. Lead guitar Woody doing really nice acoustic interpretations of electric guitar, David on bass seemed to never miss and put a lot of feeling into it. Really, all 4 members of the group were doing a great job last night. I think maybe the drums needed to be mic-ed a little better or something, but what do I know. I was staying close to the stage inside the direct blast of the PA speakers, where I like it. Despite being an "unplugged" show it was plenty loud, and has my tinnitus up a notch today.

Here's the paragraph about Rhett, the singer, who I fell a little bit in love with last night. I'll try to keep it to one paragraph. Rhett is a woman of course, compared to Robert Plant who is not. She often sounds very much like Plant when he gets into the higher ranges, or Plant with a little sweet southern (US) accent. Rhett certainly has the voice to handle the technical aspects of the vocals, but I think really excels at putting the emotion into it. Those two things come together in those long plaintive, sensual moans of lyrics that seem to always end in "baby" or "me." I found myself holding my breath, or moaning along and running out of breath long, long before Rhett did. I guess some might say she has quite a set of lungs. Which brings me to her comely countenance. A very pretty face that reminds of Kirsten Dunst, and a very realistic figure in a pretty sundress, which I'm always a sucker for. Rhett must be about Liz Phair size, still looking petite atop 5 inches or so of shoes. Sexy, yes, but I thought it was mostly from the inside, in attitude, and not overt. The confidence of performing so well, a catalog of music that feels like sex, even when the song is not explicitly about it. Rhett dances around a little, smiles demurely, and connects with the audience, which is always nice for us. OK, paragraph ends here.

Now to the Led Zeppelin memories. It was 1978 and I was a freshman in HS. Led Zep was quite popular among various circles at my school. There was an older, cooler, upperclassman in my math class, who frequently intoned, "Led Zep, man. Miss Tanner's a bitch." Miss Tanner was one of his teachers, and I have no idea how those 2 thoughts got linked, but anyway, he was cool. There was quite a bit of Stairway to Heaven on the rock stations back then. Too much probably. My serious appreciation for LZ didn't come until much later in life though.

Good Times, Bad Times came around last night and now that I'm a grown up man, I always think this when I hear that song:
In the days of my youth
I was told what it was to be a man,
Now Ive reached the age
I try not to do all those things.
So that no matter how I try,
I won't find my way into the same old jams.

Rose Bush Pruning

Before and After photos of the overgrown rosebush that I pruned.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Canton. I love it.

This editing exercise was frustrating. I couldn't get it to complete my sketch, and then it disappeared. Argh. I hope to learn more about this editing stuff. It wasn't so hard last week and everything seemed to work properly. Brain very fuzzy now.

Saturday, March 24, 2007


Like the caption says, that is the magical and mysterious cooling system for the 86-91 VW Vanagon (except Syncro.) Today I replaced #24, which required taking off #23. I also replaced #14 and flushed the system. No major problems encountered. I was worried about taking off #23 since it is often a challenge to get bolts loose from the engine after 21+ years and many heat cycles. I was afraid of stripping things and then needing to make difficult repairs outside the scope of the repairs I was attempting today. Tomorrow I will flush the system again and then refill it with coolant. The refilling process is also magical and mysterious due to the complexity shown in the diagram above. It involves raising the front of the vehicle, and filling the system with coolant while the engine is running at 2000 rpm so that the water pump can force the coolant into all the nooks and crannies of the system.

And now, news from the irony front. I was helping my church set up a table at the peace rally. I overheard a couple conversations while I was there. One person made reference that it would be best to start completely over with a new government here in the US, and that the state of the union address would be a convenient time to do away with the current one. Another suggested that he could only kill someone in self defense, and that W was putting him in danger. Then I went back to my WasserCooling repairs.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Thursday Night

What did I do tonight? I came home and did several things. I cleaned up a biodiesel accident in the area of the clothes dryer/biodiesel lab. Then went out for some satisfying rose bush pruning. I like that more than I ever thought I would. I generally like pruning plants, and think I am pretty good at it. I also have been known to enjoy plucking women's eyebrows. There is a similarity to those activities. I never pluck on the first date though. The rose bushes haven't been pruned since I have lived here, 10 years. I think they will really like the pruning, and grow better and look better. Or they may die...

While pruning, neighbor elizabeth came over and invited me for dinner. That was really nice, especially since she had some fresh bison burgers from her friend in Weaverville. It was delicious. elizabeth likes the e to not be capitalized. She was really hungry and I could tell. Then she had some of the delicious food and got a nice placid, smiling look. That was nice to see. After dinner I set something on fire. I like to do that, but don't do it all that often, which probably makes it even more special when I do it. I had a bunch of biodiesel soaked newspapers left over from cleaning up the above mentioned biodiesel spill. I had sort of just wadded them up and put them in the garden. So that's what I set on fire. It was nice and e and E watched it burn and noted the stars, and moon looking like a nice bowl directly above a bright bluish looking planet. e is a talented jewelry artist.

Then home for telephone calls including nice brief conversation with Tracy from the internet, who actually did sound quite nice, smart, and funny. And not like an internet psycho.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Editing and Rapid City Memories

Tonight we worked on Editing. We edited Points and Lines and Polygons. It was fun. I liked making the shapes and moving them around and stuff. It was also a little window into the world of what is some probably some pretty tedious GIS work. editing data and making all these fussy little changes to make the data more accurate. Pete made it sound like in the GIS job world you might have to do some fussy editing, especially when you are new in the field.

Above is some editing we did. This is GIS data from Rapid City, SD. The upper section with the green lines was already done, and then we did the lower section with the blue lines. The blue lines represent parcels. For the outermost edges, we used the pavement edge layer as a guide. We drew in the shapes of the houses based on what we could see in the orthophoto layer, which is totally raster data.

At one point Mary said that I needed to say something funny so that she could get through the arduous book exercise which had something like 60 steps to follow. I consider myself funny, but, can't really do it on demand, it's generally a sort of topical, situational humor. Fortunately I was able to pull out of my ass something about her belt-sander-blog, and that worked. I think I better have some material prepared for the next class though.

I remembered being in Rapid City, and Mary asked what I did there and I told her that I did my laundry. I hadn't really thought about Rapid City in a long time, even in reference to that picaresque. But that memory of doing the laundry there really brought some old stuff back. It was 1985 and I was 21, and my vw van was 14, and we took 2 months and 12,000 miles, and somehow only $1100, to travel the US and southern Canada. Most of that trip was by myself. It was a significant, formative time for me. I think it was before Rapid City, I think it was Custer State Park in the Black Hills were I was camping. I was sort of lonely and felt ungrounded but couldn't put a name like that on the feeling at the time. One evening the sun was setting and the temperature was cooling and the light was beautiful orange on the the rocks. I was out wandering and climbing on some of the beautiful rocks. I got into the climbing around and jumping from rock to rock and stuff like that. I was climbing too high to not be on a rope. At one point I jumped from one rock to another and started to fall off the far side of the second rock. I was doing that swinging-the-arms-attempt-to-catch-my-balance thing. It worked and I didn't fall off the rock. That was a little bit of a wake up experience.

After my laundry was done in Rapid City, I went to a hot spring outside of town. There was a developed hot spring in the town, with water slides, and stuff. But a local pointed me to the wild one. It was full of a group of teenagers of a church group from Kansas. And that's about all I remember about that.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Now We're Geocoding

Right on the heels of last week's Geoprocessing adventure, we jump into Geocoding, which also sounds cool. Below is a result of our first exercise/adventure. Pete found a list on the internet of the advisors for FFA Clubs in high schools in NC. He saved it in a table with the addresses and name of the school, etc. Then we took that and ran it through, which is a very cool API interface a guy made to YahooMaps. It spit out a nice YahooMap with dots for each of the 100 locations in the table we fed it. It also produces a new table with all the data we started with and adds the latitude and longitude to it. We then took that data and fed it into ArcMap and created this map.

Our second adventure in Geocoding was local. We made an excel table with all the classmates addresses in it and then geocoded it onto a map of Buncombe county data. The green dot on the map below is my house, or actually, where it thought my house was. My lot is actually up and to the right, the one with 5 sides. The blue lines you see running down the streets are the street centerlines, which are the basis for this geocoding. The segment where the green dot is runs from 38 to 64 for even number addresses. It sees my address is 58 and plots that on the line based on math. So it's not terribly accurate.

Finally, Mary was missing tonight, and that just made the class less effervescent than usual. Perhaps she was really involved in some project with her new belt sander and forgot about class?

Wednesday, March 7, 2007


Tonight we learned about Geoprocessing. That's a pretty cool term I think. I could see myself as being a Geoprocessor someday.

To the right is something I did as part of the class exercise. It is a land use map of Buncombe county. We had to combine several maps, and they didn't use the same coordinate system. Since ARCGIS projects on the fly, it automatically converts the data to display it, but we actually converted the data in the landuse layer to the state plane projection. That's where I crashed 3 computers because my flash drive was full. I initially blamed the problem on my proximity to Mary, and that was wrong. I apologize for that.

This image is a section of the map I made and in which I selected Martin Branch and applied a buffer of 500 feet. I thought it looked like internal organs or intracellular structures. See the kidneys?

Bloggin' Women

Originally uploaded by EMaglott.
In GIS class we are required to make a blog. Here are Robin and Mary, working on theirs.